Update at 11 p.m.: Eric Garcetti pulls ahead in the count. Details at bottom.

Update: Wendy Greuel clings to tiniest of leads at 10:30 pm. Updated at bottom.

Updated at bottom to explain that the city election web site's confusing “7.52 percent reporting” is wildly misleading. Far far more votes have been counted. First posted at 8:54 pm.

Wendy Greuel took an early lead over Eric Garcetti for Los Angeles mayor, mostly thanks to absentee ballots cast several days ago. The two candidates were said to be resting with close advisers and family while much of the rest of Los Angeles watched and Twittered election returns.

Garcetti had 49.09 percent and 64,886 votes to Greuel's 50.90 percent and 67,278 votes. That was somewhat of a surprise since he had edged her in most of the recent polls. Still, thousands of ballots must be counted before the winner is declared between two candidates so similar that L.A. Weekly at times dubbed them GreuelCetti:

There are distinctive differences between Greuel and Garcetti, however, in five key areas spanning both substance and style. The question is whether L.A. voters care about the differences, and which approach appeals to voters more.

–Greuel jumped in stronger and sooner to support education reform while Garcetti, who is backed by the teachers union, jumped in later and with less enthusiasm. Garcetti is backed by the United Teachers Los Angeles, which has bitterly fought a series of classroom and teaching reforms over the past several years.

–Garcetti is expected to rely more upon environmental groups to guide DWP's efforts to go green while Greuel is expected to rely more on DWP union leaders who backed her race. In fact, the deeply unpopular DWP union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, was widely viewed as dragging down Greuel's campaign despite the money it provided to get her elected.

–Greuel is more concerned about the problems that density and development can bring while Garcetti is more avidly pro-development even in the face of local opposition. Garcetti widely touts his efforts to make-over Hollywood through density and gentrification, but LA Weekly has reported it came at great cost: More than 12,000 mostly Latino families were pushed out as rents skyrocketed and the city's affordable housing efforts made only a modest dent.

–Garcetti is more likely to push a group of stakeholders toward his ideological goals while Greuel is more likely to broker an agreement among an array of stakeholders and put process before ideology.

–Garcetti has a greater appetite for risk while Greuel is more cautious.

Update at 11 p.m.:

Eric 81,360 or 51.10 percent, Wendy 77,837 or 48.89 percent.

Update 10:30 pm:

Wendy 70,806, Eric 70,573. Rumors flying that Los Angeles city elections division is counting the ballots using an abacus.

Update 9:44 pm:

We're seeing a lot of Tweets by L.A. residents assuring one another that “only 7.52 percent” of votes have been counted.

Wrong! That is city bureaucracy-speak for 7.54 percent of nearly 2 million registered voters. About 500,000 may have voted today. Not anything approaching nearly 2 million. So roughly speaking, folks, about 1/4 or 1/3 of the total vote has been counted, amounting to some 135,000 people.

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