Schwarzenegger Will Be 8% Better Than Davis and Schwartzman Runs 8th in California Recall Election

Link to latest California Recall Election Results -

   The entire premise of psephology is that every vote counts and that careful examination of the actual election results is a good predictor of future government policy.

    First of all, the voters are brilliant.  The "No" recall vote is 3,562,487 which is very close to the 3,469,025 that Gray Davis received in last November's election.  The "No" voted received 93,462 votes more than Davis got in last year's election.  These voters voted to keep valid the ballots they cast last year.

   The reason Davis was recalled is because an extra 624,555 voters went to the polls who stayed home last November.  Consequently, the "Yes" vote on recall received 4,416,280 compared to the 3,562,487 million "No", a margin of 853,794.

    Schwarzenegger's 3,744,132 votes is 275,107 votes higher than Davis's 3.469,025 million from last November.  So, the voters think that Schwarzenegger is about 8% better than Davis. 

   Although 8,363,397 ballots were cast, only 7,978,767 voted on the recall question.  This means that 384,360 people voted for the replacement candidates or on the ballot questions without taking a stand on the recall.  Similarly, another 277,598  voted on the recall without choosing a replacement candidate.  Seeing as the "No" vote was almost 100,000 higher than Davis's vote last November, it is safe to say that at least 180,000 voters went to the polls to oust Davis without caring about who was going to replace him.

    During the campaign, much was made of the fact that Davis won last November with less than 50% of the vote.  Schwarzenegger also won with less than 50% of the vote.  Davis won with 47.4%, Schwarzenegger with 48.6%, although he bested Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamente by a whopping 17% or 1,309,648 votes.

    It was not McClintock's 1,026,704 votes or Green candidate Camejo's 213,087or Arianna Huffington's 42,603 votes that denied Arnold a majority vote.  It was Peter Ueberroth's 22,238; Larry Flynt's 15,464; Gary Coleman's 12,690; George Schwartzman's 10,949  and the 126 other candidates who received between 172 and 10,114 votes for a total of 177,705 votes.

[Note: The fact that George Schwartzman, a 57 year old divorced businessman who provides urological services to hospitals and physicians ran 8th and received 10,949 votes compared to last November's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bill Simon, who ran 11th and received only 7,909 votes, probably says more about Schwartzman's name being similar to Schwarzenegger's than it does about his campaign.  More than 10,000 Schwartzman votes probably really belong to Schwarzenegger (which still wouldn't put him over the 50% mark) because, like the butterfly ballot in Florida in 2000 which gave a few thousand of Gore's votes to Pat Buchanan and David McReynolds, a few Schwarzenegger voters mistook Schwartman's name for Schwarzenegger's in those precincts where Schwartzman came before Schwarzenegger on the ballot.  This can be proven by looking at the 15,235 precinct returns to see how many of Schwartzman's votes came from precincts where Schwartzman's name came after Schwarzeneggers. The candidates names were in a different order in all 15,235 precincts. This is a good project for anyone looking for a masters or Phd thesis, to show the rate of name confusion in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election.  It would appear that 1 out of every 380 Schwarzenegger voters cast a ballot for Schwartzman in error.  This error rate is 60 times bigger than the margin which separated Gore from Bush in Florida in 2000.  Although it made no difference in the California recall this year, this is just another illustration of the fact that voting systems are not perfect.]  

    So, Davis lost because voters who stayed home last November returned to the polls for the recall election.  This should be a wake-up call to those party functionaries who think the best way to win election is to ensure that the opposition is as weak as possible.  Davis manipulated the Republican Primary to nominate the weaker of the major contenders in addition to going to court to prevent independents from being able to vote in primaries.  In short, the independent voters who were excluded from the primary by the supreme court decision resulting from the Democratic Party of California v. Jones case, turned out to take their justified revenge on Gray Davis.   

    The voter turnout was the instrument of Davis's demise, but the reasons were many and varied.

The Democrats- The Party of Quitters

    Perhaps it is the way Democrats "win" elections that makes it possible for the Republicans to overturn the results.  Although much attention was focused on the recall election, few issues were discussed.  Partially, this was a function of Schwarzenegger's refusal to debate and his conscious decision to avoid specific details about how he would solve the overweaning budget crisis.

    Also, the media refused to illuminate the obvious.  Schwarzenegger's in-laws are Kennedys, the first family of Democratic Party politics.  Arnold's wife, Maria, is the legendary JFK's niece.  Maria's dad, Sargent Shriver, was the Democratic nominee for Vice-President in 1972.  Yet, they all campaigned for Arnold, a Republican.

    Meanwhile, Democrat Gray Davis was left out in the cold.  Although former President Bill Clinton and a pride of presidential hopefuls campaigned for Davis, Ted Kennedy was conspicuously absent.  Not only did no Kennedy come to campaign for the beleaguered Democrat, but his own Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamente, ran away from the record of the administration of which he was a part.  Some two party system.    

    So, from two sides, both internally and externally, Democrats abandoned Davis.  This is one of the major reasons he lost.


    Other institutional forces were arrayed against Davis.  While candidates and politicians loudly proclaim the need for campaign finance reform where individuals are limited in what they can give and candidates limited in what and how they can spend, the media is completely exempt from any kind of controls in political campaigns.

    So, Arnold Schwarzenegger can accept an invitation to appear on The Tonight Show with his friend Jay Leno, and from there announce his candidacy for Governor of California, to a national audience.  This looks like a corporate campaign contribution.  Most other mortal candidates would have to spend campaign funds to notify the media and secure a venue for their announcement.

    Then Jay Leno shows up to introduce Schwarzenegger at his victory party on election night.  Hopefully, Leno will ask the actor back on the show to explain his program for balancing California's budget.

    Not only is Arnold an international movie star, but now that the movie industry is owned by media conglomerates, many of which own newspaper and broadcast media, Governor Schwarzenegger might well be viewed as a cross-marketed politician.  In the future, the media might support candidates for public office who will increase ratings of their news shows and newspaper circulation rather than because of their competence to govern.  Profits are becoming everything in the media.

    As the late Blossom G. Saxe once said, "There are no reformers, only insurgents."  As campaign finance and ethics laws proliferate, the field is left clear for the commercial media to determine the outcome of political campaigns.  Davis was pitted against an international movie star who was able to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in free publicity, had deep pockets of his own, and was able to raise millions more.  

Cars and Tax Hikes

    One look at the distribution of votes in the recall shows a polarization that is increasingly true in the country as a whole and in individual states.  The distribution of "Yes" and "No" votes was not uniform over the 58 California counties.  In some places, the "Yes" vote carried by better than 2 to 1.  In San Francisco, the "No" vote carried by the same margin.

    This same kind of split was evident in Oregon when faced with a gaping budget deficit, a rural-urban split, which was also evident in the 2000 presidential election.  In California, the "No" vote did best in areas of public transportation, while the "Yes" vote triumphed in those areas where there is no alternative to the car.  Where cars are necessities,  a tax hike on cars is like taxing food.  

    So clearly, the tripling of the tax on cars was the trigger for the anger against Davis.  And Schwarzenegger has pledged to roll the tax increase back, thus raising the budget deficit from $8 billion to $12 billion.  Combined with his pledge not to raise taxes, balancing the California budget is going to require stunts far in excess of anything seen in the Governor-elects movies thusfar.

    But the reason for the car tax hike and Davis's unpopularity has a deeper institutional cause.  The California Constitution was amended by the voters in a previous tax revolt to require a 2/3rds vote to levy or raise taxes.  Although the Democrats control both houses of the state legislature, they do not have the 2/3rds necessary to pass new tax legislation.  The Republicans have obstructed all of Davis's attempts to balance the budget through tax hikes.  

    That is why Davis was forced into the position of doing the unpopular raising of the car tax, because the minority Republicans in the legislature refused to supply the extra votes to make the 2/3rds necessary to pass any other tax program.  That's why California needed a Republican governor, to overcome the obstructionism of the Republican members of the California legislature.  California has elected Republican Schwarzenegger, but it is probably now going to get the Davis tax increases that the Democrat was unable to get through the legislature.  The Democrats will have to cooperate because, after all, Arnold is going to be forced to pass their program.     

Not A Turn To The Right

   The proof that the recall election was a referendum on Gray Davis and not a turn to the right is shown by the overwhelming rejection of Proposition 54 which would have banned the use of racial, color and national origin data in evaluating government policies and outcomes.  It lost 4,933,337 million "No" to 2,793,139 million "Yes".  

  The Real Reasons Davis Was Recalled

    Recent studies by a Nobel Prize winner on the economics of well-being show four major areas people use to decide whether they are happy or well off: Health - current and future; Economic outcomes - productivity and innovation; Human capital - education and mobility (social and physical); and Social Capital - participation (having a job) and income. 

    There is one procedural criterion that people use to decide whether they are well off and that, surprisingly, is whether they have access to a free and fair democratic decision making process.  People like to feel that they can participate in determining their own destiny should they choose to.  This is not the same as actually participating in politics, it is just the security of feeling that the opportunity is there, should they decide to use it.

    Gray Davis consistently undermined this important measure of well being.  First, the Democratic Party of California went to court to overturn a referendum which opened the party primaries to all voters.  This limited people's choices and, not surprisingly, the Supreme Court that stopped the Florida vote so Bush could be president agreed.   Next, the Davis campaign interfered in the 2002 Republican Primary to try to ensure that the Republicans nominated the weakest, rather than the strongest, candidate to face Gray Davis in November.  This is another way of denying voters a choice.  And finally, the Davis campaign and its "liberal" allies went to court to try to change the date of the recall election to March when the constitution specifically calls for the election to be held within a specific time frame.

    Once the 3 judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court briefly postponed the recall just two weeks before the date of the balloting, and Davis did not immediately condemn the decision, it was impossible for Davis to win.  The Democratic Party, rather than adopting the position that George Bush lost the 2000 election and stole it through the courts, is now validating the election of Bush by adopting the same anti-democratic tactics in its own campaigns.  So, people are being pushed out of elections by the corrupt practices of politicians and the courts.

    While none of Davis's acts were illegal or violations of campaign ethics laws, they were worse because they worked to deny people meaningful participation in determining the direction of their own lives.  It is this critical measure of personal well being, not the budget problem, nor even the car tax hike, that cost Davis the governorship.  Limiting voter access to the political franchise, trying to rig opposition party primaries and sowing chaos and uncertainty into the process by appealing to the courts to change election procedures in mid-campaign are the tactics of dictators common in third world countries and, unfortunately, becoming all too common in the Two Party System of the United States in the 21st century.

    Clearly, Davis deserved to be recalled.  Whether Schwarzenegger deserved to win is a different question entirely.

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf