So here we are. One night after the elation of an exceedingly rare World Series victory, the Bay Area must do an about face and steel itself for what many in this liberal coastal enclave will certainly consider to be a national electoral disaster. In the Bay Area, the Democrats are the home team, and despite a strong opening in the 2008-2010 election cycle, a metaphorical Brian Wilson appears to be nowhere in sight to close the deal.
Those still hanging tough with Barack Obama will prepare to eat an I-Told-You-So sandwich, with the inevitable recriminations coming from both the left and the right. It seems hard to believe that just two years ago voters swept Republicans out of power on the heels of what a majority considered to be a period of failed one-party rule. But now, in the face of nine percent unemployment and anemic economic growth, many appear to be reconsidering. And that highly tippable fulcrum of American politics — the Independents — looks set to place their weight firmly on the right side of the scale.
Of course, that’s if the polls, pundits, and parrots like yours truly are right. And they may not be.
Polling guru Nate Silver posts 5 Reasons Democrats Could Beat the Polls and Hold the House, spinning a potential scenario of how things might not go according to forecasts.
But conventional wisdom, at least, has Democratic losses in the House numbering in the dozens — 39 is the magic number that will hand a majority back to the GOP. The Senate looks to be a tougher Republican climb — the party needs to capture 10 Democratic seats to relegate Harry Reid (in deep electoral peril himself) and his fellow Dems back to minority status.
For San Franciscans, especially, such an electoral rebuke may prove particularly stinging. Much like in 2008, when every Democratic candidate seemed to be running against President Bush, this was a year in which Republicans explicitly called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in ads that caricatured her San Francisco constituency and its liberal values.
Still, Bay Area Democrats may be able to take heart in some statewide results. Going into the election, polls show former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown with a relatively comfortable lead over Meg Whitman. And Barbara Boxer, another Bay Area icon and bete noire for those on the right, may buck the national trend and keep her Senate seat. Also, Gavin Newsom is running for Lieutenant Governor against incumbent Republican Abel Maldonado; should he win, San Francisco will need to elect a new mayor.
In terms of state initiatives, a lot of highly significant propositions have crowded the ballot. The much-discussed Proposition 19, which would fully legalize marijuana, has been behind in the polls, but supporters are hoping that the so-called “Bradley Effect” is actually clouding what will be a surprise victory.
Proposition 23, which would suspend legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gases until California’s unemployment rate vastly improves, was also looking like a loser, according to polls. Two highly signficant and diametrically opposed initiatives that haven’t received as much attention are Proposition 25 and Proposition 26. The first would lower the threshold of votes necessary to pass the budget from two-thirds to a simple majority; the second would increase the threshold of votes required to levy fees on businesses from a majority to two-thirds.
We’ll be following all these storylines as best we can, tonight and tomorrow. We’ll also be covering local measures like San Francisco’s Proposition B, which would require public employees to contribute more to their pension and health care costs, and Oakland’s Measure BB, which would allow the city to keep collecting taxes despite falling below the number of employed police officers required by a previous ballot measure.
Hang on Bay Area. It’s going to be a bumpy, jumpy night.
And don’t forget, right now you can listen to NPR reporting on what’s happening nationally. Then when the polls close The California Report’s special state edition will air from 9 to 11 p.m. KQED local updates will occur throughout the night. You can listen right here.
And remember, if things don’t go the way you want, take heart; tomorrow is the Giants’ parade.