Who did your neighbor vote for in the last four L.A. mayoral elections? Would you love a crystal ball to tell you if Wendy Greuel or Eric Garcetti becomes L.A. mayor on May 21, 2013? Now you can figure it out -- well, almost.
Ben Welsh and Thomas Lauder of the Los Angeles Times Data Desk created an incredible, searchable, interactive digital map, "L.A. mayoral election results" that uses single dots to show how each person voted for mayor from 2001 to March 5, 2013. Type in your address, see how your block rolls. It's an intimate peek at how race and geography--even which side of the street--affect who we vote for. It's the most interactive, comprehensive map in L.A. election history.
The single juiciest question this revealing map seems to pose is: Does Los Angeles have a neighborhood that plays the role of Vigo County, Indiana, the bellwether community that has correctly voted for the winning U.S. president every year since 1892 but two?
We've scoured much of the Valley and Westside seeking Vigo County (Los Angeles) and haven't found a nest of such righteously accurate voters. But there probably is at least one.
Welsh and assistant Lauder created the map based on real votes from March 5 and all the way back to 2001. It makes all previous L.A. voter turnout maps seem like discarded piles of old Thomas Bros. Guides.
Before the primary, the L.A. Times Data Desk prepped for weeks in advance, working with Los Angeles City Clerk Holly L. Wolcott. Then, five-and-half hours after the polls closed at 8 p.m., Welsh tells L.A. Weekly:
"At 2:30 a.m., the City Clerk's Office finished their count. I downloaded the file, which was a spreadsheet. I stuck it into my Rube Goldberg machine, it did a couple cartwheels, and there was the map. We flipped the precinct map before sunrise."
Wendy Greuel Strongholds -- The Valley and Harbor/San Pedro
The vast majority of the San Fernando Valley went with Wendy Greuel last week. The Valley is GreuelLand, reflecting her longtime years representing City Council District 2 and the goodwill she's built there.
She lives in Studio City, where she got more than 50 percent of the vote. Many other areas went big for her as well. Precinct #9001861A at the northeast corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Burbank Boulevard, for example, went 54.4 percent Greuel, 22.1 percent Garcetti. Encino, where Garcetti grew up, went for Greuel as well.
Welsh explains, "Greuel had a strong support in the Valley and Harbor. She also picked up votes a little bit everywhere else along the way." In fact, on the map, you can see the pink sheen of her voters citywide.
In voter-rich San Fernando Valley, residents on March 5 showed a far greater diversity of mayoral preferences within communities, as shown by the map's multi-colored dots peppered among its dozens of neighborhoods.
By contrast, Los Angeles "proper" -- what Valley residents refer to as The Other Side of the Hill -- produced far less mixed, giant swaths of the same colors.
Both Garcetti and Greuel opened their campaign headquarters in the Valley, a nod to the fact that its power as a swing area makes it a key place to win on May 21. Greuel's worry: just as she has a pink sheen of dots citywide outside of her strongholds, Garcetti has a green sheen outside of his strongholds.
Eric Garcetti Strongholds -- The East-West Urban Band
Central Hollywood between Santa Monica and Melrose, a diverse area, might as well be renamed, "GarcettiLand" this year. Hollywood is split between mostly low-income and working-class whites and Latinos, although white gentrification, championed by Garcetti in the form of "redevelopment," has severely spiked the rents and shoved 12,500 Latinos out of Hollywood and East Hollywood, creating the greatest net population loss in a Los Angeles community since black flight from South L.A. in the 1980s.
Even so, Latinos are clearly favoring Garcetti citywide as shown on the L.A. Times interactive voter map. His strategy has been to sell himself as the Latino candidate. The Hollywood flatlands are Garcetti's home turf, since his City Council 13 District contains much of that area.
Welsh says, "Among our two winners, Garcetti had a strong base of support in Hollywood, Echo Park, and even a lot of the Westside."
South of Melrose Avenue in upscale Hancock Park, a neighborhood of mostly old Hollywood mansions, the area largely stands behind Garcetti. But here, Greuel has much more strength than in the Hollywood flatlands, trailing just behind him, 34.4 percent to 28.9 percent.
That makes Hancock Park, a 70 percent high-income, heavily Jewish area, an Election Day battleground.
Next to Hancock Park, something fascinating shows up -- one of the many outliers of how L.A. voted on March 5 -- in precinct #9005299A, not far from Getty House, the official mayoral mansion where Antonio Villaraigosa lives.
In this precinct southwest of Getty House and across Wilshire Boulevard, 235 people voted, giving Wendy Greuel (Pink dots) the edge in that precinct by just one vote over Garcetti. The precinct sits in a sea of Garcetti Green dots and Jan Perry Yellow dots.
Why the tiny Greuel advantage? To quote Charlie Sheen, "Antonio Villaraigosa knows how to party."
Maybe all those parties at Getty House have some residents tired of the limos and flash. While Greuel lives quietly in a modest-looking house, Garcetti has some showboat to him, participating a few years ago in a Dwell magazine photo splash of his sleek Echo Park view home (he and his wife later moved to Silver Lake).
Kevin James Strongholds -- Northwest Valley and Marina/Playa/Westchester:
Between Manchester Avenue and Vista Del Mar, Precinct #9002415A, 47.4 percent of the mayoral vote went to Kevin James, 21 percent to Greuel, 20 percent to Garcetti and 9.7 percent to Perry. James did very well throughout neighborhoods near LAX including Westchester.
Playa del Rey is more than 70 percent white and middle-to upper-middle-class, and this area and surrounding neighborhoods who went with James will become a battleground for Greuel and Garcetti.
James, a socially liberal gay Republican, staunchly opposed the city's controversial LAX runway expansion plan. Areas north of LAX don't want anymore noise, pollution or traffic problems and rewarded James with their votes.
According to the L.A. Times news blog, Garcetti, Greuel and Perry tip-toed around the question at a forum at Loyola Marymount University. But James said it was better for the area if the expansion idea was abandoned, and then later opposed it even more emphatically.
Jan Perry Strongholds -- South Los Angeles and a North Valley Pocket
If you live below Olympic Avenue in Mid-City, the map shows you probably voted for Jan Perry, who decisively won the black vote March 5, such as Precinct #9007221A. Perry also also did well in a black neighborhood in the Northeast Valley above San Fernando Road.
Black areas will be major battleground territories in the May 21 runoff. If black voters follow their practice of heavy bloc voting for one candidate (at stratospheric levels of 70 to 90 percent) -- a one-voice approach that's lost popularity in recent years -- they could deliver the next mayor though they make up less than 10 percent of L.A.'s population.
When Mayor James Hahn sought re-election in 2005, black voters, in a fit of racial pride over Hahn's failure to renew the contract of black LAPD Chief Bernard Park, went against their longtime ally Hahn and embraced Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
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The black vote just four years earlier had assured Hahn's over Villaraigosa in 2001, a thank you for years of civil rights efforts by the Hahn family, led by James Hahn's dad Kenneth, whose fought very early for racial equality.
It's all in the map!
If you're all worked up over who becomes mayor (and don't see it as a GreuelCetti blob), be warned: you can't use these digital dots to detect a wrongly-voting neighbor. Welsh and Lauder moved the dots away from specific homes and addresses -- ensuring neighborhood peace.
Note: The March 5 dots -- and probably some precinct color-coding -- will change in this map when 90,000 outstanding ballots are added to the mix on March 21.