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Stupid voter head scratcher: Leland Yee's third-place finish for Secretary of State

They're still counting ballots from Tuesday but it's clear that disgraced state Senator Leland Yee will finish third in the race for Secretary of State despite dropping out after being accused of gun-running and political corruption.

He has 300,000 votes and that will surely grow with more than 750,000 ballots yet to be tabulated.

Consider this: Yee finished ahead of Dan Schnur, a USC political scientist and the former chairman of the Fair Political Practices Commission who came in fourth after running as an independent on a clean-up Sacramento platform. He also outpolled Democrat Derek Cressman, the former director of good government group Common Cause, who was fifth.

The top two vote-getters, state Senator Alex Padilla of the L. A. San Fernando Valley suburb of Pacoima and Republican Pete Peterson, who runs a public policy think tank at Pepperdine University, will square off in November.

So how to explain voter ignorance catapulting to mid-pack a guy who's been the face of ridicule since he was scooped up in an FBI sting with a motley crew of other alleged criminals?

The LA Times takes a stab at it, but the explanation is maybe as depressing as the thing itself. An excerpt:

Yet while vexing and a cause of no small amount of ridicule, state Sen. Yee’s surprising vote total can be explained by several factors beyond the supposed shallowness and stupidity of the California electorate.

Most have to do with the size and sprawl of the state and the lack of attention, by voters and the media alike, paid to so-called down-ballot offices like secretary of state.


“People can’t even remember who won the Super Bowl,” said Richie Ross, who managed Leland Yee’s campaign before Yee dropped out of the race in March, after his indictment but too late to remove his name from the ballot. “And people are surprised that ordinary voters--not the political insiders and smarty-pants who follow this stuff-- can’t remember who was indicted three months ago?”

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