Cahsee Essay Prompts 2012 Election

State Highlights

By Ian Lovett

Tuesday was a big night for Democrats in California, a state that has grown even more blue in recent years. President Obama and Senator Dianne Feinstein coasted to easy victories in the state at the top of the ticket.

The party also appeared very likely to pick up seats in the Congressional delegation, and to be on the verge of picking up a two-thirds majority in both houses of the California Legislature, which would allow Democrats to increase taxes without any support from across the aisle, rendering the Republicans all but irrelevant in state government.

The biggest victory belonged to Gov. Jerry Brown. Voters approved Proposition 30, a ballot measure championed by Mr. Brown that establishes temporary tax increases, which will bring in an estimated $6 billion per year. It was the first time Californians had approved a statewide tax increase since 2004. Its failure would have triggered billions in cuts to education.

Several other ballot measures took on contentious issues in public safety. Voters rejected Proposition 34, which would have put an end to the death penalty in the state. But they approved revising California’s landmark three-strikes law; now, people convicted of three felonies can be sentenced to life in prison only if the third conviction is for a serious or violent offense.

Two other ballot measures were defeated: one that would have required labels on most foods that contain genetically modified ingredients and another that would have curbed union donations to political campaigns.

Redistricting and other electoral changes ended up pitting some incumbent congressmen against each other. In the San Fernando Valley, Representative Brad Sherman soundly defeated a fellow Democrat, Howard Berman, who had been in Congress three decades.

Representative Pete Stark, the 80-year-old dean of California’s Congressional delegation, who had been in Congress since the Nixon administration, also fell to a challenge from a fellow Democrat, 31-year-old Eric Swalwell.

State Highlights

By Robert Pear

Mitt Romney won an easy victory in Louisiana, taking its eight electoral votes. The state has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since it backed Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

In the Louisiana’s only competitive Congressional race, two incumbent Republicans, Representatives Charles Boustany Jr. and Jeff Landry, will face each other in a runoff in early December. Neither won more than 50 percent of the vote.

Mr. Boustany, a cardiovascular surgeon seeking a fifth term, is close to House Republican leaders. Mr. Landry, a Tea Party favorite, is seeking a second term. The two were thrown together in a new district in southern Louisiana after the state lost one of its seven House seats as a result of the 2010 census.

Mr. Landry attacked Mr. Boustany as a supporter of President Obama’s health care overhaul, even though both candidates have voted many times to repeal it. Mr. Landry said Mr. Boustany had supported broader ideas in the health care law, a suggestion Mr. Boustany vehemently denied.

Four Republican members of the House of Representatives — Rodney Alexander, Bill Cassidy, John Fleming and Steve Scalise — easily won re-election. The only Democrat in the state’s House delegation, Representative Cedric L. Richmond, won a second term in a redrawn district that now stretches from New Orleans into the Baton Rouge area.

Voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the State Constitution expanding the rights of gun owners.

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