This ad promoting a ban on same-sex marriage, featuring San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom exulting that it’s here to stay “whether you like it or not,” rocketed the Yes on 8 side in the polls. But No on 8 finally has effective attacks on the initiative.
Before we get to the hard-fought state ballot initiatives, a few words about the presidential race in California, and what it means in this election and in the future.
Despite some brave statements from Republicans, the nation’s biggest state has been Barack Obama’s even before he wrapped up the Democratic nomination last June. True, he lost the February primary to Hillary Clinton. But polls showed him the Democratic favorite here even before he effectively won the nomination on June 3rd.
Obama’s lead in California is across the board. The Field Poll said today that he is headed for a bigger win here than either of Ronald Reagan’s landslides. How California, and much of the rest of the West, has moved from Republican to Democratic, is the subject of a separate column. But it’s important to note that Obama leads in all age groups and all ethnic groups, with truly massive leads amongst voters under age 35, Latino voters, African American voters, and Asian-American voters. If this election is a predictor for top of the ticket elections here, the Republicans had better find a way to clone the term-limited Arnold Schwarzenegger. And make sure the clone is a global icon, as well. Only trouble is, the party is moving so far to the right, they might not nominate him.
So the suspense of the presidential race here was short-lived. But Obama’s coming big win in the Golden State means that even carefully gerrymandered districts in Congress and the Legislature may not hold back the Democratic tide.
Democratic strategists expect to pick up a few seats in the Legislature. And possibly one or two in Congress. Among those in trouble is longtime right-wing icon Tom McClintock, the termed-out Southern California state senator seeking to hold on to a longtime Republican congressional seat 400 miles to the north, being abandoned by right-wing Congressman John Dolittle, an Abramoff scandal figure.
Democratic polls show retired Air Force Colonel Charlie Brown ahead or tied with McClintock. McClintock’s own pollster today announced that he’s ahead. Of course, I ran into McClintock on election day 2006 at the Beverly Hilton, and he was absolutely convinced – based on his pollster’s work – that he was the next lieutenant governor of California. He wasn’t.
There’ve been some hard-fought initiative battles. The two highest profile have been Prop 8, the attempt to roll back the right to same-sex marriage granted by the Republican-majority California Supreme Court, and Prop 11, the Schwarzenegger-backed initiative to take redistricting out of the Legislature’s hands and give it to a citizen commission.
After former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown changed the frame on Prop 8, by defining it in the ballot description as I just did, prospects for the initiative – which is receiving a huge chunk of its money from mostly out-of-state Mormon Church members – diminished. They went back up again when the Yes on 8 side began airing the ad you see at the top of this column, saying that allowing same-sex marriage would also require the teaching of homosexuality in the schools, and showing a gloating San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom having a Howard Dean-like eruption, saying that gay marriage is here to stay “Whether you like it or not.”
Public polling had shown the initiative losing. But after that twist in the tale, private polls showed a much closer race, and one public poll showed Prop 8 ahead.
That created a shock which probably helped the No on 8 side. More money started flowing in to its coffers, with Apple and Google coming out against the initiative and people like Steven Spielberg and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie cutting big checks.
The real change on Prop 8 when the somewhat movement style of the campaign became more of a classically “No” on an initiative campaign.
This hard-hitting ad below went right at the claim that same-sex marriage means preaching an alternative lifestyle in the schools. State schools chief Jack O’Connell, speaking directly to camera, called the charge absolutely false.
This very effective ad against Prop 8, featuring state schools chief Jack O’Connell, appears to have arrested a slide.
Then the state’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, weighed in with a very hard-hitting ad that began running a few days ago. Here it is below.
Senator Dianne Feinstein’s very effective ad against Prop 8, the repeal of same-sex marriage rights in California.
These late moves should be enough to defeat Prop 8.
Feinstein also weighs in heavily, along with Schwarzenegger and Brown, on Prop 5, a controversial measure to change the state’s drug laws. Feinstein has called it a “drug dealer’s bill of rights,” and today every living governor of California, Republican and Democrat, came together to denounce it. That’s Schwarzengger, Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian, and Jerry Brown, now the state’s attorney general.
Prop 5′s prospects are not good.
While California is a center-left state, it’s also a tough-on-crime state. Now if only they can get the prison system to work properly.
Social conservatives have a better shot on Prop 4, the perennial attempt to require parental notification on teen abortions. I think Californians are of two minds about this. Certainly this is something a parent should know. On the other hand, there are quite a few dysfunctional families.
Prop 1A, high speed rail bonds, is an idea that has been popular in the past, but has been put off as other seemingly more pressing needs in infrastructure and education have come to the fore. Now it may just be at the wrong time, in the midst of a pronounced economic slump.
Prop 7 is a plan to accelerate California’s already strong requirements for renewable energy use. It’s opposed both by the utilities and a great many environmentalists, for different reasons, and looks to be going down.
Prop 10 is Texas oil man T. Boone Pickens’ attempt to promote bonds for alternative fuel use. It so happens he’s in that business now. This looks self-interested, but should be closer.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and good government reformers are pushing hard with Prop 11 to take redistricting out of the politicians’ hands.
Then there’s Prop 11, which I’ve written about a lot, Schwarzenegger’s joint venture with reformers like Common Cause and the League of Women Voters to change the redistricting process.
The current system encourages hyperpartisanship, as both parties seek to create the safest seats possible for core party members. And then folks wonder why the Legislature lacks the ability to work together.
Schwarzenegger seemed confident yesterday about Prop 11′s prospects, even though these initiatives – including one he sponsored in 2005 – has always been defeated in the past.
But this time, as he noted, there are some 2300 organizations around the state that have endorsed. His side is running good ads and the opposition looks to be in some disarray.
And the tracking polls for Prop 11 are good.
So there could be some history coming out of California on election night. Not only the landslide for Obama, which I suspect will be a real marker for top of the ticket races in the Golden State, but quite likely historic affirmations for same-sex marriage and for reform of the way that redistricting is done.