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Monday, November 29, 2010

CA: Republican Gloom

Michael Blood writes at AP:

Republicans are relishing the coming of a new day on Capitol Hill. But across the country in California, the party of Nixon and Reagan is drifting toward obscurity.

The latest sign of imperiled health: In a year Republicans notched big victories in Congress, governor's offices and statehouses around the nation, California Democrats made a clean sweep of eight statewide contests on Nov. 2. Democrats padded their majority in the Legislature, where the party controls both chambers and no congressional seats changed parties.


"They know who we are and they don't like us," former state Republican Party Chairman Duf Sundheim says bluntly. "The brand of the Republican Party in California is tarnished."


It's been said the future happens first in California, and the state hit a little-noticed milestone this month that will have implications in voting booths for years to come. For the first time, Hispanics account for more than half the students in the state's public schools. They will be tomorrow's voters.

"I'm not sure Republicans have hit bottom yet in California," said former state lawmaker Jim Brulte, an influential GOP party fixture.


Part of the problem is simple math. Both major parties have been losing registration as more voters choose to align with no party at all, but Republican registration has withered to about 31 percent, giving Democrats, at 44 percent, a 2.2 million-voter advantage. Independents about one in five voters also lean Democratic in the state.

For a Republican "the crossover vote that you need is almost unreachable," says Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the California Target Book, an analysis of legislative and congressional races. Hoffenblum says the GOP maintains strongholds in inland regions, but Democrats dominate the populous coast.