California, here we come?

The Romney campaign had a governing thesis. The thesis that Obama would be judged on the basis of his administration’s economic record, specifically including the dire unemployment that has come to characterize Obama’s tenure in office so far. It was a reasonable thesis, but in the event it misfired.

The thesis wasn’t entirely mistaken. It was partially correct. The national exit poll reported by the AP showed the economy was by far the leading issue on voters’ minds.

Fifty-nine percent of voters said the economy was the biggest issue facing the country, about the same percentage as 2008. Whatever came next (health care, 18 percent, and the deficit, 15 percent) wasn’t even close.

Yet the electorate did not on average hold Obama’s pitiful record against him. Voters split about equally on the question of which candidate would better handle the economy — here I am drawing directly from the AP report — and about half said former President George W. Bush is more to blame for the current economic problems, while 4 in 10 laid the blame with the current president. (Among conservative commentators, Bill Kristol frequently raised concerns regarding the possible inefficacy of the Romney campaign’s narrow focus on the economy.)

All of has made me wonder if California is a harbinger of our future. Its economy is in a pitiful condition. It just voted to raise taxes substantially on its most productive citizens. Its Hispanic population (legal and illegal) is large and growing. And it has become a one-party state. T

The citizens of San Francisco and other progressive outposts in the state could use the help of the friends it cultivated in the heyday of the sister city movement. They might have some advice about how to resurrect a multiparty system from the ashes of a one-party state. (It appears that San Francisco wanted to link up with Leningrad, but Mayor Dianne Feinstein relented on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Shanghai is now San Francisco’s sister city.)

In the current issue of the Weekly Standard, Charlotte Allen looks on California and sees “Decline and fall.” At the Orange County Register, Mark Landsbaum looks on California and sees our future.

FOOTNOTE: Deploying his expertise to his own review of the results, Michael Barone sees a mixed picture. It’s only partially grim.

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