Our book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.
Only three days have passed since California’s primary election, and at least 2.8 million ballots still have to be counted, local elections offices said Thursday. And it isn’t yet clear in four statewide and numerous congressional and legislative races which two candidates will advance to the general election in November.
Nevertheless, some key takeaways have started to come into focus, four of California’s top political experts said Thursday during an election post-mortem hosted by the Sacramento Press Club.
Here are some points that stood out to me during the hour-long discussion:
- One reason why it may be so difficult for no-party-preference candidates to gain traction — as evinced by the performances of Michael Shellenberger in the governor’s race and of Anne Marie Schubert in the attorney general’s race — is that no-party-preference voters often do, in fact, prefer one party over another. “There’s this overwhelming assumption that continues to persist that all people who are NPP voters are somehow in the middle, they’re all somehow between Republicans and Democrats,” said Republican political strategist Matt Rexroad. “And that’s just not true.” Indeed, a 2021 Public Policy Institute of California survey found that 52% of likely independent voters lean Democratic, while 36% lean Republican. As of May 23, around 47% of California voters were registered Democrats, compared to 24% Republicans and 23% no party preference.
- As shown by the numbers above, any Republican running for statewide office in California faces a formidable foe: math. So, although independent expenditure groups backing Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta sought to catapult his Trump-aligned opponent Eric Early into the November general election over the more moderate Nathan Hochman, “we didn’t care what Republican we got” in November, said Bonta campaign consultant Dana Williamson. And, although Republican controller candidate Lanhee Chen may have secured more votes than his four Democratic opponents in the primary, he will mathematically face an uphill battle in November when he squares off against just one Democrat, CalMatters’ Sameea Kamal reports.