When I was young and my parents were divorced, my Dad used to vote that you could tell who was going to win the presidential election every 4 years by looking at the bumper sticker on my Mom's car and voting for the other guy. And it was true at that point she had a Dukakis sticker over a Mondale sticker. And she had previously voted for Carter and Ford. (Finally she got one right with Clinton)
I'm beginning to wonder if I'm on the same track, at least when it comes to competitive elections. I have voted for my share of winners: Clinton in '96 and plenty of incumbent Democratic representatives in Congress and the Senate from my liberal home in L.A. But those were races where the winner was never in doubt by election day. When it comes to close elections, I'm pretty much always wrong: Gore, Kerry, against recall, Villaraigosa for mayor 4 years ago, and now Bob Hertzberg for mayor, who just barely lost to Hahn for the second spot in the mayoral runoff.
And it's not just a case of liberals losing the close ones. Hertzberg was arguably the most conservative of the five Democrats running for mayor (at least he was appealing most to Republicans -- I'm not sure how you classify views on local education reform and traffic reduction as liberal or conservative) and I picked him.
One day soon I would like to enjoy the thrill of wondering all night how an election is going to turn out and then being happy about the result.
Maybe I'll get my chance with the Villaraigosa v. Hahn rematch. I'm not a huge Villaraigosa fan, but I think he definitely could be better than our innefective incumbent, so I'll vote for him.
On reflection, it's probably a good thing I don't put candidate bumper stickers on my car.