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Marination

Can District 2 forge a new political reputation?

It depends on not only whom they vote for, but if they turn out to vote in the midterms
There’s a good chance these will be popular stickers in June and November in the Marina. Photo: Zac Bowling

Depending on whom you ask, voting Precinct 9206 holds an ignominious or impressive title: the San Francisco precinct that cast the most total votes — 61 — for the Trump-Pence ticket in the 2016 election.

This sliver of the Marina, which roughly spans from Francisco to Beach between Baker and Scott, by and large went for Clinton (194 votes) and Sanders (105). Yet, those 61 Trump voters seem to define the area’s political reputation. A look back at recent elections, however, shows a new reputation may be in order.

Precinct 9206’s contribution to a Trump victory surprised few political commentators. After all, a Google search for where to find a bar to take your conservative friend in San Francisco will quickly send you to a
Marina establishment. And, more broadly, District 2 has long been known as one of the more politically moderate districts in San Francisco.

From partisan outlets to nonprofits, the consensus appears to be that the Marina is well-suited for moderate minds. A political crash course on San Francisco provided by the left-leaning Daily Kos labels the Marina as a “bastion of old-time San Francisco” that is “one of the most conservative [districts] in the city.”

SPUR — the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association — went as far as to include the Marina in San Francisco’s “Conservative C” spanning the area from Telegraph Hill to District 2 before curving through the Richmond, West Portal, and Ingleside and ending in Bayview Hunters Point.

Party registration data reinforces the claims by Daily Kos and SPUR. Based on the most recent tally of registered voters, 14.3 percent of District 2 voters identify as Republicans; citywide, the percentage of Republicans falls to less than half the District 2 total: 7.1. On the other side of the partisan coin, a small majority — just 51.9 percent — of District 2 residents registered as Democrats.

NO PARTY PREFERENCE

There’s another side to this political coin, though. Beyond the binary Ds and Rs, San Francisco politics includes NPPs: voters with no party preference. Approximately 30 percent of all District 2 voters selected NPP when registering to vote; the rate is even higher — 31.4 percent — for the entire city.

Behind the headlines focused on how a few hundred District 2 residents supported Trump and the outsized attention paid to party registration rates, voting records indicate that District 2 and the Marina deserve a different reputation: home to some of the city’s most dependable voters and, in particular, Democrats and NPP voters.

When it comes to general elections, District 2 voters regularly outvote their neighbors in a significant way. Regardless of party affiliation (or lack thereof), District 2 voters surpassed their citywide counterparts in mailing in their ballots in both the 2012 and 2016 elections.

As you can see in the table below, which displays the percentage of voters that received a ballot in the mail and mailed it back in, Democratic and NPP voters in District 2 bested the San Francisco average by at least 4 percentage points in the previous two general elections.

What’s more, in 2012, both groups were above their respective group’s citywide average by more than 5.50 points. Republicans in District 2, though to a lesser extent, also outdo their San Francisco. colleagues in general elections. District 2 Republicans bypassed this city’s Republican mail-in rates by 1.27 percentage points in 2016 and by 4.98 points in 2012.

But there’s a discrepancy in the otherwise participatory habits of District 2 voters. The 2014 midterm dents the district’s potential claim for a political reputation based on participation rather than partisan preferences.

Of the Democrats, NPPs, and Republicans in District 2, only the Democrats eclipsed the San Francisco average for their party in the most recent midterm. NPP and Republican members in District 2 fell dramatically off the remainder of the city’s pace for their group (3.48 and 1.27 percentage points behind, respectively).

WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO . . .

The impending 2018 midterm presents District 2 voters with the chance to establish their civic identity. Voters can channel the democratic spirit that compels them to action in general elections or opt for their modus operandi in midterms: letting the rest of the city determine the best candidates and measures. Let’s hope it’s the former and that the district earns a reputation for civic participation.

I’m guessing District 2 voters will make the most of election day. Voters should be well aware of all that’s at stake in the impending 2018 primary and general elections. And if Democrats and NPP members want to escape yet another year of hearing about the district’s conservative leanings, they ought to put pen to paper and stamp to ballot.

Turning out in 2018 will turn around a tired headline about 61 voters and replace it with an empowering example of a community celebrating the opportunity to vote. 

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Kevin Frazier, a Portland, Ore., native, previously served as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s executive assistant and president of the College Democrats of Oregon. He now works at Google and lives with his partner, Dalton, and pup, Ty, in a studio in the Marina.

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