Watching the changes in the vote totals since Election Day as the late vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are counted, I am struck by how they have propelled Democratic candidates for state and local office. It’s a demonstration of the how much more motivated labor and Democratic voters were, in large part due to the presence of Prop. 32 on the ballot.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who represents the Anaheim flatlands in Congress, had 60.4% of the vote at the end of Election Day counting. As of this evening, she has 62.2%. That is almost 20 points ahead of Democratic registration in CD46 (which is 44%). Keep in mind this is new-drawn district for Sanchez and includes the conservative Republican City of Orange (west of the 55 Freeway), and her showing is more than 9% higher than the 53% she garnered in 2010 in a district that was more Democratic.
Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quick-Silva led Assemblyman Chris Norby by 1,004 votes on Election Day in the 65th Assembly District, which also includes the Anaheim flatlands. Her lead has grown every day since, and now stands at 1,996 votes. Her 51.2% puts her 15 points ahead of Democratic registration.
Jordan Brandman finished Election Day as the second-highest vote getter in the Anaheim City Council election (the top two finishers being elected). On Friday, he edged into past former Councilwoman Lucille Kring by 57 votes, and his lead has now grown to 450 votes.
What is curious is this trend did not seem to benefit John Leos, who although a Republican was also the government union candidate and whose patron, the Orange County Employees Association, made Prop. 32’s defeat a top priority. The OCEA also hit Brandman hard in the mail in the campaign’s final week.
I have long been a strong supporter of paycheck protection and voted for Prop. 32 (despite reservations about the inclusion of both private sector unions and corporations in the measure; I think a simpler initiative focused exclusively on government unions would have been better). That said, having Prop. 32 on the November ballot certainly boomeranged against Republicans. Admittedly, this cannot really be blamed on Prop. 32’s proponents, who planned the initiative for the June 2012 ballot. unfortunately, Gov. Jerry Brown, with the cooperation of the Democratic legislature, changed state law to restrict initiatives to the November ballot (it helps to be able to re-write the rules to suit one’s goals).
It’s fair to say that Prop. 32 cost Assemblyman Chris Norby his seat and handed the Democrats super-majorities in the state legislature.
The macro-point is that going forward, Republicans ought to think carefully about ballot initiatives we qualify, and who will they bring more of to the polls – us or them. Prop. 32 would have been a big victory for Republicans in terms of leveling the political playing field, but it was life or death for the unions – especially the government unions. They simply could not survive absent the ability to coerce political dues from members. In other words, they had greater motivation to beat Prop. 32 than Republicans had to pass it.