A June (not November) Electorate Explains the Vote


Voters gave the back of their hand to public employees unions from San Diego and San Jose to Green Bay and Eau Claire. But before left-wingers in California start slitting their wrists and right-wingers here start their victory dance, let’s remember the important point about the state’s historic low turnout: it was a much more conservative electorate than we’ll see in November.

In California, for example, Barack Obama drew about 1.6 million votes while Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republicans combined drew about 1.4 million – Obama over the GOP field 51-47% or about +4% for Obama.

But surveys by the Field Poll, USC/LA Times and the best private pollsters predict Obama will beat Romney in California by anywhere from 15 to 20 percentage points in the general election. In other words, while we won’t have actual data from the Secretary of State for a couple of months, it’s clear that the California electorate on Tuesday was NOT the same electorate we can expect in November.

“This is just a nasty universe,” said Democratic pollster Jim Moore, who will be explaining the same to Gov. Jerry Brown as he looks forward to a tax-hike measure in November.

Likewise, in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker narrowly survived a recall 53-46%, Obama was leading Romney 51-44%, according to the exit poll conducted by Edison Research. Six in 10 Wisconsin voters said a recall was appropriate only in cases of “official misconduct,” and a substantial number of Walker voters said they intend to vote for Obama for president.

These and other factors figure into one of the best analyses of the vote we’ve seen by Clifford Young of Ipsos Public Affairs Polling in a piece titled “Wisconsin is all noise: Obama will still win in November.”

As always, bloviating ignorami in the MSM, are over-interpreting Wisconsin and California election results. Yes, voters have had it up to here with public employee pension programs that seem to them overindulgent and budget-busting. But it is folly to leap from that to suggest that we are on the verge of a great rightward electoral wave.

No anti-tax tidal wave:  No matter what happens on Prop. 29, the $1-per-pack tobacco tax (which was losing by a wispy 1.6% before about a million late absentees were counted), by and large, local tax and bond measures fared decently.

As the inexhaustible Michael Coleman noted at Californiacityfinance.com:

Preliminary election night tallies with all precincts reporting, indicate that 55 of the 87 local revenue measures passed. As in past elections, majority vote measures fared better than supermajority vote special taxes and bonds.

Fifteen of the 19 majority vote measures passed, including all but one of the city measures. But 18 of the 34 two-thirds supermajority vote special taxes passed. School parcel taxes fared better, with nine of 13 passing versus just nine of 21 non-school special tax measures passing.

The overall passage rate of non-school local tax measures in June 2012 was similar to prior elections over the last decade. Over that time, voters have approved 66% of majority vote measures but only 45% of two-thirds vote special tax measures.

Top two still being tested: It’s too soon to tell the impact of the top-two primary system but if you want the best snap aggregation, you gotta check out Scott Lay’s Around The Capitol. The king of aggregation – and our first stop in the morning – is, of course, Jack Kavanagh’s Rough and Tumble.  But for political junkies who want gory data details right now, Lay (and his Nooner) are indispensible, to wit:

CD02: Jared Huffman clocks the Dem field and gets a walk in November against Rep Dan Roberts
— John Garamendi pulls in 47,258 votes to Kim Vann’s 22,336, likely dropping CD03 from the NRCC’s November target list
— In CD15, Pete Stark has to be sweating, with 39,000 votes for opponents against his 28,000. Eric Swalwell advances.
 — Democrats can’t be happy in CD21, where David Valadao exceeded the combined vote of John Hernandez and Blong Xiong by 5,000 votes. Hernandez advances.
— In CD24, Republicans pulled over 64,000 votes to Lois Capps’s 58,298. Abel Maldonado survives to November
CD26: Tony Strickland 44.2%, Julia Brownley 26.8% and Linda Parks 18.5%. Aside from turnout difference, Brownley needs to capture ALL of Parks’s vote to win in November.
CD30: Two Jews, One District continues in November. Sherman outpolls Berman by 7,500 votes
— DISASTER: Democrats lost a huge opportunity in CD31, with Republicans Gary Miller and Bob Dutton advancing to the runoff. Justin Kim pulled more than 7,000 votes from Pete Aguilar, pushing one of the few DCCC stars this cycle to third.
CD47: Lowenthal v. DeLong
— That IE in CD51 by the Paskenta tribe paid off–Michael Crimmins came in second, knocking out Denise Ducheny, and giving Juan Vargas a clear path in November.
— In CD52, Scott Peters has second place by a thread, up 700 votes on Lori Saldana.

Heartbroken: That’s what we were when our favorite whackjob dentist birther, Orly the Taitz, with about 114,000 votes, didn’t make the runoff as the Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Not that we have anything against the energetic Elizabeth Emken, the GOP anointed candidate who pulled about 455,00 votes compared to DiFi’s 1.8 million. But the Lizard is really just a nice, responsible, well-spoken Republican. We can’t imagine Dianne will even bother debating her.

But DiFi versus Orly – now that would have been the hottest ticket since the Thrilla in Manilla.

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There are 18 comments for this post

  1. avatar tegrat says:

    Yes, Orly’s poor showing was a huge disappointment. I thought after the endorsement (!) by the Santa Barbara News-Supressed she would have clinched it.

  2. avatar JohnF says:

    Yes, we are saddened by Orly’s poor showing, I was going to sell popcorn at the debates. Sadly some sit-coms never make it to Prime Time.

  3. avatar C.J. says:

    I gotta root for Sherman. Can’t forgive Berman for the surprise palace coup and year-long Speakership fight that followed

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      Besides the fact that was thirty two years ago and not exactly a complete surprise to anyone on either side (Prop 13 had just been passed and Republicans seemed to be on the rise) Berman turned around and did a lot for Leo’s Senate race against Wilson. Afterwards Leo supported several of his candidates and vice versa. If Leo didn’t hold a grudge, why should you?

  4. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    I realize this is a state with nearly 38 million residents, but 114,000 people thinking Orly Taitz would make a splendid senator is a bit disconcerting. Who are these people?

  5. avatar JohnF says:

    @Chuck, hopefully these are people who like watching crazy people on TV. Like me. Otherwise we are in a lot of trouble as a society.

  6. avatar C.J. says:

    @doughnut, I assure you it was indeed a complete surprise to McCarthy. And Berman didn’t need to depose the current Speaker, replacing McCarthy with himself, in order to aid upcoming Dem campaigns. It wasn’t an either/or situation. I’ll keep my resentment of his tactics, thank you very much.

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Dr. H’s recollections: 1-Leo was blindsided by Howard’s attempted coup; 2-In 1980, there were several Demo primaries that were proxy races for Berman vs. McCarthy, most notably Jack Fenton’s; ultimate winner was one Willie L. Brown of Mineola Texas, who emerged as Speaker; 3-Leo went on to three terms as Lite Gov; Howard, who was next elected to the House, may have supported Leo’s 1988 Senate bid but by ’92 was fully behind Mel Levine in the race in which Boxer skunked them both and won, eventually beating Bruce Herschensohn fueled by outrage by Dem women over the Clarence Thomas hearings.

  7. avatar doughnut70 says:

    I didn’t mean to start a discussion of campaigns from thirty two years ago and apologize for that. As for PJ’s memory, it is about right.

    I would only add that it was a draft (Leo had already announed that he would support Howard as his successor when he left and unhappy legislators pushed him to step forward) and a lot of the people who wanted a change backed away when they figured out it might be a fight (in the pre term limits era, you lost your career if you backed the wrong horse in a battle like that), so there wasn’t much choice in the way of possible compromises for either person at that point.

    However a year later Leo (who was an incredibly generous person) came out to a fundraiser for Burt Margolin and then when Leo ran for Senate against Wilson, Berman helped talk Bill Press out of challenging him and helped raise money for the race against Wilson.

    But my main point would be that you will find this type of stuff in virtually every candidate and hopefully they learn from their experience and dont repeat their mistakes. Since you single out that Speakership fight, I would give as an example, that a whole group of people who are now on the opposite side of Berman tried to run a candidate against Mike Roos a few years later in what looked like a nasty race until their candidate got ill. Several of those people are now friends of Roos’s and laugh about how dumb they were to let it happen.

    I am sure Berman learned a lot about working with others along the way and would do a lot differently today with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, but if someone wants to argue he is still the same person and hasn’t changed, you should at least be able to find an example that is less than thirty two years old. Howard is endorsed by numerous opponents from that battle including Willie Brown and Anna Eshoo (who was on Leo’s staff) and many others including most of those who were Leo’s top supporters in that fight. In fact Brad Sherman solicited support from the people who were close to Leo in the hopes of finding someone to back him and none of those people were willing to do so, because virtually all of them respected Berman’s work in Congress and thought he was the better choice for California.

    You have the right to make your own choices about who to support for Congress for whatever reason, but I hope you will at least consider the good of your state while you are doing so, rather than a battle from a long, long time ago.

  8. avatar C.J. says:

    jpHackenflack is correct; Leo was indeed blindsided by Berman. At the time, the inside palace coup Berman sprung was unprecedented. No, I doubt you will find “this kind of stuff in virtually every candidate.” It was so unprecedented that a professor in Harvard’s Kennedy’s School of Government added the unprecedented internecine warfare started by Berman to his class curriculum. (A good friend from those days, who worked for what was called Majority Consultants, under Berman, took his class and I gave her my humungous stack of my press clippings from that year to use for her class paper.)

    (And, BTW, though Anna Eshoo was a McCarthy supporter, she was not on Leo’s staff during Leo’s speakership; she was preparing for her first run for Congress at the time.)

    Folks can feel free to forgive and forget whomever and whenever they want. Since I was on Leo’s staff the entire time he was Speaker, I choose not to forget. I know the effect it had in a way most people will never know. Berman’s character was revealed and it wasn’t a flattering revelation. Maybe he’s changed. Politics works in wild and wacky ways.

    And for hackenflack’s amusement, I know who called the cops on the Berman supporters who climbed the fence trying to reach a McCarthy holdout who wasn’t the brightest bulb in the pack, Chet ?? Remember that JR? Dan Walters went crazy trying to figure out who called the cops and three Berman supporters almost got arrested? It made for some juicy press coverage?

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I think if you go through the list, you are among a minority of McCarthy staffers in that race who are not supporting Howard in his current race, but I can understand your feelings. It was an emotional and wild experience for everyone involved. I know Leo was able to work with him afterwards for the good of the state and I certainly hope you will reconsider. But as I said, I can understand if you look at it differently.

      For everyone’s amusement that won’t understand your reference to the cops, a certain Assemblyman who had switched a couple of times already in that race battle had a meeting scheduled or was about to receive a pitch for why he should switch sides again, depending on whose version you accept. When the people who wanted to meet with him showed up, the Assemblyman wasn’t home, but a light was on in the back oh his house. Since they had called that morning, someone ( a current prominent elected official) had the bright idea of hopping the fence to knock on the back door and the cops showed up. The Assemblyman in question had flown to Hawaii that day for a conference and claimed to the press that he forgot about the conference he was leaving that day to attend when he said he would meet with the people and that he certainly wasn’t changing his mind again on the race and also wasn’t sure when he would be getting back from Hawaii.

  9. avatar doughnut70 says:

    I should also add for anyone who is interested in political battles from long go, that a friend of Willie Brown’s named Marcus McGee wrote a very good history of the 1980 speakership fight which is available on Kindle. I will also add for those that wonder about the back and forth, I am kind of used to this stuff because like a lot of people in politics, I am probably too quick to challenge other people’s views of past elections. But this back and forth on blog is relatively minor. When I was a kid, I met Bobby Kennedy and went to Iowa to campaign for Ted Kennedy when he ran for President. As I was speaking to a Democratic club on his behalf, a couple of people started screaming about how Bobby had screwed over Gene McCarthy and Ted was just following in his brothers footsteps. After I spoke (with some help from the moderator, I went back to my motel in the small town of Adel. The next morning when I walked out the door, I was hit by a snowball and heard someone yelling as he drove off and then when I got to my rental car, the windows were smashed the the tires were slashed. We are nowhere near that point, but politics can be emotional and it just goes with the territory. But in a lot of ways, it can also be rewarding and fun.

  10. avatar C.J. says:

    aha, so you do know what I’m referring to, if we’re referring to the same incident, since I do know who the current elected official is. I don’t remember the part about Hawaii, I thought the assemblymen in question was located somewhere else (safe house, so to speak), but I no longer recall where. Anyway, it was an interesting time for those of us in the thick of it.

  11. avatar C.J. says:

    and thanks for the info on the McGee book, guess I’ll have to get a Kindle. The only other book I’m aware of that covered (to some extent) the 1980 Speakership fight was one written by a Sacramento Bee reporter on Willie Brown. I also remember the Moretti/McCarthy/Brown battle for Speakership which happened because Moretti resigned to run for Governor. Where were you during McCarthy/Berman speakership battle? Do we know each other from way back when?

    • avatar doughnut70 says:

      I doubt it. I was no one significant, just a YD on the other side, although I had a chance to go to Sacramento right when that broke out and decided those people were all crazy and did other things for a while. If you could send me an email though, I would be glad to compare notes. I got to spend time with Leo after that stuff was over and never doubted he was a good person.and frankly it would be fun to hear some of that stuff from the other side. My email is gretzkyfortwo@yahoo.com

  12. avatar C.J. says:

    The book I referred to is “Willie Brown: A Biography” by Jim Richardson, published in 1997.

  13. avatar pjhackenflack says:

    The assembly member behind the fence, I believe was Chet Wray, AKA Chet Wray Chet because as he was reading his comments on the floor one day from a pack of index cards, the only way he could remember what he was supposed to say, he finished and kept flipping, seamlessly moving from the last card in the pile right back to the first. Apparently unaware that he had finished, he blithely began to read his remarks again. Chet Wray Chet.

  14. avatar C.J. says:

    pjh, you are correct!! The answer to who was not the brightest bulb in the pack is Chet Wray. Darn good memory. I too remember the index cards faux pas. And the answer to the earlier question is Howard Gingold aided and abetted by yours truly.

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