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THE NOONER for November 13, 2012

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Yesterday, I linked to an Orange County Register op-ed by former State Senator Gloria Romero that relied on election night data to proclaim that "9.6 million of the 18.2 million voters just didn't show up." Of course, that ignores that there were 2,433,609 absentees, 922,446 provisional, and 92,981 "other" (primarily damaged) ballots left to validate and count.

Since election day, there has been a great deal of Wednesday-morning quarterbacking by the GOP about how campaigns could have been so shocked by the election results. The well-placed blame has landed on media pundits that made outlandish claims and pollsters whose models were just plain wrong. I mean, I really like George Will, but any objective observer would have as hard of a time predicting 321 electoral college votes for Romney as would follow Jim Cramer's prediction that Obama would get 440 electoral college votes. Of course, none of us would have predicted that Jim Cramer would be closer, which he was.

Anyway, Democrats have been misled by pollsters and deluded by demigods in the past, and this election, it was the Republicans' turn. However, Gloria Romero apparently has not learned, and I counsel my GOP friends to ignore her flawed analysis and ask why the Register didn't do one ounce of due diligence before printing her factually wrong op-ed yesterday. 

Romero's goal is to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the result of Prop. 32 (political contributions) in the same way that Karl Rove is arguing that Obama surpressed turnout to win the election to challenge his legitimacy as Commander in Chief. Of course, as ballots are counted, Obama is on pace to getting the second largest vote total of all time, second only to the bar he set in 2008. And, his popular vote margin of 2.7% is the second largest since 1992, second only to 2008.

As my smart Republican friends are saying, "we got our butt's kicked" and let's not make excuses, let's regroup and not let it happen again.

Back to Romero and the Register. I have written many op-eds, both with my name and as a ghost-writer. I have never submitted something to a major paper without being asked for supporting materials for the facts I alleged. I even have worked with editors at community newspapers on explaining Proposition 98 "tests" and why something I argued was true. When people send me things for the Nooner, I do a bit of fact checking and have refused to replicate outright lies from the right and left.

Let's run through some of Romero's facts that should have been questioned by the editor that agreed to include her op-ed.

  • ROMERO: "Only 52.8 percent of the electorate bothered to vote; 9.6 million of the 18.2 million voters just didn't show up."
  • TRUTH: "Assuming typical validity rates for absentee and provisional ballots, 13.3 million of the 18.2 million voters showed up, which is 73.5% of registered voters, which is slightly above average for presidential elections since 1980."
  • ROMERO: "Orange County reported a 54 percent turnout, slightly better than San Diego's 53.3 percent but far short of San Francisco's 56.7 percent. Fresno County was just dismal, at 39.1 percent. The highest was Alpine County at 84.9 percent, but since size matters, that translated to 656 voters of its 773 electorate voting. Los Angeles County turned out at an anemic 49.8 percent, but that translated to 2.4 million voters."
  • TRUTH: "After all ballots are counted, Orange County will likely have 66% turnout, while San Francisco turnout will likely hit 69%. In the state's largest county, Los Angeles, 65% of voters will have cast ballots, while in the center of the state, Fresno's will turn in 61% of their ballots. Fueled by an intese mayoral and congressional campaign, over 80% of San Diegans likely turned in ballots. While election night showed only 53.3% turnout in San Diego, 475,000 absentee and provisional ballots remained counted, an astonishing 30.3% of the county's electorate."
  • ROMERO: "But one lesson is clear: Half of California's electorate – 9 million voters – didn't show up. Slightly more than one-half of the remaining half decided for all 18.2 million voters."
  • TRUTH: "But one lesson is clear: Even in a dispassionate election, we should be excited that our young people turned out. In only 3 of the 7 elections since 1980 have we had a greater share of eligible voters registered, and more voters cast ballots in this election than for Bush v. Kerry in 1988, Clinton v. Dole in 1996, or Bush v. Gore in 2000."

I grew up reading the Register to see how my Anaheim Rams and Anaheim Angels were doing. There are still outstanding writers there on the Capitol and political beat. I hope such editorial mistakes aren't made in the future and that it can still be seen as a legitimate journalistic enterprise. I've also enjoyed working with Gloria Romero over the years, and she is a true up-by-your-boostraps story of going to Barstow Community College. However, it is disappointing to see such recklessness exercised by both the Register and Romero.

I e-mailed Romero yesterday, and haven't had a response. I was also told by the Register that the way to correct this enormous publishing lapse was to write a letter to the editor. That said, I've always believed that the only people who read the opinion page are people who already have opinions. Heck, more people are probably reading this than read Romero's delusions in yesterday's Register.

Thanks for letting me vent.

CLIFFHANGER UPDATE: Four counties updated vote counts yesterday--Alameda, Orange, San Diego and San Luis Obispo. Here's how it affected the close races in those regions:

  • CD52: Peters over Bilbray by 1,899 (+565)
  • AD20: Quirk over Ong by 1,562 (-285)
  • AD65: Quirk-Silva over Norby by 2,222 (+413)

Los Angeles is expected to update at 1pm today, and lots of people will be watching the impact on AD50 (Bloom v. Butler). Don't forget to watch AD36 as well, where Steve Fox (D) needs 54% of late ballots to close the gap with Ron Smith. It's not likely to happen, but this is Antelope Valley district is shifting Democrat. Since May, Democrats registered 5,964 voters to the GOP's 2,843, bringing Dems within 0.3% of the GOP's registration of 37.6%. Fox is currently winning the Los Angeles County portion of the district 50.5%-49.5%, although he's losing the Kern and San Bernardino portions by large margins, which account for 12.8% of the district.

ENGLISH LESSON: A friend in the building reminds me that "factoid" is defined as something that is something that is accepted as a fact, although it is not. To use in a sentence, "Gloria Romero is full of factoids about election turnout."

IN MEMORIAM: Tim Howe, lobbyist, former legislative aide (1946-2012) [SacBee]



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