Number Crunching

I've got a little analysis of yesterday's Boston City Council elections, running in this week's issue, that should be online later today. But meanwhile, here are a few notes as I scan the precinct-by-precinct results this morning.

Bear in mind that the city breaks down results by percentage of votes cast, counting each vote -- up to four on each ballot -- as if it's a separate ballot. So, if everybody voted for the same four candidates, the results would be a four-way tie at 25%. Get it? (And yes, I could calculate them into percentages of voters, but I got things to do.)

Anyway, I wanted to compare the results to two years ago, when the same four candidates won -- Felix Arroyo, John Connolly, Stephen Murphy, and Ayanna Pressley -- but in a different order. That year also had no Michael Flaherty (who was running for mayor); had Tito Jackson and Andrew Kenneally taking votes; and had a bigger turnout.

Murphy received 18% of the vote city-wide in 2009, and just 15% this year. One obvious change is that Murphy's percentages dropped significantly in Charlestown, South Boston, and parts of Dorchester -- presumably from voters bullet-voting Flaherty. He also declined a little in some generally progressive areas.

Connolly ticked up a small notch, from 18.3% to 18.7%. He actually held up a little better in much of Southie, where he was also expected to lost votes from Flaherty bullets. And he made some significant gains in black neighborhoods. That may have come from campaigning with Pressley, or from his visibility the past two years as an advocate for better schools. Maybe a little of both. But his numbers really popped. For example: his percentage more than doubled in Roxbury's Ward 12, and nearly doubled in Dorchester's Ward 14 that includes Grove Hall and Franklin Field.

Arroyo jumped from 16% to 20%, and he did it pretty much by doing a little bit better everywhere. I don't think there's a section of town where he didn't improve his percentage. (His biggest gains appeared to be in areas around branch libraries that he helped fight to save, such as Allston-Brighton and East Boston.) 

And then there's Pressley, who climbed from 15% to 21% -- a pretty amazing difference. She went from single-digits to high teens in precincts in East Boston, Charlestown, Roslindale, and West Roxbury; in progressive areas such as the South End and Jamaica Plain she went from high teens to 25% and above. 

In fact, there is really only one part of town where Pressley didn't do well -- you guessed it, Southie. That's still unfriendly terrain for Arroyo too, but at least he got mostly in the 10%-12% range in most of those precincts, while Pressley was getting 7%-10%.

Remember, too, that conventional wisdom insists that this kind of low-turnout off-year election is supposed to be harder for "New Boston" candidates like Arroyo and Pressley. The voters -- at least outside some parts of Southie -- had other ideas.

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