Why It’s Ridiculous that Ignacio De La Fuente Won’t Concede Defeat



Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente was trounced in Tuesday's election by Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan by more than 20 percentage points. It was a landslide victory for Kaplan in the city's At-Large council race, and yet De La Fuente is still refusing to concede defeat — or to congratulate Kaplan for her hard-fought win. De La Fuente apparently is holding out hope that the ballots yet to be counted will provide him with a miracle come-from-behind victory. But such hopes are statistically impossible. In fact, this may be the first time in Oakland history that a candidate behind by 20 points is refusing to concede.

De La Fuente
  • De La Fuente
In ranked-choice balloting, which is how Oakland elects its public representatives, De La Fuente trails Kaplan by 18,189 votes, 39.3 percent to 60.7 percent. To make up a huge deficit like that, De La Fuente would have to be listed ahead of Kaplan on more than 70 percent of the still-to-be-counted ranked-choice ballots. And that’s assuming a best-case-scenario for De La Fuente. As we said, it’s not possible for him to win.

Currently, there are about 125,000 late-absentee and provisional ballots left to count in Alameda County. It’s not clear exactly how many are from Oakland. But the city’s turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama first won the presidency, is probably a good indicator of the maximum number of votes to expect this time around.

So far, about 94,000 ballots have been tabulated in the At-Large council race. In 2008, there were about 136,000 in the same race (which Kaplan also won). That’s a difference of about 42,000 votes.

Right now, De La Fuente has 33,279 total ranked-choice votes, while Kaplan has 51,468. Assuming there are 42,000 ranked-choice ballots left to count, that means De La Fuente would have to be listed ahead of Kaplan on 71.7 percent of them for him to win. That also means that the still-to-be counted ballots would have to be wildly different from the ones counted so far. In fact, of all the ranked-choice ballots tabulated to date, De La Fuente is only listed above Kaplan on 39.3 percent of them.

A De la Fuente win, in short, would be akin to Mitt Romney somehow defeating Barack Obama as a result of the uncounted late absentee and provisional ballots nationwide. But Romney had the decency to concede defeat on Tuesday night — as De La Fuente should have done.

Finally, for those who point to Mayor Jean Quan’s victory over ex-state Senator Don Perata in 2010 in which she didn’t concede and then ended up winning — the results of that contest were wildly different from this year’s race between Kaplan and De La Fuente. In fact, there are two major differences:

1. Kaplan is much closer to the 50-percent threshold needed in first-place votes than Perata was at this time in 2010. She has 45.58 percent and Perata was at 33.73 percent. That means she only needs to be listed as a second- or third-place choice on a small number of ballots while Perata needed lots of them.

2. Kaplan also has already received far more second- and third-place votes than De La Fuente — just like Quan did with Perata in 2010. So far, Kaplan has picked up 8,852 second- and third-place votes compared to 5,257 for De La Fuente. In fact, she’s beating him in second- and third-place votes, 62.7 percent to 37.3 percent, by a wider margin than in first-place votes or in the race overall.

De La Fuente, as we said, can’t win, and so it’s ridiculous that he won’t concede and congratulate Kaplan for her victory.