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Patrick Mara wins … the absentee ballot count

Mara won the battle for absentee ballots but badly lost the war. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)

The D.C. Board of Elections on Friday released the final tallies for the April 23 special election, which will likely become the official results when the board certifies the election on Wednesday.

The final count, which includes absentee and provisional ballots, slightly affect the ranking of bottom-dwelling candidates: Michael A. Brown tallied enough absentee votes to vault him from last place to second-to-last place, beating Perry Redd by 13 votes.

Otherwise, the most interesting development is that Patrick Mara, the Republican who was counting on big support among absentee voters after applications were mailed to every GOP voter, indeed won the post-Election Day tally. Nearly 32 percent of absentee or special ballots went to Mara, as opposed to the 23 percent he managed in Election Day returns. But his absentee advantage wasn’t enough to overcome second-place Elissa Silverman, let alone winner Anita Bonds — both Democrats.

The final tallies also allow an apples-to-apples comparison of Mara’s subpar 2013 performance vs. his 2011 special election race, where he placed a strong second and came within fewer than 2,000 votes of beating Democrat Vincent Orange.

Turns out Mara garnered more than 1,800 additional votes this year vs. 2011. He won more votes in 115 of 143 voting precincts, losing significant votes only in a handful of Ward 1 and Ward 2 precincts. But that 15.2 percent growth in Mara votes from 2011 to 2013 only barely outstripped the 14.4 percent growth in total votes, and the vote-splitting dynamics were more favorable to Mara in 2011.

In other words, Mara wasn’t able to grow his voter base in any significant way, suggesting perhaps an outer bound to the number of Democrats and independents willing to support a Republican, however moderate.

This map shows where Mara gained and lost votes in 2013 vs. in 2011. (A red precinct is where Mara lost votes, green is where he gained. Click on a precinct for details.)

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.



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