It now seems virtually certain that Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to finish first in Round II of the recall. That means that anyone who doesn’t want to see the state in the grip of the Wilson and Quackenbush crews had better hold his nose and vote “No.” It will take another noseclip to vote for Bustamante in Round II, but I will do it anyway unless I decide that things are really hopeless and cast a protest vote. Schwarzenegger’s campaign has been as skilfully cynical as the Bush 2000 affair, and the press has pushed him on stuff that no one cares about and given him a pass on the stuff that really could have hurt him. Bustamante didn’t deserve the sliming he took over a group he belonged to as a college student, but he has managed to look both sleazy and incompetent.
There’s more to say, especially about the Democratic mistakes that got us here, but just thinking about it makes me want to cry.
Update Charlie Cook’s column today suggests things may not be as hopeless as I’d thought:
While the Gallup Poll is normally reliable, strategists in both parties
are scoffing at a Gallup Poll in California that showed the ‘yes’
position on the recall of Gov. Gray Davis registering a whopping 63
percent. Private polling by both Democratic and Republican pollsters
shows something quite different. In those polls, ‘yes’ runs between 51
percent and 53 percent and, on the replacement ballot question,
Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is usually ahead of Democratic
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante by three to four points. The Gallup Poll, taken
for CNN and USA Today, gave Schwarzenegger 40 percent of the vote among
likely voters, while Bustamante had 25 percent. In short, the ‘yes’ side
and Schwarzenegger have the edge, but not nearly by the margins that
Gallup reports in its survey of 787 registered voters last Thursday
A big piece of the problem here: No one has a good turnout model for an election such as this one.
A reader is puzzled by the “Round 2” reference. That’s become the conventional way of referring to the part of the ballot where we vote on who is to replace Davis, if the recall itself (Round 1) passes. “Round 2” is a straight plurality contest, with no runoff. So the likely result is that more people will vote to keep Davis than vote to elect Schwarzenegger, but Schwarzenegger becomes governor.
A conservative Republican friend writes that, as a partisan Democrat, I should be delighted that a Republican will have to take the heat for making the painful decisions. Yes, but I actually have to live here, and Schwarzenegger is committed to making things much more painful than they need to be.