LOW TURNOUT: In a primary day marked by historically low turnout across the country (excepting Wisconsin), several noted Independent and Third Party candidates came up short in California’s new “top two” open primary system. Although 197,633* California voters cast ballots for No Party Preference, Green, and Libertarian candidates in open primaries around the State, several well financed Independent candidates considered contenders did not advance to a November runoff election, finishing in third place or lower when the votes were tallied.
WISCONSIN: One exception to the low turnout trend was the Wisconsin Recall election, where incumbent Governor Scott Walker survived a challenge by Democrat Tom Barrett by a wider margin than many pundits expected. Independent candidate (and frankly, sideshow) Hari Trivedi managed to garner 1% of votes cast, and his campaign will likely be remembered more for the puzzling low production value Super Bowl Commercial he ran than his overall candidacy.
OUTSIDE MONEY: At least $63.5 million dollars were spent by Candidates and Independent groups in the Wisconsin Recall, and what’s even more troubling is how much of it came from out of state. Although “soft money” has been a problem in politics since well before Citizens United, Governor Walker’s ability to pull in campaign cash from out of state allowed him to outspend Barrett by a margin of at least 7.5-1, ensuring a comfortable victory. The outside spending in the Wisconsin Recall was so obscene that even noted Republican figures like Greta Van Susteren complained, despite the fact that it was in her personal electoral interest. The following graphic showing the amount of Wisconsin versus out of state recall spending speaks for itself, and is certainly troubling for our Democracy as a whole.
BLOOMFIELD: Only one Independent, Bill Bloomfield of California’s 33rd Congressional district advanced to the November runoff ballot in a contested primary. However, Broomfield could very well be called an IINO (Independent in name only), as he defected from the GOP in 2011 and was endorsed by John McCain, Pete Wilson, and several other prominent California GOP figures. Stay tuned this summer to see if Broomfield continues to preach the no party preference gospel, or if he reveals his true colors as a Republican in Independent’s clothing.
FLETCHER: Despite his well publicized switch from GOP to Independent, San Diego Mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher ended up in 3rd place in the San Diego Mayoral election, and wasn’t close to forcing a runoff. Fletcher received 40,270 votes and 24% of the ballots cast, trailing Republican Carl DeMaio and Democrat Bob Filner who received 32% and 30% of the vote respectively. Fletcher may have also suffered from IINO syndrome, as his opponents repeatedly attacked his conservative record as an Assemblyman in the California State Legislature, and while his post-switch surge in the polls proved that publicly defecting from a party may be a viable electoral strategy, it may turn off non party preference voters looking for a genuine Independent candidate.
OTHERS: Elsewhere, well funded Independent candidates who mounted serious campaigns like Linda Parks and Chad Condit came up several thousand votes short, both finishing third place after two major party candidates. Three other Independents perfunctorily advanced to the November ballot the House running “unopposed” against one major party opponent; Marilyn Singleton of Oakland in the 13th district, Terry Phillips of Bakersfield in the 23rd district, and David Hernandez of North Hollywood in the 29th district. However, none of these candidates has a realistic shot of winning in November, as they’re challenging well funded and established incumbents.
*This figure includes votes cast all House races and the San Diego Mayoral election – we didn’t add California Presidential primary votes since it remains a “closed” primary