Ever since he went back on his pledge not to run for a full term, Interim Mayor Ed Lee has been the de facto front-runner in San Francisco mayor's race. In a crowded 16-candidate field, Lee's incumbency and his focus on jobs have help him stand out among the litany of other voices clamoring for votes.
Judging from the results of a new poll commissioned by the Bay Citizen and University of San Francisco, that will likely be more than enough to easily put the Mayor over top and back into City Hall for another term.
This November marks the first seriously contested mayoral election in San Francisco history to use the ranked-choice voting model where each voter picks their first, second and third choices for mayor. When a voter's top choice is eliminated, his or her vote moves to their second choice. At the subsequent elimination of their second choice, their vote goes to their third choice. In each round of voting, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and their votes are then redistributed. The winner is the first to cross the threshold of 51 percent.
Of the 447 San Franciscans surveyed, Lee had more than three times as many votes as his closest competitor, City Attorney Dennis Herrera. The lowest number of votes was received by City Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, meaning he was the fist to be eliminated. Next was venture capitalist Joanna Rees, followed (in order) by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, former Supervisor Tony Hall, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier. After Alito-Pier was eliminated, Lee had enough votes for victory.
The only other candidates left not eliminated when Lee hit the crucial 51 percent mark were Herrera, State Senator Leland Yee and Supervisor John Avalosall three of whom were clustered with similar levels of support.
Even with all of their votes added together, the three top challengers wouldn't be enough to best Lee.
The poll found that voters gave Lee's job performance a 76 percent approval rating. That number soared to a staggering 85 percent among Chinese voters.
A flurry of negative advertising aimed at the mayor seems to have had little effect on his numbers, nor have a string of recent scandals where donors to his campaign have come under criminal investigation for illegally laundering contributions to his campaign.
The poll found a full 21 percent of likely voters are still undecided.