Shift to the Right, Shift to the Left – is this the New Campaign Dance?

Wait, wait, don’t tell me.  It’s a great name for a NPR program and a great reminder to anyone trying to analyze election results.  The day after the June 7 primary election, pundits and commentators suggested that voters in California had shown a conservative bent…put your right foot in…  News reports picked up this storyline and reported it until the next set of results became public.  The early and clear results showing San Francisco voters recalling their District Attorney was the first sign of what was called “anti-police reform” sentiment among voters.  But, maybe that interpretation was premature.

As Calpeek readers know, one should wait for a significant number of votes to be counted before declaring anything.  Over two weeks post-election, the results are telling a different story.  Yes, the S.F. District Attorney is now looking for a new job, but other early reports overstated the voters’ desire for change.  Support for the Boudin recall has decreased since the first results showed 60% of the voters supported the recall.  The latest results show support at 55%.  Although a clear margin of support, it is no longer “overwhelming support” as reported by CBS News, among others.  

Shifting to the left…In Los Angeles, L.A. Councilmember Mike Bonin told the L.A. Times that the election was a “progressive political earthquake.”  Californians know what an earthquake feels like and this election did make the earth move.  

Musings around the water cooler suggest neither a clear switch to the left nor the right.  Or any other clear trend.  Although statewide incumbents fared well, in some local races, incumbents may be in trouble.  In L.A. City, two well-funded, incumbent councilmembers received significantly less votes than their progressive challengers.  As a high-level, political insider told Calpeek “The voters knew who they were voting against, but they don’t know what they voted for.”

As we watch the November runoffs and new campaigns take shape, we will see if any trend becomes clear.

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