Newsletter: Essential Politics: And so we wait


Cue the Carly Simon song: “Anticipation ... is making me late ... is keeping me waiting.”

Yes, we’re waiting on the statewide primary’s ballots to be counted.

Good morning, I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers, and we’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating one more time: Election day is now more like election week. Or longer.

Californians mostly vote by mail these days, and that means final returns come in long after election night. While we’re slowly getting a sense of how many ballots are left to count, we still don’t have a full picture.


Los Angeles County Registrar-County Clerk Dean Logan reported on Wednesday that he had more than 570,000 ballots that still needed to be processed and that about 40% of them were provisional ballots — those that are cast by voters whose identity and registration still need to be verified.

In all, almost 6 million ballots have been counted across California. Which brings us to the outcome of races big and small across the Golden State.


Hillary Clinton’s victory in California over Sen. Bernie Sanders, currently about a 13% point win, may be chalked up to what you could call a dash of both work and worry.

As Seema Mehta reports, Democratic campaign pros say Clinton worked hard to venture into new parts of the state and made it clear voters should be worried about a Donald Trump presidency.

It was an especially tough loss for Sanders. But what about those huge rallies the senator held across the state?

“You can have a lot of excitement and a compelling message and inspire people, but if they don’t show up to vote, it doesn’t matter,” said Democratic strategist Rose Kapoczynski.


Meantime, Cathleen Decker writes that the past week has seen Clinton and Trump swap places in the media narrative about momentum and chaos.

As always, the daily ebb and flow of the presidential race can be found on our Trail Guide news feed. And check out our interactive Electoral College map for the road ahead come Nov. 8.


The good news for Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez is that she survived Tuesday’s primary election and will face-off with Democratic rival Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in November.


The bad news: Harris dominated the primary with more than 2 million votes to Sanchez’s 943,000 as of Wednesday night. Now, with five months to go before the general election, the veteran congresswoman needs to figure out a way to overcome that deficit.

Phil Willon reports that some California Republicans, now facing their first GOP-free Senate race, are eyeing Sanchez for support. On Wednesday, a new Republican political action committee was formed to help Sanchez. Their plans include spending as much as $10 million on an independent effort in the fall campaign.


Tuesday marked the third time that voters have been given a ballot with legislative and congressional candidates and told to pick whomever they choose, regardless of party.


The top-two primary system has significantly changed the electoral map in California, but some political insiders worry it’s not all been so great for candidates or voters. My reporting found that while same-party runoffs in November have been a constant part of the new primary rules, the real challenge has been for incumbents.

And yes, says one prominent researcher, it may actually be favoring more moderate candidates. Sometimes.


President Obama appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” on Wednesday and said he was “worried about the Republican Party.”


— Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker put a little distance between himself and the presumptive GOP nominee on Wednesday.

— Nearly 90% of local tax increases in California passed Tuesday, highlighting a busy local ballot that also saw San Diego increase its minimum wage and San Francisco add greater oversight to police shootings.

Gov. Jerry Brown allowed what could be the 19th statewide proposition to make the Nov. 8 ballot on Wednesday: a legislative advisory question asking voters whether they would like to see Citizens United overturned, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that opened the door on big campaign spending.

— The son of Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers, remains locked in a tight congressional race in the Central Valley.


— George Skelton writes that the California voters who did not vote for Trump in California’s primary are “real party loyalists and patriots.”


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