Election returns are looking good for Kamala Harris

I've been following the California Attorney General vote-counting with fingers crossed.

Here's a quick recap for those who don't know about it:

The two main candidates in the race were San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris (Democrat) and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley (Republican). (The outgoing California AG is, of course, Jerry Brown, who just got elected to be our next governor.)

I've liked much of what I've heard about Harris as DA over the past few years. But the biggest reason I want her to win is that she has said she won't try to intervene in the appeals to the Prop 8 trial, whereas Cooley has indicated that he would try. It's unclear whether it would be possible for the next AG to intervene, but I'd rather not run that risk.

(I should note in passing that that's not the only issue that's important to me; I heard a bit of a debate between them on the radio a while back, and it was pretty clear that Harris was much more aligned with my values and beliefs than Cooley was. As I'd have expected from their party affiliations, for that matter.)

So I was sad when early returns seemed to suggest that Cooley might win, by a few thousand votes. But after election night, there were still a couple of million absentee and provisional ballots left to count. In the other major California races, the results were clear, but in this one it was too close to call.

Since then, there's been some seesawing back and forth, with one candidate and then the other taking the lead. But for the past week or so, Harris's lead has been growing.

As of this afternoon, she was ahead by nearly 60,000 votes, and had been ahead by over 50,000 for a couple days. That's still only half a percent, but it's the first time either candidate has been ahead by that much since counting began. And as of this afternoon, there were only about 90,000 votes left to count. Depending on who you ask and how and when you calculate it, Cooley would need somewhere on the order of 60% to 80% of the remaining votes in order to catch up. Which, given voting patterns so far, is almost impossibly unlikely.

This morning, Cooley conceded. The Harris campaign says she's not going to declare victory until the votes are fully counted, next Tuesday; after all, Cooley declared victory early on, so it does seem like a good idea to hold off on any victory celebrations until results are final. But at this point, it's looking very good for Harris to be our next AG.

Which is nice in another way, too. Harris is, according to Wikipedia, “the daughter of a Tamil Indian mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer specialist [. . .], and a Jamaican American father, Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris.” One of Harris's campaign flyers (PDF) noted that if elected, she'll become “the first female, the first African-American and the first Asian-American Attorney General in California, and the first South Asian Attorney General in the nation.”

Some further resources:

  • Official current tally on this race at the CA Secretary of State website.
  • Unprocessed Ballot Report, last updated at 4:30 p.m. today; it apparently tends to run a little bit behind the info shown on various county websites, but I haven't been looking at the county sites.
  • A post-mortem of Cooley's campaign, discussing some things he did wrong; originally posted on November 3, but now updated with a disagreeing response from a Cooley campaign rep.
  • Eric Garcetti, president of the LA City Council and a friend of Harris's, has been posting detailed updates since Nov. 3.
  • Gene Maddaus of the LA Weekly called the race yesterday; I'm linking to that just 'cause it provides some explanations of the math he was basing his conclusions on.
  • Swing State Project has also been posting incredibly detailed updates giving county-by-county info and estimates.
  • A few of California's previous 31 Attorneys General have gone on to other notable offices; for example, three have become governor (though two of those were Brown père et fils), and one went on to become Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.

5 Responses to “Election returns are looking good for Kamala Harris”

  1. Jed

    I guess I kind of buried the lead there; sorry about that. Harris has not yet declared victory; for details, see my paragraph that starts out “This morning, Cooley conceded.”

  2. Nao

    Whoops, sorry!

  3. jacob

    And now Harris has declared victory. Let’s all go and get married! Or something.

    • Jed

      Yay! Very pleased. The final numbers on the CA Secretary of State website show her winning by just under 73,000 votes, which is about 0.8% of the votes cast for AG; a tiny margin, but big enough that I guess Cooley decided it wasn’t worth trying for a recount.


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