“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”—John F. Kennedy
On Tuesday night, the pundits will come out in force, as a small group of voters will decide who represents District 2 on the Board of Supervisors. The chattering class will flock to praise the victor, while the defeated candidate will be accused of doing everything wrong.
Some pundits will opine that the losing candidate’s career is over. They will posture that the “loser” will never be able to run for elected office again. They will say that the losing candidate will have lost two elections, noting it is some kind of bar to future public service. That is horse manure.
Both Teresa Alvarado and Cindy Chavez will be political forces in this community for the foreseeable future, and people will be surprised when they work together for the benefit of the county, after all the dust settles. It will take a few days for the hurt feelings of a modern political campaign to subside. Just as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton came together for the country, so too will these outstanding public servants.
In short, this is a fight between two outstanding candidates, both of whom could serve with distinction. This is not a choice between two evils. Rather, it’s a choice for the best among them.
Some will opine that the losing candidate ran a terrible campaign and the winner did everything right. Wrong again, but that won’t stop the over-simplistic analysis.
There is no doubt one campaign has been waged better than the other, but that does not make the other campaign a bad one—just less successful. Further, one effort has had far more to overcome, and the expected voter turnout will do little to change that.
Finally, some people—including this writer—will bemoan the role of independent expenditure committees and point out that those who tried to help from the outside actually hurt the candidate they wanted to win. Negative campaigns rarely succeed, and over-the-top messaging only works to the extent it persuades people not to vote.
Barring a miracle turnout between now and Election Day, the votes that have already been submitted to the Registrar of Voters will determine the outcome. That doesn’t mean the campaigns will stop working. But the current math is likely too much to overcome.
While much will be said about the strategy, tactics and messages in both campaigns, the true credit will belong to the candidate with the best ground game. Theoretically, either candidate could still win, because the universe of voters is so small. Even the candidate who is polling behind can win if their voters truly turn out. Thus, all efforts over the next few days will be getting voters to the polls. Turnout will determine the victor.
We won’t know the results until Election Night, when the registrar begins releasing returns. But one fact has already been established—whoever wins will be a far more effective leader than the previous occupant of the office.
Rich Robinson is a political consultant in Silicon Valley.