We were up until 2am checking precinct returns and checking the LAT and other state papers. When we went to bed precincts were 78% counted and Phil had a 4% lead. Phil sent out his accouncement that he won (and updated his website) at 1:45. Xta says Westly actually conceded defeat at 1:15, but we didn't learn that until this morning. Final tally: Phil Angelides wins with 48.9% of the vote to Steve Westly's 43.4%. For a race that was neck-and-neck until the end, and in which our opponent spent $40M on dishonest TV and radio spots, a 4.5 point win is pretty good. And we got some good practice for November.
It's a weird feeling winning a primary... Elation, combined with the knowledge that the real campaign is just beginning and there's a long, uphill fight ahead. But still, I'm sufficiently pumped up from the win to be excited, even if it's a bit daunting.
We did pretty well in the other races too -- John Chiang won Controller, John Garamendi won LtGov, Debra Bowen won SecState, and Jerry Brown won AG. I voted for the winner in every statewide race that mattered. The library bond didn't pass, though on Forum this morning they were suggesting that it may be back, in a slightly modified incarnation, in the fall, when the turnout figures may favor it more. And there's some speculation that universal preschool might have a shot in the legislature, next term (or even this one, if Arnie wants to make a desperate display of bipartisanship in the early fall). The Santa Clara County bond to fund improvements at Foothill/DeAnza did pass.
Xta had an idea which I think is really cool, so I'm replicating it for folks that don't read her journal: I will buy a T-shirt or yard sign for the first five friends who ask, as long as you promise to actually wear it or put it up somewhere that California voters will see it (can be a visible window if you don't have a yard). I know you all may not be as pumped-up about Phil as Xta and I are, but he is now our official anti-Arnold (not just the one dubbed that by the LAT) and we really need Democrats to unite behind him this summer and fall.
We got firsthand evidence yesterday of how grassroots organizing can make a difference. I personally canvassed the houses of every Democrat in my neighborhood, with Xta along for some of the work. (We also did some of her neighborhood, and she did some work in Sunnyvale by herself.) Yesterday Xta and I were pollworkers for my home precinct. Usually that means only the eastern part of College Terrace, but, due to projected low turnout, the whole neighborhood was consolidated, so my entire canvassed population was present. Lots of people said hi, though of course I couldn't really discuss any of the things we'd previously talked about. Election days are my only non-partisan days, acting as an unbiased representative of the county. But at the end of the night Xta and I were pretty anxious for results, or exit polls, or whatever. When we were closing the polls, I observed the result listings scrolling by on the printers; on the three (of five) machines I got a look at, Phil was consistently beating Westly by a few votes. In the final tally Westly had a 3.1% lead in Santa Clara County -- his home turf. But I'm pretty sure he didn't win the precinct that his campaign headquarters was located in. It's around the corner from my townhouse, across the street from the little grocery store I shop at. I made it my turf, not his.
The papers are saying that, oh, Phil is "too liberal", and Arnie is "too popular", and the Republican consultant on Forum this morning was talking about how pleased Arnie must be to have such a "weak" opponent. Bull. Arnie's approval is still down around 40%, and his "strongly disapprove" score exceeds his "strongly approve". With people on the ground in every city, town, and unincorporated region (hi, El Sobranteans!) in the state, talking to their neighbors about who Phil is; what he's done; and how his fundamental intelligence, competence, and belief in service could do great things for our state... we can win. The stakes are too high to be blasé about it, or to make excuses to ignore what's going on.
If you're willing to put in even an hour a week, you can make a difference. We have a website (derived from Dean campaign code) that will serve up call or walk lists, along with a script that you can use. I personally adapt the script so that I can present it in a more authentic way, filling in the actual details of why I got behind Phil in the first place. I've skimmed the "issues" materials on the site, and I try to keep current on what the responses are to criticisms that have been tossed at us. If you're in Santa Clara County, and you're willing to work under the leadership of our nascent steering committee, we'll be doing that kind of homework for you -- getting info from the campaign leadership and disseminating it to our activists, and giving feedback to the campaign on what issues our people hear concern about, in the field. Even working independently, doing a call list straight from the script every now and then, helps to identify voters who are leaning our way, so we know who they are when GOTV time rolls around in late October.
Here's a link you can use to sign up. Fill in your own where it says "firstname.lastname@example.org":
The system also lets you locate people you know in the rolls, to "adopt" them. You take responsibility for sending them an email, or calling them, or otherwise making sure they get the message that you care about getting them to vote this fall, and believe Phil's worth supporting. This has the added advantage that it takes their name out of general circulation, so other volunteers won't bug them.
If you don't have time to canvass you can still give money -- every little bit helps; although we believe that we're going to win through person-to-person contact, we still want to at least not get shut out in the ad war. (And, of course, the money also goes to pay the bills at the Sacto HQ, for the overworked full-time staff, for the phonebanks running out of the office, and so on.)
I still enjoy hitting the streets a lot more than fundraising, though. And I think it's a lot more effective -- a lot of people won't be home, and a few will be rude; but most people are willing to at least give their neighbors a bit of consideration, and with so many people feeling overwhelmed by the soundbytes, and lacking of time to really study the issues, being identified as a real person, communicating sincere concerns, can make a huge impression.
Also, canvassing door-to-door is fun. You get some exercise, and meet your neighbors. A fair number of them are really interested in learning more. This may be more true in a race with many undecideds -- the final LATimes poll before the election still had something like 28% undecided, IIRC -- but I suspect some of the N-Ps, who make up almost a third of our state's voters, will be torn; they went for Arnie in '03 when he seemed like a moderate, but now they're not so sure. We met plenty of people, working on this race, whose attitude was, "Come in, come in! I have burning questions to ask!" On my last few times out, I had a lot of people asking about the ads.
In other news that Xta is promoting... John Tester won his race in Montana for the right to challenge Conrad Burns, currently the sitting Senator with the lowest approval rating -- yay corruption! Tester was the underdog in his race -- he was outspent 2:1 by his opponent, who had the backing of the DSCC and DLC. Polls not too long ago had him losing by a landslide, and instead he won decisively. Again, grassroots organizing -- getting actual human beings to go and talk to the voters -- played a big role. Tester himself crisscrossed his huge state to meet people at markets, town halls, and so on.