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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Sad State of the California GOP

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race

Mark Z. Barabak at LAT:
TJ Cox defeated three-term Republican Rep. David Valadao on Wednesday, giving Democrats a gain of seven House seats in California and 40 nationwide — the party’s strongest midterm showing since the Watergate era in the mid-1970s.
Cox clinched his victory more than three weeks after election day, when updated results from Fresno and Kings counties pushed his lead over Valadao to 529 votes. The contest was the country’s last remaining undecided congressional contest.
Cox, 55, trailed the GOP lawmaker by nearly 4,400 votes on election night but steadily gained ground as mail-in and other ballots tipped his way.
“Let this be a message to every Republican,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a tweet claiming victory. “If you come for Americans’ livelihoods, we WILL come for your seats.”
The pattern is a familiar one in California, where Republicans tend to vote early and Democrats later; ballots postmarked on election day are counted so long as they are received by election officials within three days. Others were counted once signatures and other details were verified, a process that takes weeks to complete.
Barabak and Sarah D. Wire write of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy:
The losses have a personal poignancy for McCarthy. A former leader of Republicans in the state Assembly, he was instrumental in shaping California’s GOP delegation. After being elected to Congress in 2006 and rising in the leadership ranks, he personally recruited Reps. Jeff Denham, Valadao and Walters to run for their seats; all three had served with McCarthy in Sacramento and Denham was his roommate in the state capital.

Embracing Trump and appeasing the hard-line conservative wing of the GOP were shrewd steps for McCarthy, who unsuccessfully bid for House speaker in 2015 but quickly bounced back, due in part to his strong ties to the White House.

But being the president’s point person on Capitol Hill meant pushing policies that were out of step with voters back home — such as a measure to override state gun control laws — and corralling his fellow California lawmakers to help pass them.

One glaring example was the sweeping tax bill passed in December, which stands to hurt many Californians by capping deductions of state and local taxes as well as the interest on home mortgages. All but two of the state’s 14 House Republicans — Rohrabacher and Issa — voted for the GOP tax law, even though studies suggested it would have an especially negative impact on residents in pricey areas such as suburban Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The vote allowed Democrats, who are usually tagged with the tax-and-spend label, to wield the issue as a weapon and accuse Republicans of putting party loyalty ahead of their constituents’ interests.  
California's top-two primary system resulted in races for Senate, lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner in which no Republicans made the November ballot.  (Insurance commissioner candidate Steve Poizner was a Republican, but is now an independent.)  The nominally nonpartisan race for superintendent of public instruction also featured two Democrats.'Ben Christopher at CalMatters points out that many Republicans seem to have skipped these races.
At last count, the governor’s race received the highest number of votes, followed by the contest for secretary of state and attorney general. Among the statewide ballot measures, voters were most likely to weigh in on Proposition 6 (which would have repealed an increase in the gas tax) and Prop. 10 (which would have nixed state restrictions on rent control).
At the bottom of the list are four races for statewide office: insurance commissioner, U.S. Senate and state schools superintendent and lieutenant governor. The race for the state’s second-ranking executive officer received just shy of 2 million votes—16 percent fewer votes than those cast for governor.
...

An analysis of county election data shows that the voters most likely to leave the double-D races for lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate blank on the ballot live in counties with more registered Republicans than Democrats.
For example, in San Francisco County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 50 percentage points, there was only a modest 2.6 percent drop off in votes between the race for governor and the race for U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, in Lassen County, one of the state’s most conservative, nearly one-quarter of voters who cast their ballots for governor skipped the U.S. choice.
Official counts as of 11/28:

Governor

Gavin Newsom (Party Preference: DEM) 7,462,279 61.8%
John H. Cox(Party Preference: REP).........4,604,373 38.2%

Newsom also leads by nearly 2,000 votes in Orange County.

CA21

TJ Cox (Party Preference: DEM)........... 56,634 50.2%
David G. Valadao(Party Preference: REP) 56,105     49.8%