The establishment in California is frantically trying to spin the latest poll numbers that show Gray Davis collapsing and Arnold surging, deploying all the usual poll-spinning tricks about sampling error, etc. But the reason why these numbers are likely correct arrived in the mail this week. Yesterday my car tax bill arrived. Last years tax was $180; this years: $425. Thats for a 1996 SUV, my only car in California. If you have two or three cars in your household as do most California households (California has more registered vehicles than licensed drivers), imagine the sticker shock people are getting this week. In many cases the tax boost for a household with late model cars is probably something like $1200. No wonder Grays chances are fading to black.
A similar thing happened with Proposition 13 in 1978. Polls showed the vote fairly close, until about three weeks before election day, when new property tax assessments (which had soared again) arrived in the mail. It was all over after that.
Separately, the Washington Post Style section today profiles one of the second-tier candidates, Trek Thunder Kelly. Turns out that is his real name; his parents, he says, considered naming him Sirf Cimmaron or Chet Chisholm. I am not making this up, and I doubt he is. I know a drop-out hippie couple near where I hang out at the beach on the central coast who named their kids Zuma and Blaise-Elation. Guess theyre not old enough to run for governor.