California 36, in contrast, is an affluent area along the Los Angeles County beachfront, heavily white (look at this terrific New York Times interactive graphic showing the predominant racial group: the coast is a white bastion penned in by black and Hispanic interior areas in Los Angeles County). Historically Republican, primarily because of economic issues, it trended heavily toward Democrats in the 1990s. Republican nominee Craig Huey was spectacularly out of line with the district on cultural issues, but managed to get 45% of the vote anyway. I take this result as evidence of significant erosion in Obama/Democratic support in affluent white areas that are part of large metropolitan areas—a key part of the Democratic national coalition since 1996. I think it has somewhat more precedental value than New York 26, which is typical of only a few other districts in western Upstate New York.
Plus, let’s keep in mind that both of these are special elections, which are sometimes affected by factors that turn out to be insignificant in the Novembers of even-numbered years.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The CA 36 Special
Democrat Janice Hahn defeated Republican Craig Huey in the special election to succeed Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). Michael Barone argues that it has a bit more significance than the New York special election earlier this year: