Barack Obama beat Carl DeMaio

Brian Brady Brian Brady


I said this Tuesday evening and I’ll say it again today; Barack Obama defeated Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner was along for the ride.  I’m not making excuses but it appears that the top of the ticket is going to have a lot of influence on the San Diego Mayoral general election in the future.

The North County Times explained that Interstate 8 was the dividing line in the San Diego Mayor’s Race.  In fact, DeMaio did even better than he did in June,  North of the 8, by picking up the Fletcher districts:

DeMaio did well in areas won in the June primary by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who did not make the fall runoff election. DeMaio picked up precincts in La Jolla, Del Mar Heights, Rancho Penasquitos and Rancho Bernardo that Fletcher won in June.


Would Nathan Fletcher have beaten Filner?  That’s highly unlikely.  Fletcher was Mitt Romney’s hand-picked Mayor and Romney didn’t even win the right-leaning San Diego County vote.  We don’t know the breakdown today but, when we see the Romney’s poor performance in the City of San Diego, it will seem like a near-miracle that a Republican could have won 48% of the vote in this election.  My guess is that Filner will finish with a margin of at least 5 percentage points less than President Obama did in the City of San Diego.

How did this happen?  HuffPo tells us that labor unions showed up and got the vote out:

“We did deliver those states,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the federation of labor unions. “Without organized labor, none of those would have been in the president’s column.”

The AFL-CIO’s election night polling, done by Hart Research, found that union members voted for Obama at a rate of 65 percent to Romney’s 33. The margins were even larger in the perennial battleground of Ohio, where issues like Obama’s auto industry rescue and outsourcing tied to Romney’s Bain Capital apparently had added resonance. Seventy percent of Buckeye State union voters backed Obama on Tuesday.

But unionized workers now comprise an ever-smaller slice of the voting populace, with the national unionization rate at just 12 percent. Organized labor’s larger contribution this election may have been its outreach to non-union voters, something that wasn’t possible until the legal changes brought about by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

In addition to flooding elections with corporate money through outside groups like super PAC’s, the ruling allowed unions and their volunteers to knock on the doors of non-members for the first time, vastly expanding organized labor’s canvassing and get-out-the-vote operations.


Some may argue that labor unions had no vested interest in California because the state was in the tank for President Obama but that ignores the lightning rod issue of Proposition 32.  California labor unions had a survival interest in getting the vote out in California and it worked.  Had Prop 32 not been on the ballot, the Democratic Party might not have won the super-majority in the State Senate or the Assembly.  As it turned out, the labor unions’ effort to defeat Prop 32, elect President Obama, and pass Prop 30 worked. The DeMaio loss was a clear casualty of the labor war.

Another tangential theory is that the Obama campaign went negative, as early as possible, to create a culture of disgust with the whole electoral process.  If you were at the first DeMaio/Filner debate, you see that Filner wasn’t much different.  By making outrageous claims, he may have driven thoughtful people away from this election rather than encouraging them to engage in the debate of issues DeMaio tried to advance.

DeMaio was a great candidate.  We got our asses handed to us because the unions hustled harder than we did.  When you consider the amount of money and free campaign labor they had, it’s remarkable we were able to play at the level we did.  I certainly didn’t see this electoral Frankenstorm coming.