Observations on San Francisco’s November 2008 election, part 2

November 10, 2008

More good stuff from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association’s post-election analysis of the Nov. 4, 2008 election with Alex Clemens of Barbary Coast Consulting and David Latterman of Fall Line Analytics, plus a couple of my own comments (See part 1 of the observations here). This round includes Prop. 8, Chris Daly’s role as bogeyman, the next president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and Ron Dudum’s future:

Prop. 8 aftermath. The victory of California Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment withdrawing the right to civil marriage from gay men and women, has been deconstructed a million ways to Sunday already. Various analysts have offered their opinions: Prop. 8 won because African-American voters are more conservative on social issues than the electorate at large, and they came out in great numbers to vote for Barack Obama; or Obama is partially to blame because he wasn’t vocal enough about opposing Prop. 8 (and he said he was personally opposed to gay marriage); or San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom didn’t campaign against it actively enough; or Newsom was too visible and became a negative factor; or the anti-8 campaign just screwed up by being fractured in the beginning and missing out on key fundraising opportunities.

Whatever the explanation, both Clemens and Latterman said that support for gay marriage seems to be increasing by about one percentage point per year, and they expected to see the issue on the ballot again.

Clemens said he believed that the next time gay marriage appears on the ballot, supporters of gay marriage won’t rely on a paid-media campaign of television ads and mailers. Instead, they’ll do something like what the Obama campaign did with its vast pool of volunteers. That is, the campaign will be fought in the field, with supporters of gay marriage (probably including as many straight supporters of gay marriage as they can find) going door to door and talking with individual voters.

Alex Clemens, David Latterman and Gabriel Metcalf discuss the outcomes of the Nov. 4, 2008 election at SPUR.

Alex Clemens, David Latterman and Gabriel Metcalf discuss the outcomes of the Nov. 4, 2008 election at SPUR.

My own guess about the fate of gay marriage in California is that the legal challenges to Prop. 8 will go on so long that a measure seeking to undo it will hit the ballot before all those challenges are resolved. If that’s within two years, I’d bet the new anti-8 proposition will lose, but in just a few years longer a subsequent proposition spelling out a constitutional right to civil marriage for gay men and women will win. After that, a few measures seeking to replicate Prop. 8 will come up, but will lose, before supporters decide to direct their money elsewhere.

Regarding the impact the victory of Prop. 8 may have on Newsom’s ambitions to be governor of California, Clemens said that while it may have a negative effect now, a few years down the line it may be good for Newsom to be seen as the father of gay marriage in California. “Four years from now,” said Clemens, “it will be a badge of honor.”

Daly done as a demon? District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly’s days as an effective bogeyman for opponents such as the Apartment Association, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and others seeking to bring the city’s moderate and conservative voters to the polls may be done, according to Alex Clemens of Barbary Coast Consulting and David Latterman of Fall Line Analytics.

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Obama should make early appointment of environment, energy heads

November 6, 2008

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has sent clear signals that he intends to move swiftly to start the transition from the Bush administration to his own. However, two areas to which Obama should devote his early attention aren’t traditional priorities: the environment and energy.

Two important policy areas that are almost universally considered urgent priorities for the next president are defense (including domestic national security) and the economy. That makes sense, and of course to run daily business he also needs administrators and advisors such as Rahm Emanuel, an early pick for chief of staff.

But Obama takes office at a time when the environment and energy take positions of great importance, elevating them beyond the second- or third-tier priorites (or lower) they have occupied under earlier administrations. In fact, the environment and energy now are so intimately bound up with the physical and economic security of the United States that I think it makes sense for Obama to address energy and the environment at the same level of importance as national security and the economy.

Obama is in a unique position to do two things if he makes environmental and energy problems top-tier priorities: 1) increase national security by demoting foreign oil to the status of a useful but not critical commodity, by powering more and more of this country with other energy sources (former CIA Director R. James Woolsey goes even further and identifies all oil, not just that from foreign producers, as a security threat), and 2) rejuvenate the economy by making the United States a world leader in the research and development of those viable alternative energy sources.

Whether he sticks with the traditional cabinet structure, creates a new cabinet position, decides to task existing cabinet members with new responsibilities or chooses some other method, the president-elect should act early to address the environment, energy, national security and the economy as a cohesive set of interrelated issues.

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Observations on San Francisco’s November 2008 election, part 1

November 6, 2008

On Wednesday I attended the post-election analysis SPUR hosts after each San Francisco election, and as usual I picked up a couple of interesting pieces of information. Some of them are items that are transitory and likely to change as early as Friday, when San Francisco election officials are scheduled to do their first re-ordering of votes for local offices under the city’s ranked-choice voting system. Nevertheless, I think you’ll find many of them interesting and useful. This is only a taste — more to come in a later post.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over. As of lunchtime Wednesday, the San Francisco Department of Elections still had about 100,000 votes left to count. Even divided by SF’s 11 districts, that’s enough that it could still affect some outcomes, particularly in close district contests where the total number of votes cast is somewhere around 15,000 to 18,000.

Patriotic hipsters? Gabriel Metcalf, director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, summed up the unique quality that the Barack Obama candidacy for president brought to the entire November election season: “Never did I think I would be walking down Valencia Street and hear hipsters singing the national anthem.”

It’s just a jump to the left. According to David Latterman of Fall Line Analytics, some San Francisco supervisor districts have experienced a significant shift, becoming more liberal. Latterman, along with Prof. Richard DeLeon of San Francisco State University, produces the Progressive Voter Index, a measurement on a scale of 0 to 100 of how “progressive” — or liberal — parts of San Francisco are. The PVI is relative only to other neighborhoods in the city and doesn’t measure how progressive areas are in comparison with any areas outside of San Francisco. Latterman says that some neighborhoods, including District 1 and, most notably, District 11, have become significantly more progressive than they were two years ago.

Dems halt slide. According to Latterman, the Democratic Party increased the number of voters registered under its banner by about 2 percent this year. That’s a pretty good bump for the Dems, particularly in light of the fact that they had been steadily losing voters over the past few elections, as more and more people registered as “decline to state” voters.

GOP registration down again. While the Democrats added voters this time, San Francisco Republicans (yes, they do exist) continued to lose registered voters.

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Obama reveals his sword arm: Rahm Emanuel

November 6, 2008

In one of his first decisions as president-elect of the United States, Barack Obama has chosen a top House

Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel

Democrat and fellow Chicagoan to be his White House chief of staff.

With a reputation as a tough political fighter who isn’t afraid to get in people’s faces to get things done, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel is likely to be enforcer and gatekeeper — and a mulitpurpose surrogate for the president whenever he needs to have his way but doesn’t want to be the bad guy.

Right now, Washington Republicans are singing a shrill tune to the effect that Emanuel represents an inappropriately partisan choice when Obama had said he wanted to govern from the center. Whatever. They know very well that one appointment isn’t an indicator of the tone of a whole presidency, and they understand that somebody in the White House needs to be the person who decides how business is conducted and who gets the president’s ear. They’re probably just angry they’ll have to go through a jerk they can’t stand in order to see the president. Besides, every leader needs his Luca Brasi (and speaking of Luca Brasi, Emanuel supposedly once mailed a dead fish to a former colleague after they parted ways).

This isn’t Emanuel’s first time around the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, by the way. He was senior adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998.

Rahm Emanuel’s House web page

Wikipedia’s entry on Rahm

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Making sense of San Francisco’s Nov. 2008 election

November 5, 2008

If your head’s in a spin trying to take in the results of yesterday’s election and you live in San Francisco, take a long lunch this afternoon and pop over to SPUR’s post-election analysis. Expert political numbers man David Latterman and the witty and astute Alex Clemens will explain what happened at the polls yesterday — and how it fits into the context of local electoral politics.

The focus of SPUR’s election analyses usually is on San Francisco, but this time it’s certain to include discussions of the state and federal elections as well.

This regular event has grown over the years into a required piece of post-election analysis for everyone interested in San Francisco elections, so expect a crowded room along with unique insights.

It starts at 12:30 p.m. and runs to 2 p.m., tacking on an additional 30 minutes this time to handle the huge ballot. Five bucks for non-members and free for all SPUR members. San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, 312 Sutter St. at Grant Avenue (an easy walk from BART or the Muni Metro, with limited bike parking right out front). Note that this event takes place not in SPUR’s offices, but rather on the second-floor meeting room of the World Affairs Council.

SPUR

David Latterman’s Fall Line Analytics

Alex Clemens’ Barbary Coast Consulting


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John McCain quits campaign on a classy note

November 4, 2008

In spite of a few raucous boos from the audience, Arizona Sen. John McCain capped his 2008 campaign for the

Sen. Jouhn McCain

Sen. John McCain

presidency of the United States tonight with a concession speech that recalled the dignity and grace of the way he conducted himself in the early stages of his campaign.

The late-stage McCain campaign went into the ditch in a number of ways, not only losing the race for the White House but also tarnishing the senator’s reputation in the process. McCain, however, reclaimed a big part of his personal reputation with his concession speech. He admitted defeat but also urged his supporters to consider the good of the country and work with the next president.


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Barack Obama wins election, makes history

November 4, 2008

Remember this night well, because it’s something you’ll tell your grandchildren about, even if you voted for the other

Obama stencil found on sidewalk in San Francisco Aug. 24, 2008

Obama stencil found on sidewalk in San Francisco Aug. 24, 2008

guy. Barack Obama has been elected the next president of the United States of America.

Obama’s election as the first African-American president is a watershed moment, and if this great country is very lucky it will be a moment that inspires a new generation of Americans to work for the common good, to strive for and achieve things they had perceived as out of their reach, to recognize that the promise of this nation is and always has been theirs.

Tonight is a night to remember.


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