AUSTIN (KXAN) — Former Austin mayor Kirk Watson is returning to the position after pulling out a slim victory in the Dec. 13 runoff election.
Watson defeated State Rep. Celia Israel with a margin of just 933 votes. Israel had won the most votes in November’s general election, but failed to reach the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff.
The map of results in the runoff shows a clear east-west divide, similar to that seen in the November general election.
Watson won precincts on the western side of the city, primarily west of MoPac Expressway, while Israel won most precincts in east and south Austin.
KXAN analyzed the results in all 239 precincts in which at least one vote was cast. Watson won the most votes in 96 precincts, while Israel carried 143 precincts.
Watson won at least 70% of the vote in 38 precincts, primarily in western and northwestern portions of the city.
Of precincts with more than 100 votes cast, his strongest performance was in Travis County Precinct 290, which covers Westlake, bounded by The High Road to the south, Capital of Texas Highway to the west and Lake Austin to the north and east. Watson received 89.48% of the vote in the precinct.
Israel’s strongest support was concentrated in much of north central and east Austin.
In precincts with more than 100 votes cast, her best performance was in Travis County Precinct 312, where she received 91.96% of the vote. The precinct covers the University of Texas campus between Guadalupe Street and San Jacinto Boulevard.
The map below shows how the vote changed from the Nov. 8 general election to the Dec. 13 runoff. Areas in orange swung toward Watson, while areas in green swung toward Israel.
Again, the east-west geographical divide is present, with Watson consolidating support out west, while Israel improved on her margins in the east.
There was movement in Central Austin though. Several precincts won by Israel actually swung toward Watson, including student housing areas around the UT campus. Turnout in those precincts was greatly reduced, as many students have already returned home for winter break.
The vast majority of all votes in the mayoral election were cast in Travis County. Unofficial totals from Election Night showed Israel’s margin of victory in the county was just 17 votes over Watson, down from more than 16,000 in the November general election. Updated totals posted Dec. 20 showed Watson actually carried the county by 30 votes.
Watson also won Hays County, by a margin of 22 votes, and the Williamson County portion of Austin by 881 votes, solidifying his victory. Still, his margin of victory overall was just 0.82%.