Pundits Mock Mickey Kaus's Devastating California Defeat

Vowing to make a statement, the contrarian blogger won 5.3 percent of the vote

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Contrarian Slate blogger Mickey Kaus never expected to win his campaign for California's Democratic primary against popular 18-year incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer. But he probably hoped to do a little better than this: Kaus secured 5.3 percent of the vote against Boxer's 80.5 percent. Second place went to relative unknown Brian Quintana, a film producer. What exactly can we learn--if anything--from this devastating defeat?


  • Fewer Votes Than Orly Taitz  The Washington Post's David Weigel kept a running comparison of the votes reported for Mickey Kaus versus those reported for "birther queen" and California Secretary of State long-shot candidate Orly Taitz. Weigel labeled his updated "#vanitycandidatesmackdown." His last, at about midnight Eastern time: "Kaus: 29,684 -- Taitz: 118,316"
  • Didn't Even Win 'Protest Votes'  The New Republic's Jonathan Chait writes, "In low-turnout elections where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, it's not uncommon for a non-trivial share of voters to cast some kind of protest vote. Some of them will vote for Mickey Mouse. California Democrats got the next best thing -- a chance to vote for Mickey Kaus." Chait surveys past California Democratic Senate primaries and found that Kaus actually got less than the usual amount of such "protest votes." He sighs, "I think Kaus peaked too soon."
  • Kaus: I Sent a Clear Message  The statement from his campaign website: "I’m a blogger. I spent about $40,000. I had one part-time aide, a recent college grad who was prepping for his LSATs. We had no headquarters, no pollsters, no highly paid strategists and consultants. We had a couple of laptops and an old Volvo. And we still ripped off more than 100,000 votes from a three term incumbent because there is a large group of voters who are dissatisfied with the prevailing dogma of the Democratic party. ... The pols are leading us down a dead end. This election has shown their weakness."
  • Winning Not the Point  The New York Times' Janelle Brown writes, "Kaus has thrown himself into his quixotic campaign with surprising earnestness, undeterred by his prospects (grim) and general diagnosis (insane). He is the first person to admit that he has absolutely no chance of becoming California’s next Senator, but contends that this is not really the point. He says he is running as a protest candidate in order to draw attention to his pet issues."
  • Couldn't Even 'Shake Up The Dialogue'  The Los Angeles Times' Robin Abcarian, who calls Kaus "pretty jolly for a guy who is about to go down in flames in his first political run," suggests that Kaus's impact is so small that he won't even get a chance to introduce his pet issues--weaker labor unions and tighter immigration policies--to the state-wide conversation.
  • Back to Blogging?  The Washington Post's David Weigel predicts, "10 bucks says failed Senate candidate Mickey Kaus's first post-campaign blog post will mock unions over" the Arkansas Senate race.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.