How’d We Do?

The California primary was exactly a week ago. On a frigid, cold night, self wended the backroads of Redwood City in search of the polling place, which had moved to a new location after 15+ years. Of course, self got lost (But, lest you think self is one who gives up at the merest adversity, self did persist, and self did get to cast her ballot on one of those new-fangled computerized machines)

Then, the next day, self was more than a little confused by the headlines, which were not about the primary results.

Finally, a week later, self reads an article in The New York Times (of Thursday, 7 Feb — yes, the week has been full of distractions and once again self is behind in her readings) that summarizes the results thus:

Among Republican voters, the victory of Senator John McCain of Arizona was far more decisive than even his campaign had expected. Mr. McCain cleaned up by taking all but two of the state’s 53 Congressional districts, each allocating three delegates to the party’s national convention.

Clearly, Mr. McCain enjoyed momentum from earlier contests, but also underlying his victory was the popularity of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who endorsed him, as well as an unusual split between religious and ideological conservatives in the state, who tend to vote in tandem, and California’s complex immigration politics.

For example, although Republican voters in California tend to express outrage toward Mr. McCain over his position on immigration, the state’s large agricultural swath also depends on workers — many of them here illegally — from Mexico and other countries.

“I think people are somewhere in the middle on immigration,” said Geri Byrne, the chairwoman of the Republican Party in Modoc County, a heavily agricultural area in the northeast corner of the state and one of the most conservative counties. “We don’t want amnesty, but we don’t want to close the borders, because the crops will not get picked. We want a guest worker program. That is where most of us are on that.”

As for the Democratic side, it seems there was a clear victory, and it went to Clinton (but this met with so little fanfare in the local press — read, SF Chronicle — that self is more than a bit confused). The New York Times breaks it down this way:

According to exit polls, African-Americans, who make up 9 percent of registered Democrats in California, constituted only 7 percent of those who voted in Tuesday’s primary, far below expectations.

By comparison, Mrs. Clinton remained strong among Hispanic voters — roughly 7 out of 10 pulled the lever for her here — perhaps suggesting that her campaign’s ground game among those voters was stronger than that of Senator Barack Obama among black voters, many of whom have enthusiastically embraced his candidacy nationwide. Twenty-nine percent of those who voted in the California Democratic primary are Hispanic, up from 16 percent in the 2004 Democratic primary.

Finally, the Times points out:

Mr. Obama’s strength in this state was among the most left-leaning Congressional districts as well as in counties like Mono County where Democrats are becoming viable for the first time in decades.

But what this all means, dear blog readers, is that the country has three fine candidates for President. And that, in self’s humble opinion, is what makes this particular election truly exciting.


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