In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The forthcoming update will include a chapter on the 2018 midterms. California is an important part of the story.
[T]his disaster was Trump, all Trump and nothing but Trump.
This is apparent by examining one of the most interesting factoids about this election. Had Republican Congressional candidates ran as well as their party’s candidate for governor, John Cox, they would have saved four of the seven seats they lost.
That is because Cox actually carried the districts of defeated Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Modesto), GOP candidate Young Kim, (Northern Orange County), Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach). Cox also outran two of the other three Republicans who lost Rep. Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley) and Diane Harkey (Orange-San Diego counties).
The California Target Book has unearthed a few other interesting tidbits about the November election. The gas tax repealer (Proposition 6), on which Republicans placed such hope, actually carried every single GOP-held congressional district, including all seven districts that they lost. Steve Poizner, the former Republican insurance commissioner running for his old job as a no party preference, carried 20 Congressional districts, including all but one of the 14 GOP districts.
There is only one way to read these results: if you could be tied to Trump, you were a goner. Trump, rather than simply the party label, was the key to the Republican disaster.Trump is a gift to progressive Democrats. The election resulted a extra-large Democratic supermajorities in the legislature. Jeremy White at Politico:
“We’re going to need more Democrats than Republicans to kill a bill,” said Adam Keigwin, a former chief of staff who’s now a lobbyist for Mercury. “It’s clearly a different dynamic that we haven’t had before that everybody has to adjust to.”
The new dynamics have national implications, given the size of California’s economy and the state’s national influence on a range of policy areas, including energy, health care and consumer regulation. And in the coming months they’re likely to shape the outcomes of leading issues like worker classification, housing production, clean energy goals and an ambitious health care coverage push.
As California has shaded ever-bluer in recent years, big business has adapted by shifting resources towards electing friendly Democrats rather than sidelined Republicans. The top-two primary system has accelerated that trend: it’s now common to see groups backed by real estate, pharmaceutical, oil and other industries spend millions on a chosen candidate when two Democrats are battling it out in the general election, in addition to spending to boost Democrats over Republicans in key districts.