The following graph shows relative voter turnout at the polls (“At-poll”) and via mail (“VBM” == Vote By Mail).

Please refer back and forth to it while reading slowly through the text. It’s not always intuitive what it shows and what it means, but there’s a lot to derive.

The voter results are displayed by voting “neighborhood”. LAUSD’s fourth district is very extended with three distinctly different regions, Hollywood (green type), the westside south of the Santa Monica Mountains (red type), and West Valley north of them (blue type). These are not conventionally bound neighborhoods and many stakeholders understand these designations differently. For this purpose a polling place’s address was assigned the LA Time’s 2008 mapping project’s neighborhood name. Occasionally when a polling place fell just outside of a neighborhood already populated by polling places, it was included with the others across boundaries in the interest of summarizing data.

Categorizing neighborhoods consistently and accurately for all parameters (e.g., votes, LAUSD4 and neighborhood boundaries, ethnicity, median house price) is difficult, but miscategorization “dilutes” the “signal”, resulting in more conservative findings of “less” rather than “more” relationship. This project could easily have assigned neighborhood designations more rigorously but for a big picture, quick understanding and because the resulting bias is likely to be weaker than stronger, it seems acceptable.

The data for each neighborhood are plotted as a function of the relationship between vote ratio for VBM and vote ratio for At-poll ballots.

The VBM (Vote By Mail) ratio of ballots is a single number that relates as a fraction (converted to a decimal for plotting) the number of votes received for Melvoin divided by those received for Zimmer in advance of election day, by mail. If they were equal, that ratio would be 1. If the ratio is >1, then Melvoin received more votes than Zimmer; Melvoin’s VBM support in this neighborhood is stronger than Zimmer’s VBM support. If the ratio is <1 then Zimmer received more votes than Melvoin; Zimmer’s VBM support in this neighborhood is stronger than Melvoin’s. Note these ratios aren’t exactly reciprocal – you can’t have a ratio <0 but you can have a ratio >1 that’s a huge number. This is OK. The numbers never got out-of sight like that.

Likewise the At-poll ballots are displayed as a single number that is a ratio of Melvoin’s/Zimmer’s votes cast at the polling booth on election day. Numbers greater than 1 indicate a neighborhood’s preference for Melvoin on election day; a ratio less than 1 indicates a neighborhood favoring Zimmer on election day.

Therefore all the spots to the right of the solid vertical axis representing the VBM vote, favor Melvoin in pre-election day, by-mail voting; the further from the solid line the stronger that support.

All the spots below the solid horizontal axis representing the At-poll vote, favor Zimmer in election-day voting; the further from the solid line the stronger that support.

When these ratios are plotted against one another they show how each neighborhood’s preference for school board varies depending on whether they voted early, by mail, or in person, on election day. Voting early is a measure of a community’s “eagerness” and also the organizational power of the candidate’s campaign.

Below a second chart of these results as tallied on election night itself are presented in dotted spots to contrast those VBM ballots cast long before election day and tallied before the close of polls, with VBM mailed or submitted close to election day and therefore not tallied prior to final certification. In this way a measure of “eagerness” or “organization” could be discerned in three ways: (i) early-tallied VBM, (ii) late-tallied VBM, (iii) in-person election day voting.

The shift in a community’s post-election day count (from spotted to solid circle) down and to the left represents the degree of a community’s late preference for Zimmer; the opposite shift reflects the community’s late support for Melvoin.

The scale on both axes is manipulated so as to be able to distinguish the spots by pulling them apart. Don’t worry about the absolute meaning of the axes, it’s the comparison of these ratios and their relative distance from the depicted lines that matter.

The dotted diagonal line delineates communities’ preference according to relative voting type; on the diagonal the Melvoin:Zimmer ratio would be the same among both VBM and election day voters. Communities below the 45-degree line show stronger preference through early, VBM voting; above the line cast their stronger preference on election day. 60% of LAUSD4 voters overall expressed themselves before election day, and this preference was stronger than that expressed at the polls in person (most spots are below the 45-degree line). The campaign forces of the California Charter School Association (CCSA) were organized, long-entrenched and formidable.

The ratio of VBM vs. at-poll voting trends differently between LAUSD4 regions. On the westside VBM voters favor Melvoin increasingly strongly as community favor increases for Melvoin at the polls. CCSA front-loading of votes was persistent in these westside communities specifically. In contrast, as VBM voter preference in the Valley tips for Melvoin, in those communities preference for Zimmer at the polls increases on average. Hollywood trends in the middle. The late influence of the CCSA was diminished in these communities.

The size of each spot corresponds to neighborhood turnout as a proportion of overall voting across all LAUSD4 communities.

In total, 15.4% of LAUSD4’s total registered voters cast a vote in the May 16, 2017 runoff election, but just 2/5 of the ballots were cast on election day itself. The rest came in before election day or were turned in by written ballot at the polls rather than cast there in person.

The six communities with the greatest voter turnout represented between just 1.0% and 1.3% each of the entire LAUSD4 registered voters. Five of these communities are from the westside region (red color), in order of voter turnout: Pacific Palisades, Westchester, Venice, (Hollywood; not westside), Mar Vista, Brentwood. Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Westchester record the largest total number of votes for Melvoin.

The contribution of socioeconomic class cannot be denied here. The three communities with the highest VBM ratio, that is the strongest preference expressed prior to election day – Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Pacific Crest — have as a proxy measure of wealth an average median house value equal to $2.7m – more than five times that of Winnetka, the community with the lowest median house value of $523K. The average ethnic proportion of Caucasians in these three highest-VBM communities is 84%, Asians comprise 6%, Hispanics are 5% and African-Americans are 1%. Winnetka, in contrast, is comprised of 28% Caucasians, 17% Asians, 48% Hispanics and 5% African-Americans. Winnetka is also the community that voted most strongly at the polls for Steve Zimmer, and second in rank for Zimmer via VBM. The overall turnout in Winnetka was more than an order of magnitude less than among the three top-VBM, highly-motivated communities. There was no CCSA galvanizing of voters here.

In fact, the communities that bought Nick Melvoin for school board, look nothing like the LAUSD, and in many cases have very little to do with it.

On average LAUSD’s fourth district student population is composed ethnically of: 32% Caucasian (cf. 84% among those strong Melvoin supporters of above), 7% Asian (cf. 6%), 42% Hispanic (cf. 5%) and 13% African-American (cf. 1%). As another proxy measure of wealth, on average 56% ± 30% of board district four’s students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FRPM). The “±” shows there is a huge disparity among the schools in LAUSD4, with the concentration of poor students ranging between schools from 5.2% to 96.6%. (This volubility can be smoothed out statistically by considering instead not the average but the median FRL metric of 66%).

The concentration of FRPM students among these three top-VBM neighborhoods is Pacific Palisades: 11% ±9%; Brentwood: 41% ±39%; Beverly Crest: 13% ±9%. That variation of poverty concentration in a neighborhood’s public schools reflects attendance from two very different subpopulations. Many private schools and a large independent charter school are located among these communities, while few traditional public schools are. The outsized and incensed turnout of early voters in these communities object to the performance of an incumbent of which they are largely naive.

Indeed the relationship between median house price and the direction of voting is very closely related. Among the 13 communities with median house price above one million dollars, this proxy measure of wealth increases at approximately the same rate as Melvoin’s overall support, and the reliability of this correlation is ≈ 80% (perfect 1:1 prediction would be 100%). The correlation of house price with preference for Melvoin among early voters is 76%.

But interestingly, at the demarcation of communities with median property values below $1m this correlation reverses. Playa Vista is an outlier with relatively low turnout from extremely strong Melvoin supporters early on, diminishing to about half that rate by election day. And for communities with median house values below Playa Vista’s median $995K, the relationship with increasing house value among early voters predicts the opposite VBM support: for Zimmer. In poorer communities where the drum beat for Melvoin was never relentlessly amplified, support for the one truly supporting those who actually attend LAUSD schools, flourished.

This election was engineered to transform the largest voting public school district’s board into a factory for privatization, Ed ®eform and Charter school hegemony. It was commandeered long ago as part of a slow, steady march in support of prevailing neoliberal “Ed-iology”. Wealthy tools of this triumph may gush enthusiastically about the potential of their candidate, but those who bought Melvoin’s election do not know the same LAUSD as his silent constituents’, and their candidate’s fealty is directed elsewhere anyway.