"I think the surprise was that Ahok performed better than expected. Polls a fews weeks ago were painting him around 30, 35 percent," Roberto Herrera-Lim, Southeast Asia managing director at Teneo Intelligence, told CNBC's "The Rundown."
"It shows that although tensions have been inflamed by the rallies, by the anti-Christian (and) anti-Chinese sentiment, they've toned down a bit since then," he added.
Ahok is currently on trial for blasphemy after referencing a verse from the Koran while on the campaign trail.
While some experts say that the public is increasingly viewing the blasphemy charge as political in nature, others say that religion continues to play a part in the public sphere in secular Indonesia.
"Some Indonesians say they must have a Muslim, they must have an ethnic Indonesian as governor of Jakarta. That's going to inform a lot of votes still," Herrera-Lim said.