Election 2018

Feinstein Breezes to Victory, Collapsing that 'Challenged from the Left' Narrative

But once again, California voters will get a choice between two Democrats for the Senate in November.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

A lot of ink (and pixels) was spilled over the fact that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) lost the support of her own state party for her re-election. Members of the California Democrats instead threw their endorsement to one of her many challengers, state Senate leader Kevin de Leon.

Well the results of yesterday's primaries aren't official, but unless some sort of miracle happens, Feinstein absolutely wiped the floor with de Leon. With more than 97 percent of the vote counted, Feinstein is ahead of de Leon, 43.9 percent to 11.9 percent.

At least de Leon hit double-digits. Most other Democratic challengers didn't even hit 1 percent. If you added up the votes of every Democratic challenger to Feinstein and combined them, they didn't even get half as many votes as she did.

The good news for de Leon (and the bad news for Californians who want actual election choices) is that he'll probably get a second chance to unseat Feinstein in November. De Leon is currently ahead of the top Republican challenger, James P. Bradley, who has 8.8 percent of the vote. Thanks to California's terrible "top two" primary, Californians will have the "choice" of two Democrats on the November ballot. The same thing happened in 2016, allowing Kamala Harris to breeze her way into the Senate on the strength of institutional support and name recognition. Many Californians who cast their ballots didn't even bother with the Senate election because of the lack of actual choices. Don't be surprised if that happens again this November.

I joked yesterday that this was the "National Media Finally Learn How California's Elections Work" primary. The Golden State's elections typically do not get huge amounts of national attention, given how predictable our voting habits are (both in the blue coastal enclaves and the red inland communities). But the midterms this year are all about whether there's a real "blue wave" that could change which party controls Congress. The possibility that some seats in California could change party hands led to increased coverage of California politics, and curiosity about whether the state's increasingly Democratic cast meant that Feinstein (a nannyish big-government liberal who consistently supports the national security state and has only recently finally come around on marijuana legalization) was no longer "left" enough for Californians. This sudden interest resulted in some "Is Feinstein going to lose her primary?" analysis from folks who didn't quite seem to understand the way California's system works. Once journalists grasped the system, the story became about whether the open primaries could lead to Democrats being "locked out" of the November vote in some important House races. That does not appear to be happening.

Feinstein's easy win here is as a corrective to the narrative there's some sort of insurgent, even-further-left-wing, socialist/progressive, Bernie Sanders–fueled takeover of the Democratic Party brewing. Such an insurgency obviously exists, but we're not seeing indicators that it represents the party's future. It's more a growing sense among some people that the party doesn't represent them.

Not that Republicans in California are faring any better. As of the end of May, more voters in California are registered as independents than as Republicans. But thanks to California's run-off elections, the fall ballot won't reflect the diversity of the voters' political identities.

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  1. A lot of ink (and pixels) was spilled

    No, those pixels are in the right place. She always has that ‘melting witch’ look.

    1. Hey, she’s 84. She’s in the prime of her life!

  2. Thanks to California’s terrible “top two” primary, Californians will have the “choice” of two Democrats on the November ballot.

    What’s terrible about that? Libertarians should hope more states follow California’s lead and evolve into single-party Democratic control.

    1. You, good sir, are evidence that satire – not lazy sarcasm, but genuine satire – is not a lost art form.

      Kudos!

      1. Please, don’t encourage him. If you stick around long enough his shtick will get old very quickly.

        1. It hasn’t gotten old yet, mainly because it’s still drawing flies on occasion. Also, it’s usually a good parody of the well-intentioned liberal. OBL is someone I enjoy seeing around. Good luck to you, madam!

  3. She’s still a feckless cunt.

    -jcr

    1. An ugly, but rich one.

  4. California’s terrible “top two” primary

    It is terrible. For diversity’s sake, it should be “top five” at least.

  5. We must stop re-electing the same people.

    1. 12 year Congressional term limits would be great things.

    2. Yes, by all means, re-elect different people…

    3. Incumbency is only as powerful as voters make it.

  6. But thanks to California’s run-off elections, the fall ballot won’t reflect the diversity of the voters’ political identities.

    A problem by no means limited to California.

  7. The primary had eleventy different candidates and they couldn’t combine to defeat Feinstein. Let’s stop pretending that the voters don’t want Feinstein.

    1. It’s probably less an appreciation of Feinstein’s millennia of “public service,” and more that good old fashioned combination of ignorance and apathy – voters recognize the name Feinstein on the ballot and don’t care enough to learn anything else about the race.

      1. Could also be a “better the devil you know” kind of situation.

      2. I’m sure she’ll win again in 6 years when she’s a sprightly 90.

        1. By lich standards, she’s practically a toddler.

  8. As of the end of May, more voters in California are registered as independents than as Republicans.

    In NJ there are more independents than either major party, but everyone knows which way they lean.

    1. but everyone knows which way they lean.

      To whichever side Chris Christie is on?

      1. It’s difficult to overcome Newtonian physics.

      2. whoever made it clear of him when he sat down anyway

        1. A crushing criticism.

  9. Feinstein’s easy win here is as a corrective to the narrative there’s some sort of insurgent, even-further-left-wing, socialist/progressive, Bernie Sanders?fueled takeover of the Democratic Party brewing.

    Yeah, incumbency (i.e. voter laziness) trumps any impulse to elect some new person. But the march to the left is real. Therefore I fully expect Feinstein to lurch farther to the left in order to take advantage of it, just like Cuomo is doing in NY.

    1. Therefore I fully expect Feinstein to lurch farther to the left in order to take advantage of it, just like Cuomo is doing in NY.

      An “upside” to Feinstein is that she’s 84 and pretty thoroughly calcified. She’s not “lurching” anywhere but the grave at this point.

      1. True enough, the same goes for a lot of prominent politicians on both sides of the aisle. It’s the ‘new’ generation of younglings that seem to be twisting further to the left, and I suppose it remains to be seen how much further to the left, if any, they really are than their forebears.

        Judging by idiot college students has never really made any sense to me, it’s not like they even vote but somehow they tend to be quoted more often than other groups. I guess it’s funny and gets clicks, but not a good barometer.

  10. Feinstein Breezes to Victory, Collapsing that ‘Challenged from the Left’ Narrative

    Feinstein is part of “The Left”.

    1. In the SF Bay Area, she is considered “part of the Right,” just like Gavin Newsome.

      1. I am sure that you are correct.

        Anyone to the right of Stalin is part of the right-wing to those people.

  11. Once journalists grasped the system, the story became about whether the open primaries could lead to Democrats being “locked out” of the November vote in some important House races. That does not appear to be happening.

    It’s too bad it didn’t happen. It would be poetic justice if the Democrat Party got shafted by a rule it put in place to shut out other parties so that California could emulate the Soviet Union as closely as possible.

    1. Both want the same thing–socialist utopia on Earth.

    2. Abel Maldonado and Arnold Schwarzenegger were not Democrats.

      1. In name, anyway. If anything, I think Arnold’s victory is proof that name recognition really does trump everything else.

    3. It was mostly Republicans (party-wise) & moderates (ideologically) who promoted top-2. Republicans thought it would advantage them in some districts where a profusion of Democrat candidates would divide the primary vote. Moderates thought it would encourage middle-of-the-road candidates & diminish the chances of extremists winning respective party nominations; this was the closest reform they thought they could achieve short of nonpartisan elections they’d’ve actually preferred.

      The funny thing to me is that IRV supporters who express opinions about top-2 online mostly oppose it, when it was also an achievable reform that’s partway to what they ostensibly want. It’s a runoff, just limited to 2 in a single runoff round, rather than a series of runoffs, and it’s not instant. What actually acc’ts for this disconnect is that most of these IRV supporters want voters to pay att’n mostly to an election where all parties get an equal # of nominees on the ballot, & care mostly not about winning, but getting some noticeable # of votes (or even just a label on the ballot where everyone is there to vote for major candidates instead) for “education” purposes.

  12. Di-Fi’s gonna be outflanked on the *left*?

  13. As of the end of May, more voters in California are registered as independents than as Republicans. But thanks to California’s run-off elections, the fall ballot won’t reflect the diversity of the voters’ political identities.

    As if token candidates under other labels in the gen’l election would reflect diversity of the voters? I’m sure there were lots of independent candidates in the primaries, they just didn’t come in as high as #2 in a type of election where in some districts a rather low % would be enough to get them into the final.

  14. Alt text: “Me? Really? Who’d’ve figured?”

  15. Members of the California Democrats instead threw their endorsement to one of her many challengers . . .

    I hear Feinstein is in the process of having a big new wine cellar built.

  16. California should suspend all elections for the next 20 years and just operate as a communist dictatorship. Feinstein can die in office but not before bequeathing her office to the woman of her choice.

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