We’ve covered the hell out of Raleigh politics this year. 

We’ve covered campaigns. We’ve covered campaign contributions. We’ve gone deep with the major mayoral candidates—and just spent six thousand words profiling one of them. We’ve reported on big fights over affordable housing and density and skirmishes over the RDU quarry. We’ve broken news about dumb screw-ups and poor decisions and councilmanic bullying. We’ve gotten yelled at on social media and yelled back in print.

And, a few weeks ago, we released our endorsements. 

Today, you vote. Actually, you’ve been voting for the last few weeks. But today we learn who wins, who loses, and who goes to a runoff next month. 

Before this merciful curtain closes, let’s do one last round of predictions for tonight’s results. As I’ve done in the past, these are based on an admixture of our reporting, analysis of campaign finance reports, conversations with local politicos, and instinct. For the record, I’ve been privy to descriptions of one campaign’s private polling, though not the polling itself; it was a few weeks ago, and there were a lot of undecideds. 

I want to hear your predictions, too. Send me an email at jbillman@indyweek.com or leave them in the comments. 

As a note: No matter where your favorite candidate stands—in my ratings or in reality—go vote. This is an extraordinarily important election for Raleigh’s future, and whether you think the INDY has read Raleigh’s political scene correctly or is full of shit, don’t sit on the sidelines. 

Ready? Let’s do it. 


Charles Francis: 34

Mary-Ann Baldwin: 32

Caroline Sullivan: 25

Zainab Baloch: 7

George Knott: 1

Justin Sutton: 1

Francis and Baldwin go to a runoff. This result would portend terribly for Francis. 


(In order of finish, no percentages.)

Nicole Stewart

Russ Stephenson

Jonathan Melton

Portia Rochelle

James Bledsoe

Carlie Allison Spencer

Stewart wins outright. Stephenson does not get more than 25 percent, which allows Melton to request a runoff.  


Patrick Buffkin 51

Sam Hershey 46

Joshua Bradley 3

A close race, with Buffkin barely winning a majority.


David Cox 56

Brian Fitzsimmons 44

Cox wins a little more easily than expected, perhaps owing to the Triangle Government Association’s ad backfire


Corey Branch 62

Shelia Alamin Khashoggi 22

Wanda Hunter 12

Ricky Scott 4

Branch is easily re-elected. 


Kay Crowder 41

Saige Martin 35

Brittany Bryan 20

April Parker 4

Crowder is forced into a runoff, where she’ll be an underdog. 


David Knight 55

Stef Mendell 45

David Knight defeats Mendell. 

If I’m right about all of this—I’m probably not—the council that takes office in December will probably be: Baldwin, Stewart, Melton, Buffkin, Cox, Branch, Martin, Knight. Only one of the four NIMBYs will remain. 

For fun, let’s do Durham, too. (Again, by order of finish, no percentages; the top six move on to November).

Charlie Reece

Jillian Johnson

Javiera Caballero

… [small gap] … 

Joshua Gunn

… [somewhat larger gap] …

Jackie Wagstaff

… [small gap] …

Daniel Meier

… [large gap] …

John Tarantino

[…you can count their votes on your fingers and toes] …

Ricardo Correa 

Charlitta Burruss

Victoria Peterson

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2 replies on “FINAL PREDICTIONS: What Will the Races in Raleigh Look Like When the Polls Close Tonight?”

  1. I used to do these types of prognostications as a student at NC State. After 16 years, I’ll dip my toes back in the water.

    Will Win: Baldwin-Francis runoff
    Should Win:??

    Baldwin and Sullivan could cancel each other out, enabling Baloch to advance to the runoff against Francis. However, the late Hillary endorsement will likely be a MAJOR DEMERIT for Sullivan. I also agree that Baloch would have been better off in the at-large race due to the heavyweights in the race.

    Will Win: Stewart outright; Stephenson-Melton runoff
    Should Win: Stewart and Melton outright

    A thriving city is represented by people who have brought back the Mayberry mentality, which may have very well sparked the dreaded Fetzer-Coble Era back in the ‘90s. Nicole Stewart is a good first step. Now, she needs help. I expect there to be a strong clash of philosophies for the second seat.

    District A
    Will Win: Buffkin-Hershey runoff
    Should Win: Bradley

    I would want to see Bradley win the seat only for the shock value: Excluding McFarlane’s four years, the North Raleigh district was in the hands of right wingers from 1995 to 2015. How funny it would be if the seat that was once held by a key supporter of the Fetzer-Coble alliance flips to a party that thinks that Bernie and AOC don’t go far enough?

    Back to reality, Buffkin’s endorsements by the last two mayors and the lame duck incumbent will be enough for him to win in Round 2.

    District B
    Will Win: Cox
    Should Win: Fitzsimmons

    That stupid TGA is more inflammatory than the one that sank Stephanie Fanjul’s mayoral campaign two decades ago. The TGA will snatch defeat from a certain Fitzsimmons victory.

    District C
    Will Win: Branch
    Should Win: Branch

    There’s no reason to believe that the incumbent is in trouble in Southeast Raleigh.

    District D
    Will Win: Crowder narrowly avoids a runoff
    Should Win: Martin

    Kay must go but I’m not sure that she’ll even see a runoff. From my days as a college student, she her late husband and her husband’s predecessor have all represented the snobs of the city and it’s high time that these people are put in their place. Hopefully, Martin can take this to a runoff. #AnyoneButKay

    District E
    Will Win: Mendell
    Should Win: Knight

    Knight can probably unseat Mendell but there could just as easily be a backlash due to the various issues like the quarry that results in the incumbent getting a second term.

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