In the face of a GOP juggernaut across much of the US, Golden
State voters opted for Democrats in major statewide races.
California election results are not just an anomaly, analysts there
Democrats did something right, at least, in California.
In the face of a surging GOP elsewhere in the nation, California
voters - who had credible and interesting Republican candidates to
choose from in two big statewide races - elected to go with
Democrats over Republicans, long-time politicians over fresh faces,
single-party control over divided government, and, some would say,
pragmatism over anger.
Do the state's election results hold lessons for the Democratic
Party? Or is that bucking of the national trend nothing more than
California being California - living in its own la-la land?
Not so, said some voters here. Their votes were born of
experience, including a gridlocked state government that is
perennially unable to grapple effectively with a multibillion-
dollar budget deficit.
"Elsewhere in America, people are angry and so they looked at the
president and voted the opposite party to make a statement," says
Megan Martinez, a 20-something emergency medical technician, at the
Sen. Barbara Boxer victory celebration. "Californians are angry but
took the time to really look at [Democratic gubernatorial candidate]
Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer versus [GOP competitors] Meg Whitman
and Carly Fiorina. They chose experience over fresh faces because
we're in very tough times. We already tried a fresh face with [Gov.]
Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that didn't work."
California election results mean that the state is one of the few
to remain all blue: Democrats will sit in the governor's office,
hold both US Senate seats, and control the state legislature. Even
Massachusetts has recently elected a Republican (Sen. Scott Brown in
January), and reliably blue New York isn't sure yet which party will
control the state Senate.
Analysts credit an intense burst of support by longtime
Democratic allies - plus the party's edge among the many racial and
ethnic subgroups here - for turning out the Democratic vote.
"Labor, the Democratic Party, and ethnic voters helped the
Democrats win and buck the national GOP tide," says Hal Dash,
president and CEO of Cerrell & Accociates, a Democratic strategy
California's relatively large shares of Latinos, Asians, Pacific
Islanders, and African-Americans tend to skew Democratic. That
contributes to the Democrats' advantage in voter registration: 44
percent of voters register as Democrats, compared with 31 percent as
Republicans and 25 percent as third-party or decline-to-state.
"Republicans in California just did not have the numbers or
turnout statewide to topple Boxer and beat Jerry Brown," says Mr.
Dash. "Democratic enthusiasm started slow but finished strong, and
that was another key."
California's results are not just an aberration and may be a
bellwether of what's to come for the rest of the nation, argues
political scientist Barbara O'Connor. …