Today we have two elections of significance. California is holding its primaries, and Wisconsin is holding recall elections for the Governor and four state Senators.
In California, the selections for President are foregone conclusions, and decidedly uninteresting, but there are two other state ballot items, and one local, worthy of examination.
First up is the Class 1 Senate seat, currently occupied by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. There’s no serious likelihood that she will lose today, but this is the first election in California in which the two Senate candidates with the most votes, regardless of party, will face each other in November. The one poll conducted shows Feinstein with 51 percent, and everyone else in the two-percent-or-less line. This puts everyone else at small enough numbers as to be statistically tied, making it virtually impossible to determine who will be her opponent. There has been zero advertising for this seat thus far. In essence, it’s DiFei up against a wildcard.
Further down the ballot is an initiative to double the tax on cigarettes. While the Senate race has had no advertising, the tobacco companies have spent heavily to try to defeat this initiative. On the other side, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and a handful of similar organizations have spent nearly the same amount. If the initiative passes, it’s clear that the tobacco companies have plenty to lose (hence their expenditures). At the same time, passage benefits the other side greatly as well, to the tune of about half a billion dollars per year. Some polls suggest the initiative will pass, while others show a dead heat. It’s the latest battle over taxes, and battle with Big Tobacco, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
And, on a much smaller scale…the city of San Jose has Measure B on the ballot, which is being viewed by many as a bellwether for pension reform across the country. Backed by Mayor Chuck Reed, the measure would give city employees the choice of accepting a lower pension payout or contributing more and keeping the same payout.
Speaking of pension reform…in Wisconsin, the recall of Governor Scott Walker looks likely to fail, if you examine the polls with a critical eye. Walker has been on a slow but steady rise in polls for the past month, with undecided voters breaking pretty consistently for the incumbent. That’s not to say that it’s impossible for the recall to be successful; special elections of this sort often have significant differences between polls and election results. It just doesn’t seem likely in this case, given how consistent everything has been for well over a month.
There are also four Republican state Senators up for recall. Well, technically it’s three. One, state Senator Pam Galloway of the 29th District, left office on March 16; former Assembly member Jerry Petrowski is taking her place on the recall ballot. Of the four seats, only that in the 21st District, held by Van Wanggaard, looks to be in danger. Wanggaard is facing John Lehman, the man he defeated in 2010 by five points.
Overall, the most likely outcome of today’s election is maintenance of the status quo. A moderately close second likelihood is Republican loss of the 21st District seat, which would shift the state Senate majority to the Democrats. Barring an incredible GOTV effort by Democrats, Walker appears ready to walk away with a victory today.
Political pundits will spill a great deal of ink (both physical and virtual) over how today’s recall elections in Wisconsin serve as a bellwether for the upcoming Presidential election. It’s all filler, even as an attempt to predict the Wisconsin vote for President. Polls have consistently diverged between the recalls and the Presidential election, even when conducted by the same firms as part of the same telephone calls. A Republican sweep is no more indicative that Romney will carry Wisconsin than a Democratic sweep would be indicative of an Obama victory.
That won’t stop people from trying to claim otherwise, of course.
So, what are your predictions for today? How will things turn out in these two states?
- Big guns stump in Wis. as recall nears (cbsnews.com)
- Lt. Gov: Obama skipping Wisconsin recall ‘speaks volumes’ (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Wisconsin governor recall election in final push (sfgate.com)
- Demcrats Confident Of Big Wisconsin Win (huffingtonpost.com)
- Polls are open, voting underway in recall primary election (fox6now.com)
- Scott Walker Recall: Wisconsin Vote To Resonate In Presidential Race (huffingtonpost.com)
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker raises more than $5 million as recall election nears, campaign announces — @nytimes (thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Democrats show unity in race for governor of Wisconsin (fox6now.com)
- Recalled Wisconsin State Senator Quits (lezgetreal.com)
- In California, it’s Big Tobacco vs Lance Armstrong (sacbee.com)
- California Senate Primary: Welcome to Crazytown (motherjones.com)
- Will ‘birther’ Taitz be GOP Senate nominee? (totalbuzz.ocregister.com)
- TRENDING: GOP outspends Dems to run ads in Wisconsin recall (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Primary Day, and the brave new world of California politics (dailykos.com)
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