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Currently viewing the tag: "California"

This month, Democrats managed to get badly defeated at the polls, losing ground pretty much across the board, in some areas dramatically. However, in California, Republicans failed to win a single statewide contest and actually dropped a U.S. House seat (though they did win a small number of state legislature and local races). Why did my state avoid the Republican wave again? The good folks over at the Field Poll organization have an explanation:

First, even in low turnout elections, the California electorate includes proportionately more ethnic voters than does the U.S. electorate. This benefits Democratic candidates across the state. However, its net effect in low turnout non-presidential election years is much less than in presidential election years.

In this year’s election, an even larger force underpinning the differences in statewide election outcomes here to those across the country was the voting preferences of white non-Hispanic voters. According to the exit polls, whites nationally voted for Republican candidates over Democratic candidates in House races by 24 points (62% to 38%). An identical result was observed in the 2010 mid-term election, which also saw the GOP dominating at the polls. Both were significantly wider margins than observed in mid-term elections prior to Obama’s presidency. […]

[California’s] white non-Hispanic voters were evenly divided in their preferences between the Democrat and Republican candidates across the six down-ballot races, with each party’s candidates averaging about 44% of the voting preferences. This is in stark contrast to the 24-percentage point advantage that Republicans held over the Democrats in House races across the country.

Thus, one of the major factors underlying the very different election outcomes nationally and in California relates to the voting preferences of white non-Hispanics.

So, essentially, our white people are more liberal. Good to know. There’s also a bit about how strong Democrats have become in coastal counties that is interesting. Perhaps over here we’re used to being a white minority and realize it’s really not all that bad?

The upshot is that Californians are in a position to really dominate the Democratic House caucus, given their relative size and that apparently they’re the only ones assured of not getting wiped out in a midterm, and can therefore build up considerable seniority much more quickly. This seems to me like a generally good thing from the point of view of progressive politics. Generally speaking, though there are a few exceptions (cough, cough).

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I meant to write about this a while back, but it got buried behind a bunch of stuff. I still think it’s worth taking note of:

The analyst says in a report issued Wednesday that the state will have annual operating surpluses approaching $10 billion a year by the 2017-18 fiscal year if current spending and revenue policies remain.

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor says revenue is expected to grow faster than spending for at least the next five years, giving California a $5.6 billion reserve by July 2015. It’s a dramatic turnaround from the multibillion-dollar deficits of a few years ago.

I still contend that Ross Douthat’s “Texas vs. California” article was the last sign that the independent, likable blogger had become a hackish wannabe-player (of which his later work, including the infamous “Ground Zero Mosque” piece, would testify). I shall not link to these articles–finding them ought to be easy enough if you want to read them–but the gist of it was that California was a financial basketcase because of free-spending liberals while Texas was a model of fiscal probity. Keep in mind that what California has done since this article is, basically, to dump a Republican governor, raise taxes and eradicate all Republican power within the legislature. Admittedly, Jerry Brown is something of a belt-tightener in terms of spending, though that hasn’t kept the state from pouring money back into education and going ahead with large-scale infrastructure projects.

Basically, the takeaway here is that Ross Douthat does not deserve to be taken seriously at all because he’s primarily concerned with his “brand” and finding the just right positioning to be the Times‘s conservative columnist. Which is something that not enough people seem to know.

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Although Josh Marshall cracks wise over t’TPM about Siskiyou County wanting to secede from California, the area has a (sort-of/kind-of) history of wanting to set up shop for itself — see ref. the “State of Jefferson“:

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Via Common Dreams and LR, the LA Times reports on an innovative effort to help homeowners, and the banksters’ concomitant snit-fit:
Now [a mortgage relief plan that could use local eminent domain powers] is gaining traction [in California] again, with the city of Richmond, Calif., last week becoming the first to press forward.

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Let’s just take it as read that the Republican Party is screwed in the state of California, and that a great realistic outcome for them now would be to keep the gubernatorial race relatively close next year so that they don’t lose any more reps. So who are the two most likely options to get blown out by Gov. Brown? They are:

  • Tim Donnelly, a State Rep. and former Minuteman who’s mostly unknown.
  • Abel Maldonado, former appointed Lt. Governor.

The former has been pretty quiet recently, which is probably for the best since the more buzzed-about (and more credible of the two), Maldo, already has his campaign in debt. Yep, already. Fifteen months before the election. Not only that, the bulk of his spending has been on campaign consultants, which is a good move because, and I have this on good authority, the more consultants you have working on your campaign, the better it is! Just ask John Kerry and Al Gore, both of whose images were only improved by consultants’ ideas on what voters considered “normal” and “relatable.”

Of course, Maldonado has always been a candidate to be a Hispanic Republican Jesus, though of a decidedly second-tier stature. Too moderate, too willing to actually try to do positive things, not close enough to rich white assholes. I actually respect his career in the State Senate, to be honest with you. But I don’t like having my time wasted, and this campaign really is just a waste of time. Not to mention that it’s been counterproductive to date, irritating in terms of issue focus to say the least. It’s an open question whether Maldo will be able to even make it to the primary elections, since the only utility he has as nominee would be as a bullet point in future RNC memos arguing about how Hispanics are of course represented by the GOP. If those stakes aren’t high enough, Donnelly might just win. I won’t lie, the effects of this would be devastating for Republicans among the Hispanic community. But Donnelly actually is kind of what actual Republicans are like to a greater extent than the reasonable (if misguided) Maldonado, so it’s only fair.

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The Golden State has many problems at this moment in time, with the economy being one of the biggest. And it’s seeing minimal progress at best:
California’s labor market continued its slow improvement in March as employers added jobs for the eighth straight month. Payrolls grew by 18,200 jobs last month, according to figures released Friday by the California Employment Development Department. That’s on top of a revised 38,600 jobs in February. The unemployment rate increased to 11% in March, up slightly from February’s 10.9% rate. Still, improving job prospects have encouraged more California workers to reenter the labor force, driving the jobless rate higher, said Dennis Meyers, principal economist for the state’s Department of Finance.
The gist of it is that the housing market is still quite weak, which is hurting construction. A propos, it wasn’t until I started looking for new places to live (I’m temporarily in a new apartment with the SO, looking at buying a house) that I realized just how fracked up the housing situation has become here. I lived in the same place for about three and a half years, basically just a studio apartment, for $800 a month. Around 2008-ish, a single-bedroom unit where I work was going for about $1090 or so, which I thought was needlessly expensive. Now getting something comparable in the area would run you $1600 or more a month. Seriously! In terms of rent, we’re all San Franciscans now. I was able to find something modestly less expensive ten miles away, but still. Rents really have gone nuts in the East Bay, which believe it or not was one of the LESSER-HIT areas of the state economically over the past few years. I wouldn’t even want to know what a one-bedroom in SF would go for.  It’s all about demand, of course. I used to be fairly cool to buying a house, which I thought was needlessly expensive and confining. Now, increasingly, the opposite is true–if you don’t stay in a complex forever you’re going to get thwacked with a big rent increase when you leave, and paying a mortgage on a 1500 square foot house costs less per month than renting a one-bedroom apartment. The economy appears to be on the mend, which is much better than the alternative. But we’re still a long way from healed, especially in my state.
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I guess Michigan's voters soured on Santorum quicker than I figured. Understandable.

In any event, I think this is really cool, and I hope it has an effect. California is nothing if not a leader among the states. We're forcing the U.S. to deal with global warming, now we're doing the same with civil liberties too. We'll do whatever we need to do and bring the rest of y'all along for the ride. I do love this state, and think its flaws are well outweighed by its virtues.