Mayoral partisanship in the country’s largest cities

Welcome to the Monday, November 8, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Mayoral partisanship in the top 100 cities 
  2. The status of 2021 school recall efforts
  3. An invitation to join our election analysis briefing on Nov. 10
  4. Alabama’s and North Carolina’s new congressional, legislative district maps

No partisan changes occurred in Nov. 2 mayoral elections for top-100 cities

Seventeen of the 100 largest cities held mayoral elections on Election Day. Going into Nov. 2, 15 of those cities had Democratic mayors, while two—in Hialeah, Fla., and Miami, Fla.—had Republican mayors. None of the elections on Nov. 2 resulted in partisan changes in any of the 100 largest cities by population. Two elections are upcoming: the Atlanta, Ga., mayoral election advanced to a Nov. 30 runoff, while New Orleans, La., will hold a mayoral election on Nov. 13, with a possible second election on Dec. 11.

In most of the nation’s largest cities, mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan, though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties. Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Two partisan changes in top-100 mayoral offices occurred earlier in 2021:

Twenty-eight of the 100 largest cities held or are holding mayoral elections this year. In 19 of those 28 cities, the incumbent was Democratic at the start of 2021. Seven incumbents were Republican, one was independent, and one was nonpartisan. Currently, 63 of the 100 largest cities’ mayors are Democrats, 26 are Republicans, and 10 are either nonpartisan or independent. One mayor’s affiliation is unknown. 

In 2020, mayoral elections were held in 29 of the 100 largest U.S. cities. Those elections resulted in a net loss of four Republican seats and a net gain of one Democratic seat:

  • Scottsdale, Arizona: Republican to independent
  • Irvine, California: Republican to Democratic
  • San Diego, California: Republican to Democratic
  • Stockton, California: Democratic to Republican
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: Democratic to independent
  • El Paso, Texas: Republican to Democratic
  • Corpus Christi, Texas: Republican to nonpartisan

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The status of 2021 school board recall efforts 

We tracked 84 school board recall efforts against 215 board members in 2021— the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members. 

One driving force for the high number of recalls this year was reactions to the coronavirus and government responses to the pandemic. We tracked 48 school board recalls (57.1%) that were related to the pandemic in some way. 

So, where do these recall efforts stand after the Nov. 2 elections?

  • Efforts against 69 board members are still underway (32%)
  • Efforts against 119 board members have ended without going to a vote (55%)
  • Eight board members have resigned (4%)
  • Efforts against 19 board members have made the ballot (9%)

Of the efforts that made the ballot, 16 recall elections have been held so far this year. Out of those 16 board members that faced a recall election, one was removed from office, while the other 15 kept their seats after the dust had settled. Another three board members, all in the San Francisco Unified School District, will face their recall elections in February 2022. 

Of the 69 board members that still have recall efforts against them underway, three are waiting for recall elections to be scheduled as the recall efforts have been certified for the ballot. Efforts against 12 board members have filing deadlines passing in November, and efforts against nine board members have filing deadlines passing in December.

Twenty-five of the 84 school board recall efforts we have tracked this year are in California. Wisconsin has the next-highest number of efforts with 11, and Arizona is third with 10. In 2020, California and Wisconsin tied for the most recall efforts with five each, while Idaho came in third that year with four. 

Between 2009 and 2020, Ballotpedia tracked an average of 28 recall efforts against an average of 64 school board members each year.

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Join us Nov. 10 for an election day breakdown 

As a reader of this newsletter, you know that Nov. 2 was Election Day, and that hundreds of races were decided across the country. So, what happened? Join editorial staffers David Luchs and Dave Beaudoin as they explore that question in our election analysis briefing. 

They’ll walk you through the key results, trends, and storylines in this year’s November elections—including those in New Jersey and Virginia. They’ll also look at key local races across the country, the status of state government trifectas, and more. 

Register here! 

Alabama, North Carolina enact new congressional, legislative district maps

In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed proposals for both congressional and legislative maps into law on Nov. 4. State senators approved the Senate map on Nov. 1 with a 25-7 vote, and state representatives approved it on Nov. 3 with a 76-26 vote. Representatives approved the House map 68-35 on Nov. 1 and senators followed on Nov. 3 with a 22-7 vote. Additionally, Ivey signed new board of education maps into law, which passed the Alabama State Senate and Alabama House of Representatives on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, respectively.

More on Alabama’s maps

In North Carolina, the General Assembly enacted congressional and legislative redistricting proposals on Nov. 4. Governors do not have veto power over new maps in North Carolina, so they became law without Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) signature. The North Carolina House of Representatives passed the House map 67-49 on Nov. 2, and the North Carolina State Senate passed it 25-21 on Nov. 4. The Senate voted 26-19 to approve the Senate map on Nov. 3 and the House voted 65-49 to approve on Nov. 4. The Senate enacted the congressional map in a 27-22 vote on Nov. 2, and the House followed suit, voting 65-49 on Nov. 4. 

More on North Carolina’s maps