The Sound of Voter Silence

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There's been much conversation about the message voters were sending Tuesday. But three-in-four voters in California didn't go to the polls. What message were they sending?

At the blog California Fix, Mark Paul (full disclosure: Mark is my colleague at the New America Foundation and my co-author on the new book California Crackup), breaks down the numbers and answers that question:

"The real story of the Tuesday elections, it seems to me, is that voters have given up on believing in democracy under California’s current electoral system. Seventy-five percent of California’s voters—12,749,727 of them, twelve times the number who voted for Meg Whitman, six times the number who voted for Prop 14—kissed off the election."

Paul continues: "Despite being bombarded with a couple of hundred million dollars worth of political advertising, they could not be moved. The triumphant eMeg spent about $74 for every vote she received. (It’s a measure of how brain dead California’s media have become that Whitman—a politician who spent in excess of $80 million running against an unknown opponent but managed to win fewer votes than the feckless Bill Simon won running against the popular mayor of Los Angeles in the 2002 primary, when California had 1.8 million fewer registered voters— is today being described as the owner of a “powerful, well-financed machine.”)

Paul also points out that Whitman's spending -- $74 per vote -- is not out of line when one looks at the overall level of spending on all races. Combined, all the various campaigngs for and against measures and candidates Tuesday spent about $50 per vote.

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