Our Department of Post-Mortem Political Analysts and Bleached Bone Feasting Hyenas has gnawed the last crusts of Election Night Pizza and now turn to their task of sifting the detritus of Tuesday’s results. Their secret report:
The Big Story: At 9:29 p.m., Calbuzz became the first to tweet-port election night’s most stunning story, that state Sen. Leland Yee, under indictment on federal corruption charges, was outpolling Dan Schnur, the high-profile tribune of political reform in the Secretary of State’s race.
However, when the Snooze Analysts who actually get paid to do this stuff got around to it the next day, they fumbled for an explanation – maybe Shrimp Boy’s Chinatown GOTV operation was slicker than we thought? – as the real reason stared them straight in the face: as with every election in the last 40 years, the biggest story, routinely ignored, or kissed off with a 10-inch voter turnout yarn on A11, is that the vast majority of Californians couldn’t care less about politics, and many of those who do are barely literate on the subject, which suggests the Politician-Consultant-Media Complex is gazing through the wrong end of the telescope, for which we all deserve to be burned in hell.
Whither Top Two: It worked! It failed! It’s too soon to tell! Amid a boatload of speculative thumb suckers about the impact of the first statewide office jungle primary, it appears that it’s begun to accomplish what backers promised it would: rein in wing nuts and restore some semblance of a partisan balance to California. Maybe.
As Calitics notes, liberal labor money trumped business in some key races, most notably in the marquee 16th Assembly District contest, where the peerless Gale Kaufman led CTA’s stern punishment of Steve Glazer (along with a brutal IE run by Chris Lehman) for tip-toeing off the Democratic orthodoxy reservation by daring to challenge the power of public employee unions.
Still, the election’s bottom line winner is state Republican chairman Jim Brulte, whose one-foot-in-front-of-the other strategy for restoring the GOP to seriousness yielded tangible results: it’s impossible that a candidate as rational as Neel Kashkari, the Tyrion Lannister of state politics, would have defeated Sharia Screwball Tim Donnelly in a straight-up partisan primary, and the emergence of the impressive Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen offers a glimmer of hope for the GOP’s bench-building efforts. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll wake up and embrace the Calbuzz strategy for a two party-system.
The 2018 Race: Neel “The Imp” Kashkari is now positioned to build some 2018 cred with his sacrificial lamb campaign against Governor Gandalf, but it was AG Kamala Harris who quietly but forcefully staked her front-runner claim in the four-years-hence field. Her vote total – 1,597,296 – was second only to Governor Brown’s, as she collected 53% in a field of nobodies, and was notable in outpacing Prince Gavin, who won less than 50 percent in the Lite Governor’s race and trails Herself by 67,508 ballots (yeah, yeah, we know he ran against seven stiffs and she only faced six).
Come nut-cutting time, when the two sit down to divide up the world, we see Harris’s superior star power as a better fit for Washington than Sacramento; she’d do well to keep her options open, however, because it’s a fool’s game to think that Ageless Wonder Dianne Feinstein will be anywhere but on the ballot in 2018, in pursuit of a sixth Senate term.
Media mavens: Mega-plaudits to the Hearst Chron’s Carla Marinucci, John Wildermuth and a cast of thousands for executing the smartest and most solid MSM game plan in evidence on election night, a tribute to long-ago great strategic plans devised by newsroom icons like Jim Brewer and the crafty Dave Hyams. Among other things, our monitoring of the Twitterverse showed that Costco Carla was the first to call the Kashkari-Donnelly race, and the only one to report a perceptual scoop about Dems missing a big chance to foist Donnelly onto the GOP, while her teammates swarmed the high-profile 16th AD and the Honda-Khanna 17th CD contests all night.
Also: kudos to the SacBee’s political team, which put together a thorough, all-you-need to know day-after news report, a thankless task in many ways tougher that covering the election itself, since everybody’s sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated and plain old cranky; a don’t-miss huzzah to Dan Morain for his splendid feature on mystery man David Evans; ongoing accolades to “The Nooner,” featuring Scott Lay’s indispensable daily data dumps about cash being shoveled into every race in the state, a labor of love that sends us off to nappy time every we think about the energy needed to do it.
Crystal Balls: As we wrote on election night, the USC/LA Times pre-election poll was spot-on in forecasting the Kashkari-Donnelly race; as we wrote the day before, however, they were totally weasley gun shy about saying so at the time, and led our, um, colleagues at the LAT down the wrong path in getting squirrely about their own results.
Given that, the chest-thumping touchdown dance the big brain pollsters at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner performed the next day, proclaiming themselves geniuses for being on the money in advance of the election – two days after they were too chicken to state clearly what their own data showed – was an astonishing display of gall.
Calbuzz gets results: While Governor Gandalf claimed individual honors for garnering the most votes on Tuesday – 1,730,495 – he ran far, far behind the total collected by the Calbuzz “Vote for the Story” slate card – 2,316,794 at post time. Oh sure, our eight-person Bad News Bears didn’t actually win anything, but the ragtag ticket copped five Bronze Medals and three “Everybody’s a Winner” green ribbons for sportsmanship. You could look it up.
While the MSM filed their dutiful and predictable pieces – some better than others – about the too-close controller’s race and Kashkari’s “victory” on behalf of the big money establishment, here’s fair warning that about the 800th time you guys are forced to listen to The Imp hold forth on his plan for the middle class, or bash Krusty’s “Crazy Train” (has there ever been a worse signature campaign line?), you’ll be sorry you blew off coverage of candidates who might have made the next five months interesting, or at least bearable.