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THE NOONER for October 14, 2014
THE TURNOUT CONUNDRUM: Probably the most frequent question I am getting right now is what my estimates of turnout will be. Of course, people just want me to repeat my idiocy from June, in which I projected a pessimistic 33.5% turnout. Of course, the fine voters of the Golden State one-upped me, and only 25.17% of registered voters turned out, fifteen points lower than the average of the previous 8 elections. So, yeah, I'm not exactly enthused about predicting the enthusiasm of a very politically unenthusiastic electorate.
Nevertheless, providing uninformed opinions is what The Nooner is always about, right?
Let's look at a pretty picture of turnout for primary and general elections since Jerry Brown last left the corner office:
As you can see, turnout has been on a steady decline in both primary and general elections. Each is on a downward trend, although primary participation is declining faster than that in general elections.
The highest turnout in a gubernatorial election during this period was in 1982, when 52.7% of voters cast ballots in the primary and 69.8% voted in the general. That was the close race that saw George Deukmejian edge Tom Bradley (D). The low was 2002, when Gray Davis was on the ballot for reelection. That election was also held in March, as part of the legislative experiment to provide California more influence in primaries in presidential years.
One way to project turnout for a general election is to look at the general-to-primary ratio. This recognizes that interest in an election cycle generally trends together. Whether it be candidates or overall political climate, voters get stirred up for the primary and carry that electoral interest to the general election.
The average general:primary ratio during the previous eight gubernatorial elections is 1.49. If we apply that to 2014--applying the multiplier to the primary turnout--it would suggest an abysmal 39.27% turnout of registered voters in November. This would be 20 points below the average during the 32-year period at which we are looking.
However, I believe turnout will be higher, and I believe the top-two primary is partially to blame. In June, Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters knew that Jerry Brown was going to be the nominee. In some areas, however, I would proffer that the quantity of choices led some voters to throw up their hands in confusion.
While proponents of top-two argued that it would increase turnout by involving independent voters in primaries, there may be a backfire in that the menu was just too damn long. It's how I feel when I go to have breakfast at Denny's. Just give me a few choices. I hypothesize that the less partisan voters often are okay to defer to others to narrow a broad field but then may play in the general. Anyway, this is the first gubernatorial election under top-two and we simply don't have enough data points to make a conclusion.
Some may suggest that SB 202, the bill that moved nearly all ballot measures to general elections is also to blame. That may be the case in some years, although I don't believe it for 2014. Outside of our little bubble, no voter will make a decision on whether to vote or not based on the mix of measures on the ballot. Aside from the water bond, the measures are super complex policy choices that don't drive passion at all. None are like the big social issues that stir up occasional, particularly young, voters. If you don't believe me, I challenge you to pick up the phone and try to explain the ballot measures to mom.
So, we start with a baseline of 39.27%, and then the question becomes whether other voters are stirred up enough to turn out. My bet is in the mid-40% range, which would set a record of a low for a gubernatorial election.
Is there a partisan impact of super-low turnout? That's unlikely, as I believe the bar rises and falls equally in an election like this. Sure, it could affect some of the toss-up legislative races, but it's unlikely to significantly affect the top of the statewides.
THE GAMBLE: Register names new publisher [Lily Leung @ OCR] - "Richard Mirman, a former executive at Harrah’s Entertainment known in Las Vegas for his talents in casino marketing, has been named interim publisher and chief executive of the Orange County Register."
Mirman, who currently lives in Las Vegas, is perhaps best known for his work at Harrah's – now known as Caesars Entertainment Corp. – which he joined in 1998 and where he served as senior vice president of business development and chief marketing officer.
He led a team that created the casino company’s Total Rewards, a player-card program the company said played a key role in driving up customer loyalty and was considered a model for the gaming industry.
Does that mean that the Register will be delivered by scantily clad servers who will deliver it with a free cocktail? Now, that's a way to get people to take the fishwrap!
CLARIFICATION: An astute reader points out that, even if Isadore Hall runs the table in the SD35 special election on December 9, he will not join his colleagues for the beginning of the legislative session as I wrote yesterday. That is because the Legislature will convene on December 1 for its organizational votes and open up the bill introduction period. Then the Legislature returns on January 5 for the main event. Well played, reader.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Mike Morrell!
CWA accuses SEIU local of contracting out jobs
Using strikes, protests and political hardball, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 has fought for years against efforts to contract out government jobs to workers who earn less and get fewer benefits. The accusation, contained in a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a chapter of the Communications Workers of America, has led to a messy intra-labor fight with political undertones in a city where unions hold considerable electoral power. SEIU Local 1021 maintains it did not take away jobs from unionized workers, merely hired temporary contractors for specific jobs around election season or to fill in for staff on leave. Minutes from a 2013 meeting of the unionâÂÂs executive board say People Organizing for WorkerâÂÂs Rights âÂÂis comprised of current and former SEIU members, leaders and staff, as well as local community activists.âÂÂ Joseph Frankl, the National Labor Relations BoardâÂÂs regional director in San Francisco, recently ordered the dispute to go to arbitration, and indicated CWA could ask him to review the arbitratorâÂÂs award, documents show. SEIU Local 1021 represents more than 54,000 employees, from custodians to swim instructors, in Northern California, and is heavily involved in campaigns to raise the minimum wage, including Proposition J on the Nov. 4 ballot to raise it to $15 in San Francisco.
Prop. 1, Prop. 2 Backers Oversimplify Wildfire Costs
David Siders @ sacbee.com
The campaign for a $7.5 billion water bond and a budget reserve measure is running a TV ad that says reserves will help “protect the water and the fire services we need” in future economic downturns.
White House won't name new attorney general until after election
Hoping to avoid political blowback, President Obama will wait until after the November election to name a nominee for attorney general, a White House official said Monday.
Editorial: California politicians would never suppress voting, but they might not count all the ballots
the Editorial Board @ sacbee.com
Unlike Texas politicians, California leaders don’t suppress the vote intentionally, but they fail to count tens of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots.
Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari Trade Attacks Over Personal Wealth
Neel Kashkari is unsparing in his portrayal of Jerry Brown as an out-of-touch governor who inherited millions of dollars from his father, who was also a California governor.
Mayoral Candidates Unite Behind Oakland Public Safety Tax
Matthew Artz Oakland Tribune @ insidebayarea.com
"Anybody who is thinking about reluctantly voting 'yes' on Measure Z, that's fine," Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said during the joint news conference.
Assemblyman Bradford Ends Campaign For California Senate
Jim Miller @ sacbee.com
Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, talks to an Assembly colleague in March 2013.
Prop. 45 Fight Worthy Of Television Drama
April Dembosky @ blogs.kqed.org
The power play behind Proposition 45 could be fodder for an episode of House of Cards:
A Conservative Judge's Devastating Take On Why Voter Id Laws Are Evil
In a rational world, the debate over voter ID laws would be ended by the eloquent, incisive and angry opinion issued late last week by U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner of Chicago in a case concerning Wisconsin.
California Secretary Of State Candidates Call For Borrowing Measure
Jim Miller @ sacbee.com
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, right, speaks during a September 2014 debate with Republican think tank leader Pete Peterson, left.
A YES vote on this measure means: Rates for individual and small group health insurance would need to be approved by the Insurance Commissioner before taking effect.
Protesters Challenge $3.4-billion Purchase Of Onewest
Two major advocacy groups for low-income Californians are calling on the Federal Reserve to reject the proposed $3.4-billion acquisition of Pasadena’s OneWest Bank by CIT Group -- at least until community groups can sound off at a public hearing.
Lieutenant Governor Candidates See Job's Potential
Paul Elias @ dailybulletin.com
Lieutenant governor of California is a low-visibility position with few official duties, and officeholders have historically struggled to define their role in the job. Still, the incumbent and his challenger each insist the position can be influential beyond serving on the governing boards of the University of California and California State University systems, and filling in when the governor is out of state.
Russian Lawmakers Will Debate Legislation Against Back Tattoos For Women · Global Voices
See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.
Loyola Marymount President To Resign After Five Years In Post
David W. Burcham, the first lay president of Loyola Marymount University , has announced that he will resign as head of the Jesuit campus in Los Angeles at the end of the school year in May.
Honda Vs. Khanna: Conflicting Poll Numbers, Renewed Ethics Claim
Josh Richman @ mercurynews.com
Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and Democratic challenger Ro Khanna are tied at 38 percent, Khanna's campaign pollster found in a survey of 400 likely voters Wednesday and Thursday; 24 percent were undecided.
Did She Vote For Obama? Kentucky Senate Candidate Still Won't Say
Alison Lundergan Grimes wants Kentuckians' vote this November. Just don't ask her about her own.
State Controller’s Race Gives Voters A Stark Contrast
California Congressional Seat Is A Ticket To Obscurity
Dan Walters @ sacbee.com
In most states, being elected to Congress is a big political deal – a major step up the political ladder to higher office.