Friday, June 11, 2010

Meg: You Shoulda Seen It Coming

In California's June primary held last Tuesday, the ladies did well and there were no last-minute surprises. Carly Fiorina garnered more Republican voters than her two major rivals combined. She poured huge sums into the last two weeks of her campaign, and began to widen the gap against the two men running against her. The other big winner (shown) was Meg Whitman who got about 64% of the Republican votes in the gubernatorial contest.

In San Francisco, my prior abode, Whitman received 64% of the Republican vote--almost identical to her showing statewide. In Kern County, where I now live the quiet life, Whitman received 55%, and it seems that painting her major rival as a closet liberal didn't convince as many people as in other parts of the state. But the figures I found most interesting were the actual number of votes cast as opposed to the number of registered voters.

Of the votes cast in the gubernatorial contest, the Democrats received 1,763,188 and Republicans received 1,724,054. That is a difference of a mere 39,134 votes in a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 2,408,000. And it gets even more interesting when you add in the Independent factor. Independents cannot vote in California's partisan primaries unless they declare an official party and receive that party's ballot. Since there is no official Independent party in California, their votes were going to third-party candidates or to nobody. And how many Californians declare themselves Independent? Answer: 3,440,000, or 18% of likely voters.

The general election coming in November is different from the primaries in that the voter can vote for any candidate from any party. So the 3,440,000 likely voters who are registered as Independents and were essentially non-players in the June primary will be a major factor in November. Now add in the final factor, which is that 38% of likely California voters self-identify as conservative, 32% as liberal, and 30% as "middle of the road." As Bob Dylan said, it doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. If simple logic and sound statistics hold up, Independent voters will decide the election, and it will largely be based on which candidate appears to be the more moderate/conservative.

Which brings us to the two November California gubernatorial candidates--Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Edmund G. "Jerry" (Moonbeam) Brown, Jr. Whitman has no political track record, so we're going to have to rely on what she says and does over the course of the next five months. There's nothing to suggest that she is by any means a movement conservative, but her proposed fiscal plans for bringing California back from the brink of bankruptcy have a fiscal conservative ring to them. On social issues, she appears to be a moderate, but nothing indicates she is a RINO or a "leftist in disguise."

Whitman's opponent is the former two-term governor and general all-around flake that nobody can quite figure out. But Jerry Brown is definitely pro-union and anti-law enforcement, among his other liberal credentials. Fiscally, it's hard to make out where he wants the state to go. He was a big spender, big taxer in his previous incarnation as governor, but he showed some very good common sense dealing with belt-tightening necessities during his term as mayor of Oakland. His most exploitable flaw is that he has the statist arrogance which compels "correct-thinking" politicians to oppose the clear will of the people when it doesn't comport with their own personal views. As attorney general, Brown refused to defend Prop 8 (the traditional marriage amendment) in federal court because he thinks that his personal view on gay marriage is more important than the vox populi.

Whitman spent millions of her own fortune winning the Republican primary (don't feel too bad for her major opponent, since he was also a Silicon Valley millionaire who largely self-financed his campaign). What Whitman is going to have to realize, and rather quickly, is that Brown will receive millions of dollars of free publicity and face-time with the public by virtue of his admirers in the MSM. Case in point: just hours after Whitman's victory, Brown (who ran essentially unopposed) showed up on ABC with anchor Diane Sawyer rolling out the red carpet for him.

Sawyer introduced Brown with a graphic in the background showing Whitman and Brown side-by-side with the caption "Fight for California." Said Sawyer: "For forty years we watched him, the son of a political family who studied to be a Jesuit priest, then turned Buddhist seeker. When he became governor, he lived in one room, bed on the floor, and drove around in his own Plymouth. Now he says "it's a singular time for a man who believes the soul of California is at stake. Life and death is a serious matter. Time waits for no man. Do your best. And that, I think, could be the spirit of the campaign."

Then Brown took center stage, throwing out his well-worn homilies with the usual snarkiness. Wasting no time, he attacked Whitman and her campaign. "it's almost like a ministry of information in a totalitarian country." I don't have a clue what he meant by that, but if Whitman has hired the son of Josef Goebbels as propaganda minister and California has become a neo-Nazi state because of the likes of Meg Whitman, I guess I won't vote for her either.

He'll solve California's $20 billion dollar deficit by tossing around his all new and reconstituted 70s mantra of "lower your expectations." If those evil politicians would just get rid of their cars, the whole debt would go away. "Legislators, you have to get rid of your cars, get rid of your perks." Never mind the hostile environmental regulations and huge taxes California imposes on businesses, it's those pesky legislators' cars that are causing the deficit.

Brown went on to describe the Republican primary race as "billionaire demolition derby." Sawyer assisted him by pointing out that Whitman spent "about $80 million of her own money to win the Republican nomination. How much money do you have to spend on ads?" "I am saving my pennies," says Brown, "so hopefully we'll have more money by the time we get to September." Alas, poor Brown, he has only $22 million dollars in his poverty-stricken war chest.

Sawyer then set up another billionaires are evil scenario by saying: "She says she's going to do it, she's going to give tax breaks to corporations and get them in by the boatloads into California to get the jobs back." Brown: "She also says she's going to cut all the taxes on the rich. We have got to cut that budget. We have to do it in a way that will bring the legislators on board."

Setting up a pretend skeptical question, Sawyer next asked: "But how can you cut it to $20 billion deficit? Are there enough cuts in the . . . " Brown interrupted by going after the legislators and there cars. I see that as an odd way to bring the legislators on board, but what do I know? Then he went on: "I am frugal. I take care of my money very carefully. And I think people can understand--I'll take care of their money the same way."

Well, thanks, Guv, but frankly I just came within inches of living in one room with my bed on the floor. I prefer what Will Rogers said: "I've been rich, and I've been poor, and believe me, rich is better." If he's elected in November, the Jerry Brown who was once one of the youngest governors in the nation will become the oldest governor in the nation. To win over the youth vote, Sawyer encouraged him to talk about his personal fitness. Brown replied with: "I've already run today, did, yeah, some chin-ups. I'm trying to, you know, keep in shape here. I've got a very tough competitor."

Now how much does Meg Whitman think she would have to pay for that much free puffery? Sawyer also stated that she had invited Whitman on as a guest for the same day, but Whitman declined. "She declined our request. I hope we'll see her real soon." Meg, that's the setup for making it look like you're afraid of a public appearance with a deep-thinking hardcore reporter like Sawyer. And when you do appear, which I'm sure you will, remember that you will not be greeted with the same warm introduction Sawyer gave Brown, nor will she be lobbing political softball questions at you. So be prepared for questions like "have you let your mother come out of the basement yet?"


Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - it seems to me like there has not been as good an opportunity to eat into the liberals in the Golden State in a long, long time . . . if we can take advantage of it.

Joel Farnham said...

Why does she have to go to Sawyer?

That is a lose-win senario. Lose for Whitman and win for Brown. I don't think the MSM has the clout it had when Barry got elected. Whitman doesn't NEED Sawyer to get her message out. Facebook works far better.

AndrewPrice said...

Like I said in the comments to my article on the governors, I do think California is likely to go Republican in the governor's race. The polls aren't there yet, but that's because the polls still reflect the primary, where people were trying to hype their own candidate and play down the others. Once the polls jell, I think Whitman will be 5-7% ahead.

Primer said...

Let's hope for the sake of California that the voter's have had enough of MSM endorsed politicians. The last go round of the politician/media love affair hasn't worked out very well for anybody.
Here's to hoping California and Illinois are rescued from the dark side.
Hey my Blackhawks won the cup in "my lifetime" so at this point I think anything is possible...........

StanH said...

I agree with Joel stay away from the Diane Sawyers of the world, they mean you harm. But, I’ve seen Whitman many times on financial shows, she is no wilting flower, and if she does go on these shows be aggressive. Do not allow the MSM the opportunity to edit you into something that you’re not, ala. Sarah Palin. Keep us posted Lawhawk, CA could be quite interesting, and not for CA’s normal…scratch that! …abnormal things.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: Sorry to be so long replying, but I had my first trip to the big city (Bakersfield) to go shopping with my daughter today. My total bills for purchases were about half of what I was paying for the same things in San Francisco. I'm still hyperventilating from the shock.

We will take advantage of every opportunity to put Republicans in the caucus columns. Though I would have preferred a true conservative for Senator and Governor, the two candidates are about as conservative as they can be and still win an election. Time to turn things around.

Unknown said...

Joel: It will take a little time to decide if the Jerry Brown who was cutting-edge in the 70s is still ahead of the pack. Whitman knows high tech and the internet, and I'm not sure that Brown doesn't think the internet is some kind of voodoo or capitalist conspiracy. It will be interesting watching the race develop.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I suspect you're right, and Whitman has already turned out to be a far more successful politician than I thought she'd be. The only factor we have working against us right now is the "throw the incumbent party out" syndrome. And right now, the governorship is held by an alleged Republican. Beyond that, and barring rookie stumbles, I think Whitman will soon be the favorite to win in November.

Unknown said...

Primer: The worrisome thing is that Brown is the MSM darling and it's partially because he has spent years gaining their favor while appearing to attack them as "establishment." He is a polished sleazeball and a consummate politician and if there's a way to make the MSM work for him, even by attacking them, he'll do it.

Unknown said...

StanH: The last time the Republicans were this poised for victory, I was still a liberal Democrat. We've been out in the boonies too long, and it's time we moved back into Sacramento. You are completely right about Whitman. She's tough as nails, and I don't think Brown's withering snarkiness is going to work on her.

HamiltonsGhost said...

LawHawk--Whitman's not Ronald Reagan,but she's no Ahnuld either.

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: I'm thinking that what you see is what you get with Whitman. So like Reagan, she'll stick to her agenda and not let the popular winds and opinion polls change her basic thinking. Unlike Reagan, she is not a conservative, but she does appear to be a moderate on social issues and at least tough on the financial bottom line. Unlike the Governator, she won't take office, lose one battle, and switch sides.

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