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Some more info on what happened here in California:

* Democrats have won at least 9 out of 10 statewide elected offices, with the Attorney General race still up in the air (progressive Democrat and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris trails conservative Republican and Los Angeles DA Steve Cooley by about 10,000 votes). All Democratic congressional seats appear to have been held, with Jerry McNerney and Jim Costa clinging to narrow leads in CA-11 and CA-20, respectively. Those two districts have been hammered by the foreclosure crisis.

How did the victory happen? It was a combination of two factors:

  1. California voters do not want Republicans leading them. They reject the GOP's economic agenda and its right-wing social agenda. Neither do they want wealthy CEOs to lead them, and since Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina combined the right-wing agenda with an unappealing "we are your overlords" persona, it should be no surprise they got hammered.

  2. The left-of-center coalition worked their ass off to produce these victories. We held the Netroots California event yesterday (put on by Netroots Nation in San Francisco) where we heard from pollsters, the head of the state labor federation, and other community activists about the truly vast voter engagement and mobilization effort that was undertaken - over a million voters were turned out to the polls by these efforts. In particular, attention was paid to Latino voters (who swung to Democrats by 20 points over their performance in the 2006 gubernatorial race) and Asian and Pacific Islander voters (who had a whopping 42 point swing over 2006).

It helped that Tea Party arguments against Obama got no traction among the 7 of 10 voters who live in the coastal counties. However, the mobilization was uneven - the Central Valley didn't get as much attention, and as a result the right-wing had more success since they mobilized their base and Dems did not spend as much effort or funding on it, especially in the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno, Bakersfield, etc).

In the state legislature, Democrats picked up a seat in the Assembly (near Sacramento, defeating the author of Prop 8) and stayed even in the Senate.

The ballot propositions didn't go as well. Prop 19 failed, unsurprisingly - the Yes on 19 campaign was hamstrung by a severe lack of funding. George Soros put in $1 million the last week of the election, which helped launch a belated get out the vote effort, but by then it had already been lost. Every tax measure failed, including one to close corporate tax loopholes.

The two victories on the ballot props were Prop 23, which failed (an initiative funded by Texas oil companies to suspend the state's cap-and-trade carbon emissions law and the mandate to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020) and Prop 25, which succeeded (lowering the threshold to pass a budget from 2/3 to a simple majority).

Now we get to enjoy Governor Jerry Brown's third term. He's already pledged another round of austerity, but Dems hope he'll be open to putting some tax measures on a 2011 special election ballot.

Overall, California was one of the few bright spots nationwide in this election, owing to public dislike of the extreme right, of wealthy CEOs, and the unprecedented mobilization of the progressive base. But California's deep structural problems remain, and have been only marginally helped by the election outcomes. Disaster was avoided, but deliverance is nowhere in sight, especially with Republican control of the US House of Representatives.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Nov 7th, 2010 at 09:20:32 PM EST

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