All City of Austin bonds passed on election night except one: Proposition 15, which would have dedicated $78.3 million to affordable housing.
The map above shows how Prop 15 lost.
Ryan Robinson is demographer for the City of Austin. He produced this map, plotting how the vote against Prop 15 went. The darkest blue voting precincts went overwhelmingly against Prop 15 (by a margin of 65 percent or more); the warmer-colored precincts were mixed or voted in favor, with less than 40 percent of voters in red precincts voting against Prop 15.
While Prop 15 carried Central Austin, a majority of suburban precincts, largely west of MoPac, voted it down.
“Starting in the very southern portion of the city, you’ve got a precinct, Onion Creek, that voted in excess of 65 percent against Proposition 15,” Robinson says. “As you move clockwise, you see another dark patch that’s just adjacent to Shady Holllow, even though the vast majority of Shady Hollow is unincorporated. Then you see Circle C, you see village of Western Oaks, parts of Travis Country West.”
“Moving north on the western side of the city,” Robinson continues, “you see Davenport, which is dark blue. Then out to the west of Davenport you see River Place, it’s dark blue. You move north along 620: there’s Canyon Creek, Spicewood, parts of Anderson Mill. The very tip-top is Avery Ranch. All of those large suburban boxes voted heavily against Proposition 15.”
Just as striking is what Robinson calls the "uniformity of the urban core," which in Prop 15's case streched east and west of I-35, and north and south of Lady Bird Lake in support of Prop 15. But that support wasn't enough for the proposition to pass.
Mark Yznaga managed the campaign for Prop 15. He notes that many of the suburban precincts that voted against Prop 15 are in Travis County Precinct 3, which saw a highly-contested race between incumbent Democrat Karen Huber and Republican Gerald Daugherty.
"There was higher turnout in some of those boxes, and some of them turn out higher anyway," Yznaga says. He estimates that three-fourths of the margin against Prop 15 came from boxes in Precinct 3.
But Yznaga points to other reasons than the Precinct 3 contest for Prop 15's defeat, starting with its ballot language.
"If you look at all the ballot language for all of the bonds, they all have some kind of explanation – admittedly short, but explanation," Yznaga says. "We had none. We had just one word: it just says housing. It doesn’t say affordable housing, it doesn’t say anything else."
Yznaga adds that being on "page nine of a twelve page ballot" didn't help either. "The other bonds did pass, but that’s because we have history there," he says. "We know what transportation is, we know what parks are. We don’t yet have this community experience with housing."
Robinson's map is available on the City of Austin's website, along with maps plotting turnout for Prop 1 (the medial school and health care proposal), Prop 3 (the "10-1" geographic representation plan), the presidential election and much more.