September 14, 2003


In California, White Men Are the Silent Plurality (PETER SCHRAG, September 14, 2003, NY Times)

With Californians facing a shrinking number of high-paying blue-collar jobs, a huge state deficit and reduced access to the state colleges, the immigration issue has never gone away, even if mainstream politicians avoided talking about it. But when Governor Davis, trolling for Latino votes, signed the driver's license bill, he put the issue on the political front burner. [...]

In polls, Mr. Bustamante has the edge over Mr. Schwarzenegger among all female voters: 35 percent to 22 percent. But according to a survey last week by the Field Poll, a nonpartisan group, Mr. Bustamante is losing the men's vote, by 29 percent to 26 percent, with 16 percent favoring Mr. McClintock, who has been under intense pressure from Republican leaders to drop out.

Could the immigration issue lure men to the polls? Young men "are the hardest group to drag into the voting booth," said Ken Khachigian, a Republican campaign strategist.

And as pollsters point out, the California election is not like Minnesota's in 1998, when rebellious male voters came out to vote for Jesse Ventura, giving him the 37 percent plurality he needed to win.

In July, a Field poll found that 54 percent of registered voters who firmly stated they intended to vote were women. In the September poll, those numbers started to favor men, 52 percent to 48 percent. The poll also found that the proportion of voters in the 18-39 age group had increased from 24 percent in July to 33 percent now.

Because of the extraordinary nature of this election, all predictions are risky. Yet even Governor Davis's pollster, Paul Maslin, acknowledged that young men supporting Mr. Schwarzenegger could make some difference.

Although fewer than half of all Californians are non-Hispanic whites, they make up 70 percent of the voters. And Californians, besides expressing their opposition in 1994 to services for illegal aliens, also voted against affirmative action in 1996 and against bilingual education in 1998.

The issue of illegal immigration, then, may be a pivotal one for Mr. Schwarzenegger, and create a volatile chemistry that goes well beyond this election.

Although it is never written about in such terms, the gender gap in American politics tends to be as drastic or more so where men are concerned as for women, with Democrats faring as badly or worse with male voters as Republicans do with women. In fact, Bill Clinton's entire electoral success--unique among national Democrats the past 35 years--traced to his ability to appeal to male voters.

In a one on one matchup the Republican candidate for governor in CA should be beating Cruz Bustamante by at least ten point in the male vote--probably even higher, given the liberal issues Bustamante's highlighting. Those male votes that the conservative Tom McClintock is naturally peeling off are all that's keeping Arnold Schwarznegger from putting this race away, and if Mr. McClintock stays in the race they could cost the GOP a victory that's well within reach.

-A leading man tries to wow women off-screen: Women, in many ways, represent Schwarzenegger's greatest opportunity and greatest risk. (Mark Sappenfield, 9/14/03, CS Monitor)

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2003 6:34 AM

Although McClintock staying in now will affect the absentee vote (barring any action by the 9th Circuit panel to scrub the entire election), I can't get too irritated -- yet -- about McClintock staying in, given the rumors about Arnold's past and the possible late time-bombs that could be thrown, such as the dirt on Bruce Herschensohn visitng adult clubs that Democratic strategist Bob Mullholland leaked to the press to kill his Senate bid eight years ago.

Herschensohn reaffirmed his support for McClintock over the weekend, persumably with the memory of what happened to him during the 1994 campaign in mind. Schwartzenegger's well-known image probably insulates him from any minor late revelation being very damaging, but a major one could be somwhere out their in the Democrats' files, so having a second candidate in the race for now at least gives the Republicans a fall-back position if some major scandal does erupt. But McClintock will face a deadline for doing something by the end of the month, where if he does pull out of the race it will give at least some of his supporters a chance to cool down before Election Day and figure out that Governor Arnold is still better than Governor Cruz or Governor Gray.

Posted by: John at September 14, 2003 12:08 PM