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November 09, 2005


Now 82% of the precincts have reported, and it is even wprse for the Gov. The parental notification measure (Prop 73) is losing by 3 points; teacher tenure (prop 74) losing by 7.4%; union dues (prop 75) losing by 3.2%; spending cap (prop 76) losing by a whopping 21.5%; and redistricting (prop 77) by 16%. It is really a humiliating defeat that is, as I said, entirely self-inflicted.

And that was $15 Billion in bonds, with a B. Sorry, it's late here.

And in Washington State: a tax-revoltin' initiative went down to defeat (it would have repealed a bipartisan gas tax increase that funded transportation improvements statewide).

So did a knee-jerk "tort reform" measure that would have capped medical malpractice awards.

The defeat of the CA props is a done deal. Most of the precincts still out are in Alameda and Los Angeles.

Steve Soto's response:

And f*ck you Grover Norquist; take your fat ass out of my state and back to the Beltway whorehouse where you belong.

Grover Norquist got soundly defeated in two major proposal campaigns (this and CO) this year, and got kicked a number of times in some smaller campaigns.

Who's the girly-man now, Ahhnold?

-- Rick

California unions, especially the nurses who stepped out when the prospects for derailing Arnold looked very distant, deserve tremendous credit for last night's victories. Can anything be made of the model that operated here? Unions succeeded in making this election be about ordinary working people who most voters could identify with against a stuffed shirt and his big funders. At the ballot box, we will always win if elections are defined that way -- there are more of us ordinary folks. Yet, usually, we can't convey that message (at least in part because our candidates are scrabbling with the fat cats for the big money too.)

I would give better than even odds that Arnold pulls out of his re-election fight. We've made him into another Pete Wilson -- elected by large margins, then repudiated by even larger ones.

The special election cost CA taxpayers $50M.

There might be some CA voters who voted against all measures out of protest. For a state running a huge deficit, that the special election was happening at all would've been enough to get me to the polls and vote no.

The SF Chronicle headline reads "CALIFORNIANS SAY NO TO SCHWARZENEGGER." It is truly a humiliation of epic proportions.

With 99.5% reporting, the margins of defeat are as follows:

Prop 73 (parental notice) 5.2%
Prop 74 (teacher tenure) 10.2%
Prop 75 (union dues) 7.0%
Prop 76 (spending cap) 24.2%
Prop 77 (redistricting) 19.0%

The huge repudiation of the spending cap was a clear message that the voters trust the Legislature to make the spending decisions not the Governor. And I believe it is a clear message that Californians want quality services, particularly education, and want the Legislature to find a way to fund them.

The fallacy in the Norquist philosophy, as articulated by Schwarzenegger in this instance, has always been the argument that government should "live within its means," like a private household. But if you want a better standard of living, there is the option of increasing income, through another or a better job, better investments etc., assuming they are available. In other words, raise revenue if it is insufficient, and pay for the services people want.

Californians in truth are no longer taxed excessively, if they ever were. When I went through the California public school and University system ('47-'66), they were the envy of the world, and were the launching pad for the explosive growth in technology and biotech. But growth in services could not keep up with population growth, especially the influx of families whose first language was not English, and could especially not keep up when a large (white and older) segment of the population decided they should not have to pay to educate other people's children.

The decline in educational standards should have been a wake-up call a decade or more ago. The schools have been improving in the last five years, with smaller class sizes in the first 3 grades, and with a reduction to 55% in the margin needed for bond measures, but we are still near the bottom nationally.

Upper income Californians in particular are going to have to pay their fair share if the Golden State is to shine again. The people have resoundingly said they want no more spending reductions. That means it is time to raise taxes, and to raise them on those who can pay and who profit from California's publicly funded infrastructure.

Janinsanfran is absolutely right about the "ordinary folks vs the stuffed shirt" aspect of the elections. The teachers in particular ran ads beginning last summer with parents and teachers looking into the camera and in measured tones accusing the Governor of breaking his promises to fully fund education (which was true). The ads radiated sincerity and controlled emotion. They were very effective. The teachers reportedly raised $50 million, and the other unions raised money as well.

There was a somewhat similar election in the mid '80s IIRC when Governor Deukmejian attacked the employee unions and a great series of print, TV and billboard ads was done showing particular state workers, such as health, safety, scientists, water project engineers etc as ordinary people helping other ordinary people. The measure failed. In those days the big banks and other corporations like Chevron opposed measurs to cut spending and employees because they realized the value of the state infrastructure to their buniness' health. That doesn't happen so much any more, but maybe now it will change.

Mimikatz -- you are absolutely right that, at its core, the problem for California is to somehow convince voters to return to a viable tax structure. As long as every part of Prop. 13 (our pioneering tax limitation measure) can't be touched, government is just a futile execise in smoke and mirrors (by Dems and Reps, tho the latter are much worse.) Prop. 13 has been a bonanza for corporate property owners and someday we'll succeed in chipping away at that, while still protecting regular home owners from the effects of inflated real estate prices.

Mimikatz wrote: "Arnold never really seemed to be interested in the nuts and bolts of government. He obviously liked campaigning, and liked the adulation of the press and public."

The ordinary non-political people around me saw this and muttered, "That's not what we elected him for. We wanted a manager, not a photo-op artist. Why's he attacking people?"

Screw you Arnold, you ain't done nothing.

I voted no on all props. This was an easy one. I, like many folks do not really pay attention to the measures until the morning of or day before. Then I call a socially active friend or family member for the scoop. And this time the answer was NO. I started to read through the B.S.
But voting NO Suited me well. I hope I did not neglect some beneficial prop. If I did, it's authors were fools for including it in this group of losers. I almost joked with the polling person "that I couldn't sit at home and let all those greedy nurses and teachers take advantage of us".
For an industry actor, Arnold seemed to almost be throwing in the towel by trying to hang the two most respected overworked working class folks out to dry.
I imagine that many Repubs voted NO, by not voting. For them that was just the easy way out.
One other observation, I noticed a few Mexican immigrants at the polling place. That is only significant in that I have not noticed them there before. I have several Mexican immigrants working for me and they are all pissed at Arnold for suckering them for the initial vote and then not following trough on driver’s licenses. For them, this is one issue directly connected to their upward mobility. I doubt my employees are voting (or are able), but it may be a community ethnic thing and more established friends and family are making a statement.

janinsanfran: "Unions succeeded in making this election be about ordinary working people who most voters could identify with against a stuffed shirt and his big funders. At the ballot box, we will always win if elections are defined that way -- there are more of us ordinary folks. Can anything be made of the model that operated here?"

It *can* be done. That's what Paul Hackett is doing.


The unions spent about 100M on this, outspending Ahnold by roughly 2-1. I'm not sure they can keep that up. One advantage they had here is that they didn't have to support a candidate. In other words, they could focus directly on the issues, without having to worry that their own candidate was being perceived as a big-funded stuffed shirt who would muck things up.

So it seems it would be pretty difficult to generalize that strategy into a working model for other elections unless you have a candidate with the same kind of 'working-class hero' charisma that Hackett possesses.

I did GOTV for Alliance for a Better California in SoCal. In our little precinct, the two of us who walked it turned out 30 infrequent voters out of the 300 ballots cast in the district - a 10% difference. THAT's what the Unions did to defeat these measures - they got enough of us out there dragging people to the polls to defeat these props.

GOTV, people - that's what works.

On janinsanfran's comment:

The unionized California working class seems to be a broad enough base that CalDems don't have to pander to the business class too hard for support. As you said, you can actually run on "ordinary working class" economic issues without muddying the message. In an environment like Tennessee, there's more religion and white-vs-black sentiment for the conservatives to play on, the relatively-secular working class is smaller and unorganized, so building a Democratic coalition involves including business, taking on a DLC message, and losing any sense of clarity on economic issues.

This seems to imply that you have to already be winning to be free enough to cash in with a clear message. In a state where you're down, you can win Tim Kaine-style, maybe 40% of the time if you're lucky. But in a state where you're up five, you can articulate a clear message/vision/etc and on the strength of that, drive your numbers to up-ten or more.

It was not so long ago that California was the cradle of Republicanism. Governors Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight, and one named Ronald Reagan. And Nixon was from here too. Governors Deukmejian and Wilson in the '80s and '90s. In fact, we had Dem governors only from 1958-1966 (Pat Brown), 1974-1982 (Jerry Brown) and 1998-2003 (Gray Davis). We had a Republican Senator until 1992, when Barbara Boxer defeated him.

California has not been blue forever, in short. One major reason is the initiative Pete Wilson sponsored that attacked Mexican and central American immigrants just as the state was beginning to tip majority-minority. A great many legal immigrants became citizens in 1996 and after to ensure they could not be deported, and most registered Democrat. And the demise of the aircraft/aerospace and then the auto industry, as well as others, took a terrible toll on union members.

Granted we tend to be more avant garde than other states, but a great many Californians came from more conservative states. We didn't start out ahead; the California Democratic Party worked for it and was blessed with some stupid Republican candidates or stupid moves by otherwise smart R officials (as well as a couple of our own).

JohnGabriel: I think the gist of JaninSanFran's point is that it's time for Democrats to stop being ashamed of union workers. These are the real people who change our bed pans and teach our kids. People respect this work. We should embrace union workers and join with them to fight 1000-a-plate corporate whores the Republicans put up.

This is effective politics, since it posits the Dems as THE alternative to corrupt corporate-fat-cat-Republicanism. It plays both to independents and to the base. We're the party of working people. They're the part of Ken Lay (whose trial -- along with that of Jeff Skilling -- will be starting early next year.) We're the party of educating kids and taking care of people when they're sick. They're the party of HMO and health insurance company corporate management.

I fail to understand why this isn't a no-brainer.

MimiKatz: Kudos: this post and the comments that follow it are the best of what blogging has to offer. (Speaking as a California chauvinist, of course.) As usual, I'm in awe.

This LA Times headline pretty well summed it up:

"No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No"

Texas Dem is right that we have transformed CA from reliably Republican to (mostly) reliably Democratic. But we need to think seriously about the future--it may not stay that way. The inland Red Counties of the state are the fastest growing counties--Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern, Placer, ElDorado, e.g. We need to work hard to make more Democrats in these areas, or else we could see our hard-won gains erode. I don't see the state party working hard enough on this issue. I think our future depends on it.

Sorry--I meant to reply to Mimikatz's post, rather than Texas Dem.

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