Unofficial results from the December 6 special general election in California’s 48th congressional district show Minuteman Jim Gilchrist having won 25% of the vote. That is quite an improvement on his primary showing on October 4, which was 15%. His votes increased from 13,423 to 23,237. Turnout was about 23% in each round.
State Senator John Campbell, as expected, won the seat, but his vote percentage declined from the first round, even though he was now the lone Republican, whereas he had faced another Republican candidate in the primary. He had won 41,420 votes in the first round (45.5%), in which the rule was majority suffices for victory, but absence of majority means a second round among the top vote-getters from each party. Campbell’s 41,450 votes on Tuesday represent just 30 more votes over round one, despite a turnout increase of 1,427. But because that second round is a plurality election, his 44.7% of the votes cast (a decline of 0.8 percentage points), is sufficient.
The result tells us that indeed, as I had surmised yesterday, the other Republican in the October primary, Marilyn Brewer, had obtained votes from many Democrats who wanted to prevent Campbell from winning outright and saw Brewer as the “lesser evil” among the two Republicans. The result from Tuesday suggests that Campbell obtained no net gain from the other Republican candidate, and he probably lost votes to Gilchrist from the first to the second round.
In the first round, Steve Young, the leading Democratic candidate, had only 8.7%, while two others trailed with 4.0% and 3.2%. On Tuesday, Young beat out Gilchrist for second place by taking 28.0%. The combined October votes of Brewer and the three Democrats adds up to 33%.
The conclusion one might draw from this aggregate result is that some of Campbell’s support bled to Gilchrist, compensating for any Brewer voters (perhaps including some Democratic voters) who opted for Campbell out of (misplaced) fear that Gilchrist could actually win the seat.
Although plurality rule ensures that Campbell wins the seat without having to appeal openly for either Democratic or Gilchrist support to obtain a majority mandate, the race roiled the Republican constituency in a very safe district and is sure to have some, as yet indeterminate, implications for 2006 and beyond.
Gilchrist said: “This is just a start. We’ve got a huge victory tonight because we’ve issued a wake-up call to Americaâ€¦. Our cause is not over, nor is my aspiration for my political career.”
Will he run for President? Whatever he does, we will hear from him again.