This year, approximately 7,131* people voted. In 2009, 7,243 Long Beachers voted – some 112 more.
And as much as this election was a “landslide” in terms of the change in the balance of power for the City Council – going from 3-2 to 4-1, it’s important to remember that the bottom Democrat only beat the top Republican (Marvin Weiss) by 375 votes or roughly 5% of the total votes cast. The party in the majority of the City Council has now switched four times since 2003 (2003, 2005, 2007, and now 2011) – that’s enough to give you whiplash.
If you want to look at another way, 21,280 votes were cast for the City Council, with 11,302 going to the Dem candidates, and 9,978 going to the Republicans. When presented that way, the Democrats won the election 53% to 46% – what would be considered a strong victory in a national election (and coincidentally almost the exact same percentage then-Senator Obama beat Senator McCain).
So what does all that mean? This election wasn’t a rush of fresh blood into the Long Beach political system. These were the same residents that vote in every election looking at what the incumbents have done over the last two years, and making a decision based on that record. This was a significant referendum on the Republican party in Long Beach. This looks like what some have called a vote “against” the Republican party as opposed to a vote “for” the Democrats. I think without a doubt though, this election affirms that the residents get the final say in how this town is run, and that should serve as a friendly reminder to those soon coming into power.
* Methodology: Because of the “pick 3” system, my math may be off by a few votes. Basically to figure out how many voters there were, I added the total number of votes for the leading Democratic and Republican candidates (what are the chances the same person would vote for both?) In 2009, there was a Long Beach judge up for election, so everyone that voted in Long Beach for City Council had to vote in the judge race (and there were only two choices). That number is therefore the total number of voters in Long Beach.