What's Up With California?

This is an important story - Matt

Think of this as a follow up post to Matt's post on wasted money in CA, why we came close to losing a seat and why Arnold's landslide victory didn't come with coattails.

In the year and a half I have spent out here in California, I have learned a lot of things.  One of the biggest lesson is that politics is just bigger here, especially the money.  $646,091,654 was hauled in by all campaigns in California this year alone.  One person can give $100,000 to governors races.  Anyone with $1 million can pay people to gather signatures and get an initiative on the ballot.  Once it is up there they can collect unlimited sums to pass it.

Yeah, I know all of this sounds like an endorsement for Prop. 89, but it isn't.  That initiative was way before its time and tried to do to much at once.  The way to campaign finance reform in California is public financing of elections that does not just rely on corporate taxes to finance it.  Reforming the ballot process needs to be dealt with separately.  The attempt this year to do both at the same time and make corporations pay the biggest burden allowed way to many people who should be endorsing public financing to work for its defeat.  It should help kick off a discussion of the next attempt at reform, but that was not the vehicle.  It will take a number of years of coalition building to get it passed.

The other thing I have learned, particularly this year is that the California Democratic Party is pretty ineffective.  Here is the Courage Campaign's Rick Jacobs writing over at the insider CA Majority Report.

As Joel Wright put it, the California Democratic Party simply failed. The Party says it attempted about 750,000 contacts. As of the end of October, it had made about 135,000 actual contacts. With 7.1 million registered Democrats, Democratic registration at about 42% and dropping, decline-to-state at about 20% and rising and a headwind of considerable speed at the top of the ticket, we might think that a bit more attention would be given to voter contact and turn out; it was not. And even though the state is hopelessly gerrymandered, what might have happened in a year of a Democratic tsunami had a real turn out machine been at work? Might we have won at least the Doolittle seat in Congress? Might Propositions 86 and 87 have passed?

They had 51 offices across the state and hired organizers.  We got little out of it.  The CDP is contending that they focused their efforts in LA County, where turnout was 3% higher than 2002.  The problem with that is that 2002 was historically pretty low turnout levels.  We were looking to reach 1998 numbers and failed miserably.

While our GOTV was bad, the Republicans was even worse.  They spent $20 million on a micro targeting special, run by the supposed genius Matthew Dowd.  Arnold refused to campaign with the other statewide candidates, but promised them that the big GOTV operation would make up for it and bring them to victory.  It didn't.

The effort, Victory '06, cost $20 million. It was a colossal failure. Just take a look at the relative voter turnouts in two important counties for each partisan camp.

In Alameda County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 4 to 1, turnout was 55 percent. In Riverside County, where Republicans enjoy a big advantage in voter registration, turnout was 35 percent.

To be sure, the Riverside turnout percentage will rise after all the late absentee ballots are counted, but this much is clear: Republicans weren't able to turn out their voters.

55 is pretty bad, but man 35 is atrocious.  Arnold campaigned for himself.  While he won 93% of the his own party that made it to the polls, he did nothing to encourage them to get there in the first place.  Yesterday, the major independent pollster laid out what happened for the press.  This is from the LAT political blog.

Craptacular Turnout:"Another way that California distinguished itself from the U.S. in this election was voter turnout," DiCamillo said. "While turnout was up nationally, interest was high, here in California we probably set an all-time low for a statewide election in turnout. It's hard to believe that we would have a lower turnout than the [Gray Davis-William Simon gubernatorial] race of four years ago, but it seems that way, all the votes are not yet counted but it will probably be somewhere in the 50% of registered voters as a turnout. We're probably looking at a structural, long-term factor of low turnout. In primary elections we're looking at 1 out of 3 registered voters turning out. In general elections we're looking at about 1 out of 2. I think that's going to carry on for the foreseeable future."

Really Absentee Voters:"A lot of this has to do I think with the changing demographics of California voters," DiCamillo said. "If you look at the two fastest-growing voter registration groups...they're Latinos and nonpartisans. Both of those voting groups are much less frequent voters than older voters, white voters, partisans. In the primary, for example, 89% of all voters were Democrats or Republicans. So even though we have this massive increase in nonpartisan registration, they don't show up at the polls. They're infrequent voters."

So what should have been spent on politics this year?  Matt is absolutely right about voter registration and outreach to Latinos.  Our problem in California is not that the public does not support progressive values, it is that the voting public does not reflect the demographics of California.  The PPIC put out an interesting poll in August that compared the political opinions of voters to non-voters.  I am borrowing liberally from Frank Russo's post.

Bond issues such as the affordable housing bond (Prop 1 ) would easily pass. 80% of nonvoters would support it, but fewer (49% according to the PPIC, higher according to other polls) of likely voters favor this bond issue.

California would provide more services and pay higher taxes. Nonvoters prefer higher taxes with more services to lower taxes and fewer services 66% to 26%, but likely voters are in favor only 49 to 44%.

Even Proposition 13, limiting property taxes, might be changed--or at least a dialogue started. Nonvoters think this has been a bad policy by 47 to 29%, but likely voters think it has been good by 56 to 33%.

Odds on the Governor's re-election would also change with nonvoters disapproving of him 61 to 21% as compared with voters approving 48 to 42%.

It would be easier to meet the two-thirds requirement for passing local special taxes including school construction bonds.

There are large racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences between voters and nonvoters that underlie much of the differences in opinions:

The majority of likely voters are age 45 or older (62%), have household incomes of $60,000 or more (56%), and have college degrees (53%). By contrast, the vast majority of nonvoters are younger than age 45 (76%), and only 18% have household incomes of $60,000 or more, and only 17% have college degrees.

Although no racial or ethnic group constitutes a majority of Californians, whites are 70% of likely voters, and Latinos, Blacks and Asians are underrepresented in the voting population.

Although one in three adults in California are foreign born, 90% of likely voters are native born.

A vast majority of likely voters (77%) are homeowners whereas 66% of nonvoters are renters.

The bottom line is that while our party's efforts were bad, the Republicans are even worse.  Voters in California are not representative of residents.  We need to put together a massive grassroots voter registration drive and GOTV effort.  California can lead the way for the rest of the country, but we will not move forward by spending $40 million on progressive ballot initiatives that don't have a shot because we don't have the voters in the first place.  There is a lot of potential here.  The Republicans have already started moving right.  They have no bench behind Arnold.  We can ensure Democratic domination for decades, but we have to put in the hard work.

Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California, GOTV, voter registration (all tags)



Re: What's Up With California?

As a long time veteran of CA politics, I can only say, it was ever thus. The Democratic Party has been moribund for years, replaced by candidates who have to raise their own money and the consultants who then manipulate them to end up with the dough. And, as folks here at myDD know, consultants make their living on the TV war, not by mobilizing human beings.

There are some bright spots. The unions in LA, San Jose and currently, most especially, Alameda Country, are showing that voter mobilization is possible -- when they put their minds to it with some unity (not much this year.)

You are right both about the Reps having zero bench and the reality that the folks who could make a difference don't vote. The non-voters do need some sense there is something to vote FOR -- and state Democrats seldom offer that.

by janinsanfran 2006-11-15 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

It is disappointing to see so much potential that is not realized.  I had an email discussion with someone about whether this election showed that CA served as an example for the rest of the country.  It isn't and we are not.  We could be, but this election only proved our dysfunction.

Last year the unions carried everybody because they had to for their own survival.  They did not have enough in their bank accounts to do it this year, nor should they have to.  As for the consultants...well...go read this discussion between a bunch of them involved in the governors race.  It is really interesting.

The lone bright spot in the election, other than the bonds being passed is the election of Debra Bowen.  She will show the country how to run a SoS  office.

by juls 2006-11-15 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

It really is frustrating! While much of the rest of the country experienced a huge tsunami of POed voters throwing the GOP back to minority status, we experienced nothing more than a small ripple here in CA... WTF? Now it certainly didn't help that Ahhnuld coopted the Democratic messgage, and pretended to be a Democrat this year. Of course, it also didn't help that the stupid f***ing primary cost us so many worthless millions of dollars on so much unnecessary negative advertising that only (1) hurt Democratic turnout for Francine Busby in CA-50, and (2) defined Phil Angelides as a "wild-eyed, tax-increasing extremist".

Perhaps if we all just got behind Phil in June, and the Angelides campaign actually KEPT UP THE CAMPAIGN DURING THE SUMMER, the primary damage would have been minimized. Instead, this just became a train wreck! Hopefully starting now, we CA Democrats can begin a genuine soul-searching process, and hopefully with a new vision and new leadership, we can stop repeating the same mistakes of the past.

by atdleft 2006-11-15 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

Angelides was too broke to run a campaign in the summer.  He was killed between the primary and July 31.  Apparent micromanaging on his part, an unappealing tone, and inconsistent message didn't help.

Angelides is a much better office holder than his campaign would have led you to believe.

by InigoMontoya 2006-11-16 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

"And, as folks here at myDD know, consultants make their living on the TV war, not by mobilizing human beings."

And of late they are not particularly good at their craft.  There was neither coherant messaging or compelling communication this cycle.  Without effective motivational communication or voter outreach it's no surprise that large segments of the population ignored the election (if they were even aware of it at all).

by Steve in Sacto 2006-11-15 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

When Angelides said he would withdrawal the Guard from Iraq, I wanted to flunk his campaign, not vote for him.

Going dark all summer and then trying a different message each weak was embarrassing to watch.

I'm glad my anti-political partner liked Angelides, because I would have had a helluva time trying to explain to her his message if she was on the fence.

I really think Garry South is the only person in the entire world who could have done worse.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 09:19PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

California is ugly, and the people pushing expensive cheapness are now talking about moving up the primary for the Hillary crescendo (like Bobby Kennedy, but buying instead of inspiring while avoiding going in the kitchen).

With enough money, Schweitzer's dog could be elected in California (and Jag only raised $21,000 on ActBlue.

There is no competition in California, the money and the districts make it so that us political junkies need to get our fix out of state...atleast until the CA-04 special election.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

As was proved all of the money in the world can't buy you enough votes.  Money drowns out money.  You need the people power.  We have an opportunity to build more.

by juls 2006-11-15 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

We need to build more. And we need to reform the party to invest early and never, ever, go dark -- from now on. If Democrats win every day in California, we'll win more elections and the organizing will be thanked by candidates years down the road.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

field is hugely expensive as well, by the way, especially for a state as huge as California.

by buffalo girl 2006-11-15 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

Top down field is expensive, empowerment is far cheaper.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 05:33PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

what does that mean?

by buffalo girl 2006-11-15 06:58PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

traditional field is top-down: organizers call people to a rally to get a kit to go walk precincts or go to a phone bank

inspired field is distributed: getting people to have the tools at their disposal to identify and turn out the people in their spheres

Much like successful blog communication requires campaigns getting over the fallacy of message control, successful distributed field requires campaigns inspiring and getting over the fixation on daily numbers.

Field is only expensive if you demand to do it the old fashion way.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

There's room for both kinds of field work.  I've seen as many bottom-up field attempts that resembled nothing so much as an ill-organized Children's Crusade where passion has been deemed an equal or even greater quality than competence.

In the LA area, the San Fernando Valley is an example of bottoms-up that works well.  The Westside much less so.

by InigoMontoya 2006-11-16 09:40AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

Good point ... who has $1m to put a state division initiative onto the ballot?

by BruceMcF 2006-11-16 01:34PM | 0 recs
I Understand...

And I agree with your comment. Still, I hope you don't just give up on CA! I think that is another problem here... Everyone thinks that the only way to win is to (1) raise a crapload of money and (2) spend that crapload of money on negative ads that trash the opponent.

Hopefully soon, we can eventually get some type of change in election laws (ala Prop 89, if not better and more able to withstand legal challenges) to deal with the money problems. In the meantime, I hope we can change the actual campaigning to where we focus more on grassroots people-to-people contact, and less on trashing the opponent through sleazy advertising. There's no excuse for OREGON PROGRESSIVES contacting more voters in their respective state than the CDP does here in the Golden State!

by atdleft 2006-11-15 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: I Understand...

I agree 100%.

by Bob Brigham 2006-11-15 03:23PM | 0 recs
We did win the McNerney race in CD-11

Yes, there was money in it, mostly enviromental. But there was also pretty good, actually grassroots, field that I saw.

I had thought the gerrymander was ironclad, but we got through it there. Be a little happy at Pombo's retirement. Personally, I learned a lot in that one about future work in the central valley. Dems shouldn't cede it and we should work like crazy to get the people of color there (about one third) registered and voting.

by janinsanfran 2006-11-15 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: We did win the McNerney race in CD-11

It wasn't just the changing demographics in CD-11 that helped defeat Pombo, and it wasn't just the grass-roots efforts in Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa. Pombo was defeated also by grass-roots efforts in that written-off, ranch-land, agricultural abyss that Bay Area snobs call San Juoquin County. Rural and agricultural communites are full of democratic-leaning folks, if we will just reach out to them and let them know they aren't alone.

I worked with the Tracy Democratic Club in a long-haul registration and GOTV effort, starting back in June. Jerry had no name recognition, but Pombo sure did, and it wasn't good. Don't forget, Pombo won his first five races because of the Soviet-style ballot. There was only one candidate -- Little Richard. Nobody ran for the Democrats, so we shouldn't be surprised that local Dems were dispirited and didn't vote.

I knew Jerry was going to win back in September, when I helped the Tracy Dem Club work the Annual Tracy Dry Bean Festival. I had my "Proud to be a Democrat" button on and stood in the middle of the street, handing out McNerney literature. "Hi, have you heard of Jerry McNerney" I would call out to passers-by. Blank stares as they walked on. "He's running against Richard Pombo". Eyes get big, they turn around and say, "Let me see that." Why the strong reaction?

The underlying social structure out in San Juoquin County and the area around Tracy is like that in most rural communities. A few big shots with lots of money boss everyone else around. Richard Pombo and his family aren't ranchers. Pombo's an even bigger fake rancher than that little shrub in DC. The only beef on Pombo's land is the hamburger in the fridge! He and his family are land owners, speculators, developers. The feeling among lots of local residents is that the Pombo's swindled their way to top through shady real estate transactions. But the Democratic leaning folks mostly kept their heads down from fear the patrones would smack them down.

Progressive folks like us can tap into the underlying populist insticts of people who work the land (as destinct from the ones who own it.) But we have to reach out to them through person-to-person contact. When I worked GOTV in Reno, I saw the same reaction that the McNerney effort got. I was assigned a rural district just north of Reno proper, Sun Valley, which is mostly 3-quarter acre lots with house trailers, dogs, and shot-guns. But you knock on the door with a big smile and say "I'm with the Democrats", and you'd be suprised the number of people who were so grateful that a fellow Democrat cared enough about them and their problems to come a'knocking; Well, it just made me so proud to be a Democratic grass-roots activist.

I met a grandma who was caring for three grandchildren while their single mom worked to bring home the bacon. I met a gay couple; one worked as an automechanic while the other stayed home trying to deal with AIDs. I met a disabled, African-American parollee on crutches, who was convinced he couldn't vote; when I confimed by phone through the election protection team that he could in fact vote, the dull haze in his eyes fell off, his face lit up, he stood up tall, and his wife drove him down to the polling station.

My main point is two-fold: 1st, we must not leave any Democrats behind, no matter where they live, especially Democrats who live in rural districts. I've seen that we can get rural Democrats to the polls in CD-11, I've seen it in CD-4 (although we lost, it was very close); I saw it in Clark County, Nevada, in 2004, where our grass-roots GOTV effort moved the presidential vote 5% points towards to the Democratic candidate compared to 2000.

2nd, it's never too soon to begin the outreach.  The Republicans and the media touted thier hugely successful GOTV effort. What a joke. Their GOTV   effort worked in earlier elections only because Democrats didn't have one at all. All the Republicans had were microtargeted robo-calls in the last 72 hours. What did the Democratic establishment do? They countered with attack adds, which are not GOTV. Haven't the pols heard that attack adds only suppress the vote? (Carville and Emanual, are you listening?)

After the holidays, when the new Congress takes their seats, we should be out knocking on doors, uncovering Democrats, finding out what their concerns are, buidling person-to-person relationships. That's the only way to ensure that Dmocrats nominate and elect someone that Democrats want and will vote for, in place of someone that the DC pols think is safe, someone who won't piss off the corporate, moneyed interests. I hate to say it, but we will hand the majority back to the Republicans if we let the inside-the-beltway  types nominate Hillary.

Enough of my rant. I know what I'm going to do. What about you?      

by pgrisier 2006-11-19 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: We did win the McNerney race in CD-11

Agree on this -- I had the privilege of working in Tracy.

by janinsanfran 2006-11-28 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?.. From My View

Luckily the CA Gop failed to a greater extent.
Their turnout was miserable. Arnold's win was Arnold's chameleon anomaly, and not any sign of strength of the CA gop. They managed to put a Kerry endorsing Poizner-R in the Insurance Commissioner post thanks in part to the brilliant candidacy of Cruz Bustamente-D.They probably have picked up Joe Dunn-D's vacated Senate seat (#34) with Lynn Daucher-R leading Lou Correa-D by 51,736to 51,434.

Luckily we saved the LG spot because the word finally got out to the voters that McClintock was a complete nutjob. And luckily Bruce McPherson's-R campaign was invisible and Dems flocked home to Debra Bowen-D.
Shwarzenegger-R made it clear from the start that he was going to distance himself from the Senate and all the down-the-ticket candidates. They paid a price for that one.
Our Gov Primary was a disasterous event that I hope we never see repeated. This is the first year I saw no bumberstickers, pins or yard signs for anything but local candidates and very few TV ads for any of the Statewide Offices except Shwarzenegger`s blitz that is, and Angelides pitiful last minute response ads. I was fully expecting turnout to be anemic and thankfully that was more so the case on the gop side.
We were fotuitous to have Feinstein,Brown, Lockyer and Chiang catapault into Office, because their opposition was pitiful and-or invisible.
I hope I don`t see 2006 repeated in 2008.

For me, the Numero Uno best result was Jerry McNerney-D taking CA-11. Hopefully the CA Dem party will be in gear to focus lavish attention on holding this seat in '08. Thanks to those in Santa Clara, Alameda & Contra Costa for creating a margin to pull this off(and thanks to Netroots involvement for helping immensely!).

And yes, the referendum ad blitzes and  unecessary feeding-spending frenzy, was enough to turn many voters off, especially after the grueling Dem Gov Primary. Less is sometimes better.

by Predictor 2006-11-15 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?.. From My View

Daucher's lead is down to 47 votes.  She will lose when allthe provovisionals are completed.

http://www.ocvote.com/live/gen2006/resul ts.htm#c-175

by danielj 2006-11-15 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?.. From My View

Sorry, it's actually 147 votes.

by danielj 2006-11-15 04:00PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?.. From My View

Kewl. This is hopeful, especially if there are enough provisional votes still to be tabulated(see below).

CA-SS #34

Lou Correa (Dem)    52,872    49.9 %   
     Lynn Daucher (Rep)    53,019    50.1 %   
11-15-06 8:20pm PDT CA SOS BOE

According to the OC Register, Correa lost an Assembly race in 1993(?) by 93 votes.

Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley told me yesterday that he planned to finished the absentees today, leaving just 6,000 or so provisionals to start counting tomorrow. I haven't gotten an update yet, but if that's the case, Correa has to be feeling about as good as possible for being behind.

UPDATE OF THIS UPDATE: Just spoke with Kelley. He said about 2,500 absentee ballots remain to be tallied countywide -- which means a few hundred remain in the 34th. He's sticking with the estimate of 6,000 provisionals in the 34th, which he'll start counting tomorrow.

-- Martin Wisckol - Orange County register

That's a crapload of provisionals!

by Predictor 2006-11-15 07:29PM | 0 recs
Hey, That's My District!!

Actually, I'm on my way now to help the OC Democrats observe the counting of those provisional ballots! I'm not expecting anything, but I'm certainly hoping that these provisionals will be enough to put Lou on top! : )

by atdleft 2006-11-16 05:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Hey, That's My District!!
Good luck!
Hope it was fun & that we held the seat, infuriating the OC gopee.
by Predictor 2006-11-16 09:00AM | 0 recs
Correa-D Takes The Lead! CA SS #34

Per CA SOS BOE 8:21pm PDT 11-16-06: Correa-D has pulled ahead of Daucher-R by 282 votes.

CA SS #34
Lou Correa (Dem)    53,834    50.2 %   
 Lynn Daucher (Rep)    53,552    49.8 %   

by Predictor 2006-11-16 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Correa-D Lead Increases! CA SS #34

California Scty of State, Board of Elections 11-20-06pm

Lou Correa (Dem)    56,270    50.6 %   
     Lynn Daucher (Rep)    54,968    49.4 %   

I'd say Correa-D has clinched it and with a 1,302 vote margin this isn't even within recount territory.

by Predictor 2006-11-21 02:46PM | 0 recs
This Is A Crucially Important Subject

I blogged about the PPIC report when it came out at My Left Wing.  I've also written about a host of other problems with state politics, most of it for Random Lengths News, including the problematic nature of our initiative process, and minority rule on the budget process, just to name a couple of the biggies.

Basically, the problem we face is not just an unrepresentative electorate, but a structural bias that so favors the conservative white minority that votes it makes it extremely difficult to motivate and mobilize the non-voters to change their habits.  Small increases in participation--such as increasing voter turnout 5%--(which would be regarded as huge by political observers, btw) will not have any effect on changing the basic rules.

We need a political earthquake to change the dynamics in this state.  And it has to be an intelligent earthquake.  The GOP managed to manufacture itself an earthquake with the Gropenator.  But he really was as dumb and full of himself as he looks.  We need someone of comparable charisma to shake things up, but someone who's capable of listening to and learning from the wisest folks around about what needs to changed, and how to do it.

This brings us to our second problem.  We don't have anything remotely close to an intelligent discourse about how California is broken and what a non-broken California would look like.

It is much easier to screw up a complex system than it is to fix it.  And California has at least three types of problems: (1) problems that come from growth, ways of doing things that worked okay when we were much less populous that just don't work now; (2) problems that came from good ideas which just didn't work out--such as our version of the initiative, as compared with the original Swiss model; (3) problems that come from conservatives/Republicans making things seriously worse... such as Prop 13.

The most promising thing that I can see is the prospect of altering the initiative process, to make it more like the Swiss version.  That version really does work to produce good laws, because it allows for the legislature to write laws, and the results to take precedent over initiatives drafted by private groups or individuals.  It uses the initiative primarily as a prod, to force the legislature to act, when it really rather would not.  And that's really the thing that initiatives do best.  They can't do what legislation is best at--bringing folks together to look at all sides of a questions, and deal with the unintended consequences by thinking things through so that they are reduced to a minimum.

Of course, it would be child's play to demogogue against any change in the initiative process.  So a lot of spadework would have to be done in advance.  But it would be such a huge step forward to retool it so that it stopped being such an unweildly, and often destructive force.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-11-15 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A Crucially Important Subject

Great point that only 5% or so of the "Voters" are deciding these referendums (this form of legislation). Unless we have mandatory voting the fairness of this style of system is just completely lost.

by Predictor 2006-11-15 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A Crucially Important Subject

And we would love it if you would xpost at Calitics.

Hint.  Hint.  Sledgehammer hint.

by jsw 2006-11-16 11:18AM | 0 recs
And furthermore...

if we can't fix the tax system (Prop. 13), line item veto, and set asides, the legislature can't govern, so no wonder it often seems like a pitiful playpen.

by janinsanfran 2006-11-16 11:25AM | 0 recs
Not To Mention The Initiative

Which also undermines the legislature.

Don't get me wrong.  I think it's a great concept.  But the concept has never worked as advertised.  It's mostly a tool of special interests to outflank the legislature, rather than a way around the special interests.

The way it works in Switzerland, an initiative forces the legislature to act.  If the legislature comes up with something acceptable, the original initiative is dropped.  If not, both the original and the legislature's version go on the ballot.  Over time, legislative measures have passed much more than outside initiatives have.

But this only goes to show that legislatures can do what they're supposed to do--craft well-thought-out legislation that satisfies most folks on all sides of most issues--once sufficient pressure is brought to bear to break the logjams preventing action.

If we fine-tuned the initiative this way, it would empower the legislature, make it more responsive, and make it more effective.  Win-win-win all the way around.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-11-16 05:07PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A Crucially Important Subject

No kidding. But one thing that would have at least started trying to move towards the electorate resembling the California populace would have been the Same Day Registration Initiative  (Proposition 52) which failed in 2002.

by MadProfessah 2006-11-17 12:48AM | 0 recs
Pombo loss was seeded years ago

The CW is that CA was gerrymandered so taht all incumbemts could keep their seats.  That's true on the surface.  But a few were gerrymandered with an eye to trends in demographics, so that after a few years time, they'd flip from red to blue.  Pombo and Doolittle are cases in point.  Pombo is a rancher from a district which has traditionally been Agricultural.  But it is now becoming a bedroom community for silicon valley's highly educated and bluer workers and a bit of silicon valley was added to it.  It'll keep trending blue.  

Doolittle's seat is tougher but it incorporates a lot of an area north of Sacramento which is home to a sattelite silicon valley.  It will take longer to come to fruition  but eventually the rednecks and military retirees will be outnumbered.  

You guys think this is all hard work and dumb luck?

by NorCalJim 2006-11-15 08:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Pombo loss was seeded years ago

CA-04 will take a bit longer, there's just a lot of really conservative voters there.  I think you're right that we'll have a chance to take that district in the long run, but the gerrymander didn't help things.

That being said, once Doolittle gets frogmarched, Brown will take that seat.

by utbrian 2006-11-16 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Pombo loss was seeded years ago

Regarding your statement that "It will take longer to come to fruition but eventually the ...  military retirees will be outnumbered.":

     Don't forget, Charlie Brown is a military retiree.  

by Airpower 2006-11-16 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Pombo loss was seeded years ago
You have highlighted a good part of the reason I was predicting a McNerney win while CW was saying "no way the District is gerrymandered for the repubs".
Things have changed in the last 6 years, in fact in  the last 14 years since "Dirty Dick" was first elected.
Alot of people from San Fran,San Jose etc. have moved into that District.
Demographics to our side!
by Predictor 2006-11-16 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

There is a permanent Democratic majority in California -- but its more than just Democrat v. Republican.  First of all, majority doesn't mean controlling majority.  To govern under Prop. 13, you need 2/3rds majority.  And neither party can come even close to that.  Once you add in the propositions and the term limits, there really is no way to govern effectively.  So the fight is really about region: San Francisco v. Los Angeles, and Los Angeles v. Los Angeles (personal factions).  Ultimately, the Democrats fight amongst themselves, paralyzing the party.  It looks like Art Torres will leave his post relatively soon.  Hopefully, we can do better.

by Jim Treglio 2006-11-16 09:40AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

Oh yeah, the path to governing reform is many layered.  There are real structural limitations that the CA legislature has to operate under that causes so much dysfunction: term limits, super majority to pass a budget, Prop 13, gerrymandering and the list goes on.

We need to increase voter participation and reform our political system.  They are both long term projects.

by juls 2006-11-16 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

Matier and Ross recently speculated in their SF Chronicle column that Jackie Speier wanted to replaced Art Torres as chair of the California Democratic Party.  I have a lot of respect for her.  Comments, anyone?

by Airpower 2006-11-16 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

I don't think this last election was that bad in California. The only disaster was the governors seat. But Dems took the lt. governor, the secretary of state, the controller, the treasurer, and the attorney general-- in other words, every single elected partisan state office except Governor and Insurance Comissioner.

The candidates for those two seats: Phil Angelides and Cruz Bustamante.

On the proposition front, okay, proposition 87 didn't pass, but then again, neither did proposition 90. Let's call it a stalemate.

Myself, I'm just happy we now have a secretary of state who is opposed to electronic voting machines.

It may well be that there are problems with the local Democratic party, I don't know. But in this election at least I think the election was with Phil Angelides and Cruz Bustamante. Field better candidates than that and maybe you'll get better results. Hell, fielding candidates who get people excited could even inspire some of the remaining congressional seats to turn blue. But in the meanwhile there is no way that anyone, even the most competent party apparatus that ever existed in America, could have gotten Phil Angelides elected governor.

by Silent sound 2006-11-16 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

Yes, we pulled it out this time, but we shouldn't have to scrape by.  The point of this post is that California is much more progressive than the voters are and part of the path to real political reform is getting those people engaged and to the polls.

For example, there can be no reform to Prop 13 right now because homeowners are a disproportionate share of the electorate.

The other point of this post, and something that is not stated is a push back on now popular media narrative in California that the path to winning elections is to drop the partisanship and govern without any real party affiliation (i.e. be Arnold).  We don't need to stop being Democrats, we just need to get a greater percentage of Californians to the polls.

by juls 2006-11-16 10:23AM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A Crucially Important Subject

If I still lived in Riverside I'd be happy to join you in that hotel room, but I'm in Arizona now.

by Alex 2006-11-16 10:36AM | 0 recs
CA Bench Depth and Presidential Politics

Watching the same half-dozen candidates play musical chairs with the statewide offices is depressing and distressing, particularly because the CA governor's office is a powerful springboard to the presidency. There is seemingly no effort to recruit, nurture and position 'national caliber' candidates for top offices in the state. It would be well worth the expenditure of DNC money to improve candidate recruitment and schooling/mentoring to improve the California political bench.

It's worth noting that the DCCC/DSCC base of Washington pols and consultants, who have their own ambitions, have no interest in funding potential state-based rivals. However, as a party, elevating the right candidate to CA governor could result in a two-term Dem presidency. (E.g. If Brian Schweitzer was governor of California he'd be a top tier candidate in 2008.)

by Steve in Sacto 2006-11-16 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: CA Bench Depth and Presidential Politics

This musical-chairs phenomenon which is caused by term limits is a real problem. Being a good treasurer (accountant) should not be qualification for being a good attorney general (lawyer) and vice versa. Without term limits, some politicians might become entrenched, but hopefully only those who were good at their jobs. This would actually allow some new blood to move up and not have to compete against someone with the wrong qualifications but an extant state-wide fundraising apparatus. I'd like to see Debra Bowen as SoS for as long as it takes and not have her have to run for Treasure just when she's getting things cleaned up.

that all said, let's all revel in the CA-11 and it's proof that grass-roots, local action can work in CA.

by jujube 2006-11-16 01:05PM | 0 recs
Not Sure That Would Work

I think it would be a good start simply to sort our problems into different types, so that we can see the similarities and differences.

What I see far too much of is simply cluelessness as to what is going on, or the mindless (but passionate) repetition of pseudo-sage sound bites.

If we could actually develop a broad consensus about what out problems are, and how they came about, then we'd be in a position to begin having a productive hashing out of how to solve them.

I do have some ideas about solving them myself, but I think that putting them forward without the foundation work first would simply open me up to a lot of fruitless argument.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-11-16 11:24AM | 0 recs
Pigs on the Loose at UCLA

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/11/16 /ucla-student-tased-repeat_n_34272.html

Can someone seriously tell me that 4 cops couldn't drag away a student without having to tase the guy repeatedly? And according to one witness, the guy was leaving when he saw the cops anyway.

This is what Bush has reduced this country to. Arabic people getting kicked out of plane just because a couple of idiots have a hunch they are dangerous or cases like this where cops use a taser on freaking UNARMED students.

People say we need to change after 9-11. GET OVER IT, PEOPLE. Tragedies have happened in the past and will continue to happen. We do not change the way we live to accomodate fanatics.

by Pravin 2006-11-16 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A Crucially Important Subject

Not quite -- Tucson to L.A. is about a nine-hour drive (I've done it).  Phoenix would be about the same distance as San Francisco, I think (I've driven up from SoCal to the Bay Area and back quite a few times, too).  Right now I'm more inclined to get involved with the AZ party, though, since this is where I'm registered to vote.

by Alex 2006-11-16 12:06PM | 0 recs
we know the problems, now what to do?

There seems to be general agreement about the problems facing California, now what do we do about it?  We really need to place to discuss them more, otherwise this diary will just be a flash in the pan.  

I've been reading Calitics for a while, but it's a bit, well, thin, as evidenced by the fact that your crosspost to MyDD got 10x more comments than the Calitics crosspost.  Shouldn't it be vice versa?  Should one of us create a new blog to talk about California politics?  Or should we all agree to move this discussion, en masse, to Calitics or some other existing site?  MyDD, of course, being oriented more towards the nationwide elections than just California.  Who's going to be the Chris Bowers for California? :)

CaliforniaProgressReport is nice, too, but a little fluffy.  Any other suggestions?  California, with 36M people, is bigger than Finland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, and Austria combined, yet the progressive blogosphere is ridiculously small.

Also, any suggestions for California-oriented think tanks or institutes?  The only one I know of is is Public Policy Institute of California, but I haven't read everything on their site yet.  The anti-tax lobby is well-funded and organized, just look at http://caltax.org and http://hjta.org for examples of what we're up against, and then compare to http://caltaxreform.org.  Oof.

It also seems to me that the budget bickering and problems caused by the supermajority requirement cause all the state legislators to appear inept, further turning off voters, into a negative cycle of voter disgust.  It doesn't help that California term limits are the lowest in the nation at 6 years for the house, 8 years for the senate, making sure that no one can get good at what they do (and increasing reliance on lobbyists), furthering voter discontent (if that is at all possible).  It's no wonder that California is broken.

by aip 2006-11-16 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: we know the problems, now what to do?

I've been reading Calitics for a while, but it's a bit, well, thin, as evidenced by the fact that your crosspost to MyDD got 10x more comments than the Calitics crosspost.  Shouldn't it be vice versa?  Should one of us create a new blog to talk about California politics?  Or should we all agree to move this discussion, en masse, to Calitics or some other existing site?  MyDD, of course, being oriented more towards the nationwide elections than just California.  Who's going to be the Chris Bowers for California? :)

I know that you don't mean this to be insulting, but it feels that way a bit.

1)  There was nothing as far as progressive blogs on California state politics until just over a year ago.  Nothing.  So I think that Calitics is doing OK, though there's clearly plenty of room for growth.

2) If there aren't enough comments or diaries, that's an easy thing to fix.  It's a community -- commune!  Brian and I have a very light editorial hand.  Good pieces get frontpaged very fast.

3)  There are well over 200 lefty political blogs in CA.  On any given day, maybe ten or fifteen will write anything about state politics.  And that's because state politics in CA is boring -- there's very little that can be done because the structural issues lock everyone into the same little neurotic circles.  That's a long-term project we're working on.

4)  Yes, by all means, come to Calitics, crosspost, join the conversation.  But a "new" site?  Not going to tell you not to do it, but (a) it would be reinventing the wheel, and (b) good luck with that -- it's hard to get people excited about CA politics.  

5)  As far as who will be the next Chris Bowers?  I dunno.  My money is on Brian, who is the first chair at Calitics, but it's not easy, and there's not much in the way of a change wave to ride.  We're working on it.

by jsw 2006-11-16 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: we know the problems, now what to do?

Saying that Calitics doesn't have much conversation shouldn't be an insult, esp. if it's only been around a year, just pointing out the obvious.  Ten or fifteen posts a day across the CA blogosphere seems awfully low for a population of 36 million.  It's not calitics, it's the whole CA blogosphere that is anemic.

I'm new to CA politics, but it doesn't seem too boring so far.  For example, this thread is great, and more like it would to see it continued, and more in depth.  As Paul Rosenberg pointed out, many of us are clueless (and I include myself in that category), and I'm just now learning about why CA politics is so FUBAR.

I've been reading Calitics for a couple of months,  signed up about a month ago, and have been reading everything posted there since then.  See you around!

by aip 2006-11-17 01:37AM | 0 recs
Thanks to all for your comments

Juls this is a great diary and thank you so much for getting this issue out there and in such an effective way.

I think we all see the political implications of the problem in CA: 2008 and 50+ Electoral Votes. Sure there's longer-term and more severe structural problems, as Paul accurately notes in the comments. And we certainly want to deal with those. However, IMHO, '08 is the immediate problem to deal with. That's the immediate focus.

The CDP, as Juls notes in his excerpt of Rick Jacobs' comments, cannot be allowed to dictate what happens in CA in '08. (I feel some degree of disclosure is warranted. I'm Joel Wright, whom Rick quoted in his comments.) We cannot take such a risk in a crucial presidential election.

Which means we have to do it ourselves. I don't see any other way. And, so you know, there are several of us developing a plan for CA as we speak. In 33 days, or thereabouts, we're going to have something to develop progressive community consensus around. That's our plan. We'll see how the people respond to it once it's got some skeletal and muscular structure. We hit the ground running in 2007. It's going to take 12-15 months to develop capability and impact. We work now for 24 months down the road, in short.

2008 and Phase 2 of the progressive evolution of America is already underway. We take a breath right now, we feel good about 2006 and where we are, and we re-commit ourselves to the next phase. And Normandy is next.

by Sun Tzu 2006-11-16 01:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks to all for your comments

Perhaps this has something to do with the Courage Campaign?  Here's the Courage Campaign conference call with Joel Wright and Chris Bowers on Nov. 8th, which has a lot more about what Joel thinks about California, and Chris on the national scene, as well as Congresswoman Hilda Solis and Frank Russo.  1 hr 5 minutes long (I'm at 30 min now)

by aip 2006-11-16 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

Most Dems realized early that Angelides had no chance to win.

Not only did Angelides suffer from a charisma-deficit, there was no chance of beating Arnold after he manuevered himself to the left of many Democrats.

Some Dems believed it would be better off if we lose in 2006 so that Villaraigosa could be the next Democratic Governor in 2010.

We have a poorly organized state party that doesn't really do anything.

by joeesha 2006-11-16 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

I think Villaraigosa himself was the only Democrat who pursued this strategy. I voted for him for mayor pretty much based on my local litmus test -- building mass transit -- but now I am hopeful that a less slimy progressive candidate will emerge to challenge Villaraigosa in 2010.

by mildewmaximilian 2006-11-16 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

We need a 58 county program for the Dems

Rework all the existing county structures, cut the deadwood, modernize the system, get training programs to the grassroots.

Consultants love CA, big ad buys in all media.

Robo calling; love the big dog but got 3 calls from Clinton in the last 2 weeks.

Elections are just to damm impersonal

by Organic George 2006-11-16 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

by carlmanaster 2006-11-16 07:01PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

In the primary, for example, 89% of all voters were Democrats or Republicans.

This seems like a silly choice of statistics to demonstrate low turnout among nonpartisans.  As I understand it, there's very little (maybe nothing?) for a nonpartisan to vote on in a primary.

by carlmanaster 2006-11-16 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

The turnout was so low because the governor's campaign was a disaster.  That dragged down Democratic numbers for a lot of other issues.  If the Republicans didn't make gains, its only because they were sloppy, not for lack of opportunity.

There was a thread over on Dkos, "Westley could have won."

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/11/10 /5139/5624

In the comments, I wrote the following:

* [new] I soooo agree. (0 / 0)

I voted for Angelides in the primary.  I did it because all the usual voices were robo-calling and pitching for Angelides, and people on DKos were pitching for him too.

But Jesus Christ.  He was such an awful candidate!

I thought of making my own diary about it many times, but I didn't want to jinx Angelides more than he was already jinxing himself.  Well, the primary is over, and a good post mortem really is due.  It's not re-hashing the primary.  It's finally looking at the mistake here.

First off, you can't blame Westley for running a spirited primary campaign.  I have heard that complaint before.  I wish MORE candidates would fight as hard as Westley did.  I loved it. It almost got me to vote for him, not because I like negative ads or thought worse of Angelides for it, but because I am just so goddam sick and tired of nice-guy Dems that don't have enough spine to fight.  So I relish the idea of more dirty street fighters fighting for us.

Next, let's talk about the general election campaign that Angelides run.  It was AWFUL.  I swear, he had the worst campaign commercials I have ever seen.

When I walked into the voting precinct, I said just that, complaining to one of the election workers that Angelides ran awful ads.  He broke protocol (they are supposed to be tight-lipped about partisan matters) long enough to wave his arms in the air and say Angelides ran the worst campaign he had ever, ever, ever seen.  (He did repeat the word ever, with lots of body language.)  So I am not alone in feeling this way.

The ads.  Oh boy.  If you're going to try to link Schwarzenegger to Bush, at least try to get some pictures that don't show them smiling and looking friendly and confident.  Of all the pictures that are out there, couldn't they have found some glum or dour looking pics that they could have put on the screen, possibly in grainy black and white?  

I have decided to get a digital videocam so I can make my own Youtube videos for the 2008 election.  Anybody could make better stuff than that.

The other thing that Angelides failed at is he just looked and acted like the very image of the beta-male.  The alpha-male appearance thing is all that Schwarzenegger really has working for him.  A challenge to that would have really hurt him.  A few choice old pictures of Arnold oiled up in a bikini would have been good, for instance.

God, I am so sick of this.  I hope I never see Angelides on a ballot ever again.  I voted for him, twice, but anybody that could run as incompetent a campaign as that should get a job somewhere else.

Really, think about it.  In a year where we swept up everywhere around the country, Angelides couldn't win the governorship in a Blue state against a doofus like Arnold.  

You can't tell me it's because Arnold is such a brilliant campaigner.  It was pure and simple weakness on the part of the candidate and (even more so) the people who ran his campaign and did his ads.  They, too should get new jobs in a different field.

What a rotten shame this whole thing is.  

by Dumbo on Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 04:54:10 AM PST

by Dumbo 2006-11-17 04:24AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Up With California?

Well aren't you the brave one. Be prepared for a slew of venom from Angelides supporters should someone still catch this thread. Back in October I found a diary regarding this very subject, it was originally posted the day of the Primary. I didn't catch it then but in October I wanted to post a response, my response was as follows:

What We Can Learn From The CA Governor's Race
by Mimikatz, Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 07:49:03 AM PDT

Re: What We Can Learn From The CA Governor's Race (none / 0)

I do not believe that Westly ran a "filthy" campaign. Garry South ran an incompetent campaign for Westly, I know because I saw it up close as I worked on this campaign. My guess is that South pursued this course of action because of Angelides' reputation as a vicious campaigner, evidenced by past campaigns. The assumption was that Angelides would go negatve and the first negative ad I saw in this race (on TV) was one of  Angelides attacking Westly.
Also, Westly, unlike Angelides, was self-funded and was not relying on "money from the public"  as a factor, he basically bankrolled his campaign. unlike Angelides who received $8 million dollars in campaign assist from a wealthy Sacramento Real Estate Developer and no significant frassroots money (as is patently obvious now)
Angelides had the backing of the Unions and the Dem Party Establishment (Feinstein, Boxer, et al). He was their pre-selected choice. Unfortunetly Westly's campaign had no on-the-ground grassroots network, something South was unfamiliar with. I believe South thought this race could be won in a media blitz and that it would be obvious that Westly was the progressive candidate and more charismatic candidate versus the stogy machine backed hack.

In the end, the whole thing was a pity. To date, I have seen not one Angelides Ad, Bumpersticker or Yard sign, and he's down as much as double-digits in the polls. The mistakes of the Westly campaign are now obvious as now are the mistakes of the Angelides campaign.

If each campaign had spent its time and money attacking the general election opponent,instead of each other, things might have turned out differently.
Yes, I will hold my nose and vote for Phil, and I don't think it will be a blow-out as Arnie has had a hard time getting close to 50% in any poll. I just hope that Arnie does not have enough traction to drag McClintock in with him. The latest Field Poll showed the LG race narrowing to a few percentage points after a large Garamendi lead in the initial poll. (I'd still call this for Garamendi though). by Predictor on Tue Oct 10, 2006 at 12:31:06 PM PDT

On Nov.7th, I did my duty and voted for Angelides. I had hoped that many would not reward the Gropenator's chameleon change and that he would therefore not win by double digits. I considered voting Green but am no fan of Camejo.
I still maintain to this day that Westly could have unseated Arnold, especially if the primary had not been so divisive & expensive, and gone "South".
Westly was the true progressive here not the DLC and establishment backed Angelides. Phil was not an attractive candidate and his side of the fence esentially seemed to bail on him after the primary(esp. $$$).
I also believe that Steve Westly could have won the Primary had it not been for the fact that "Declined To State" (DTS) voters were unable to vote in the Dem Primary, The Field Poll was showing that Westly had considerable support among those Independents, who make up a considerable force in the CA electorate.
Unfortunetly Garry South ran a horrible campaign for Westly and all these factors sealed our fate in November.
I too hope that we don't see Angelides run for Statewide office again, the most I can deal with is possibly seeing Phil running for a Congressional District seat somewhere.

The decision to allow only Party members to vote in the Primary has the potential to hamstring us in future general eclections.
This edict came down after the 2002 Primary as the CA Gop wanted to protect their conservative base in Primary voting, which ended up doing us damage this year.
We cannot count on winning elections in CA without the DTS voters.
 If Arnold reverts once again and panders to the right, we still have the option to force a Recall.

by Predictor 2006-11-17 06:02AM | 0 recs


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