The most notable win in California was for Arnold Schwarzenegger, who greeted his victory with a confetti drop and the quip, “I love doing sequels.” Rob Lowe, Sylvester Stallone and Lou Ferrigno were among those who attended his victory party at the Beverly Hilton.
Despite Democratic gains across the country, there were some stinging defeats. California’s Yes on 87 lost by a significant margin even though polling had predicted a tighter race. The initiative, which would have taxed oil companies for alternative energy research, was backed heavily by the entertainment industry, including almost $50 million from producer Steve Bing. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Julia Roberts campaigned along with Democratic heavy hitters like Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Campaign manager Chad Griffin, who also is political adviser to Rob Reiner, told supporters at the Beverly Wilshire, “The cause ends when we end our addiction to oil.” Among those on hand were Warren Beatty.
Elsewhere, many of the candidates who raised money in entertainment circles won their races, including Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse and Bob Casey. Pundits were suggesting that Michael J. Fox’s campaigning may have helped Claire McCaskill in her victory over Sen. Jim Talent in Missouri. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that the gap between her and Talent closed after Fox’s ads — in which he supported her because of her backing of stem cell research — gained national attention. A stem cell proposal on the ballot passed after teetering for much of the night.
As for the coverage, which dragged on into the early morning hours on Wednesday, MSNBC and ABC News apparently were the first to call the House for the Democrats at about 7:47 p.m. PST. But in the afternoon hours before that, anchors on all three news network sometimes struggled to fill airtime, as exit poll results were used sparingly. More than a few critics noted the weird juxtoposition of election night and coverage of divorce filing of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. According to Slate’s Troy Patterson, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer announced the divorce and remarked: “We wish both of them only the best down the road.”