Key Takeaways from the Dallas Mayor's Race

Updated: May 11, 2019

Even as results are still coming in, there are some crucial notes from the municipal elections in Dallas and Fort Worth.


Both cities had elections for mayor today, and even though these are "nonpartisan" elections, there is clear partisanship involved. In Dallas, a 9-way race for Mayor has Democratic state Rep. Eric Johnson with a slight edge over progressive Councilman Scott Griggs. Former Republican State Rep. Jason Villalba is sitting toward the bottom. Developer Mike Ablon and philanthropist Lynn McBee are also in the hunt.


With that information, here are the takeaways from the Dallas mayoral election.


1) Dallas is going left.

We saw this in the 2018 midterm elections, and the fact that two progressive candidates are leading in the returns shows that city-wide elections in the city will continue to favor Democrats. Usually, so many progressives would split the vote and allow the conservative candidate (Villalba) to get into the runoff, but the returns show that Dallas is too liberal for such candidates to even have a shot anymore.


2) Being an outsider only helps you so much.

A lot of outsiders can split the vote, like McBee and Ablon. Well-connected candidates tend to perform better in municipal races, as evidenced by Johnson and Griggs.


3) Signs do not guarantee votes.

McBee and Ablon have their signs all over the city. Ablon also aired TV and radio ads to build his name recognition. The top two candidates used party databases and experience campaigning in the city in order to target voters in person and online.


4) Hire consultants, but do not overpay.

Sure, political consultants are extremely valuable. Sure, it pays to have multiple consultants or firms helping you out. But Ablon hired 17+ consultants at a cost of over $100,000 in this race, which could have been used for campaign materials. It pays to bring in people that know what they are doing. All of the top candidates hired political consultants to boost their campaigns. Whether for strategy or ground game or anything else, bringing in an expert or two greatly improves the chances of a win, but keep in mind that this can cost a lot of money.