Election Day and the Sentinel

If you  wake up Wednesday morning expecting to read a print newspaper delivering election results,  you’ll probably be disappointed, at least in terms of local and state races.

While it’s been true  for at least one presidential cycle that the Sentinel and most other newspapers bring election results via digital platforms such as our website and mobile apps, some readers undoubtedly will wonder why it can’t be like the old days. But the delivery of news has changed and the days when the Sentinel staff would remain on the job until the wee early morning hours to get out a special edition blaring last-minute election results has passed into history’s ever-expansive dustbin. These days, we still keep working into the late night, early morning, but to file online.

But even our digital presentation may not provide complete results – especially if the presidential race remains undecided late into Tuesday night. Could happen, although it’s hard with only a handful of hours before polls open, to see the Electoral College swinging toward Mitt Romney. If President Barack Obama wins Pennsylvania and Ohio, plus Wisconsin and Iowa relatively early (before West Coast polls close at 8 p.m.), then the president will probably already have won reelection before Santa Cruz County finishes voting. (And remember, as news outlets continue to remind us, that no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio.)

Then again, this election could be another cliffhanger. Who can forget 2000 — I can’t — and the still disputed election that went on into December, leaving 537 votes in Florida to decide whether Democratic Vice President Al Gore or Republican George W. Bush would be the next president. The court-ordered solution, which gave Bush the presidency, continues to fuel the enmity between the two major parties, making bipartisanship, never the strong suit of American governance, a hollow ideal, and a festering sore sure to carry over into the next four years for either Obama or Romney.

Meanwhile, the prognostication racket continues unabated. Most of the press is going to New York Times numbers guru Nate Silver, whose FiveThirtyEight blog has Democrats exulting (Silver tweeted Monday night that Obama now has a 91 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, based on his analysis of small-state polls), and Republicans fuming. Silver’s take is that Obama’s 2009 auto bailout assured him of the 2012 election — meaning the Ohio vote. Add that to the bounce that many see coming the president’s way for his post-Sandy-superstorm efforts, the new National Geographic film Seal Team Six about the killing of Osama bin Laden, which debuted Sunday night — and Obama seems to be back on track to win.

Maybe so.

If not, will this race, with polls showing the candidates in terms of the popular vote virtually tied, prove as knotty and divisive as 2000? For the sake of moving forward in dealing with America’s many issues and economic problems, I hope not.

Locally, we’ll be following the 5th district supervisor’s race between Eric Hammer and Bruce McPherson  — but here too, the final result could take a while. If it’s close that means waiting for county elections counts absentee ballots. In close elections in the past, this has taken as long as two weeks or longer to declare a winner. One caveat, however: just as with a presidential race or any high profile election, look for the candidate who is in the lead after election night. For whatever reason, it’s rare to see a result reverse with either a recount (in especially close races) or as absentee ballots continue to be counted.

The other race to watch is the Santa Cruz City Council. Incumbent Don Lane, currently the city’s mayor, and longtime former councilwoman Cynthia Mathews are considered easy winners, with newcomer Pamela Comstock, co-founder of Take Back Santa Cruz and a local businesswoman, also considered likely to win. She’s raised a ton of money and garnered significant and telling support and endorsements. The fourth and final seat could be a toss up between longtime bicycle advocate Micah Posner, who has strong backing from old-line progressives and environmentalists in the community, and newcomer Richelle Noroyan, who has  business and Democratic party experience, but has lagged somewhat in terms of attracting the kind of support Comstock attracted.

We’ll also be watching a few local measures that could be affected by state ballot measures: Measure L, a bond measure for Pajaro Valley Schools, and Measure O, a permanent quarter cent sales tax hike for Capitola. While both are favored to pass — Santa Cruz County voters, for the most part, tend to be tolerant of tax increases if they think they’re really needed — it will be interesting to watch the fate of state Proposition 30. That’s Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike measure that will keep schools, including public higher ed, from further cuts — or so says Brown.

We’ll also be watching the hotly debated Proposition 37, which seeks to force food producers to label genetically modified food, along with measures on the death penalty, three strikes and union dues for political contributions. Should be a fascinating evening.

Here’s a list of our endorsements for president, and in state and local races.

I’ll be filing a blog during the evening, making a few observations on what’s happening. And the Sentinel will your one-stop shop for election night. We’ll be posting results as we receive them. Our reporters will break election news on Twitter and their election updates will be posted directly on our home page. We’ll also have updates directly from the county and state, and we’ll have full coverage of the Presidential race from Digital First Media.

Like I said, should be quite a night.


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