NEW ORLEANS -- Stacy Head’s narrow victory in Saturday’s special City Council election came in part because of higher turnout among white voters and more so-called crossover support for her among African-American voters than some might have predicted, an analysis of turnout shows.
The analysis by WWL-TV election analyst Greg Rigamer of GCR Consulting shows turnout among African-American voters hovered around 20 percent, in precincts where the number of registered African-American voters is between 50 and 90 percent. Turnout in precincts with a smaller percentage of African-American voters, and more white voters, was as high as 49 percent.
Head, who is white, defeated Cynthia Willard-Lewis, who is African-American, by 281 votes.
Rigamer’s analysis shows that Head picked up more support from “crossover” African-American voters than Willard-Lewis did from white voters – an important factor that analysts said would be key to a victory.
In precincts indexed to have between 41 and 50 percent African-American voters, for example, Head earned 57 percent of the vote to Willard-Lewis' 43 percent.
In precincts where the number of African-American voters is much lower (0-10 percent), Willard-Lewis earned just 4.7 percent of the vote, to Head's 95 percent. But even in precincts with close to 90 percent African-American voters, Head still scored 20 percent to Willard-Lewis' 80 percent.
Rigamer’s analysis shows turnout was highest in City Council District A, which includes Uptown, Lakeview and Mid-City, at 26 percent. Head won in that district (79 to 21 percent), and in Districts B and C. She currently represents District B, which includes Central City and parts of Uptown, on the City Council.
Willard-Lewis won her home base of District E, leading Head 81 percent to 19 percent. But turnout in District E was lower – 18 percent. Willard-Lewis also led in Council District D, which includes Gentilly and the Lakefront area, and won big among early voters, garnering 60 percent of the vote.
Overall, voter turnout was pegged at 24 percent.
Willard-Lewis said Saturday night that the vote was too close to call and that she will closely monitor the official tabulation of votes on Tuesday before conceding the race.