Goldy has a great analysis below of the future city council District 3, which Kshama Sawant won handily. These precinct-by-precint analyses are what I've been waiting for since election day—and since Charter Amendment 19 passed, I've had this scene from Milk, about how districts can change elections, running on a loop in my head.
But how'd Sawant win citywide? Well, PubliCola has another precinct-by-precinct piece by political consultant Benjamin Anderstone, who divides Seattle's voters into two clearly defined camps: "the wealthy, older center-left establishment (the 'conservative bloc') versus the younger, more urban set (the 'progressive bloc')." So:
How did a socialist like Sawant win alongside Murray, the “conservative” mayoral candidate?
McGinn’s loss reflects both his weaknesses and Murray’s strengths. McGinn saw fairly big losses in middle-class areas dominated by single-family homes, especially in West Seattle, where he fell from 48 percent to 42 percent. This wasn’t what doomed McGinn, though: It was progressive bloc areas that were his death knell. McGinn’s support in Capitol Hill’s Broadway neighborhood, for instance, cratered from 70 percent in 2009 to 59 percent this year. McGinn lost because Murray was able to draw away progressive bloc voters.
Viewed in this light, Conlin’s loss is pretty simple. Sawant held the progressive bloc together ably. As the maps show, Sawant struggled more than McGinn—predictably—in wealthy areas of the conservative bloc. However, her margins in the progressive bloc were very strong: She received 71 percent in Broadway, essentially the same showing as 2009 McGinn. Sawant won because she held together the progressive bloc in a way that McGinn couldn’t.
UPDATE: If you'd like to see how universally popular Charter Amendment 19 was, check out the electoral map right here. Looks like Seattle was ready for districts, huh?