In my January 3, 2012 political predictions
I wrote, “Barack Obama looks surprisingly strongly positioned to defeat Romney and I see Obama winning in a race not as close as it now appears.” That’s still how I see the race today---Obama wins in an electoral college race not as tight as many expect. In other high-profile national races I see Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, and Claire McCaskill all winning but Republicans maintaining control of the House. Marriage equality will finally win in at least one state. In California, Governor Brown and organized labor get big victories with Yes on Prop 30 and No on Prop 32, while San Francisco’s key ballot initiatives (A,B,C and E) pass. The strongest progressive supervisor candidates in Districts 1, 5 and 7 also win. Here are my complete predictions and analysis.
This has been a very strange election season. We had a temporary, unexpected shift in the presidential race after the first debate, and two Republican Senate candidates were heading to victory until both derailed over similar comments about rape. An historic storm led New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the keynote speaker at the Republican Convention, to go from criticizing Barack Obama's leadership to publicly commending and embracing the President; there's no way Christie does this if he thought Romney had a prayer of winning.
Republicans can now blame both the storm and Christie’s statements for Romney’s defeat rather than their failed agenda.
I always saw Obama as winning re-election because of Romney’s unlikeability and background and the fundamental dynamics of the race. Obama could only lose by botching the second debate as badly as the first, and when Obama instead won the second and third debates, Romney's thin chances evaporated.
Obama’s electoral firewall, as he recently acknowledged to the Des Moines Register, is his support among Latino voters
. Latino voter enthusiasm and support for Obama skyrocketed after the President announced “Deferred Action” for those eligible under the DREAM Act. By creating a temporary path to legalization and stopping the risk of imminent deportation for these young people, Obama ensured overwhelming Latino support for his re-election.
Romney’s support for letting the auto industry collapse cost him Ohio, but Latino votes will give Obama Nevada, Colorado, Virginia and possibly Florida, effectively deciding the race.
This election will again prove that the GOP will never win another presidential election if it maintains its strong opposition to Latino concerns, particularly comprehensive immigration reform. 2012 was the last gasp of the GOP as a white people's party, and, unless Republicans change course, by 2016 increased Latino voting turns Texas into a swing state (and a blue state by 2020).
Democrats Maintain Senate
Republicans will lose Scott Brown’s temporary seat in Massachusetts and Richard Lugar’s long held Indiana seat. Democrats will keep their seats in Virginia, Wisconsin and even in Missouri, where any other Republican primary candidate other than Todd Akins would have defeated Claire McCaskill handily.
McCaskill’s closing case ad showed Mitt Romney’s response to Akins’ rape comment: "What he said was indefensible, was wrong, it was offensive, and he should step out of the race." The ad also quotes former Missouri Republican Senators urging Akins to leave the race, and John McCain’s statement that Akin "would not be welcome by Republicans" in the Senate.
You hear talk about Democrats winning Senate races in North Dakota, Nebraska and Arizona, but I don’t see it. I do see Harry Reid and the culinary workers pulling Berkeley to victory in the Nevada Senate contest.
Republicans Maintain House
After Romney’s “47%” comments and before the first debate, it looked like there was a chance for a tidal wave election that could sweep Republicans from the House. But that’s less likely now, and was always uphill due to gerrymandered GOP seats that---at least for 2012—should give incumbent Republicans an edge in close races.
But even cutting the GOP’s current margin from 25 to 12 would send a positive message, and that’s a likely outcome.
Marriage Equality Wins
A gay marriage initiative has never won on a state ballot, but that will change this week. Maine voters will bring this first victory, with the second likely coming in the state of Washington. The Maryland race is tight, with marriage equality advocates highlighting Obama's support for the measure in ads directed at African-Americans, rectifying their failure to publicize Obama's opposition to California's Prop 8 in 2008. Minnesota is the only state where gay marriage is very likely to lose.
California Does Right Thing
I’ve been critical of Governor Brown over many issues, but he has done everything possible to pass Prop 30 and Lieutenant Governor Newsom’s criticism last week
of Brown’s handling of the campaign was ill advised. I did not think Prop 30 would be so close. Many progressives (including myself) saw getting a large tax increase on the wealthier as politically easier than it turned out to be; Brown had a better sense of the electorate than we did.
The future of California is at stake with Prop 30, and it will win. Particularly helpful is the ballot question, which expressly highlights that it provides money for schools.
Prop 32 will go down to a huge defeat, reflecting labor’s wisdom in getting Brown to sign a law moving ballot measures to November from the lower-turnout June primary elections. Prop 36 will also easily win, saving the state billions by reforming the 3-strikes law. I see Prop 34 also winning (polls have shifted greatly in its favor), which saves even more money by abolishing the costly death penalty.
Prop 39 also appears headed to victory, bringing the state $1 billion annually for green jobs and technology by closing loopholes benefitting out of state corporations. All thanks to San Francisco hedge fund manager Tom Steyer who put $28.6 million of his own money into Prop 39 and made this vital measure happen.
The activists behind Prop 37 did everything in their power to overcome massive chemical industry opposition spending. But the phrase “genetically modified food” remains too confusing for many voters, and with nearly all of the state's leading newspapers opposed, Prop 37 will lose. This is exactly the type of “new” measure that can build on 2012’s defeat and win on the 2014 ballot.
San Francisco Races
Mayor Lee’s success at unifying all segments of the city behind Props A, C, and E will result in three major victories. Prop E is closer than it should be, which I attribute to a very confusing ballot question and to each constituency wanting its own campaign consultant (the “too many cooks spoil the broth” theory).
I credit Prop B’s victory to park advocates who overcame naysayers and showed that San Francisco voters support park and recreation improvements.
I see Norman Yee easily winning in D7 despite a recent David Latterman poll that had Mike Garcia over ten points ahead. I also see Christina Olague winning in D5 despite a firefighters union poll last week that had London Breed ten points ahead.
D1 was always seen as the closest supervisor’s race, and until the past month I thought David Lee had a real chance to unseat Eric Mar. But two factors have led me to believe Mar will prevail by perhaps a larger margin than most foresee.
First, Mar’s defense of Mayor Lee at the Mirkarimi hearing resonated with Chinese-American voters in D1. Mar has mounted an aggressive voter outreach drive among these voters, cutting in to David Lee’s edge.
Second, either because of bad campaign advice or internal polling that found him behind, David Lee has engaged in an increasingly negative attack campaign against Mar. This has backfired. Voters in district elections do not like negative campaigning, and even those who disagree with Mar on issues see him as a “nice guy” who treats everyone with respect. I cannot recall a single winner in a district election's race that engaged in the type of direct attacks that Lee has targeted at Mar---and Lee will not prove the exception.
We’ll have full coverage of election results in our Wednesday edition.
Randy Shaw is Editor of Beyond Chron