Republican former gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari is holding onto his margin of defeat by his fingernails.
If that doesn’t make sense, it’s because practically nobody ever expected Kashkari to beat Gov. Jerry Brown – but some political pundits had wondered whether he could even get within 20 percentage points of the popular Democratic incumbent.
The dynamic duo of Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts over at Calbuzz were keeping an eye on the 20-point margin, for example. And when I interviewed Jack Pitney – a former GOP operative who now teaches politics at Claremont McKenna College – in late October for my pre-post-mortem on Kashkari’s campaign, he had told me that given the lopsided race’s low expectations, “if he gets anywhere north of 40 percent, that’s a moral victory for him.”
Kashkari’s campaign on the day after the election proudly noted he was at 41.3 percent, meaning he had far outperformed the GOP’s voter registration (28.1 percent) and done better than 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman (40.9 percent).
But that failed to account for how pathetic it would be for a candidate to essentially get no votes beyond his own party, and for the fact that Whitman – who ran before the dawn of our top-two primary – faced Brown along with four other third-party candidates who together drew 5.3 percent of 2010’s vote. (Two were Libertarian and American Independent candidates, arguably to Whitman’s right, drawing 3.2 percent.)
Now that might be moot, because as the post-election canvass has proceeded, Kashkari’s share of the vote has dropped bit by bit.
As of Friday afternoon, he’s at 40.0 percent. And the Secretary of State’s office reports 30 of the state’s 58 counties – including San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma – are still processing vote-by-mail, provisional and other ballots during the 28-day post-election canvass period.
So much for moral victories.