The Alameda County Statement of Vote was recently published by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla with the certified 2016 election results. Padilla noted the turnout of registered voters statewide was 75.2 percent, the second highest figure in 30 years. The good news is that Emeryville residents turned out to vote. The bad news is that remarkably fewer participated in the local election.
Emeryville’s population was last noted as 11,721 with 7,020 registered voters or roughly 60%. An impressive 5,533 or 78.82% of the registered voters participated in this election. Nearly 86% voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the presidential election with Republican candidate and President-Elect Donald Trump garnering only 322 votes or less than 6%. Another interesting trend was that nearly two-thirds of votes were through the mail. Emeryville has historically been at the bottom of voter turnout in the county.
Of the 16,599 possible council votes, there were 6,390 “undervotes” which means that many voters either did not vote in the council election or voted for fewer candidates than the three they were allowed (The term bullet voting refers to voting for just a single candidate and is a tactical way of helping just one preffered candidate).
The certified results were also telling of the connection between campaign financing and the results. John Van Geffen, who self-funded his campaign and spent less than $250 of his personal money, spent the least amount per vote at approximately 20¢ per vote. John Bauters by comparison, who garnered the most votes, raised more than twice as much as any other candidate at about $11.52 per vote received. This makes Van Geffen’s performance fairly impressive considering his lack of endorsements by sitting councilmembers or special interest groups, lack of mailers, and nominal participation in phone banking or precinct walks.
A complete breakdown of this ratio:
John Bauters: $26,642 raised ($11.52 per vote)
Louise Engel: $9,460 raised ($6.81 per vote)
Ally Medina: 10,280 raised ($4.85 per vote)
Christian Patz: $5,098 raised ($2.96 per vote)
Brynnda Collins: $2,675 raised ($1.93 per vote)
John T. Van Geffen: <$250 raised (approx. 20¢ per vote)
All the candidate’s filing documents can be read online.
While campaign funding and electioneering by the sitting council were clearly big factors, the cherished Democratic Party endorsement remained the biggest predictor of the outcome as it was in 2014. Councilmember Dianne Martinez is an elected member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee and recently appointed as vice-chair. The ACDCC determines which Democratic candidates get this prized endorsement and thus Martinez now wields quite a bit of influence in Emeryville political outcomes.