Sunday, May 13, 2007

Neighborhood analysis, Council District 8

The race for City Council District 8 is remarkable for its geographic and racial fault lines.

GEOGRAPHY: Whereas candidate Carla Madison did better than the frontrunner in virtually all of the western neighborhoods, Sharon Bailey dominated in the eastern neighborhoods.
Since Madison lives about a mile further west than Bailey, this result seems counterintuitive. Other factors may well be in play, including the professional and social networks of the candidates. But the demographic composition of the district is also important.

RACE: The neighborhoods won by African-American candidate Sharon Bailey are overwhelmingly comprised of blacks and Latinos. Overall, those neighborhoods are 85% minority population. Bailey prevailed in only one non-minority neighborhood: Cole, which is just 50.2% white.

Meanwhile, the neighborhoods won by white Carla Madison are just 33% minority. The only minority neighborhood in which she prevailed was Five Points.

It may seem surprising that Madison beat a field of three African-American candidates in Denver's historic black community, but this result underlines racial factors. Even 7 years ago (as gentrification was getting started), just 25% of Five Points residents were black. 27% were white and 43% were Latino.

That mirrors a larger trend in the area. Though Council District 8 has been "the black seat" on City Council for the last 50 years, it's now racially mixed. As of 2000, the district as a whole housed 24,130 African Americans, 21,656 whites, and 18,504 Latinos.

THE FUTURE: What does all this imply about the runoff? One possibility is that it won't be about black and white. Instead, this seat may hinge on Latinos.

Madison did well enough to win in North Capitol Hill and Five Points (23% and 43% Latino), but Bailey crushed in Clayton and Skyland (50% and 22% Latino). The only question is, ¿quién ganará en junio?