Maybe I was Wrong …

… to think that the Schwarzengroper was too far ahead for the sexual-battery stuff to hurt him much.

The California recall race is tightening, though just how tight it’s getting is a matter of dispute. [*] The combination of the complaints from gropees (which I think is solid) and the Nazi stuff (which I think is thin, and less relevant than the Waldheim issue which somehow disappeared after Slate’s good account) is hurting Ahhnold in Round II, and weakening support for recalling Davis (Round I).

It still seems likely that when the smoke is cleared he’s going to be the Governator. He’s caught some breaks: the papers are referring to his misconduct as sexual, when it’s actually assaultive. No one that I’ve seen has called him on the fact that he had his campaign spokesman deny the charges which he now acknowledges were at least partly true; he seems to be getting credit for “forthrightness” because he followed that lie with at least a part of the truth relatively quickly. Nor has anyone picked up on Mickey Kaus’s point, which Susan Faludi echoes [*], that he’s much more a bully than a womanizer, getting his jollies by humiliating people — men as well as women — who aren’t in a position to hit back. In addition, no one has linked the accusation that he expressed admiration for Hitler in 1975 to the much solider fact that he supported a known Nazi war criminal for President of Austria a decade later.

On the other hand, the charges keep piling up, and supporters are starting to back away: he lost one group of newspaper endorsements, and Mitt Romney suddenly decided not to come campaign for him.

So anyone who expresses a firm opinion right now about how the votes are going to stack up is talking through his hat; we know precisely nothing about turnout in a recall, and how it will be influenced by the latest developments. Schwarzenegger’s lead, and the lead for the recall, is among people who say they haven’t voted before but plan to this time. Who knows what they’re actually going to do? And who knows how many Democrats, disgusted with Davis, have been telling pollsters all along that they were “definitely” voting for the recall but won’t be able to bring themselves to do the foul deed when they confront that punchcard? [*]

And we (or at least I) still don’t know whether the LA Times has another nastygram for A.S. tomorrow morning. No, if I still had an active account with the Iowa Electronic Markets, I’d take a small flyer on “Davis In” at effective odds of 5 to 1.

That doesn’t mean I’m sure that it will be close: for all I know, things could break the other way, and the “Yes” vote could go to 60% and the Arnold vote to 50%.

What it does mean is that people like me, who might have cast a protest vote or just stayed home, are now going to go out and vote “No” and Bustamante. And even those who still prefer Bustamante to the other two alternatives will probably grit their teeth and vote “No” just for insurance.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com