Updated Nov. 19 with statements from Taylor and Thao’s campaigns and additional information about the status of the ballot count.
Since Election Night, Sheng Thao trailed Loren Taylor in every vote count update posted by the county Registrar of Voters. But on Friday, Nov. 18, ten days after the election, Thao pulled ahead of Taylor with 50.3% of the vote after ranked-choice.
Thao appears to have won the mayor’s race.
Her campaign held back from declaring victory on Friday night but issued an optimistic statement: “It’s been a long week and a half and we have been humbled to watch the results shift in our favor with each passing day,” campaign consultant Noah Finneburgh wrote in an email. “With the latest results posted by the Registrar of Voters, we have taken the lead, with very few votes left to count. We thank the Registrar of Voters for working so diligently and we look forward to their official update on how many votes exactly remain to be counted. We are optimistic that our lead will hold and that Sheng Thao will be the next Mayor of Oakland.”
Taylor tweeted Saturday morning that his campaign believes there are still thousands of ballots left to count and that “given the incredibly close margin based on last night’s instant runoff results, I believe it is premature to declare victory or defeat at this time.”
Officials in the registrar’s office told The Oaklandside that Friday’s results update concludes the counting of ballots. But the registrar’s office also told the East Bay Times there are about 2000 ballots left to count for the entire county, a fraction of which could be Oakland voters. And some ballots that were not added to the initial tally because of a variety of problems, like voters’ signatures that don’t quite match, could still be added later on if voters can cure these defects. Finally, the registrar must still audit the count, and the results have to be certified by the Oakland City Council to become official.
But right now, Thao leads Taylor in the vote count by a tiny margin—680 votes, or just one-half of a percent of the more than 124,000 votes cast.
The race is so close that a recount could be requested by any of the candidates or any registered voter. If this happens, county officials would conduct a recount paid for by the party that requested it.
In ranked-choice voting, Taylor was the most popular second-choice for supporters of Greg Hodge, Treva Reid, and Ignacio De La Fuente, who finished sixth, fifth, and third, respectively. But Thao was able to surge past Taylor because she garnered the vast majority of second-choice votes of Allyssa Victory’s supporters. Victory, a civil rights attorney who hadn’t previously run for office, did surprisingly well, coming in fourth place with about 10,800 votes.