Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Election Results

Tuesday's election was remarkable for its clarity.  In addition to Mitt Romney winning 81% of the GOP primary there were some other results.   Scott Walker won by about the percentage that most of the polls had him at although early in the evening he was up by as much as 15%.   At least according to NPR in Wisconsin(with 99% of the votes in) three of the GOP senators held on to their seats and the fourth looks to have lost by the narrowest of margins.   That is a stunning defeat for the public employee unions.   Remember that the GOP controlled redistricting in the state and so the districts in which legislators will run in 2012 are different than the ones for the recall.   Many pundits expect the GOP to pick up seats in the state senate in the fall.

This was somewhat strange territory for me.   In my home state it is easy to find results almost instantaneously.   But in this case as you did a Google search, a lot of the results were either not this election or were written from a point of view.   My daughter relies on Huffington Post for a lot of her news and at least in this case their coverage was almost completely useless.  Huff post spent a lot of time quoting democratic hacks who complained about not having any money (they were outspent) - organized labor, according to John Fund, spent $35 million to try to defeat Walker and the four senators (from my perspective that is not chump change) yet both the Democratic Chair and one labor union leader (Richard Trumpka) used the phrase "Nobody wants divisive policies."  - Exactly what would you call the policies advanced by those "leaders" in the last year and a half?

There were two exit poll findings which interested me.  First, pro-Walker voters were much more motivated to vote than anti-Walker voters.  When the news about turnout (which was high) came out many speculated that would mean a democratic tide.  In this case that was not true.   Second, according to one exit poll, 60% of the voters thought the recall strategy was inappropriate.  This is only the third recall election against a governor since the procedure was first implemented (North Dakota in the twenties was the first and California in 2003 was the second) and this was the first one which was unsuccessful.

In California, voters seem to have accepted by pretty wide margins the change in term limits.   I thought the arguments against this change (which will allow future legislators to be elected for a total of 12 years in either house - so in one sense a shortening and in another a lengthening -Assembly members can now serve 6 terms rather than 3) were downright silly.   The tobacco tax, Proposition 29, failed by the narrowest of margins.  The map to the right shows the vote on Prop 29 - you can see the significant political divisions in the state (the blue is YES on 29 - these maps are from our Secretary of State and are quite useful - they can be found at http://www.ss.ca.gov ).    It is unclear what will happen to the initiative on the ballot in November which would eliminate the ability of public employee unions to extract involuntarily political contributions from their members.  The expected result is that California will not vote for such a measure - but the Wisconsin results may suggest a slightly different result.   Another concern, at least for the blue politicians in the state, is what the fate of the Governor's massive tax increase will be.  These numbers could bode poorly for that measure.   Our long time Senator, Diane Feinstein, failed to garner 50% of the vote from a field of candidates who were notable for their lack of name recognition.

From my perspective, this puts yet another Obama state in play (North Carolina and Indiana already seem to be there).   As I think I have said before, this election will be about American's perspectives on the President's handling of the economy.  And there is a lot of time between now and November.

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