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Central city margins helped push Leffingwell close to 50 percent
Monday, May 11, 2009 by Austin Monitor
Although he missed the mark that would have put him into the Mayor’s office without a runoff, Council Member Lee Leffingwell got 47.4 percent of the vote, taking a majority in a number of important central city precincts and coming in first in all but a handful of polling places Saturday.
While most Austinites chose not to participate, the 13 percent voter turnout was higher than some experts had predicted. And although central city precincts played an important role in the election, they did not tell the whole story.
Matthews Elementary in
The tale was similar in Precinct 210, O Henry Middle School in
David Butts, a consultant to Leffingwell, noted that Leffingwell got just under 60 percent at
While McCracken fared better in the north and northwest part of the city, he did not motivate the large numbers of voters there he would have needed to even come close to the numbers Leffingwell’s campaign generated elsewhere.
For example, McCracken won nearly 38 percent of the vote at Pct. 333,
Strayhorn’s strategy of courting voters outside the central city who were displeased with the two incumbent members of the Council also failed to pay off. Strayhorn had run as an outsider, frequently blasting decisions made by the current Council and attempting to paint Leffingwell and McCracken as city hall insiders while promising that she would speak directly “to the people.”
But in almost all neighborhoods, Strayhorn placed third, finishing well behind Leffingwell and slightly behind McCracken. Strayhorn did edge into second place in some outlying precincts, such as Precinct 349 at the ACC Pinnacle Campus. There, she pulled 23 percent of the vote compared to McCracken’s 22.6 percent. And in Oak Hill, Precinct 339, Strayhorn garnered 25 percent of the vote, less than two points behind McCracken’s 27 percent. The former Republican may have expected to do better in those areas, which have voted for Republican candidates for Travis County Commissioner and State Representative during the past decade. However, voter turnout was only slightly above average in those neighborhoods, while the voters in the central city precincts continued to turn out in well above-average numbers.
Leffingwell’s support held on the city’s east side, where voter turnout was much lower. In Precinct 124 at the Carver Library, turnout was 9 percent. Leffingwell scored 57 percent of the vote there. At
Turnout was just 5.5 percent at
Strayhorn also had a decent showing in the southeast portion of the city, but voter turnout there was even lower than in the near east and northeast precincts.
Overall, Strayhorn generated just 12,450 votes citywide, the smallest number she has received in more than 30 years. When she was last elected Mayor in 1981, she received a total of 36,451 votes. That was in a run-off election, and voter turnout in that runoff was 36 percent.
In the runoff on June 13,
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