Press Avail: California Political Scientist Dr. Michael Shires is Available to Comment on November 2 Election Issues, Polls and Candidates

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Pepperdine University Professor and California Political Scientist Dr. Michael Shires is Available to Comment on November 2 Election Issues, Polls and Candidates

Malibu, CA (Vocus) October 28, 2010

Broadcast media outlets: Pepperdine’s live feed broadcast studio is available for bookings. During the election period, we are waiving our fees for studio usage.

Dr. Shires’ talking points:

Overview of election November 2010:

  •     Races getting tighter by the day
  •     Current races between Brown/Whitman and Boxer/Fiorina are highly unpredictable
  •     Polls are all over the place: Brown up 7, Brown up 14, Brown up 4, etc. We are not sure who is going to show to vote and pollsters have to guess in order to create their projections
  •     Latinos are traditionally unpredictable and the debate over Whitman's housekeeper has brought some of the fractures to the surface (as does the split over Maldonado)
  • in campaign for Lieutenant Governor may get more to the polls if they are solid Whitman-Fiorina voters
  •     The fading of Prop 19 shows some weakness on the left end of the political spectrum, making it hard to read whether the current narrow leads in the polls are real
  •     One thing we do know is that it is getting late enough that a lot of voters have already cast their ballots via absentee (58 percent in the June primary, 62 percent in the May 2009 special election and 42 percent in the November 2008 election)
  •     Many of those left are undecided, so there is still a real opportunity for the electoral result to shift
  •     Voter discontent and backlash could affect turnout; they are tired of the ads
  •     Some have actually stopped watching TV to avoid them

Governor's race

  •     Specific turnout key
  •     Next governor not only inherits the current budgetary mess, unemployment and the implications of AB32, they also get to preside over the new legislative boundaries that will shape the state's politics for the next decade
  • A Brown win coupled with passage of Prop 27 and failure of Prop 20 guarantees Democratic domination of the

California ballot for at least the next decade

  •     Traditional key Democrat constituencies MUST show for Brown
  •     Organized labor key to Brown and mixed
  •     Public safety wedge could matter A LOT
  •     Hispanics unknown - often times they poll in favor of Brown, but the population is unpredictable and turnout is unreliable
  •     Whitman's prospects ride on perceptions about the economy
  •     Voters generally believe that she is better on the economy and jobs - may swing voters in the booth (or their living room)
  •     Running without key social conservative base -- big issue because they often mobilize the vote, especially on election day -- not excited about Whitman, but terrified of Brown
  •     Tea Party key and economic moderates key for Whitman
  •     Maybe some inroads in Latino and other traditional Democrat strongholds

Senate race:

  •     Boxer’s lead still not certain
  •     Significant spillover from governor's race - if folks show to vote Whitman, then they will most likely vote Fiorina
  •     National money and commercials have had a strong impact for Boxer
  •     Voter turnout will drive the result
  •     In most states, Tea Party has a role - in CA it only matters if there is a downward bump in traditional Democrat turnout

Social initiatives

  •     Prop 19 - Marijuana Legalization
  •     Social issues like this tend to trend favorable and then collapse at the polls
  •     Support is eroding and there is less than majority in some polls. At this point, a Prop usually needs 55 percent or more to pass
  •     Gay marriage, for example, polls favorably but loses at the polls
  •     Reforms of 3-strikes tend to poll okay separate from elections, but lose at the polls

Business climate initiatives

  •     Prop 23 - repeal of AB32
  •     Trends against it surprising in some ways - BIG economic issue
  •     Demonization hurt it - Texas oil companies
  •     Not enough local faces attached to it even though LA is the nation's largest manufacturing area
  •     Californians are very protective of their environment
  •     Opponents have been effective at defining it as a public health and environmental issue
  •     Proponents have not yet been able to get their story of lost jobs across to voters
  •     Many local businesses have already accepted it and moved strategically in response, and now there is a divide in the business community
  •     Prop 24 - roll back tax deductions for businesses
  •     Appears to be losing
  •     Union move to reverse deal made at depths of the recession
  •     Failing in part due to voter fatigue partially because opponents have been effective in making it about local jobs
  •     Proponents have tried to make it about kids

State finance initiatives

  •     Prop 22 - Prevents “borrowing” of transportation, redevelopment and other monies
  •     Prop 25 - Eliminates 2/3 budget vote (ahead)
  •     Voters opposed to party power
  •     This one is bucking the general voter trend, partially out of disgust over the ineffectiveness of the legislature to pass something reasonable over the past several years
  •     Routinely do their best to limit the ability of elected officials
  •     Nonpartisan primary, term limits, supermajority tax requirements, redistricting reform, etc.
  •     Prop 26 - Requires certain fees be approved by 2/3 popular vote
  •     Again, do not trust elected leaders
  •     Want functionality (some glimmer of why Prop 25 on supermajority is meeting some success) but don't trust them
  •     Prop 21 - State parks initiative
  •     This may well be the prototype for the future
  •     Voters will be asked to look at specific funding for a specific state agency
  •     Brown has vowed to take new taxes to the voters
  •     Whitman will likely have to take any major initiatives to balance to the voters to get around an uncooperative legislature

Political initiatives

  •     Redistricting is on the ballot again - both ways
  •     Prop 20 - expands redistricting from state offices to include federal congressional districts
  •     Put in to place to guarantee incumbent seats (e.g. Republican residents were concentrated in districts with Republican representatives; Democrats were concentrated into districts that had Democrat representatives)
  •     Gerrymandering used extensively
  •     Initiative takes this ability out of legislature's hands and into a citizens' commission like Prop x on the June ballot
  •     Prop 27 - Undoes Prop 11 from the November 2008 ballot and returns the authority to redistricting to the legislature after the 2010 census

About Dr. Shires:

Michael A. Shires, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Murray S. Craig Digital Democracy Lab
Pepperdine University School of Public Policy

Areas of Expertise

  •     State, regional and local politics, finance, policy
  •     State and local budgets and school finance
  •     California politics and policy
  •     Housing and economics of the San Fernando Valley
  •     Ethics and accountability of government officials
  •     Higher education policy

Michael Shires is an associate professor of public policy and the director of the Murray S. Craig Digital Democracy Laboratory, an initiative examining ways that technology can enhance government official accountability. He previously was a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and a doctoral fellow at RAND's Graduate School of Policy Studies, concentrating on domestic education policy, California fiscal policy and international trade policy.

Some of his completed works include Our Future Neighborhoods: Housing and Urban Villages in the San Fernando Valley, The Future of Public Undergraduate Education in California, The Changing Tax Burden in California, and Patterns in California State and Local Government Revenues Since Proposition 13.

Shires has been quoted as an expert in several publications including USA Today, the Economist, the London Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury-News, the Sacramento Bee, the Los Angeles Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the Orange County Register, Time, and Newsweek. In addition, he has appeared as a commentator on shows including CNN's Moneyline, KCET's Life and Times Tonight, KCBS-TV news, and KCAL 9 news.


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Molly Drobnick
Pepperdine University
(310) 506-6586
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