Politics & Policy

California Confusion

The recall never gets boring.

Confusion reigns.

One of my high-school classmates caused quite a stir Friday. Now a Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge, Jeremy D. Fogel said he might put the California recall on hold. Apparently, four counties have not complied with civil-rights-related voting procedures. I remember Jerry Fogel, even at 16, as liberal, bright, and intellectually honest. “This court is extremely reluctant to intervene,” the San Jose jurist says, and I believe him. Fogel has prodded the U.S. Justice Department for timely guidance, so he can keep the election on track. But if the bureaucrats delay, Judge Fogel will enforce the law and postpone the election.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Federal Judge Stephen V. Wilson, a Republican Reagan appointee, must consider chads. Can dysfunctional machines (which elected Gray Davis on Nov. 4, 2003) be used to remove him (in the Oct. 7, 2003 special recall election)? The machines will be phased out for the 2004 elections. An election postponement by Judge Wilson to the March 4, 2004 presidential primary could mean Gray Davis might defeat the recall — or, at least, assure Bustamante’s election. The ACLU argues that minorities are not smart enough to vote correctly. I’m betting that Judge Wilson will agree with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Democrat, that voters can be “educated” in how to use machines.

Madonna, Prince, Arnold. He has a last name, voters cannot spell it. In any case, Bob Novak said Sunday on Meet the Press that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lead has been cut in half — in just one bad week. Here’s the rest of the story: apples and oranges.

Apples. Last week’s CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, Aug 7-10, was completed after candidate filing closed. But it uselessly included candidates not running (*). Moreover, it asked respondents if there was a “good or very good chance of voting for….” In other words, the multiple name numbers added up to 172 percent: Schwarzenegger, 42 percent; Dick Riordan*, 24 percent; Cruz Bustamante, 22 percent; Bill Simon, 13 percent; Tom McClintock, 13 percent; Loretta Sanchez*, 12 percent; John Garamendi*, 10 percent; Peter Ueberroth, 7 percent; Bill Jones*, 8 percent; Arianna Huffington, 7 percent; Peter Camejo, 6 percent; Larry Flynt, 6 percent; Gary Coleman, 2 percent.

This bogus poll was very widely reported as Schwarzenegger, 42 percent; Bustamante 22 percent, etc. Oranges.

Now comes the Field poll, Aug 10-Aug 13. It shows Bustamante, 25 percent; Arnold; 22 percent; etc. The reality: The votes (22 percent) of non-candidates Sanchez (12 percent) and Garamendi (10 percent), not included in this poll, tilted to the one major Democrat, Bustamante. Riordan’s and Jones’s numbers tilted all over the place.

Moreover, the Field poll shows Schwarzenegger already has a 40 percent unfavorable. Clearly, he must focus on voters who are skeptical of his non-positions. He’s not catching on yet; Sunday’s Los Angeles Times reported responses from the major candidates to a few macro questions. Schwarzenegger had simply declined to respond.

And, recall last Friday. Just after Schwarzenegger’s imprudent appointment of Democrat Warren Buffet as his economic adviser, Buffet suggested (a) revising California’s sacred cow Proposition 13 and, concomitantly, (b) raising property taxes on homeowners.

Now, as you read this, Bill Simon’s first radio ad attacks Arnold as a liberal who would triple homeowner taxes. An attempt to smoke out Arnold, this ad is something else. Simon wants an implicit mini-Republican primary, him and Arnold. But, ultimately, will this ad help Simon or McClintock or even Republican-Independent Peter Ueberroth?

Arnold Steinberg is a California political strategist.


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