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GAY RIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA….The votes aren’t quite fully counted yet, but with 95% of the precincts reporting it looks like Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California is headed for passage, 52%-48%. In one sense, this might have been inevitable: this is precisely the margin I projected six months ago based on basic demographic trends. What’s more, the voting trends are exactly what you’d expect: strong No votes in the liberal coastal counties, especially in the north, and Yes votes in the conservative inland counties. On the other hand, it only passed by two points. I really, really wonder if we could have beaten it if Barack Obama had been willing to step up and take a bit of a risk on behalf of defeating it. Especially toward the end, when it was unlikely to hurt him in the national race. If he had cut an ad to run over the final weekend, would it have made the difference? Maybe.

In other news, it looks like Prop 1A, the high-speed rail bond measure, has passed. I opposed this, but obviously I had mixed feelings and I can’t say I’m unhappy to see it win. I hope the rosy projections from its proponents turn out to be closer to the mark than I thought they were.

Prop 2, guaranteeing minimally decent treatment of farm animals, passed decisively. Prop 4, which required parental notification for teen abortions, appears to have lost. Prop 9, a bad “victims rights” initiative, passed fairly easily. Prop 11, the redistricting initiative, is narrowly ahead right now, but still too close to call.

Not the worst night ever for California initiatives, then, but not great either. The good news, I guess, is that the same demographic trends that doomed gay marriage this year also guarantee its eventual victory. We’ll try this again in five or ten years and win easily.

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