For California, November 2 Is Really About Barack Obama

10/18/2010 11:05 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Midterm elections are always partly, at least, a referendum on the party in power. But this November 2nd, no matter where you happen to live, your vote is likely to be a very personal one -- that is, directed at one person: Either thumbs up or thumbs down on Barack Obama's presidency.

In a way, Obama set himself up for this by casting himself as a figure of change. Now, just two years into his first (and, say some, and others wish, maybe last) term, voters will more than usual be casting their vote not only for local candidates, but also for or against the president.

Even here in California, where the influence of the Tea Party movement has been negligible (due largely, say some political scientists, to the state's size, enormous population and diversity, and the difficulty of staging rallies across such a vast political and geographical landscape), whether Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman gets sent to the governor's mansion in Sacramento, is likely to be based, at least to some measure, on how voters feel about the Obama administration.

Some earlier polls have indicated that Republicans are far more likely to turn out to vote this Election Day than Democrats. Why? Because Republicans want to strike back any way they can at Obama, while Democrats are so depressed and disappointed with Obama that they just may sit this election out, handing a somewhat easy victory to GOP (and, in other parts of the nation, Tea Party-backed) candidates.

It is this reality that brought Bill Clinton back to L.A. the other day to stump for Jerry Brown.

"It is not enough to have voted for a new president if you will not help him govern and stick behind the members of Congress who are with him," the Associated Press quoted Clinton as telling a rally at UCLA Friday. As the AP pointed out, the former president also told the eager crowd that statewide races are just as important as the ones for U.S. Senate and Congress.

He's, of course, right. Governors will play a pivotal role in the months and years ahead in either helping or trying to thwart various Obama passed legislation, such a health care reform. A vote for Whitman, therefore, can be interpreted as a vote against so-called Obamacare, while a vote for Brown can be construed as an endorsement. At least, that is how some political pundits see it.

Brown vs. Whitman? Boxer vs. Fiorina? For sure. But make no mistake about it, the forthcoming election is also very much about Barack Obama.

Charles Feldman is a journalist and media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think, The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-Hour Media Cycle." He has covered politics and police in Los Angeles since 1995 and is a regular contributor of investigative reporting to KNX1070 Newsradio.