News / Analysis

By the Numbers: 4th Council District Challenger Supernaw Carried Most Eastern Precincts/Los Altos Areas While Incumbent O'Donnell Prevailed With Large Ballot Totals In Usually Lower Turnout Western Precincts


(June 18, 2012) -- On June 19, the City Clerk will ask the City Council to certify the results of the June 5 runoff election for the 4th Council district.

In the runoff, incumbent Patrick O'Donnell prevailed over challenger Daryl Supernaw by a 13% margin district wide. O'Donnell finished second in traditionally higher turnout eastern/Los Altos precincts but overcame this with a large number of ballots cast from traditionally lower-turnout western precincts.

In some western precincts, the number of ballots cast for O'Donnell was roughly several hundred percent higher than the votes O'Donnell received in the April initial election, a write-in for O'Donnell, in which three candidates each finished with roughly a third of the votes in the following order: Supernaw, O'Donnell and Watkins.

In the June runoff:

  • Ten of the 4th Council district's thirty precincts in June were east of Clark Avenue. The average voter turnout for these ten precincts was 36% compared to 14% for the 4th district's other twenty precincts and more than half (53%) of the 4th district's total votes cast on June 5th came from these ten precincts. Mr. Supernaw received the majority of these votes.

  • Mr. Supernaw prevailed in the two precincts that "bookend" the Los Altos area. At the eastern end in precinct 3850052A (bordered by the 405 Freeway, Studebaker, Atherton & Palo Verde), Supernaw received 171 votes to O’Donnell's 116.

  • At the western end in the Stearns Park end, in precinct 3850147A (bordered by Willow, Clark, Stearns & Lakewood) Supernaw received 143 votes to O’Donnell’s 114.

  • Mr. Supernaw also prevailed in central Los Altos precinct 3850153A (202 to 188) which includes Whaley Park, Minnie Gant elementary, the Los Altos Center and the Los Altos Library where Councilman ODonnell holds his monthly Chat With Pat meetings.

So how did incumbent O'Donnell prevail overall?

O'Donnell carried nearly every precinct in the southwestern portion of the 4th Council district. It's not possible to make precise comparisons based on precinct numbers alone because precinct boundaries were changed slightly for the Countywide election: 24 precincts in April were split into 30 precincts for the June election. Thus, the percentage comparisons that follow are approximate within the rough ranges indicated

  • At the western end of the 4th district, in precinct 3850611A (bordered by 15th St., Temple/Molino, Anaheim & Gardenia) Supernaw increased his ballot total by roughly 211% while O’Donnell's ballot count went from 12 to 100 for a roughly 833% increase.

  • To the north in precinct 3850091A (bordered by PCH, Junipero, 15th St. & Gardenia), Supernaw's votes decreased to roughly 64% of April's total while O’Donnell's votes increased by roughly 413%.

  • At the eastern end, in precinct 3850625 (bordered by Atherton, Clark, PCH & Ximeno), Supernaw increased his April vote count by roughly 135% while O’Donnell's ballot total increased by roughly 395%, giving him 76 votes over Supernaw.

Similar outcomes occurred in most of the twenty precincts at the western end of the 4th Council district and produced the 690 vote differential for O'Donnell.

A final note: As previously reported by, for the June runoff, the City Council directed a ballot rotation system (approved prior to the April election results) as a pilot project based in part on a university study of previous elections outside Long Beach that concluded a candidate whose name is listed first on the ballot can gain up to a 5% advantage. For the June runoff, the City Clerk's office implemented the ballot rotation system in a way that listed Mr. Supernaw's name second and incumbent O'Donnell's name first on the ballot and in voter guides in several historically high turnout eastern voter precincts.

Mr. Supernaw carried the majority of the eastern area precincts although Councilman O'Donnell was listed first on eight of the ten eastern area precinct ballots...while Councilman O'Donnell carried historically lower voter turnout western precincts in which he was listed second on the ballot. is the only LB news outlet that was present and observed the City Clerk-ordered hand recount of ballots in the April initial election and reported the challenges (allegations) regarding a number of O'Donnell write-in ballots made by the representatives of the Watkins campaign and the LB Area Chamber's Jobs PAC. was the only LB news outlet that reported 4th Council district ballot issues in the June runoff and the only LB news outlet that provided "follow the money" coverage of campaign contributions (candidate and special interest/independent expenditure committees) leading up to the June runoff.

Our report above is (again) based on information that is public record.

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