Central City Seizure


May 31 Council Runoff Election Results, by District

Total vote Turnout Spelman Zuniga Spelman Margin Lewis Mitchell Lewis Margin
TOTAL 43045 0.1166 23293 19306 3987 23184 19453 3731

CENTRAL 13919 0.1597 9805 4043 5762 9909 3882 6027
EAST 4816 0.1379 2137 2486 -349 1664 3111 -1447
NORTH 7018 0.0936 3629 3338 291 3558 3408 150
NORTHWEST 6623 0.1263 2655 3923 -1268 2820 3732 -912
SOUTH/SE 4394 0.0698 2202 2147 55 2325 2003 322
SOUTHWEST 6275 0.1106 2865 3369 -504 2908 3317 -409

Election Results by Turnout

Boxes with 7% or less 4683 0.05 2276 2354 -78 2366 2258 108
7.01-11.66% 10868 0.0904 5009 5738 -729 5057 5712 -655
11.67-16.00% 10587 0.1356 6033 4400 1663 5749 4746 1003
16.01% and up 16907 0.219 9975 6814 3161 10012 6737 3275


When Ronney Reynolds made his surprise bailout of the mayoral runoff, some insiders speculated that Double-R's real motive was to help his conservative soulmates, Manuel Zuniga and Eric Mitchell. By shielding them from the expected juggernaut of Kirk Watson supporters, the theory went, they would have a better chance holding their own against their lesser-known, lesser-financed opponents.

If this was indeed a strategy, it backfired with deadly force on Saturday; the unprecedented progressive sweep of the City Council can in large part be pegged to low turnout outside the city center, where Ronney's voters were concentrated. While both Bill Spelman and Willie Lewis actually improved on their May 3 performances within their central-city base (much more so, naturally, in the case of Spelman, who apparently succeeded in picking up both Karen Hadden's and Bobbie Enriquez' votes in the heart of town), Zuniga and Mitchell's margins dropped substantially in North, Northwest, and Southwest Austin. (Substantially enough to swing the North, where Mitchell won on May 3 by more than 1,000 votes and Zuniga by nearly 900, to the progressive column.)

While it's conceivable that Spelman and Lewis actually picked up votes since May 3 in these conservative strongholds - especially Lewis, benefiting from voter disgust with Mitchell's ultra-sleazy runoff campaign - it seems more likely that the conservative voters just stayed home. A breakdown of the votes by turnout shows that Zuniga and Mitchell both won among voters in boxes where turnout was lower than the citywide average of 11.66%, but lost in boxes where turnout broke that threshold.

Turnout in Individual Boxes, by District

Central East North NW S/SE SW TOTAL
7% or less 4 1 8 3 14 1 31
7.01-11.66% 3 4 14 6 9 11 47
11.67-16.00% 9 7 5 2 3 8 34
16.01% and up 18 4 4 6 0 2 34
Total 34 16 31 17 26 22 146

This makes sense when you see that less than half of the boxes in North, Northwest and Southwest reached the 11.66% mark, while three-quarters of the central boxes broke it. Were it not for a few high-performing boxes in the Northwest and Southwest, those sectors' overall turnout would likely have been in the single digits; those boxes were, unsurprisingly, where Mitchell and Zuniga pulled their largest margins. (Conversely, were the central-city turnout totals not skewed by the West Campus boxes, where turnout is always pathetic but even more so now that school's out, its overall turnout would have come close to 19%.)

Mitchell was also helped, of course, by his 2-to-1 pounding of Lewis on the unusually high-turnout Eastside, although even this is a little misleading, since Lewis did win several East Austin boxes and fight Mitchell to a near-tie in others. (There were no tie boxes in the Place 6 race but four in the Place 5 race.) One might have expected Zuniga to post a similar advantage in the predominantly Hispanic South/Southeast, but even accounting for the turnout difference between there and the Eastside, Zuniga's weakness in those precincts was surprising, since he beat Spelman there in the first round by nearly 1,000 votes, even with two other Hispanic candidates in the race. And while Mitchell losing the South/Southeast is nothing shocking, given his often fractious relations with the Hispanic community, Zuniga's fairly anemic lead on the Eastside is at least a minor surprise.

And, in case you were curious: Out of a total of 146 boxes, only 20 split their tickets, with 11 Spelman/Mitchell precincts and nine Zuniga/Lewis boxes. There's no real pattern to these precincts, except that they were all swing boxes; margins of victory for the winners were narrow in all cases.

Vote Totals: Early Voting vs. E-Day

Early Voting Election Day Total Vote
Bill Spelman 6996 51.7% 16297 56.1% 23293 54.7%
Manuel Zuniga 6540 48.3% 12766 43.9% 19306 45.3%
Willie Lewis 7415 54.6% 15769 54.3% 23184 54.4%
Eric Mitchell 6171 45.4% 13282 45.7% 19453 45.6%

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