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Thursday, August 29, 2002

  0 comments

Although it failed to ask about potted plants, the new Public Policy Institute of California survey out today contains some interesting data. Gray Davis is leading Bill Simon by 11%, a margin that is up from 4% compared to a hypothetical matchup before the March primary. Davis' support has actually fallen from 44% to 41%, but Simon's support has fallen even more, to 30%. [The polling universe consisted of 993 likely voters out of 2014 adults, with a margin of error of +/- 3%, and was conducted between Aug. 14th and Aug. 21st.] Here are the details:

If the election for governor were being held today, would you vote for…

 

 

Likely Voters

 

Party

Region

 

All

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other

 

Likely

 

 

Ind/

Central

SF Bay

Los

Southern

 

Voters

Dem

Rep

Other*

Valley

Area

Angeles

California

Latino

Gray Davis

41%

69%

11%

31%

25%

47%

50%

37%

58%

Bill Simon

30%

8%

63%

19%

48%

16%

25%

37%

22%

Peter Miguel Camejo

4%

2%

0%

18%

3%

7%

1%

3%

3%

Gary David Copeland

4%

4%

4%

5%

4%

5%

3%

4%

4%

Reinhold Gulke

1%

1%

1%

4%

0%

2%

1%

1%

0%

Someone else

2%

2%

3%

2%

2%

1%

5%

2%

0%

Don't know

18%

14%

18%

21%

18%

22%

15%

16%

13%

*In this table, Californians registered to vote as independents (“decline-to-state”) and those registered with “third parties” are
combined. In all other tables, independents are reported separately. Party affiliations for the candidates are as follows: Davis
(Democrat), Simon (Republican), Camejo (Green), Copeland (Libertarian), and Gulke (American Independent).

 


There are a number of noteworthy items here: Simon is doing even worse with his Republican base than Davis is doing with his Democrat base. Davis' strengths are in the extremely liberal greater-San Francisco area and in the Los Angeles area (especially among the Latino electorate). Minor party candidates are taking a significant chunk of the vote, with the Green and Libertarian candidates tied at 4% each. However, Libertarian candidate Gary Copeland is attracting his 4% fairly equally from both major parties and independents and all areas of the state. Whereas Green candidate Peter Camejo gets 2% from Dems, 0% from Reps, and 18% from independents. Camejo is also strong in the San Francisco area (7%) and weak in Los Angeles (1%). Nor is Camejo attracting support based on shared ethnicity; so far he has only 3% of the Latino vote.

If we take these numbers at face value, and set aside for the moment all the usual caveats about rounding errors, standard deviations, subgroup sample sizes, etc., it would appear that Peter Camejo is producing a net drain of 2.5% to 3% from Gray Davis. Gary Copeland's impact is pretty much a wash, or at most a 0.5% net drain from Davis (given that there are more Democrats than Republicans in California).

The conventional wisdom is that Libertarians, who many pundits insist on pigeonholing as extreme right-wingers, draw more votes from Republicans than Democrats. Based on the above data, that does not seem to be the case this year in this race.

However, the convention wisdom is correct that Greens draw most of their votes from liberal Democrats. If Camejo were to gain enough momentum he could seriously endanger Gray Davis' re-election prospects, especially if more of the Latino vote moved in his direction.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this poll is that Bill Simon is still in the running. He's in big trouble, but he hasn't been blown out of the water. Yet.

Which strengthens my theory that if the Republicans had picked a potted plant instead of Simon, Gray Davis would be fertilizer by now.








Friday, August 23, 2002

  0 comments

I'm pleased to see that the Libertarian Party has added a notch to its belt in the continuing struggle to end the Drug War. On Tuesday, Georgia Congressman Bob Barr lost his Republican primary race, after being targeted by the Libertarian Party's Congressional candidate.

Now admittedly the main reason Barr lost was because he foolishly moved from a difficult-but-winnable district into a new, more-heavily-Republican district which was dominated by another incumbent Republican. And the magnitude of Bob Barr's defeat was so large that the Libertarian Party cannot claim sole responsibility for getting rid of him. But the LP undoubtedly contributed to his defeat.

I downloaded the anti-Barr ad and thought it was extremely well-produced and effective. Take a look at it. I think it's pretty obvious that the ad had to work to Barr's strong disadvantage among any voters who saw it. And with $40,000 spent to run the ad (both broadcast TV and 4,000 cable spots), a lot of voters saw it.

Although the ad didn't make a decisive difference in the outcome of the primary, and although it didn't alter the struggle over which major party will control the House of Representatives, it should have a very salutory influence on future races. Fervent Drug Warriors, be they Republicans or Democrats, have been sent a warning that their position has turned into a political detriment. A similar ad campaign could easily peel off several percentage points from a Drug Warrior's vote totals, and cost him or her the election in a tight race.

And that's the whole point. Republicans and Democrats often take their base constituencies for granted, but they can't take the Libertarian Party for granted and they can no longer ignore the impact of their Libertarian challengers. Libertarians are willing to aggressively attack them on the issues. Even if that doesn't translate directly into Libertarian votes it can translate into lost Republican or Democrat votes and lost elections.

It will take time, but eventually Republicans and Democrats will learn that the War On Drugs is a losing cause.








Wednesday, August 21, 2002

  0 comments

One more straw in the wind indicating that Davis is heading for re-election victory: According to this Sacramento Bee story, Davis has finally started getting inquiries about whether he'd be a Presidential candidate in 2004.

"I have no plans to run," he said. "I'm not doing anything like it." He strengthened his comments later, when asked whether he or Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a fellow Democrat who could not attend the conference because of a family illness, would make a stronger presidential candidate. "Well, he's running in 2004, and I'm not," Davis said.

Two months ago I raised the question of why Davis wasn't being hounded over this issue, the same way Pete Wilson was in 1994. The obvious explanation was that Davis' re-election prospects were so dicey that no one could seriously contemplate him making a Presidential run. These days his re-election prospects seem to be firming up rapidly.

If Gray Davis does indeed succeed in defeating a potted plant Bill Simon, and if in addition he wins by a landslide (a not-improbable scenario), then Davis will have the same opportunity as Wilson to repudiate his promise not to run for President.

Given Davis' monumental ego and ambition, I wouldn't put it past him.








Thursday, August 15, 2002

  0 comments

USS Clueless, by Steven Den Beste, has quickly become one of my favorite blogs, and I consume an inordinate amount of time reading his frequent, long, and fascinating posts.

Steve's comments today about John Fonte's article on Transnational Progressivism sent an eerie frisson through me as I recalled the "Tales of Continuing Time" series of science fiction books by Daniel Keyes Moran (especially The Long Run). The backdrop for Moran's "future history" portrays the United Nations as a victorious world-governing dictatorship, after it beat down military resistance from the still-rebellious-but-impotent United States of America. French elites dominate the UN behind a fading facade of democracy.

When I first read Moran's excellent books (which I heartily recommend), that aspect required a considerable suspension of my disbelief. It was hard to imagine a plausible path by which we would ever allow the United Nations' power to grow and swallow our sovereignty. Unfortunately the events of the past two years have delineated just such a path. The Kyoto Treaty, the International Criminal Court, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Treaty, the UN World Conference on Racism, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, etc. were all designed to elicit poltically-correct lip service from the United States. After all, who can possibly be in favor of evils like racism or discrimination or the destruction of the environment?

Once that ideological foundation was laid, there'd be a step-by-step process of acquiescence to transnational authority. No single intrusion on U.S. sovereignty or Constitutional protections would be enough to justify our taking a hard-line stand in the face of vociferous world opinion. And eventually the world's one remaining superpower would be bound like Gulliver in a web of restraints, and would no longer have the capacity to resist the inexorable rule of transnational law.

Much of this foundation was poured during the Clinton Administration. Clinton loved to give lip-service to these goals, even though he knew he couldn't actually get the treaties past the U.S. Senate. The Bush Administration has demonstrated surprising back-bone in refusing to go along, although it still tends to back-pedal a bit and look for ways to compromise. It's all still sitting there, and a future Administration could cave very quickly (for that matter, so could this one).

Steven Den Beste cites reasons for optimism that our Constitutional democracy will ultimately triumph over the forces of Transnational Progressivism. I hope he's right, but it is far from certain. As much as I enjoyed Moran's books, I'd really hate to see life imitate art in this case.








Tuesday, August 06, 2002

  0 comments

UPDATE: Los Angeles Times gets it right.

Give credit to the L.A. Times for an excellent news report on the anti-condemnation injunction. Here are some key excerpts from the story [link requires free registration]:

In a stinging 36-page opinion, a federal judge Tuesday ordered a temporary halt to the city of Cypress' plan to condemn church property in order to make way for a tax-generating Costco.

"The framers of the Constitution ... might be surprised to learn that the power of eminent domain was being used to turn the property over to a private discount retail corporation," U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter wrote.

...

"At first blush, the city's concern about blighting rings hollow," Carter said, asking why the city didn't clean up the property for more than a decade if this was the case. "Although some innocent explanations are feasible--such as new leadership or robust economic growth--the activity suggests that the city was simply trying to keep Cottonwood out of the city, or at least from the use of its own land."

He also called the city's revenue concerns "even more suspect than the concerns of blight," adding that Cypress has a 25% budget surplus.

Carter's ruling pleased advocates of religious freedom, especially for his citing of a religious land use act passed by Congress in 2000 to criticize the city's decision to seize the land. Also heartened were constitutional conservatives who believe local government has become too bold in taking private property to boost revenue.

* * * * *

Chalk up a victory for private property and religious freedom.

A judge has just issued an injunction preventing the City of Cypress from stealing "condemning" some land belonging to the Cottonwood congregation. Cottonwood wanted to build a new church, but the city council didn't want to waste precious real estate on a non-sales-tax-generating usage. Instead the city tried to seize the property through eminent domain and turn it over to Costco.

Technically this is just an injunction, and nothing final will be decided until a trial is held. But a quick reading of U.S. District Judge David O. Carter's detailed ruling indicates that Cottonwood is very likely to prevail at that trial. The judge applied "strict scrutiny" standards; questioned the city's finding of "blight" (plus the fact that constructing a church would eliminate any blight just as effectively as Costco); acknowledged that the new federal RLUIPA law properly addressed the situation; and questioned whether the forced transfer of the church's private property to a discount retail establishment constituted a legitimate "public use".

The Fifth Amendment "taking" clause is a dangerous and easily-abused power of government. When billionaires like Ted Turner can use eminent domain to grab land to augment their financial empires, and giant corporations like Costco can manipulate local governments to seize land they aren't able to buy (at a price that's mutually satisfactory to the buyer and seller), then there's no question such abuse is happening.

It good to see the judicial system finally stepping up to stop such condemnations stealing.










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