How big a mid-course correction?; Party gains blurred by ticket-splitting

Far West voters in the Nov. 2 election have sent a ''stay the course'' message - to both Democrats and Republicans.

California, where one in 10 Americans now live, provides the most dramatic evidence of this mixed signal. Though Republicans won the two top races, the victory margins for Governor-elect George Deukmejian and Senator-elect Pete Wilson were too slim to be interpreted as strong mandates for the winners or for continuation of Reagan administration policies.

Further evidence of the California electorate's split personality: Democrats swept all other major statewide offices, gained three seats in the state's 45 -member delegation to the US House of Representatives, and retained their majorities in the California Assembly and Senate.

Other states covered by this report - Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington - exhibited even less voter will to change course. Where incumbents sought reelection, they usually were winners. Five new congressional seats were added in these states this year. Currently, there are 34 Democratic and 29 Republican congressmen from the seven states; in the new Congress the numbers apparently will be 36 Democrats and 32 Republicans - a net gain of one for the GOP.

Tuesday's results changed the lineups a bit but left the party standings in governorships and US Senate seats unchanged in these seven states.

Californians confounded pollsters and analysts alike. Excellent weather and a large turnout of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and women appeared to bode well for Democrats. But it did not turn out that way for Bradley and Brown.

Two-term state Superintendent of Public Instruction Wilson Riles - the only black in a statewide office in California - was defeated in a nonpartisan runoff election by Bill Honig, a professional educator who pushed the ''back to basics'' theme.

US Rep. Phillip Burton (D) of San Francisco, author of a much-criticized congressional redistricting plan for California, handily won reelection to his 10th term. US Rep. John Rousselot (R) of San Gabriel, whose district disappeared in the Burton redistricting, was defeated in the new, heavily Hispanic 30th District by US Rep. Matthew Martinez (D) of Monterey Park.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.