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Off Base

Nov
9
2005

Yesterday’s California election is being billed most correctly as the triumph of moderation. That’s right. Moderation. Not Too Left. And Not Too Right. This has Mr. Trevino beside himself this morning. But I’ll let him speak for himself.
The LATimes has, I think, the best take on the subject. In his zeal to become president, Arnold Schwarzenegger adapted the campaign strategies of winning Republicans like President George Bush.

With his popularity peaking, there was talk of amending the U.S. Constitution so that a foreign-born citizen could run for president — a tantalizing prospect for the ambitious Schwarzenegger. Many considered it implausible — why would U.S. senators change the Constitution to benefit a political rival? — but some around the governor were intrigued enough to entertain the prospect. They counseled a rightward shift to put the governor more in the mainstream of the national GOP.
Soon enough Schwarzenegger was openly disdaining the Democratic lawmakers he once called partners. He endorsed only Republicans in the November 2004 legislative races.
He flew to the key state of Ohio to make a last-minute push for President Bush’s reelection and later crowed over Bush’s win there. The partisan shift culminated in early January in his pugnacious State of the State speech, which opened a bitter off-year election season.

That probably seemed like a good idea last fall, particularly to Schwarzenegger’s team of advisors, many of whom had suffered through former governor (and Schwarzenegger political mentor) Pete Wilson’s disastrous presidential bid. Figuring they could finally do it this time, the Wilson boys decided that their conservative agenda from years ago, dusted off and updated for a new millennium of immigrant-baiting – Minutemen! – was a good game plan. After all, they had a tough-talking leader in the White House to show them the way, no? That might be one reason why Maria Shriver – a life-long Democrat and a veteran of Chicago politics – sat out this election.
She was smart. George Bush’s polls are lower than low. We’ve got a troubled economy, a war that’s not winnable, a White House facing continued investigations and perhaps another indictment, a Congress led by crooks – indicted like former majority leader Tom Delay or, like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission – and a bunch of Democrats who are grandstanding but doing so effectively. No one’s sure who to blame but everyone’s pretty sure it’s not John Kerry.
San Francisco political consultant Jim Ross had a look at the numbers early this morning and had this comment which also supports the Triumph of Moderation Theory: “The Governor did not lose this race in the Liberal parts of the state but in the conservative parts. Where he needed 68% he was getting 63% on his measures.” Arnold, call your office: Your base is slipping.
Ross thinks the more conservatives parts of the state – California, by the way, is a Red State with Blue trim – are moderating as Liberals move in land to buy homes they can’t afford on the coast. I’m not so sure. I think it’s fall-out from the general state of national affairs.
Republicans – all Republicans – got trouble. And Schwarzenegger being a movie star Republican got more trouble – and more vocal celebration – than pretty much anyone else.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:28 AM | Permalink

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