Coming to you live from the second floor of One Judiciary Square, from the friendly confines of the D.C. Board of Elections boardroom, stay right here for the District returns as they come in. We’re expecting early vote returns about 9 p.m., with additional precincts to follow.
Five things to watch:
1. Can David Grosso knock off incumbent D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown? This is the marquee local race, with Brown weakened by a spate of bad headlines and a campaign theft. Grosso’s been well financed and had a well-managed campaign.
2. How many people will vote? In 2008, about 265,000 D.C. residents voted. The past four years have seen 4.4 percent population growth and 10.6 percent voter registration growth. Will turnout percentages match 2008′s impressive showing? If so, that could have implications for Democratic turnout across the country.
3. How many votes will Vincent Orange pull in? Four years ago, with a long, well-organized and very well-financed campaign, Kwame Brown raked in 172,000 votes. Vincent Orange, a Democrat like Brown, is likely to win, but we’ll see how far short he’ll fall of Brown’s mark, given that his campaign finance missteps meant he only barely won his Democratic primary race.
4. How close can Ron Moten come? The outspoken activist has been hustling day in, day out to beat incumbent Democrat Yvette Alexander, but victory would be miraculous considering he’s on the ballot as a Republican in a ward that’s 84 percent registered Democrats. But Alexander only won her primary race with 42 percent of the vote, indicating some discomfort with her continued tenure. How many Ward 7 residents will be willing to look past the “R”?
5. What about Ward 8? Marion Barry is sure to win a third council term over independent Jauhar Abraham, but what about his hand-picked State Board of Education member Trayon White? White is facing a second consecutive challenge from veteran activist Phil Pannell. A victory for Pannell would be an embarrassment for Barry.
UPDATE, 9:30 P.M.: Grosso leads Brown in the early voting totals, and Orange, as expected, leads both of them: Orange 27,383 (34.4%), Grosso 16,479 (20.7%), Brown 14,414 (18.1%), A.J. Cooper (I) 6,542 (8.2%). Leon Swain (I), Ann C. Wilcox (SG) and Mary Brooks Beatty (R) each have 6.5 percent or less.
UPDATE, 9:40 P.M.: Barack Obama won 92.5 percent of the 2008 vote in D.C. Among 2012 early voters, he leads with 94 percent. In Ward 7, Moten is getting slammed in early voting: Alexander 88.1 percent to Moten’s 10.9 percent. His Peaceoholics co-founder Jauhar Abraham is doing much better just to the south in Ward 8: Abraham has 20.5 percent to Barry’s 78.8 percent. In the school board race there, White is up handily over Pannell, 62.6 percent to 37.0 percent.
UPDATE, 10:05 P.M.: With 24 of 143 precincts reporting, Grosso has expanded his lead to about 6,000 votes or five percentage points. Brown and Grosso are running essentially even in Ward 4, which is bad news for Brown. The ward splits so far: W1: Grosso 26% Brown 13%; Ward 2: G28% B9%; Ward 3: G36% B8%; Ward 4: G20% B21%; Ward 5: G12% B22%; Ward 6: G30% B11%; Ward 7: G6% B25%; Ward 8: G5% B27%.
UPDATE, 10:12 P.M.: It is clear from the early returns that all three charter amendments will pass. The D.C. Council member expulsion question is doing slightly better (86 percent for/14 percent against) than the two questions that would disqualify mayors (79/21) or council members (80/20) who commit felonies while in office.
UPDATE, 10:35 P.M.: The numbers are getting worse for Brown: With 48 percent of precincts reporting, Grosso has expanded his lead to 10,000 votes. Thirty precincts of the 74 remaining precincts are in wards 5, 7 and 8, the only wards where Brown in running a significant lead on Grosso.
UPDATE, 10:55 P.M.: In case it does not go without saying, the following candidates expected to win are going to win, Democrats all: Barack Obama/Joe Biden (91.5 percent), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (89.0 percent), Ward 2 council member Jack Evans (96.8 percent), Ward 4 council member Muriel Bowser (97.2 percent), Ward 4 council member Yvette Alexander (87.3 percent), Ward 8 council member Marion Barry (84.6 percent), shadow Rep. Nate Bennett-Fleming (85.6 percent) and shadow Rep. Michael D. Brown (79.6 percent). Vincent Orange will also keep his at-large council seat; he’s on track to get about 140,000 votes.
UPDATE, 11:45 P.M.: With 143 of 143 precincts reporting, David Grosso wins an at-large D.C. Council seat over Michael A. Brown by approximately 18,000 votes. Two individual machines remain to be counted, from precincts in Ward 5′s Trinidad neighborhood and Ward 8′s Bellevue neighborhood. They are not expected to change any of the results appreciably, elections officials said.
UPDATE, 11:50 P.M.: Total early and election day turnout is 244,000 — 50.6 percent turnout — but about 20,000 votes less than the 2008 certified total. However, remember that provisional ballots and absentee ballots remain to be counted. While that could push the raw vote total above the 2008 total, 10 percent growth in the voter rolls means the turnout percentage is unlikely to beat 2008′s.
Right now, Vincent Orange stands just shy of 123,000 votes, about 50,000 votes shy of Kwame R. Brown’s 2008 performance as the at-large Democratic nominee. Orange can take heart in the fact he improved his showing in several wards over his primary performance.
Ron Moten did not come anywhere close in Ward 7, garnering only 12.3 percent in election day totals against Yvette Alexander. He got only 400 more votes than Abraham did against Marion Barry in Ward 8. Barry, however, earned only 87.3 percent of the vote — a fall-off from his 2008 finish of 91.6 percent. Protege Trayon White, meanwhile, did just fine in the Ward 8 State Board of Education race, winning re-election with 72.5 percent of the vote over Pannell.
One minor surprise in the State Board races was the loss of incumbent Dorothy Douglas, who fell by 3,400 votes to Karen Williams.
And real estate agent Bruce Majors easily reached his goal of winning major party status for the Libertarians, garnering 13,462 votes to finish second against Eleanor Holmes Norton. He needed 7,500 votes in the congressional delegate race to reach that goal.
More analysis to come tomorrow.
UPDATE, 12:40 A.M.: Shortly after midnight, Brown offered Grosso a Twitter concession:
@grossoatlarge Congratulations on the election. I tried to call you. Left a message. Wish u well.
— Michael A. Brown (@CMMichaelABrown) November 7, 2012