City Councilor Michelle Wu’s path to victory in Tuesday’s preliminary election for mayor ran through all of Boston’s neighborhoods, according to a Globe analysis of election data, which showed solid support for her throughout the city even as she dominated in some of the more liberal neighborhoods.
The data show that Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, who placed second, was able to run up her vote tally in the whiter, more conservative neighborhoods that have long put candidates into office. But she saw only limited enthusiasm for her candidacy beyond South Boston and parts of Dorchester and West Roxbury, while drawing minimal support in Boston’s Black communities.
Wu, a flag-bearer of the progressive movement in Boston, finished first or second in 17 of the city’s 22 wards, and never finished below third, according to the data.
Essaibi George, who is widely seen as a centrist, finished first or second in eight out of 22 wards; she came in fourth or fifth in 11 of them.
The results serve as a blueprint for what each candidate must do to expand support before the Nov. 2 general election, the field now narrowed to a final two and tens of thousands of new voters potentially up for grabs.
“Now it’s head-to-head,” said David Guarino, a veteran political consultant and partner at Melwood Global, a public relations firm. “It changes things quite a bit.”
Essaibi George, he said, will have to attract more voters who weren’t with her the first time to win. He said she has already started that messaging by saying Wu’s visions for rent control and free transportation are out of touch with reality. Wu has countered by saying voters shouldn’t settle for the status quo.
“It’s going to be about where you are on the issues,” Guarino said. “And I think Annissa Essaibi George needs to do everything she can to cast Wu as far left of your typical Boston voters . . . The challenge for Annissa will be, are there enough people who respond to that.”
Wu, he said, has a clearer path: She must hold onto the support she has, and hope that voters who went with other candidates in the preliminary election will rally behind her.
Wu won the preliminary decisively with 33 percent of the vote, to 22 percent for Essaibi George. Councilor Andrea Campbell placed not far behind with 20 percent, while Acting Mayor Kim Janey got 19 percent. John Barros, the former chief of economic development, struggled with only 3 percent.
None of the losing candidates have said whether they will endorse one of the finalists. But a preelection poll by MassINC, a research group, found that Campbell’s and Janey’s supporters were far more likely to name Wu as their second choice than Essaibi George. A recent poll by Suffolk University and the Globe found a similar trend.
Tuesday’s results show each finalist holds a political affinity with certain neighborhoods, with Boston’s most conservative enclaves going with Essaibi George. Liberal-leaning precincts, which have turned out in increasing numbers in recent elections, backed Wu heavily, though Campbell picked up support in those areas as well.
Janey dominated the heart of Boston’s Black communities, winning 56 percent of the vote in Ward 12 and 50 percent in Ward 14. Those wards stretch from Nubian Square to Morton Street at Mattapan, and along the Blue Hill Avenue corridor.
Essaibi George won only 4 percent and 5 percent of those wards, respectively.
But she performed particularly well in her traditional base areas, in South Boston, the whiter parts of Dorchester near the water, and in a pocket of West Roxbury that has a long history of conservative voting.
Those areas were similarly controlled by former mayor Martin J. Walsh, a friend and political ally of Essaibi George who also was seen as a centrist.
For example, she won with 49 percent of the vote in South Boston and most of the the precincts in Dorchester between Dorchester Avenue and Morrissey Boulevard.
Essaibi George also dominated Ward 16, in Dorchester’s Neponset and Cedar Grove neighborhoods. She won 80 percent of the vote in Ward 16 Precinct 12 where the Keystone Apartments senior housing complex and the firefighters’ union are based. She had nearly 600 votes. Wu got a mere 51.
The blue-collar workers in West Roxbury at the Dedham line, where the city’s only Donald Trump-supporting Republican committee was based, also went with Essaibi George; she won Ward 20 Precinct 15 with 49 percent of the vote, Precinct 16 with 51 percent, and Precinct 17 with 49 percent.
Cameron Charbonnier, Essaibi George’s campaign manager, said the team concentrated its efforts before Tuesday in the areas where Essaibi George had built support before, with loyal voters who could help her advance to the final round.
But he said Essaibi George has and will continue to reach out to other neighborhoods now that the final field is set. There are also as many as 45,000 voters who did not turn out for the preliminary but will likely vote in November that are up for grabs, he said. Preliminary elections typically have lower turnout.
“It’s open terrain, and every vote is up for grabs,” he said. “You’ll see us in the city, investing in resources all across the city. That’s how we’ve always conducted our campaign, and that’s been Annissa’s work on the council.”
Lawrence DiCara, a veteran political analyst, said that Walsh was able to build a coalition of blue-collar workers from the South Boston, Dorchester, and West Roxbury neighborhoods to prevail in 2013 over John Connolly, who was seen as the progressive candidate and who marshaled support from newer voters, those with advanced degrees, and the business community.
But Walsh also won Roxbury by a slim margin thanks to the support of Black blue-collar workers, which helped him win the race, according to DiCara and an analysis of the city data.
“Marty Walsh combined those groups,” DiCara said. “I have no reason to not believe that Annissa will try to put together that same type of coalition, a blue-collar coalition.”
But while Essaibi George fared well in certain blue-collar neighborhoods, she dropped heavily in Boston’s predominantly Black communities, which went with Janey. Wu won 18 percent and 14 percent of Wards 12 and 14, respectively.
Wu was steady in pockets scattered throughout the city, including in East Boston, where Essaibi George used to work as a teacher. Wu won 37 percent of the votes in that neighborhood compared with 28 percent for Essaibi George.
Wu also won heavily in Jamaica Plain and her home base of Roslindale, where progressive voters have established new voting strongholds. Those areas helped carry progressive candidates such as Representative Ayanna Pressley, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, and state Representative Nika Elugardo to victories in recent elections over more established candidates, and they have supported Wu before.
She prevailed in Ward 19, which makes up most of the heavily liberal Jamaica Plain, with 46 percent of the vote, while Essaibi George got just 9 percent.
Those areas helped get out the vote, as well, posting some of the highest turnout numbers in the city.
In Ward 20, which includes West Roxbury and Roslindale, 42 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, or12 percent of the city’s total turnout. Essaibi George captured 40 percent of the Ward 20 vote.
In Ward 19, 37 percent of voters headed to the polls, making up 7 percent of the total turnout. Wu had 46 percent of that vote.
Wu also won big in Beacon Hill and the Back Bay, the South End, and Chinatown. She dominated in Allston and Brighton, winning more than 50 percent of the vote.
And in a few places she edged into Essaibi George’s territory, as well. Wu won Ward 13, where Essaibi George and Walsh grew up.
One area that remains up for grabs is Hyde Park, where the politically popular Arroyo family — including City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo — is based. The family endorsed Janey before Tuesday’s election. The neighborhood, in Ward 18, is among the city’s most diverse: Black residents make up 50 percent of the population and Hispanics make up 23 percent. The neighborhood also made up a notable chunk of the voter turnout: 28 percent of Ward 18 voters went to the polls, making up 11 percent of the 108,000 total votes in the preliminary election.
Janey carried the Arroyo endorsement to win Ward 18 with 35 percent of the vote. Wu won 25 percent, to Essaibi George’s 19 percent.