The election a few weeks ago stands out for one thing: its pathetic turnout.
In Los Angeles County, about only 25% of eligible voters voted. Only 12% of voters aged 18 to 34 years old returned mail-in ballots.
They couldn’t have made it any easier for them. The ballot was mailed to us all. The only thing they needed to do was fill it out, seal it, sign and drop it off. Pretty easy.
It’s not like this election was a snooze-fest either. The city of Los Angeles is picking a new mayor who will hopefully do something about the homelessness crisis.
But it wasn’t supposed to be this way. There was supposed to be massive turnout. People stay home from the ballot box when they are happy, when they support the status quo. But that isn’t the case here. No one is happy. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has something to complain about. From gasoline prices to Los Angeles looking like it’s in the Third World to inflation to gun control to Covid to crime. No matter what side you are on, whether it is the left, the right or the center, there is something to complain about. This alone would have forecast massive voter engagement.
Add on the loud and angry progressive left who spent the past two years on social media angry about everything. Clean up a homeless encampment? They’re angry because they think people should be left alone. Never mind that families didn’t get to use the parks during lockdown. Build permanent supportive housing facility? They’re angry because the homeless shouldn’t be moved. I know, I don’t get it either.
Donate popsicles to the Los Angeles Police Department? Yep, they were angry about that too. And these people were vicious. They attacked people on social media. They threatened politicians. They showed up at politicians’ homes. They said there would be a day of reckoning coming in this election.
The progressive left was fueled by the massive unemployment checks they received from the government, free rent, and good Wi-Fi. They recruited candidates. They called into city council. And every single elected official in Los Angeles running for re-election this year was concerned. Even the liberal elected officials were afraid of being taken out by someone on their left.
One progressive group points to their 36,000 followers on Twitter as proof that they are powerful and speak for the masses in the city. So, what happened? This group pushed a mayoral candidate who received 16,000 votes. Almost all their candidates lost and not by a little, but by a lot. Their biggest victory was a candidate for Los Angeles City Controller who made it to the runoff with a fake ballot title. He has been telling the world that he was the only CPA in the race for 18 months, when he wasn’t an active CPA and had only been a CPA for a few months over the past 11 years.
The other candidates fizzled. The candidates who wanted to defund the police. The candidates that supported the massive homeless encampments throughout this city. Those candidates failed. Miserably. Two incumbent councilmembers won re-election handily against these candidates. Another was pushed into a runoff by a union-backed candidate.
A few months ago, an article was written that talked about what this city could look like if all these candidates won. It was scary. It predicted a coming wave that just didn’t happen. And it proved once and for all that SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL.
Well, what did happen? Older voters turned out. In one race, over 70% of voters were over the age of 50. In the mayor’s race, the San Fernando Valley turned out. While the Valley makes up 38% percent of the city of L.A.’s population, we normally turn out at 43% of the city’s vote and we continued that trend. The Valley may even exceed that number when all ballots are counted.
The lessons to be learned in this race are clear and I hope all elected officials heed this message, and it’s a simple one: listen to the Valley, of course VICA in particular, and don’t listen to social media. Don’t forget to vote in November!
Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a business advocacy organization based in Van Nuys that represents employers in the San Fernando Valley at the local, state, and federal levels of government.