Cleveland’s outlying neighborhoods united to sink Issue 38, the People’s Budget charter amendment that narrowly lost by 2% last week

The map of unofficial election results shows that the amendment failed in what have been called “middle neighborhoods,” parts of town that are neither booming nor in dire straits. 

On the West Side, middle neighborhoods West Park and Old Brooklyn voted strongly against Issue 38. On the East Side, Collinwood and Lee-Harvard turned down Issue 38 too, but by closer margins. 

Explore the map and read on for more analysis of the results. See a full-screen version of the map here.

West Park and Old Brooklyn lead the No vote

Issue 38 suffered its biggest defeats in the two wards with the highest voter turnout: Wards 17 and 13. The issue also lost in Wards 16 and 12. 

Together, these four wards make up the West Park and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods, two West Side communities that were historically home to many city workers. In the last mayoral election, they also formed then-Council President Kevin Kelley’s political base. 

Downtown, Ohio City, Tremont and Detroit-Shoreway boost the Yes side

By sheer margin of votes, the People’s Budget ran strongest in Wards 3 and 15 – which cover downtown and the northern stretch of the West Side. 

These two wards have seen an influx of new development over the last decade. They’re also where Justin Bibb racked up lots of support in the 2021 mayoral primary. Although the mayor took a stance against Issue 38, he wasn’t a prominent part of the No campaign. 

East Side split

The People’s Budget lost a close race on the far northeast side and the far southeast aside. Neighborhoods in between those two poles, such as Central and Glenville, favored Issue 38.  

Although Council President Blaine Griffin led the campaign against Issue 38, his own Ward 6 voted for it. Griffin’s home precinct joined him in voting No, however. 

East-West division muddled

Traditionally, the Cuyahoga River has been seen as the fulcrum of Cleveland politics – dividing the East Side from the West, and majority Black neighborhoods from majority white ones. 

Overall, the People’s Budget won more than 52% of the votes east of the river, and only 45% of the votes west of it. But the Issue 38 results also scrambled the old school East-West view of city politics. 

Largely white West Park and the largely Black southeast side both voted No, although the southeast side defeated Issue 38 more narrowly. Likewise, Issue 38 won in the 61% white Ward 3 – which covers downtown, Tremont and Ohio City – and in Ward 7, which is 69% Black and includes the Hough neighborhood.

How we did it

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections reported its precinct-level voting results in PDF format, rather than as a spreadsheet. That made it harder to analyze the numbers. 

Signal Cleveland turned to Tabula, a tool supported by the Knight Foundation, to extract the numbers from the PDF. We cleaned and transposed the resulting file in R Studio and mapped the data in Flourish.

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio. He has more than a decade experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. In 2021, he produced and hosted "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor," an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.

Director, Research + Impact (she/her)
April has a passion for weaving together data and community voices. Her career highlights include research into the rental-housing market in Cleveland to inform policy change and program development and co-founding Data Days Cleveland to help amplify the value of data.