California Stays Blue as Barbara Boxer Hangs in There

Is the Golden State ahead of the curve or behind it?

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Though Senator Barbara Boxer hasn't always inspired strong feelings among California voters, they still sent her back to Washington on Tuesday, granting the Democratic incumbent a fourth term instead of throwing in with challenger Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. It's one of two major victories for California Democrats, the other being the reinstatement of Jerry Brown as governor. Few seem surprised at Fiorina's defeat--she was a Republican running in California, after all, and people haven't forgotten about the demon sheep ad--but Democrats are still celebrating Boxer's re-election, which runs contra the national anti-incumbent mood (and distracts from the sting of losses elsewhere).

  • Who Voted for Boxer?  Susan Pinkus at CBS News provides the breakdown. Boxer voters tend to support expanding the health care law or leaving it as is; they're largely in favor of allowing "undocumented workers to apply for legal status," a divisive question in California. Pinkus also notes that "nearly three out of five women voters are supporting Boxer, while male voters give Boxer a slim three point advantage"; that "all age groups, except for those voters who are 65 and over support Boxer"; and that "voters in all education levels support Boxer over her opponent."

  • No Tea for the Golden State, Thanks  For Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts at The Huffington Post, the California returns are a repudiation of Republican and Tea Party ideology. "The raging red wave that swept across the country crashed against the Sierra Nevada and washed back," the authors write. "The victories of Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer in the nation's largest and most diverse state--with an electorate that is increasingly younger, more Latino and more non-partisan--represented a counterpoint to the Beltway notion that America is in the throes of a massive and structural shift to the ideological right."

  • Boxer's a Sign of California's Regression, says Denis Boyles at National Review. "In California, once understood to be the place where the American future dawned, overtaxed and defeated voters reached back in time to elect as their governor Jerry Brown, the eight-track-tape of American politicians," Boyle writes. "The last time Jerry was elected governor, in 1978, Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy, and Happy Days were leading ABC's prime-time line-up ... Along for the ride: Barbara Boxer, who was first elected to public office (Marin County's board of supervisors) at the same time other forward-thinkers, like Jimmy Carter, came to power. If Moose and Squirrel had been on the ticket in California, they'd have won, too." Boyles concludes that "California's politics are now lost in the mists of time."

  • They're Gluttons for Punishment Over There, thinks Jennifer Rubin at Commentary: "California seems determined to pursue liberal statism to its logical conclusion (bankruptcy)."

  • As Cali Goes, So Goes the Nation (Eventually)  At Mother Jones, Josh Harkinson makes the case that California had its anti-incumbent, Tea Party moment a few years ago, before the Tea Party itself came about. And, Harkinson says, "the California experience also suggests that none of this will last. Fed up with the state's fiscal gridlock, voters passed a referendum yesterday that stripped the GOP of its cherished supermajority requirement for passing a budget. They decided that hothead outsiders might not accomplish as much as veteran legislators (Governor-elect Jerry Brown and returning Senator Barbara Boxer are both long-time politicians) ... If California is any indication, the Republican wildfire of 2010 will be hot, but it won't last long enough to keep the tea pot boiling."

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