2012 General Election

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Election Blog Fond Farewell — Until Next Time!

By Lisa Aliferis, Jon Brooks and Tyche Hendricks

With the 2012 election mostly put to bed, this blog is retiring — temporarily. This post features thoughts on elections in general from KQED Election Editor Tyche Hendricks, Election Blog editor Jon Brooks and contributor Lisa Aliferis.

Tyche Hendricks, KQED Election Editor

As the dust settles on this election — with its nail-biter races that ranged from the presidential contest to board of supervisors races and local parcel taxes — it’s a good time to note that our individual votes really can make a decisive difference. It’s true, given our electoral college system, that nobody campaigns too hard for California’s votes in the presidential race. But we did have some state and local races that were decided by razor thin margins.

In two California congressional races, long-time incumbents lost their seats by just a few thousand votes out of more than a quarter of a million votes cast. San Diego Rep. Brian Bilbray and Sacramento area Rep. Dan Lungren both lost by exceedingly narrow margins. And in Alameda County, a sales tax hike for transportation projects fell just about 700 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. With more than half a million votes cast, that was a defeat by a margin of .14 percent. Continue reading

Willie Brown Weighs In on Democratic Supermajority

Willie Brown served in the California Legislature for more than 30 years. (Steve Rhodes/Flickr)

This week’s buzzword in California politics: supermajority.

Democrats in California have a supermajority in the State Senate and are simply waiting for confirmation from two yet-to-be-fully-counted-but-leaning Democrat races in southern California to achieve a supermajority in the Assembly.

In case you missed it, in California politics a “supermajority” is a two-thirds majority. Most people know that any local measures to raise property taxes in California must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the people. That’s thanks to 1978′s Proposition 13. But Prop. 13 also requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. While Republicans have long been the minority party in Sacramento, they wielded influence by blocking votes needed to pass a tax increase.

To find out what lies ahead in the state legislature, beyond one less road block to tax increases, KQED Forum guest host Scott Shafer spoke with Willie Brown, who served over 30 years in the state Legislature, to describe how a supermajority can change Sacramento.

Here is an edited transcript of Shafer’s interview with Brown on Friday morning’s show: Continue reading

President Obama’s Re-Election Honeymoon (on Social Media) Continues, But For How Long?

One reaction on social media to President Obama’s re-election can be summed up by the popular meme at right.

(You’ve probably seen the president’s celebratory “Four More Years” photo everywhere on Facebook and Twitter. With more than four million “Likes,” it’s Facebook’s most-Liked photo ever. It’s been re-tweeted more than 790,000 times, the most RTs ever.)

Of course, President Obama was a social media star even before he was re-elected, and he’ll probably continue to generate a flood of Likes and RTs through the rest of his term. The Oxford Internet Institute found that the president would have defeated Mitt Romney handily if the election had been based on Twitter references. And on Thursday, the word “Obama” had been used in more than one million Tweets, according to the social search website Topsy.  Also trending Thursday on Twitter in the U.S. – “Karl Rove” and “GOP.” But not really in a good way.

But since the election, another term that’s probably more of a concern to the president has started to make its way onto social media:

Fiscal cliff.Continue reading

Marin County Measures: Results

Here are the results for all measures on the ballot in Marin County:

Measure A, County of Marin, parks: 74% yes; 26% no (Two-thirds majority required)

Measure B, Mill Valley, schools: 70% yes; 30% no (Two-thirds majority required)

Measure C, Shoreline School District: 76.80% yes; 23.20% no (Two-thirds majority required) Continue reading

California Democrats May Have Supermajority in Both Assembly, Senate

(Justin Sullivan: Getty Images)

(Justin Sullivan: Getty Images)

California Democrats are on the brink of a historic political achievement: Assemblyman John Perez has declared that Democrats have gained a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly, and the California Senate is also trending that way.

If those totals hold, the Democrats will have attained a Proposition 13-proof advantage that would enable them to raise taxes without any votes from Republicans, largely intractable on the tax issue, or having to go to the voters, as Gov. Brown did with his Proposition 30.

But it’s not a done deal. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The party’s apparent capture of 54 seats in the 80-member Assembly and 27 in the 40-member Senate would mark the first time in nearly 80 years that one party controlled two-thirds of both houses, according to Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg. Continue reading

East Bay Institution Pete Stark Toppled by Novice Eric Swalwell

Undated Stark campaign button shows unseated Congressman's history. (Mpls55408: Flickr)

Undated Stark campaign button shows defeated Congressman's history. (Mpls55408: Flickr)

Twenty-term incumbent Pete Stark lost his re-election bid to Alameda County prosecutor and Dublin city councilman Eric Swalwell — who won with 53 percent of the vote.

It had been a bitterly fought campaign, with sometimes strange allegations from Stark. As KQED’s Cy Musiker reported, “Stark accused Swalwell, without evidence, of taking bribes; he was forced to apologize; and he wrongly accused newspaper columnist Debra Saunders of making political donations to Swalwell, again apologizing after.”

Stark issued a statement this morning:

It has been my honor to serve the people of the East Bay for the last 40 years. I have worked hard to deliver results: accomplishments like writing the COBRA law to make health insurance portable between jobs, bringing the first computers to schools, and crafting President Obama’s groundbreaking health care law. Continue reading

San Jose’s Minimum Wage Will Go Up

San Jose’s minimum wage is about to go up, after voters approved a ballot measure raising the minimum from eight dollars an hour to 10. The measure won with 59 percent of the vote.

Measure “D” started out as a class project at San Jose State.

Diana Crumedy, who helped launch the campaign, says she hopes other students will try to raise the minimum wages where they are. Continue reading

Voters Defeat Effort to Require GMO Labels on Foods; Proponents Say They Will Fight On

(ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

(ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

What a difference $46 million in TV ad spending can make.

At least that was the consensus in the wee hours of the morning at the Yes on Proposition 37 party, held at a performance art space in San Francisco’s Mission District, even before the final votes were tallied.

Outspent many times over, “we couldn’t get up on the air,” organizer Stacy Malkan told The Salt when it appeared the measure was going down. “You need a certain saturation to have an impact.”

All eyes in the food world have been on California’s hotly contested genetically modified (GMO) food labeling proposal, which was defeated this morning by a significant margin — 53 percent of the state’s voters opposed and 47 percent in favor.

It would have required that most foods containing genetically modified ingredients carry a “Made with GMO” label on the box. Given the prevalence of genetically engineered corn and soy in processed foods, those labels would have been nearly ubiquitous in the middle aisles of the grocery store. And, given the size of California’s market, and manufacturers’ opposition to distribute two versions of packaging, the California law could have morphed into de facto national policy as well.

Continue reading

San Mateo County Measures: Results

There were many school bond measures on the ballot across San Mateo County — as well as other questions.

Here are the results:

BURLINGAME ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT MEASURE D (requires 55% approval)
All precincts reported: 66% yes, 34% no

JEFFERSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT MEASURE I (requires 55% approval)
YES 76.2% NO 23.8%

JEFFERSON UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT MEASURE E (requires 55% approval)
YES 73.5% NO 26.5% Continue reading

Live Blog Preview: For First Time in Memory, A Dozen California House Races in Play

Twenty-term incumbent Pete Stark has a well developed get-outo-the-vote operation, but his opponent, Eric Swalwell, is capitalizing on Stark's reported negative attributes. (Photo: Cy Musiker)

It's been a rough re-election season for longtime incumbent Pete Stark. (Cy Musiker: KQED)

At one time, Nancy Pelosi eagerly lay in wait to retake her House speakership this election cycle. But it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. The U.S. Congressional generic ballot shows Democrats and Republicans are neck and neck, but the GOP currently holds a 50-seat advantage. The Democrats would have to gain 25 seats to take control.

Complicating things this year in California: redistricting completed by a citizens commission instead of the Democratic-controlled legislature that used to gerrymander their own; and the new “Top Two” primary system — which sent the two candidates with the most votes in the primary to the November election regardless of party affiliation. These changes have put a dozen seats in play, a far greater number than usual.

Tuesday night, KQED will follow what are expected to be the closest House races in California. They are:

Dan Lungren (R) vs. Ami Bera (D): 7th Congressional District

A rematch in what’s considered to be one of the tightest races in the country. KQED’s Tara Siler has been following the race. She reports:

Democrats really see an opportunity here to pick off a conservative Republican, and an incumbent at that. It’s attracted a lot of money, and it’s one of the most expensive races in the country. And a lot of it is being thrown at Lungren by these outside groups.

So much has been thrown at Lungren, in fact, that Lungren is now ahead of his party in calling for campaign finance reform. Continue reading