Reflections on results (minus the big one)

I’ll get to that in a separate post.

I am, still, tired, worn out, zonked. A lot went down. And, frankly, not all of it happily. But having gone through all my choices for the ballot, I figure a catchall post noting what the results were can’t hurt.

First and foremost — Prop 8 passed, narrowly but not razor-thin. I am outraged if not surprised, but also convinced this was a rear-guard action at best, as the tide of history changes. A friend put it best in a private note, with his version of my ‘you couldn’t even have imagined something like this being an issue in the recent past’ take:

Yet there’s a part of me which is still pleased and amazed the issue has even limited viability that it does. Less than ten years ago it was nothing more than a few gayocons and a few rebels with lawyers being reasonable and demanding the impossible. It’s not revolutionary speed but it’s not baby steps, either–that’s fucking fast.

True indeed. We will see what happens next — as I said elsewhere, gains are often conditional and asynchronous.

Regarding the rest of the propositions — the results are here, and it’s a reasonable grab-bag. 2 passing was good, 3 I think unneeded in the end but still passed. 4, thankfully, went down, as did 5 and 6. 7 and 10 both bit the dust as well — I did vote for 10 but I can’t say I’m all worried about that. 9 passed, which is overkill on the matter but oh well. 11 is passing by a hair, which I think will be very problematic when implemented in two years time. 12 is coasting, unsurprisingly.

That leaves 1A, and while my support for it was conditional given it was a bond issue, the passage of it as well as Measure R up in LA, which required a 2/3 vote that just made it over that limit, shows what I hope will be a new and conscious engagement on what will prove to be important steps in mass transit in the 21st century. Essentially these moves are green lights to take things further, but they needed to be done in some form or another, and I look forward to the next developments.

Turning to the results as posted via the OCvote.com site — on the federal and state representative front, no surprises, regrettably — Rohrbacher held off Cook in CA-46 for Congress quite easily in the end, while Harman and Tran will return to Sacramento (though Tran’s margin was honestly much closer than I would have expected, which might be a sign for a future candidate). Essentially, a reconfirmation of the status quo.

On the county level, Measure J passed overwhelmingly, unfortunate but again no surprise, while Carrillo happily trounced Marsh for the Superior Court spot. In the Coast Community College District races, Patterson and Prinsky won handily — very good to hear especially in Prinsky’s case — while Hornbuckle beat Pirch in the one seat I was essentially neutral about.

That leaves the Costa Mesa races — in the Sanitation District contests, Ferryman got the top votes while Perry just beat Worthington. Would have been nice if Ferryman and Worthington’s places were swapped, but oh well. As for the City Council, Foley held on but regrettably, if all too unsurprisingly, Monahan and Bever are back. More thoughts about many of these races over at A Bubbling Cauldron.

So that just leaves, as mentioned, the big one. More on that tonight — if I’m not totally wiped out.

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Looking at the 2008 California State Senate 35th District race

Okay, besides all the propositions there are two other state level things I’ll be voting on — first, the race in my State Senate district, with a map available here. As you can see it’s a pretty affluent stretch of OC featured here — Laguna Beach, Dana Point, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, the southern tip of Irvine and so forth — while the north part of the district is much more of a mix. Still, nearly all of this covers what a lot of people think of as ‘Orange County’ in the stereotypical sense — think of the TV series set in this district, for a start — and given the political reputation of the county it should come as no surprise that the incumbent in this race is Republican:

State Senator Tom Harman (R)

Ginny Mayer (D)

Speaking honestly, Harman’s one of those guys I just simply don’t notice all that much. My Assembly representative, Van Tran, has always been far more visible in comparison. As Harman proudly has “Conservative for State Senate” as his motto on his site, that really says all that needs be said, and his basic positions are about what I would expect of the area — lots of talk about how taxes are bad, illegal immigration is really bad, how he’s fighting for ‘business-friendly’ regulations (always a bad sign, especially these days, I’d figure), etc.

Mayer in comparison is an academic and analyst who hasn’t served in elective office from what I can tell — at least, I don’t notice it in her biography — but her basic positions are, unsurprisingly, more in general line with mine than Harman’s. It’s standard enough high end Democratic talk for the general area, no surprises, but with a gentle emphasis on certain points I’m pleased to see (noting that the question of illegal immigration needs a solution that avoids “racism and xenophobia” — which puts it mildly around here sometimes).

I described in the CA-46 Congressional race about how my past votes against Rohrabacher were essentially ‘protest votes’ against him in the knowledge that the overall vote almost certainly wasn’t going to break against him. Honestly, I figure that’ll be the case here, but that’s no reason not to vote for Mayer, and I wish her and the campaign well in these final couple of days. You never know!

So I’ll vote for MAYER — and I’ll further direct you to her comic strip on her site. Because why not?

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Reminder to California voters — register to vote by October 20

A minor note, but having spoken about some propositions now and with more to come, it makes sense to actually point out one should be registered in the first place. But there’s still a few days left, with Monday being the last day.

The overall state page for voting registration information is here:

http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm

So go nuts…

You’ve figured out your presidential vote. Start thinking locally.

Seriously.

This isn’t a new theme or suggestion of mine, admittedly. And right now there’s a lot of chasing around of undecided voters, but I’m going to go with Ezra Klein on this one:

Swing voters can be measured in various ways, but there are no solid numbers on undecided voters — in part because the numbers change with every election and, within every election, with every successive month and event and even poll. Right now, if you look at the three main tracking polls — Gallup, Hotline and Rasmussen — they show that between 5% and 12% of the electorate is undecided.

Worse, many of those who claim to be undecided are not. Some don’t want to admit their preference. In their paper, “Swing Voters? Hah!” political scientists Adam Clymer and Ken Winneg amassed substantial data suggesting that very few undecided voters are truly indecisive. Examining the 2004 election, Clymer and Winneg found that even the most hard-core of undecided voters were fairly predictable.

They asked the 4% of their sample that claimed to be undecided to rate the two candidates in early October. When they went back to the same people after the election, more than 80% had in fact voted for whichever candidate they’d rated most highly a month earlier.

There’s still arguments to be made and energy to harness and put to good use — energy which still so ridiculously favors the Obama campaign that there just needs to be more honesty regarding that on the part of the McCain team, thanks. (Though good luck at any of that in the next three weeks, I suspect.) The competitions in states like Florida and Ohio and Indiana will go down to the wire, and there are other examples at work.

But it’s likely you’ve long since settled on your vote — the other real trend I’ve noticed anecdotally are GOP voters either switching to Obama or refusing to vote for McCain. The classic example of the latter right now, first brought to my attention at Balloon Juice, was Joshua Treviño’s vote — all the more so because he was a cofounder of RedState. However, Treviño’s followup post to that explaining his decision makes an important point at the start — as he says:

This would not have happened in an actual battleground state. Rest assured that were I not in California, where the Republican ticket will struggle to break 40%, I would not be casting a protest vote of any sort.

Regardless of whether you are in a battleground state or not, though, it’s important to note what else Treviño did — namely, vote on everything else too. And that can’t be underscored enough.

I live in the same non-battleground state as Treviño, and over a year ago I wrote this post detailing my situation. Here’s key parts of what I said then:

Yet due to a combination of factors along with general historical accident, here’s what the likely situation is going to be come November 2008, barring something radically unusual (hopefully not tragically so):

* The presidency — the big one, of course. However, a GOP candidate has not won in California since the elder Bush in 1988. Even in 2004, with antipathy towards the younger Bush running high but not as high as it would later and Kerry proving to be a terribly uncharismatic figure, the latter still carried California 55 to 45 percent. This is absolutely no guarantee that whoever wins in the GOP primaries will not end up carrying the state — the writers on this polling geek site suggest that the issue of illegal immigration could complicate things, though I have my strong doubts about that. At this point I’ve no reason to doubt a Democratic candidate will win the state by a comfortable margin, while my local precinct in OC will go for the GOP candidate equally comfortably if not more so.
* The senatorial seats — out of contention, barring personal misfortune on the part of the current officeholders. Senator Feinstein was reelected in 2006, Senator Boxer runs again in 2010.
* My local representative in the House — again, assuming no personal misfortune, that would be Dana Rohrabacher in the 46th district, who won in 2006 59 to 36 percent, and who I will vote against as I have always done since moving to the district. The likelihood of an upset is incredibly slim.

Meantime there’s no gubernatorial race, as Arnie won reelection last year. So the presidency and the House aside, this leaves me having to decide on state and local issues for the most part, even while the political campaigning for next year has already long been in overdrive, while still being months away from whatever the first contests that elect delegates for the conventions will be.

It’s fun reading in retrospect, seeing what came true and what didn’t. To my surprise and delight there IS a real race on for Rohrabacher’s seat — Debbie Cook, Huntington Beach’s Democratic mayor, has taken it to him head-on, and while I won’t hold my breath, Rohrabacher’s been sufficiently spooked to start flooding folks with mail more thoroughly than I’ve seen in years. As for the presidential race, I think we all know about that by now, and immigration is essentially a non-issue in this election unless I’ve completely missed something.

But everything else is as it was. Therefore, while I’m going to be posting occasional thoughts on the wider election here and there, for the next three weeks political posting will be to focus on those local races — which will include statewide propositions as well — instead of longer speculation about the Big One. For me that’s done and dusted, and for a citizen to think, act and vote to the full, that means not short-changing your downticket decisions. In ways, this is what matters most when you vote, with the most immediate results.

The power of local focus should never be underrated — and local focus sometimes is exactly what is needed when something goes from local to international. Two classic examples have been the go-to blogs ever since Sarah Palin’s nomination — Andrew Halcro and Mudflats. Their differing political perspectives, combined with their in-depth knowledge of Alaska and Alaskan politics, as well as a shared disdain for Palin’s antics, have produced more details, more on-the-ground perspective and knowledge, that any number of op-ed pieces or random commentaries out there.

My own blog lays no such claim when it comes to California politics in general or Orange County and/or Costa Mesa politics in specific, but hopefully I’ll be able to provide something of a model for others who want to engage and reflect on their own local races and issues. The conscious citizen commits completely. Never forget it — and here’s to the next twenty-two days.

First posts on this to begin tonight or tomorrow.

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If you’re in California — vote!

Today is the day of the second of three elections this year, and there are primaries in non-presidential races afoot, as well as two major propositions on the ballot, 98 and 99. I talked about both here and my basic position is unchanged — absolute NO on 98, agreed on YES for 99. Meanwhile, there are a variety of local judicial elections as well — in OC it’s often down to the lesser of two or more evils, but that’s not always the case.

Point being — vote! Sure it’s not a big one, sure there’s not the ‘glamour’ of a presidential election — but to vote is to participate in what the American experiment continues to be. It must be done. Success to your sides and candidates, but if they fail, accept it and then go forward. It’s better than the alternatives.

So let’s talk the June vote. In California that is.

And tomorrow the charade continues in Pennsylvania and all that, and if you’re obsessively watching that but not paying attention to more local votes and matters, you’re going about this the wrong way. Keep your eyes open to the local stuff which will affect you more immediately.

As was the case with the February vote out here, more was going on than just the primaries, and such will be the case in June, when the presidential primaries used to be held here (and I regard the alternate history where a June California primary turned out to decide things for the Democratic race with both fascination and horror — it would have been an incredibly Machiavellian exercise and I would have gone insane in the middle of it). The fact that the June vote will be the least participated in of the three in this year is both understandable and a bit depressing; the ‘stake everything on one throw’ attitude towards voting I’ve noticed over time is a fundamental misreading of how citizenship works, though it’s an understandable misreading given the functions of mass marketing and reduction to simplicities in this area.

In California it’s a bit different due to the existence of the extraconstitutional mechanism of the proposition, and right now there are two to consider, so here’s a quick overview.

First, it’s important to note that both of the propositions are not merely covering the same area, but interrelated — to the point where the second, if it pulls more votes, will supersede the first. They’re not working in sync, however; instead they’re working against each other, big time, and are each supported by a bunch of groups in open war against the other.

Both address the question of of ‘eminent domain,’ which in the lens of American politics is a passionate one. The Kelo v. New London case decided by the Supreme Court is what has made it a hot-button issue in recent years. (If the legalese is a bit much there, there are about eight million responses on the Web to it — though it can be simply summed up as “OMG ARGH!,” essentially, and not without reason.) Back in 2006 Proposition 90 was first proposed as a way to address it, but it went down to defeat, so try try again.

But what do we have so far? Well…:

  • Proposition 98 — “Eminent Domain. Limits on Government Authority.” — Okay, talk about bait and switch. Seemingly this is all just about eminent domain straight up. Not so fast, though — as the link shows there, the other big thing in this version of the proposition is the abolition of rent control. Now, I rent myself, though not in a rent-controlled situation, and it’s plenty clear to me what the abolition of such a control would mean in terms of affordable housing for many, many California residents. Combined with calling into question ‘inclusionary housing,’ not to mention plenty of other rather suspicious provisions, this all adds up into something that is using a theoretical no-brainer to mask a bunch of other stuff going on. My current vote: an emphatic NO.
  • Proposition 99 — “Eminent Domain. Limits on Government.” — This counterproposal parallels 98, but is specifically written to avoid the rent control question, and as mentioned will supersede 98 if both pass. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the fact that both renters groups and environmental groups are pulling for this one, combined with the ability to supersede 98, is enough to make me consider this a YES vote, though I’ll want to study it in a little more detail just to be sure. My mind’s pretty well made up here, though.

A basic enough summary via the SF Chronicle from March puts all this into some further context, though as with anything of this nature it’s a simplification. Still, there’s not much more to add here beyond that, and I’m sure the attack ads are flying already and will get worse. Come the day I’ll be at the voting booth, though, and if you’re a California resident you should be too — and I haven’t even mentioned statewide offices and county votes and all that yet. But it’s all part of the process, and you should all be involved.

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Contemplating a California vote — bring on the propositions!

So being the nonpartisan fellow I am, it’s nothing but propositions for me this time out — though I’m going to double check the sample ballot to make sure, as there might be local races I’ve missed (entirely possible). This gives you an idea of the fun we always have out here. If you’re wondering about the whole history of such things, this is a brief summary explaining its roots, and there’s more out there. There have been plenty of arguments about what those changes have meant, good and bad — suffice to say it’s always been a fact of life for me, and I think the first time I was specifically aware of the power of elections when I was young wasn’t Reagan’s first election in 1980 but the legendary/notorious — depending on how you look at it — Proposition 13.

So what are we facing this time out? There are seven propositions total, and while I will take the time to consider them more fully, here are some initial impressions:

  • Prop 91 — TRANSPORTATION FUNDS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. — this one’s pretty funny because everyone’s saying to vote against it, even the people who proposed it, as you can see here. It’s a case where other action superseded this proposition, and the will of the people having been allegedly thus expressed, this whole thing is a dead letter. I might never see something like that again, so hey.
  • Prop 92 — COMMUNITY COLLEGES. FUNDING. GOVERNANCE. FEES. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. — basically this ensures lower fees for students attending said community college system. I am of two minds, given the current precarious state of the budget in California, but ultimately I feel that ensuring cheap access to education is crucial, and that objections from taxpayers’ associations should always be taken with a heavy grain of salt. My current vote is a yes.
  • Prop 93 — LIMITS ON LEGISLATORS’ TERMS IN OFFICE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. — the big one this time out, since it addresses a key part of state government in its current term limit form. As the analysis explains, this grows out of a reaction to the passage of Prop 140 back in 1990 — the first time I could vote in an election, as it happens! I believe I supported the idea at the time, but I’m not positive. My feelings on this matter are ill-defined, honestly, but inasmuch as I think that there can be an allowance between ensuring someone does not treat their office as some sort of divine gift unto death and allowing for people in office to build experience and relationships that can be of the greater benefit to the state, I think that the proposition has some value, and that objections to it are not sufficient. For the moment, I vote yes, though with caveats.
  • Prop 94, Prop 95, Prop 96, Prop 97 — REFERENDUM ON AMENDMENT TO INDIAN GAMING COMPACT. — it may seem strange to lump all four together this way but, indeed, each is a specific tribe-by-tribe alteration to the compact as noted, and together allows for an overall expansion in the amount of slot machines the four tribes can offer. I have to be honest, though — the question of gambling in any form has been of little interest to me over the years as an election issue. If gambling wasn’t allowed at all in the state, I wouldn’t worry much; if it was unrestricted, I wouldn’t worry much either. On that front, they could expand all they want. The larger arguments brought to the fore — as proponents and opponents sum up here — involves questions of tax revenue, enriching tribes at the expense of poorer ones and other fairly involved issues that means for the moment I am undecided, though I think that that a plan involving a revenue stream that cannot be guaranteed is not exactly a recipe for success.

And that’s where things are for now. The vote is still some time away, so I’ll be spending more time thinking about these issues and always welcome input. Sometimes I don’t make a final decision until the day itself, and it can easily take someone else’s viewpoint to put things in a clearer perspective.

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