California’s Electorate: Angry or Tired?
I did a radio interview earlier today, during which the topic of the “angry voter” emerged. As it does in most conversations involving this year’s election.
We’re not Massachusetts, which showed a Democratic frontrunner the door in a Senate special election. Nor are we Utah, which gave an incumbent Republican senator the boot. Sure, we have Tea Party rallies — but nothing quite as vivid as the anti-Harry Reid movement in Nevada. And, whereas disgruntled citizens rallied at the U.S. Capitol to protest nationalized health care, surveys here show a slim majority of Californians aren’t averse to the idea.
So Californians aren’t necessarily angry — at least, not in the same way other states show it.
What Californians are, methinks, is tired . . . as in, tired of elections.
Going back to November 2002, California has slogged through a regularly scheduled or special statewide election each and every year without fail, with the lone exception of 2007.
In 2002, we gave Gray Davis a second chance. Eleven months later we pulled a 180 and put our trust in Arnold Schwarzenegger. A year after that, we gave Barbara Boxer a third term. Then along came 2005 and Arnold taking a drubbing in a special election. Nevertheless, in the following year, voters gave Arnold a shot at redemption — and a second term.
Mercifully, California got a one-year reprieve from statewide elections — then it was off to the races again. 2008 gave us Obamamania. In 2009, Arnold and the Legislature were on the receiving end of a voter beat-down in a May special election to deal with the budget mess. And now, the 2010 cycle — which, for Republicans at least, began in the second half of 2009.
Over this stretch of time, 192 men and women (135 of them on the ballot in the October 2003 recall contest) have sought the honor of serving as California’s governor — all (or, at least those not guilty of a cheap p.r. stunt) promising to restore dignity, prosperity and the promise of a better tomorrow to the Golden State. Not a one lived up to the hype sorry to say.
If the polls hold true, between now and next Tuesday, the next two candidates to peddle the dream will be a business executive who’s never served a day in public office (Meg Whitman), or a career politician (Jerry Brown) who last held the job nearly 30 years ago. A distinct contrast, yes. But also a gamble, with either candidate.
Meanwhile, from 2010 to next Tuesday, Californians will have voted on 83 ballot measures — again, all offering the promise of the cure to what ails us.
So as you look to next Tuesday, voters in California may not so much be taking their anger out on anyone as they will be taking a time-out from what seems like a political war without end. Keep an eye on the turnout at the top of the ticket, and see how this vote compares to 2006.
And look to see how many initiatives passes — and, of those, if any with a high-profile do so in an overwhelming fashion (more on this in another post).
Then, take a deep breath. The November election will already be underway.