By Doug Porter
It’s been touted as fact of life in San Diego politics: the electorate south of Interstate 8 votes heavily Democratic while those on the north side votes Republican.
After all, the northern part of San Diego is generally wealthier, older and whiter than the city’s southern half. Even as the GOP’s partisan advantage in the city has disappeared in recent years, the party’s candidates and causes have done well, leading to the general perception that the electorate in the regions favors conservative causes.
A succession of Republican Mayors and a track record for mostly voting with that party’s positions on initiatives re-enforce that perception. It’s a commonly accepted view in news media accounts; a local report on this weeks special election taps National University’s “policy analyst” Vince Vasquez, who says “You see that deep geographic divide among voters. It’s something not going away. If anything its more pronounced,” –
But not everything is as it seems. There are those most recent Democratic wins to be considered.
If you take a quick look at one infographic on voting generated by inewsource.org’s Joe Yerardi, the ‘common knowledge’ seems irrefutable. In the screenshot below, districts carried by David Alvarez are highlighted in blue, those in red were carried by Kevin Faulconer and the green ones gave Nathan Fletcher the nod.
What you may not notice on first glance is much of the central part of the maps, didn’t give Faulconer a majority. In fact if you go back to original infographic and click on the various districts, Democratic candidates carried them.
While Nathan Fletcher’s support wasn’t very deep, 24% of the total electorate (and often higher in the central northern area of the city) is nothing to be sneezed at.
The 2012 election and this most recent round of voting also demonstrate increased turnouts in many “low voter interest” areas of the city, primarily in the southern neighborhoods. Intensive voter education efforts, get out the vote campaigns and candidates speaking directly to the interests of those communities have shown that they can be a force to be reckoned with.
Nationally speaking Republicans are very interested in the upcoming runoff. A Kevin Faulconer victory would give them one mayor among the ten biggest metropolitan areas.
City Councilman Alvarez has indicated that he’ll be cutting back on his campaign schedule a bit as we go into the holidays. The higher cost of advertising during December (driven by heavy purchases by retailers) means the intense part of this next campaign won’t start until the first of the year.
The key to a Democratic victory will be bringing voters who were disaffected following the attacks on Nathan Fletcher back into the fold. Given that Fletcher just announced his retirement from politics (for now), it might be wise to discontinue the grinding of partisan heels on his defeat. To do otherwise is to hand the election to Kevin Faulconer.
This originally was published in our online media partner, San Diego Free Press in “The Starting Line“.