October 9, 2003


Lost in Translation: Democrats think the recall revolution was about incumbents and the economy. Their reaction last night suggests they're in for a surprise in 2004. (Hugh Hewitt, 10/08/2003, Weekly Standard)

Howard Dean had the message on his website 18 minutes after the polls closed:

"Today's recall election in California was not about Gray Davis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. This recall was about the frustration so many people are feeling about the way things are going. . . . Tonight the voters in California directed their frustration with the country's direction on their incumbent governor. Come next November, that anger might be directed at a different incumbent . . . in the White House."

This delusional spin is great news for Republicans across the country. Gray Davis was booted from office because he imposed a massive tax hike on all California drivers while fecklessly allowing illegal aliens to get drivers' licenses. Davis was all Clinton-Carville when it came to the politics of personal destruction, and he didn't bother to disguise his total dependence on Sacramento's iron triangle of special interests: Indian gambling, trial lawyers, and public employee unions.

All of which is obvious. But when Democrats reflexively reject even the obvious conclusions, they demonstrate a capacity for political suicide reminiscent of Britain's Labour party in the late '70s and early '80s. The refusal of Dean and other senior Democrats to understand Tuesday's vote is an almost certain indication of electoral disaster ahead.

It still seems best not to try and draw too broad conclusions based on this unusual election, but Mr. Hewitt is most likely right that the signs coming out of California are not favorable for the Democrats' message of hatred, tax hikes, and amnesty for illegal aliens.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 9, 2003 11:11 AM

Judging by the vote against Proposition 54 on Tuesday, when paired with the recall election I think for now California voters are in general with the Republicans on economic issues -- or at least willing to give Arnold & Co. a chance -- but they're not yet ready to change sides on the social issues.

That still doesn't mean it was a great day for hte Democrats or that McAuliffe's spin that this is a problem for GWB is correct, but is also means Reupblicans shouldn't look at this election and think it means more that it does for the near future.

Posted by: John at October 9, 2003 12:24 PM

I think they're both wrong. I think Californians voted for Arnold because of his pectorals.

(And also, possibly, because he wasn't Gray Davis.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 9, 2003 12:37 PM

Now, in the case of 52% of the electorate, I think the gluteus maximus is more important (although the number might be higher in CA).

It is fascinating to watch the spin machine at work. Even as the LA Times was trying to eviscerate Arnold, McAuliffe et. al. were probably cooking up their story about how this is a shot across Bush's bow. When will McClintock announce against Boxer?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 9, 2003 1:33 PM

How about Dennis Miller against Barbara Boxer?

Posted by: old maltese at October 9, 2003 5:49 PM

Note that before the recall election, the Democrat spin was that it was a "right-wing power grab." Now that it succeeded in a landslide, the spin is that it "shows Bush is vulnerable." Riiiight....

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 9, 2003 7:32 PM

Daniel Weintraub, in his Sacramento Bee blog today, suggests a way that Arnold might be able to get a good start on solving the fiscal problems of California without raising taxes, based on his campaign statements:


Posted by: Joe at October 10, 2003 8:24 PM