Greensboro primary: mayoral returns analysis

by Eric Ginsburg and Jordan Green

Residents in east Greensboro turned out in force, delivering Perkins nearly 3,000 votes more than Knight overall. In District 1 and 2, residents in a handful of precincts overwhelmingly supported Perkins, most handily in two of the easternmost precincts G06 and G74 by nearly 300 votes in each.

Perkins won upwards of 85 percent of the vote in three precincts that lie along the Phillips Avenue corridor near the White Street Landfill. In the two districts closest to the landfill, turnout far exceeded the 11 percent average across the city. In G06, which includes the landfill, 24.3 percent of registered voters turned out, while nearby G05 saw 18.7 percent turnout.

Perkins also dominated a cluster of precincts in southeast Greensboro. G69, at Reid Memorial CME Church, where Perkins carried 87.4 percent of the vote was typical.

Less than an hour before the polls closed, six Bennett College students arrived in a minivan. One pulled out a bullhorn and led a chant: “Bennett belles are… voting belles!”

Robert Moore, a 71-year-old volunteer wearing campaign buttons for Perkins and at-large contenders Yvonne Johnson and Marikay Abuzuaiter, stood out in the rain throughout the day talking up his candidates.

“We want a major change; we want a better change for Greensboro,” he said. “When I say Greensboro, I mean everyone. We feel hurt from 2011.

“We are fighting for people who are going to get our district right,” he continued. “We’re fighting hard because we want Robbie Perkins to win. Robbie looks at things truthfully.”

Perkins territory chart

Precinct — Perkins — the rest

G03 — 209 — 32
G05 — 277 — 23
G06 — 332 — 44
G69 — 249 — 36
G73 — 236 — 51
G74 — 352 — 57
G75 — 234 — 52

Areas in west Greensboro with high voter turnout, most located in District 4, went to Knight but also showed strongly for Perkins. Knight only received more than 200 votes in three precincts, G32, 33 and 34 — clustered around Bryan Boulevard — all of which were among the nine precincts in the city with turnout over 20 percent. Put together, the three gave Knight less than 300 votes more than Perkins, helping to explain his overall lower turnout.

Low voter turnout in areas of west Greensboro that helped Knight win in 2009 did not vote for him in high enough numbers to balance the race more. Knight only won in precincts in District 3, 4 and 5 with most of the support coming from the northwestern part of the city. East Greensboro solidly chose Perkins, as did a number of precincts in the other districts too. Perkins picked off the easternmost precincts in District 3 and 5 as well as a decent amount of District 4.

Challenger Chris Phillips, a black Republican with ties to the local Tea Party, won more votes than Knight in a number of east Greensboro precincts as well. All of the precincts where Phillips performed the best in also favored Perkins. The candidate sought to appeal to black voters’ sense of racial solidarity by placing yard signs showing his face around east Greensboro.

Tom Phillips came in third in the mayoral race with 2,168 total votes but was still eliminated. After the primary he endorsed Perkins, suggesting many of his supporters would move into the challenger’s camp. Perkins will likely also pick up votes that initially went to left-leaning Bradford Cone, who came in last with 689 but wasn’t far behind Chris Phillips.

Perkins won with landslide victories in many east Greensboro precincts, but not all. Knight received solid support in some Perkins-leaning precincts, coming within 15 votes in G07, which includes the Revolution Mill complex, and showing well in G02 and G08, both flanking Summit Avenue, as well.

A handful of precincts were so close they will be impossible to predict before the general election, including G24, at the northeast corner of the Lawndale Drive-Pisgah Church Road intersection, where Perkins led Knight by two votes with nearly a third of voters choosing a different candidate. In G22, whose polling place is Irving Park United Methodist Church, Tom Phillips showed strongly with 124 votes — slightly trailing Knight’s 149 and Perkins 133. Perkins took G66, the upper tier of Adams Farm, by two votes; G60, along the High Point Road corridor, by three; and G63 by five. Knight carried CG3B, in the Air Harbor Road area, by five votes; and G62, near Stanley Road in the southwest, by three.

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