June 5, 2012- Today’s primaries in California and Wisconsin will be watched by pundits around the country. While predicting the actual results may seem like a crapshoot, my bet is that you’ll get the most correct predictions by keeping your eye on the big picture and following the money.
The long view of today’s voting is that this is yet another battle in an epic struggle between increasingly polarized views on government. A study released yesterday by the Pew Research Center and fronted by the Washington Post this morning, confirms that the most significant divisions in the United States are no longer based on race, class or sex but on political identity.
The Pew surveys of American attitudes about politics go back 25 years and provide a series of historical benchmarks that are useful in examining changes that have occurred in what binds people and what divides them. While many things haven’t changed over the life of the surveys, the depth of political divisions is an eye opener. From the Washington Post story:
Twenty-five years ago, the gap between Republicans and Democrats on how they assessed the scope and performance of government was six percentage points. Today it is 33 points. On support for the social safety net, what once was a 21-point gap is now 41 points. On environmental issues, the gap has ballooned from five points to 39 points.
On some of these issues, the biggest changes in attitudes have been among Republicans. Twenty-five years ago, 62 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats said the government should take care of people who can’t take care of themselves. Today, 75 percent of Democrats agree with that statement, but the percentage of Republicans who agree has plummeted to 40 percent.
Will California’s non-partisan primaries make a difference?… Today’s Christian Science Monitor seems to think so. While the paper cites analysts predicting a low statewide voter turnout, the article points to campaigns throughout the state where candidates appear to be seeking a more “middle ground” as the election approaches. Examples include Democrats that have taken positions angering public unions, traditionally their allies, and a few Republicans who have refused to sign a no-tax pledge, a key requisite in recent years for the GOP.
The voter fraud that wasn’t… Heritage Foundation senior fellow Brian Darling had a bad day on MSNBC yesterday during an appearance that was supposed to give credence to the ongoing conserv meme that voter fraud is a serious problem. Republican elected officials around the nation have been advocating, and in some instances implementing, purges of voter registration records, saying that this is a necessary more to prevent fraudulent voting in the 2012 election. NBC’s Chuck Todd backed the Heritage fellow into a corner, forcing him to admit that he could not cite a single verified instance of actual voter fraud. Todd then went on to declare that Darling was “actually proving” the Democrats’ argument that the Republican Party’s actions are unnecessary.
Looking at Wisconsin…. The attempt to unseat Gov. Walker via recall vote has drawn national attention. While the Green Bay Packers are drumming up support for the recall and former President Bill Clinton has made appearances on behalf of Walker’s democratic opponent, odds makers are saying that the GOP will pull this one out of that hat. The hard-right governor is ahead in the polls and is given a 93% of winning by Intrade. And then there’s the money: Put together, the two campaigns and independent groups have spent more than $63.5 million so far, with out-of-state contributors supplying the vast majority of the campaign funds. Conservatives have a huge edge in fund raising while liberals, mostly unions, have fielded massive get-out-the-vote campaigns. Of course, the elections may mean nothing if the persistent rumors that Gov. Walker is facing indictment prove to be true.
One last thing about the big picture… The Obama campaign released a video for its field workers yesterday that takes a positive view of the fall elections, one that flies in the face of the rather bad news week the President has been through. The LA Times reports campaign manager Jim Messina was telling the troops that thing really aren’t bad at all, saying the campaign sees the electoral college map with Obama leading 243 to 191, with 104 electoral votes up for grabs.
California races show Big Money winning… For all the bluster in the Daily Fishwrap about union spending and influence, it’s important to note of the spending in Tuesday’s elections that corporations have already spent 15-times as much as unions spent on political contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
From the blog Calitics:
On the eve of Tuesday’s California Primary, and with the focus soon shifting to the November ballot, let’s take a quick look at some spending figures in races throughout the state:
• $7,000,000 (and climbing by the day) = the amount that independent expenditure committees and Super PACs have spent in state legislative races on the June 5th ballot, according to the Sacramento Bee.
• $46,700,000 (and climbing) = the amount that tobacco companies alone have contributed against the tobacco tax measure on Tuesday’s ballot, according to maplight.org.
And if that weren’t enough….The November ballot will feature a little ditty called the “Special Exemptions Act” that will effectively silence unions while giving corporate special interests and billionaire businessmen free reign. Just so you know…
California’s Big Money Donors…. A report from California Watch details our state’s top 100 individuals who donate to political campaigns (as opposed to SuperPacs, corporations or unions). They donate overwhelmingly to Democrats and have spent over $1.25 billion to influence elections in the last twelve years. That represents about one-third of all the money spent on political campaigns during that period. And they got btheir money’s worth, giving five times as much to winning candidates as they did to losers.
Local election coverage… Writers (including yours truly) from San Diego City Beat, the OB Rag, the San Diego Free Press and SDRostra will live blog the elections tonite with spot reports from election central at Golden Hall and various victory (or not) parties around our city. You can follow the fun at OBRag.org and SDCityBeat.com.
On this day… In 1981 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that five men in Los Angeles were suffering from a rare pneumonia found in patients with weakened immune systems. They were the first recognized cases of what came to be known as AIDS.
Eat Fresh! Todays’ Farmer’s Markets include: Coronado (1st St. & B Ave., Ferry Landing) 2:30 – 6 pm, Mira Mesa (Mira Mesa High School, 10510 Reagan Rd.) 3–7 pm, Otay Ranch – Chula Vista, (2015 Birch Rd. and Eastlake Blvd.) 4 –8 pm, Pacific Beach (Bayard & Garnet) 2 – 6:30 pm, UCSD/La Jolla (UCSD Campus, Town Square at Gilman/Meyers) 10 am – 2 pm