On Tuesday, November 6, presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will compete for their bid to the next four years of the American Presidency. Over a hundred candidates will compete for the 53 spots allotted to California in the U.S. House of Representatives. Nearly a dozen propositions are on the ballot, covering topics from the death penalty to animal rights to taxation for use in funding higher education.
California is admittedly not the most riveting state to watch for national election returns—it's reputation as a bastion of progressive politics precedes its mention. So too is it the case that the nature of Pacific Standard Time is such that the election may be functionally decided before polls close in the state. But there are at least three reasons to keep your eyes on the Golden State this election.
First, California is a key player for this year's popular vote. National polls have been holding the race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney close, and despite the lead the President enjoys in a number of swing states, these polls are building to the narrative that the President could win the electoral college, but lose the popular vote. This is possible even in a landslide electoral college win, should it be the case that states like Texas and Georgia vote overwhelmingly Republican. California's massive population place it squarely in the race for winning the popular vote.
Second, California provides an inordinate number of congressional seats, and with that, a number of close races to watch as Democrats seek to take the House and Republicans vie to keep it. In 2010, for example, Democratic Party candidate Ami Bera held a solid chance against sitting congressman Rick Lumberg. Then a wave of SuperPac funding washed Bera away at the polls. This year, he is back, has continued to hold strong until election day, and has a shot of turning the seat towards the Democrats by the time the polls close tonight.
Third, California is a a key laboratory for seeing the kinds of issues and policy proposals likely to seek critical mass in the future. Among the notable propositions on the ballot this year are appeals to raise taxes on high-income earners to prevent tuition hikes in the University of California system, a move to label Genetically Modified foods (GMOs), and a push to revise the Death Penalty.
Rajiv Narayan from the Election Blog Team at PolicyMic will be covering the 2012 election from the Golden State live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.
UPDATE 12:10 AM: A long night is ahead for the close House races and state ballot measures in CA. But I won't be up to cover it all. I'm heading to bed now with a final update of two contests I'm interested (and still anxious) for, pictured below. To continue to follow developments, consider going directly to the elections return site at the California Secretary of State, or for a more informal take, follow the Twitter tag #SFCvote (which unsurprisingly refers to the SF Chronicle).
But before I get to that, let me note that this live-blog has been a blast. This experience has left me with a tremendously more engaged experience of the election than my memory of 2008 and 2010. Major props to Jake Horowitz and Michael Luciano of the Policy Mic team for making this happen, as well as everyone else who's been pushing and sharing content for hours on end. Finally, I have no idea who you are, but thank you to those 200+ people and something like 20,000+ people who have shared and viewed my election coverage over the past 3 days, respectively. I certainly felt listened to, and that was nice. It's my hope that you learned or saw or read something interesting somewhere on this wall of text.
Goodnight, congratulatons, my consolations, and a good luck to those who are sleeping, victors, not-victors, and still vying for victory. Without further ado, the latest results:
To democracy and beyond!
11:15 PM: So the California Secretary of State website is awesome for including a link to "close races." Go technology! But aside from that, these races are raising my anxiety level. I mean, more than usual.
10:45 PM: Again overblowing my experiene in coaching speech and debate, some disparate notes on the President's victory speech:
We're seeing at the head of the address the throughline he draws in American history with references binding ". . . a more perfect Union," to 2012 campaign slogan "Forward." This is followed by a preliminary thanks to all voters, then to a recognition of the Romney campaign, then again to a longer gratitude list punctuated by the "happy warrior" Joe Biden, the lovely Mrs. Obama and his daughters--with some humorous asides to long voting lines and the questionable need for another dog in the White House. Any way you slice it, this is vintage Obama. And it's exactly what folks in the crowd (and at least in my household) want to hear right now.
In the body of the speech we hear a rhetorical trope very familiar to the President--a series of verbal snapshots that paint a cynical straw man perspective, referring to a misguided way of looking at America. With a number of references to this being the way things seem, he then takes down these snapshots, one-by-one, to distill a more optimistic potential for what the country could be.
Then the President moves on to a quick refrain he's recently deployed in light of the "47 percent" comments--an appeal to all voters, even those who did not vote for him. In the past, he has said he'll be "everyone's President." In this speech he says these voters "make him a better president."
In the final act of the speech (I'm writing this live, so I think it's ending, but I can't be sure), we see the President ending with his strongest suite--speaking to voters about voters. He's relaying the stories and snapshots of Americans he's seen on the campaign trail. In an interview with Barbara Walters we heard from the President he believes his greatest political weakness is effective storytelling. In this speech (and really, over the course of the campaign) we've seen a new kind of fire to his stories.
At the very end of this speech, we see a strong close with a relatively renewed President Obama at the podium, in which you can basically hear the echoes several thousand miles away. Powerful stuff.
P.S. I know of no other speaker--high school or otherwise--that can point as a hand gesture and manage to not seem condescending.
10:12 PM: With one speech down, let me make some brief notes as a person who has coached competitive high school speech and debate for 4.5 years. Governor Romney spoke for five minutes tonight. When his campaign claimed they had not written a concession speech, I completely believe them--though I also think it is the case that the speech would not have been much better if it was more prepared.
Mitt Romney is a fine speaker, clear and poised, generally free of mistakes (when he knows he's giving a public speech) and not unpleasant. And this has been precisely his problem the whole time. There's a lot of talk to "X Factors" in great speakers and great speeches. Insofar as I can speak to this ethereal quality, I would argue that it comes down to vulnerability. A truly great communicator is above all else unflinchingly human. Where Mitt Romney gives brings an atmosphere of perfection, he has always lacked an authentic presence, one marked by a kind of vulnerability.
There are many reasons as to why this can be the case, and perhaps the most obvious explanation is that he is relatively (and that is a key word) free of harship. Vulnerability comes from imperfection, itself a quality that comes from obstacle and challenge. Even in a concession speech for a long and drawn out campaign, I haven't felt from the candidate that spirit.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn't post a tweet from a former fellow competitor in high school speech and debate, if only to shamelessly bolster my case:
And he was a two-time national champion...
9:55 PM: Last personal note of the night--couldn't be more happy that Michael Tubbs of Stockton, CA has been elected to City Council. We met briefly at an interview around this time last year, and what can I say other than this guy is such an inspiration. Best wishes to him and his campaign to #ReinventStockton. Today it is Stockton, soon enough it will be the country.
9:40 PM: Yes the Presidential race is over, but sometimes you just need another 1000 words, spoken by picture:
So yeah, those speeches would be welcome any time now...
9:16 PM: The House race I'm watching most closely this election? The fight for District 7 between incumbent Republican Dan Lungren and Democrat Ami Bera. Aside from it being a nail-bittingly close race, it is both infamous and significant of so much about political campaigns in a post-Citizens United campaign landscape. This particular race has even been featured on an episode of This American Life. And it may also be the case that the challenger is was a professor at my alma mater and the uncle of a family friend. With 56.1 percent of precints reporting, we have the following information:
8:54 PM: I try not to update too quickly, but I have to share my favorite tweet of the night thus far:
8:50 PM: While the Presidential race is over (though the speeches are forthcoming) it's time to turn the gears toward taking of stock of all things California. We have reports coming from CA Secretary of State website on ballot measures, seen in their most recent update here from 12.0% ( 2,944 of 24,491 ) precincts partiallyreporting as of November 6, 2012, 8:45 p.m.
8:15 PM: Congratulations to Barack Obama, present and future President of the United States. Some somber news from SF Chronicle Metro Editor Suzanne Espinosa noting early set of results put Prop 30 (taxing high-income earners for the benefit of higher education) down.
8:07 PM: Finally! Some results from the Golden State: Sen. Diane Feinstein has won re-election. Presidet Barack Obama has won the state. So that's something...
8:03 PM: The President has won Hawaii, Washington and California. This race is reported to be too close to call.
Between Slate Magazine's bold homepage, Nate Silver's foreboding tweeting,
and a number of isolated tweets and status updates from the social media serengeti, a significant number of folks have been calling this election for President Obama for the last hour. Larger engines in the media, from Fox News to CBS to the PBS Newshour, are extremely hesitant to go so far. It's worth asking whether this behavior is another strike against the media's insistence on forcing election coverage into a must-watch, "neck and neck" race. Perhaps it is the case that the media is genuinely afraid of repeating a mistake reminicient of other inaccuracies this year, a result that could give us a new reference point to the infamous Harry Truman photo.
7:10 PM: With Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill and Tammy Baldwin all elected to the Senate, this is a tremendous year--and perhaps something significant of a sea-change--for women, gender, and sexual orientation in national politics. With these results we can be more certain that the gaffes will not stop at news stories, but can actually rise as salient policy issues in the wider discourse. Who you bring to the table determines the conversation.
6:45 PM: Also from The Atlantic, a telling story of parties for parties. Logan Airport in Boston, MA (the site of Governor Romney's election-night party) has twice as many as its normal capacity of private jets--80 private jets are currently filling the runway, presumably carrying the swanky passengers waiting to congratulate, console, or lecture the state's former Governor.
6:40 PM: In an update that gives some reprieve over the sense that Citizens United has opened the broken the levies separating governance from Big Money, The Atlantic wire reports: "A $100 Million Later, Linda McMahon Won't Be a Senator from Connecticut." Of course, she was only spending her own money.
6:20 PM: The prodigious use of the tag #stayinline has taken a foothold all across the country. In Ohio, Virginia and now San Francisco, long lines of voters stand in resistance to the official closing time at voting stations. The tag, meant to inform potential voters of a seemingly universal decision to let all those who got in line before closing time to vote, is pushed aggressively across social media.
Not to go too meta on a day of action, it's interesting that the message #stayinline is both a signifer for the importance of standing your ground in order to eventually cast a ballot, but also in the wider discourse a kind of Orwellian allusion to conformity. With a choice between two candidates representing two parties who have long dominated the possibilities of political action in this country, I can see this tag taking on a deeper meaning. While voters #stayinline, they are overwhelmingly likely, as Americans have for decades, stay in line between choosing Democratic Party or Republican Party.
6:05 PM: Another personal note--just got my parents ready to go to our neighborhood voting station. #proudson
6:00 PM: According to SF Chronicle, long lines at SF City Hall may delay results until close to 9 PM Pacific Standard Time.
5:55 PM: An important update from The Onion:
5:30 PM: Dan Rather's "gut" tells him it's going to be a good night for Romney:
Previous election-night gems from Mr. Rather (taken from a compilation by Daniel Kurtzman):
Quotes from CBS Anchor Dan Rather on Election Night 2004
"His lead is as thin as turnip soup."
"This situation in Ohio would give an aspirin a headache.''
"We used to say if a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun."
Quotes from Dan Rather on Election Night 2000
"Don't bet the trailer money yet."
"This race is tight like a too-small bathing suit on a too-long ride home from the beach."
"You talk about a ding-dong, knock-down, get-up race."
5:00 PM: I have myself just voted in under 15 seconds by dropping my mail-in ballot off at my local voting booth around the corner. The folks of Union City are still coming out in volume to cast the ballots.
7:55 AM: Another close race to watch (and one I'm embarassed to say completely slipped my radar)--the City of Richmond is voting on a soda tax. That's right, move aside New York City. The SF Chronicle writes:
"In the Bay Area, voters will be deciding the fates of dozens of new taxes. Perhaps no race attracted as much national attention as Richmond's proposed soda tax, a penny-per-ounce fee for businesses that sell soda, juice and other sugary drinks. The measure would be the nation's first voter-approved tax on sodas.The beverage industry poured in more than $2 million to defeat the measure, while supporters of the tax ran a grassroots effort that included the measure's author, City Councilman Jeff Ritterman, hauling a red wagon around town loaded with 40-pound sacks of sugar - the typical consumption of a Richmond child each year."
7:45 AM: Just got my live blog up! Folks are late to work at my office because they're voting. This is forgiveable. Looking forward to seeing those stickers and getting my own soon.