I got this note from a reader. His point is perfectly reasonable. I quote it in full:
"In a two-way race Schwarzenegger could beat Bustamante with ease. But with Simon and McClintock in the race (and maybe Ueberoth), if they campaign seriously, then Schwarzenegger has to beat Bustamante by the additional margin of what Simon and McClintock get in the vote. The race is basically Bustamante as the lone establishment Democrat against half a dozen (or at least three) republicans in a state that is heavily Democrat.
That’s 1 candidate from the majority against 3-6 candidates from the minority. Schwarzenegger cannot overcome that. The numbers just aren’t there. Bustamante should be considered the heavy favorite to win."
Clearly, everything I have put out on NLT implies at least that I think AS could win. Indeed, I think he will win. The short of it is this: If this were a regular run-of-the-mill elections, the reader would be right. We would have make such careful mathematical calculations. My assumption is entirely different, and there is the rub. I assume that this is not a normal election. Gray Davis is being recalled. That is a massive fact. He will lose the recall vote; it will not even be close. Then what? People will look for the anti-Davis in the bunch. For good or ill this will not mean that they will look to his last Republican opponent, or to the Republican who is most conservative. They will look for the exact opposite of Davis. Davis has come to represent the lying, cheating, boring, political class. They will look to the person who--for whatever reason or lack of reason--they think they can trust, someone that is identifiably, visibly so to speak, the opposite of Davis. And the only one running--who is also already known to all--who fits that description is Arnold. That Arnold may turn out to be a charlatan, or one who may not be able to re-establish the trust necessary in government, is another matter. I submit that that will only be known after the election, about six to twelve months after. For the election they are inclined to give him the benefit of every doubt. Now it is still possible that Arnold will get buried in detail (as the liberal press wants him to be) by talking policy, or make some other foolish mistakes. It is also possible that Bustamante will turn out to be as Machiavellian a politician as Davis (I doubt this) and by pulling in every chit and every IOU from every group that he ever benefitted or promises to benefit (as well as dividing the votes of oipponents) he thereby ends up winning. But I don’t think he is smart enough, energetic enough, (besides he doesn’t have enough chits) to pull it off. Of course, if my assumption is wrong, I crash.