The Corner

Obama Turnout Machine Crashes in San Diego — Loses Mayor’s Race by Nine Points

Kevin Faulconer recaptured the mayor’s office in San Diego for Republicans in a special election yesterday. The polls were skin-tight leading into yesterday’s election, and unions poured in millions to keep control in the nation’s eighth-largest city.

But in the end the vaunted Obama election model — flood the zone with negative attack ads and excite the base of the Democratic party — flopped. Faulconer defeated fellow City Council member David Alvarez by nine points in a city that Barack Obama carried by 63 percent to 37 percent only 15 months ago. 

Democrats were stunned at the margin. In the November open primary, Democrats had won 54 percent of the ballots cast and were convinced they could win the runoff between Faulconer and Alvarez. Unions pitched in a record $4.2 million to promote Alvarez, compared to only $1.7 million from business interests backing Faulconer. In the end, Alvarez outspent Faulconer in total by a million dollars.

Partly the Faulconer blowout was the result of the lower turnout of a special election called to replace disgraced Democratic Mayor Bob Filner. But partly it came from a renewed ability of Republicans to reach out to independent and moderate voters with the need to practice fiscal restraint and sound management. “It’s been less than a decade since public-employee unions drove San Diego into near-insolvency, and people were reminded of that,” says Jason Roe, a political consultant in San Diego.

Certainly there was a clear contrast between the candidates. Alvarez was touted as the great progressive hope who in the words of the San Diego Union Tribune “supports raising the minimum wage, increasing developer fees for affordable housing projects and asking voters to approve the sale of bonds to fund infrastructure projects.” Faulconer was opposed to all of the above and also supported “putting certain city services up for competitive bid with the private sector [and] replacing pensions with 401(k)-style plans for most new city hires.”

Faulconer’s win breaths new life into what has been a moribund Republican party in California and also shows that the Obama turnout machine isn’t invincible without a presidential-level turnout. That’s a valuable lesson as we head into the 2014 midterm elections. 

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Strzok by a Farce

An investigation is one of two things: a search for the truth, or a farce. The House is conducting a farce. That fact was on full display during ten hours of testimony by Peter Strzok, the logorrheic lawman who steered the FBI’s Clinton-emails and Trump–Russia probes. The principal question before the ... Read More
Elections

Democrats Are Dumping Moderates

The activist base of the Democratic party is lurching left fast enough that everyone should pay attention. Activists matter because their turnout in low-turnout primaries and caucuses almost propelled leftist Bernie Sanders to victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Last month, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated New ... Read More
Culture

Questions for Al Franken

1)Al, as you were posting on social media a list of proposed questions for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, did it occur to you that your opinion on the matter is no more relevant than Harvey Weinstein’s? 2) Al, is it appropriate for a disgraced former U.S. senator to use the Twitter cognomen “U.S. ... Read More
Film & TV

Stalin at the Movies

Toward the end of The Death of Stalin, two Communist Party bosses size up Joseph Stalin’s immediate successor, Georgy Malenkov. “Can we trust him?” one asks. “Can you ever really trust a weak man?” his comrade answers. Good question. Last week brought the news that the head of Shambhala ... Read More
World

‘The Warning Lights Are Blinking Red Again’

One of President Trump’s outstanding appointments has been Dan Coats, his director of national intelligence. Coats is a former House member, former senator, and former ambassador to Germany. He is a Hoosier (i.e., from Indiana). Whether he plays basketball, I don’t know. At Wheaton College, he played soccer. ... Read More