By Greg Larson
The California electorate was particularly discerning, with a strong differentiation between their votes for candidates and their votes on the ballot measures.
It appears that Democrats won all nine statewide races and retain significant majorities in the California legislative and congressional delegations.
But as evidenced below, the statewide ballot measures paint a completely different picture, one that suggests the Democratic Party itself is increasingly out of touch with the policy preferences of the California electorate.
California voters only agreed with the Democratic Party on 2 out of 9 ballot measures (No on Prop 23 and Yes on Prop 25) while Meg Whitman prevailed on 8 out of 9 ballot measures, opposing the electorate only on Prop 25. This is a stark difference in voter alignment of only 22 percent for the Democrats and 89 percent for Whitman.
Further analysis shows even greater challenges for Democratic Party constituencies. Besides the Democratic Party itself and the ultra-liberal San Francisco Bay Guardian, the other top electoral losers on the ballot measures were ALL labor unions and so-called “progressive” coalitions, including the AFL-CIO State Labor Federation, both major teachers’ unions (CTA & CFT), California Nurses Association, SEIU, AFSCME, Building & Construction Trades, the “Courage Campaign” and Health Access California.
At the other extreme, the top ballot measure electoral winners included not only Meg Whitman, but also business groups and major newspapers, including the California Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, California Taxpayers Association, Farm Bureau, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times, plus the Republican Party and CA Police Chiefs.
Only Common Cause and the AARP scored 100% with the electorate on the ballot measures, but did so by endorsing on only 2 and 3 measures, respectively. Interestingly, they both joined with the public in strongly supporting independent redistricting (Yes on Prop 20 and No on Prop 27), which was the opposite of the California Democratic Party. Note that Jerry Brown also scored 100% with the electorate on his ballot measure positions, but he only took public positions on two of them, joining with Meg Whitman in opposition to both Props 19 and 23.
1) The California Democratic Party needs to get back in touch with the policy positions of the California electorate by leading on government reform, not fighting it, and by softening its long-standing blind allegiance to Sacramento-based officials and special interests.
2) Environmental leaders only won on one of their three core ballot measures, defeating Prop 23 but losing on the passage of Prop 21 and the defeat of Prop 26. Maybe they should have focused more on their core measures rather than joining in on the failed efforts to fight independent redistricting.
DISCLOSURE: I voted for Jerry Brown and all but one of the statewide Democratic candidates. I also opposed Props 19, 23, 24, 26 and 27 and supported Props 20, 21, 22 and 25, scoring 7 out of 9 (78%) with the electorate, losing only with environmental leaders on Props 21 and 26. In addition, back in the 1980’s I was one of the grassroots leaders of the State Democratic Party that – for a brief while – wrestled away control of the State Party apparatus from the legislative leadership.
HIGH VOTER ALIGNMENT BALLOT MEASURE RATIOS:
Meg Whitman 8 out of 9 89 %
Long Beach Press Telegram 8 out of 9
Chamber of Commerce 6 out of 7 86 %
CA Taxpayers Assn 5 out of 6 83 %
CA Police Chiefs Assn 5 out of 6
Silicon Valley Ldrshp Group 4 out of 5 80 %
San Jose Mercury News 7 out of 9 78 %
Los Angeles Times 7 out of 9
Oakland Trib/CC Times 7 out of 9
San Francisco Chronicle 7 out of 9
CA Farm Bureau 7 out of 9
Republican Party 6 out of 8 75 %
LOW VOTER ALIGNMENT BALLOT MEASURE RATIOS:
Health Access CA 1 out of 5 20 %
SF Bay Guardian 2 out of 9 22 %
Democratic Party 2 out of 8 25 %
Young Democrats 2 out of 8
SEIU 2 out of 8
CA Teachers Assn 2 out of 8
CA Nurses Assn 2 out of 8
Courage Campaign 2 out of 8
Bldg/Construction Trades 2 out of 7 29 %
AFL-CIO Labor Federation 2 out of 7
CA Federation of Teachers 2 out of 7
AFSCME 2 out of 7
The source data for the above analysis can be found at http://www.CaliforniaChoices.org