THE GIST: In Wake and Orange counties and the city of Durham, voters—if history is a guide, not all that many of them—will go to polls and chart the futures of their respective municipal governments. The marquee races are in Raleigh (mayor) and Durham (mayor, city council).

  • In Raleigh, an increasingly vituperative campaign has culminated in challenger Charles Francis attacking Mayor Nancy McFarlane for overlooking the city’s poorest residents while the rest of Raleigh thrived, and McFarlane hitting Francis for speaking to the local Republican Party and taking money from antigay bigots. McFarlane outperformed Francis by twelve points in October and barely missed the majority threshold she needed to claim victory outright. That would seem to make her the favorite tonight—Francis would have to consolidate nearly all of third-place Republican candidate Paul Fitts’s support, a seemingly difficult feat for a black Democrat. (Some prominent Republicans are supporting him, however.) But the second election could well bring with it a different (and larger) electorate, which means you can’t rule Francis out.
  • In Durham, the mayor’s race between Steve Schewel and Farad Ali, as well as the city’s three ward races, have seemed to expose a rift between two powerful PACs: the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, which is supporting Ali, Cora-Cole McFadden in Ward 1, Mark-Anthony Middleton in Ward 2, and Shelia Ann Huggins in Ward 3; and the Durham People’s Alliance, which is backing Schewel, DeDreana Freeman in Ward 1, John Rooks Jr. in Ward 2, and Vernetta Alston in Ward 3. In the October primary, all of the PA’s candidates except Rooks led in the balloting. (FWIW, all of the leading candidates were endorsed by the INDY.)

ONE KEY THING: Probably the most interesting thing from the first round of voting in the two mayoral races—both of which feature one black and one white candidate—has been the racial and socioeconomic divide. Here’s the map of Raleigh’s vote by precinct.

Francis absolutely crushed McFarlane in east and southeast Raleigh, predominantly African-American and sometimes struggling neighborhood. But in the north and west, whiter and more affluent areas, the mayor cleaned house. Should she prevail, the mayor would do well to keep in mind that nearly half the city feels left behind.

The same story largely holds true in Durham. Ali racked up wins in east Durham, while Schewel scored a majority by winning the whiter, liberal, and more affluent areas in downtown, west Durham, and south Durham.

PREDICTIONS: Let’s have a little fun. I’m going to give you my predictions for who will win in Raleigh and Durham and by how much, you can email me yours ( sometime before polls close this evening, and we’ll see who has their finger on the pulse of our community. Ready? Here we go:

  • Durham Mayor: Schewel 54%, Ali 46%
  • Durham Ward 1: Freeman 53%, Cole-McFadden 47%
  • Durham Ward 2: Middleton 52%, Rooks 48%
  • Durham Ward 3: Alston 51%, Huggins 49%
  • Raleigh Mayor: McFarlane 56%, Francis 44%

This post was excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.