On KNBC-TV Channel 4 just now, the insufferable Sherry Bebitch Jeffe said the special election also signaled a rejection of ... George W. Bush. This was the only way voters could express their displeasure with the war, energy prices, yada, yada, yada.
I don't buy this for a second. The debate here was framed long before gas prices started soaring, back when MSM reportage on Iraq wasn't as negative as it is now. Besides, Schwarzenegger has consciously distanced himself from Bush this year, snubbing the president when he came to California for a fundraiser late last month. This election was intensely local, driven by state issues and not national concerns. If Jeffe is right, though, California voters are dumber than I thought.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz agrees, more or less.
What journalists often fail to appreciate is that state and local races turn on state and local issues and personalities. There may be voters who would back Jerry Kilgore because Bush visited the state, but I doubt there are many of them. I had the same feeling when I saw Democrat Jon Corzine repeatedly running ads in the New Jersey governor's race with Bill Clinton singing his praises.
... Every four years, the press grabs onto the flotsam of the Jersey and Virginia races and the New York mayoral contest--boosted this year by Arnold's special election in California--and tries to interpret, infer and extrapolate what it all means . And it may not mean squat beyond the borders of those states.