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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

California Primary: Watch the Districts

Matthew Artz reports at The San Jose Mercury News:
Donald Trump has roared into the lead in the upcoming California Republican primary, bolstering his hopes of winning the GOP nomination and avoiding a nasty convention fight, a new poll has found.
 In the first independent survey since it became apparent that the Golden State will play a major role in deciding the Republican presidential nominee, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that Trump has the support of 38 percent of likely voters, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is favored by 27 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich placed a distant third with 14 percent
So if the poll is on target and if the primary took place today, would Trump get 38 percent of the delegates?  Not necessarily: indeed, the delegate count could diverge a great deal from the vote count.

California’s primary is a winner-take-all system by congressional district. The candidate who gets a plurality in any given district will receive all 3 delegate appointments for that district. Ten at-large delegates go to the  candidate winning the greatest number of votes statewide.  The state party chair, the national committeeman and national committeewoman also serve as delegates.

California has 53 districts, meaning that there are 159 district delegates.  But GOP registration varies greatly, from a low of 27, 209 in the 13th district (Barbara Lee's constituency, encompassing Oakland and Berkeley) to a high of 175,401 in the 4th district (Tom McClintock's constituency, Northern suburbs of Sacramento).   That's a six-to-one ratio, even though both districts have the same number of delegates.

A candidate could conserve resources, then, by targeting districts with lower GOP registration figures.  In a hypothetical two-person matchup, a candidate could win a majority of district delegates with just one-third of the overall vote.  These low-GOP registration districts tend to be Democratic:  of the 35 that have fewer than 100,000 Republicans, only one (the 21st district in the Central Valley) sends a Republican to the House (David Valadao).  Most of these districts also have heavy concentrations of Hispanic or African American voters.

Ironically, then, the primary contest between Trump and Cruz could end up depending on which one does better in the kind of districts that would never support them in the general election.

David Siders writes at The Sacramento Bee:
In an effort to deny him the nomination, Cruz, a favorite of evangelicals and tea party conservatives, is expected to compete with Trump for delegates in the Central Valley and northern reaches of the state. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a more moderate Republican, could do well in coastal districts, including in the Bay Area.

“The fact of the matter is this is an unprecedented event for California,” said Robert Molnar, an adviser to former state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who is working for Kasich in the state. “So the idea that anybody has this great idea and plan of how it’s going to turn out, they’re just lying to you.”

If the presidential primary remains undecided when it reaches California, it will be the first time the state’s June election has been decisive in a presidential primary since California went for George McGovern as the Democratic nominee in 1972.

US Congressional 13 27,209
US Congressional 34 28,560
US Congressional 12 30,619
US Congressional 40 31,204
US Congressional 44 34,870
US Congressional 37 35,887
US Congressional 29 40,112
US Congressional 51 45,395
US Congressional 17 50,507
US Congressional 35 51,022
US Congressional 43 53,417
US Congressional 14 54,090
US Congressional 20 62,308
US Congressional 46 62,570
US Congressional 19 63,351
US Congressional 21 63,430
US Congressional  6 68,244
US Congressional  5 71,012
US Congressional 15 73,125
US Congressional 16 73,439
US Congressional 32 77,909
US Congressional 28 79,134
US Congressional  2 81,006
US Congressional 18 81,485
US Congressional 41 82,101
US Congressional 11 82,514
US Congressional 38 84,589
US Congressional 53 89,400
US Congressional 31 89,624
US Congressional 30 91,555
US Congressional 27 96,116
US Congressional  9 97,078
US Congressional  3 98,062
US Congressional 47 98,505
US Congressional 36 99,204
US Congressional  8 103,316
US Congressional 26 108,255
US Congressional 24 115,186
US Congressional 10 116,031
US Congressional 52 120,099
US Congressional 33 120,265
US Congressional 42 126,455
US Congressional  7 128,064
US Congressional 39 131,656
US Congressional 25 136,276
US Congressional 49 136,307
US Congressional 22 139,518
US Congressional 23 139,605
US Congressional 50 143,522
US Congressional  1 153,220
US Congressional 45 160,511
US Congressional 48 164,919
US Congressional  4 175,401