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High Voter Apathy and Amped-Up Fears About Crime Shaped California Primaries

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08.06.2022

There are three main takeaways from California’s elections this week.

First, the level of voter apathy ought to send a shudder through the political establishment. Voter turnout was shockingly low. Despite all 22 million registered voters in the state being sent mail-in ballots weeks ago, as of Election Day, only 18 percent of ballots had been returned early.

Voters’ fury at high inflation and, in particular, high gasoline prices, as well as the sense of lingering anxiety unleashed by the pandemic, didn’t necessarily translate to a tsunami against California’s Democratic state leadership; but it did result in a mass abstention from an election that generated precious little of the political passion and engagement that became something of a routine during former President Donald Trump’s years.

With voter turnout flagging on Election Day itself, the percentage of voters taking part in the election was hovering somewhere around 25 percent, which was the record low for participation set during the primary elections in 2014. Contrast this with the June primary elections two years ago, when nearly half of all registered voters cast their ballots.

Second, of those who voted, most stuck with the marquee-name Democrats. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla all cruised to large primary wins, and all head into November’s election with what ought to be insurmountable leads in the opinion polls. Despite the sense of angst throughout the electorate, this didn’t translate to an automatic tilt rightward across the board. In other words, whatever the hype in the media in the next few days, California as a whole isn’t about to shift red.

In fact, in at least one of the GOP congressional seats in the state, the 41st a Republican incumbent stumbled badly. In the 41st, Rep. Ken Calvert appears to have won roughly 43 percent of the vote, which put him eight points up on his nearest Democratic rival but far behind the total Democratic vote, split between two candidates, of about 50 percent. Come November, these numbers give Democrats more than a fighting chance of picking up the seat.

Meanwhile, in the 22nd District, currently represented by Republican David Valadao, who was one of a handful of GOP congressmembers who voted to impeach Trump in........

© Truthout


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