Anyone can read the election results. But who were the biggest winners in Tuesday's California elections?
10. California TV stations. They made millions from the record spending on political ads. What will they do now to keep the money rolling in? Well, Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has been talking about a special election.
9. Slow starters. Jerry Brown was criticized for waiting until late summer to start his campaign in earnest. Meg Whitman started campaigning in early 2009 – obscenely early. The head start didn’t help. One hopes that the next gubernatorial race will be, at the very least, shorter.
8. Democrats. They appear to have swept the statewide races, including the attorney general’s contest in which the GOP nominee was the popular district attorney of Los Angeles.
7. Investors betting against California debt. With their choices on the initiatives, California voters made the budget crisis much worse, both by blowing more than $1 billion in new holes in the budget and by making it harder to reach agreement in the future. If you’re trading against California’s debt, this was a good week for you.
6. The Internet. Polls showed that voters are relying more on the Internet for news – and less on TV. TV is still number one, but this may be the last election when that’s so.
5. Non-Voters. Californians who are eligible to vote but chose not to again won an overwhelming victory (it appears that more than 60 percent of the 23.5 million eligible didn’t vote) over voters. And non-voters can tell their neighbors and friends that they didn’t vote for initiatives that made the budget crisis worse.
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor won initiative battles to protect his legacy. Prop 20, which expands the redistricting reform he championed, won, and Prop 27, an attempt to reverse Schwarzenegger’s reform, lost. And Prop 23, an attack on Schwarzenegger’s landmark climate change legislation, also went down. But the outgoing governor isn’t through defending his legacy; he’ll have a water bond and a budget reform on the ballot in 2012.
3. Frugality as a value. Meg Whitman spent record amounts of money on her campaign. Jerry Brown did things relatively on the cheap. And look who won.
2. The media. The campaigns, particularly those of Republicans, attacked the media for their coverage and their polls. But the media’s polls were right, and GOP predictions were wrong. Whitman, whose campaign suggested it didn’t need the media, discovered that reporters matter. And then there was Carly Fiorina on election night calling media organizations dumb for saying her race was over before she was willing to concede. She lost badly. Who looks dumb now?
1. Old farts. California is a young state, but its electorate is old (estimated average age of a voter is a tick under 60) and its elected officials are older. Brown, 72, and Barbara Boxer, who turns 70 next week, won the big races. Treasurer Bill Lockyer, 69, appears to have been the biggest vote-getter on the ballot. And older voters stopped younger voters from legalizing marijuana. Their secret? The old folks showed up in far greater numbers than the kids.
Click here for a look at the Top 10 Losers in this November's elections.