The Thinker: Rich Galen


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California Dreamin'

Rich Galen

Thursday June 7, 2018

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  • I knew the primary results in California Tuesday night were not what national Democrats were looking for when it didn't lead the coverage on MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday morning. In fact, I don't think it made the first hour.

  • California has been touted as the canary in the mine in terms of the height of the presumed Blue Wave coming at the Republicans in this November's Congressional elections.

  • California has 53 House Districts. They are divided 39 D and only 14 R.

  • Follow me here: Of those 14 Districts held by the GOP seven were carried by Hillary Clinton en route to her +3 million vote majority in California in 2016.

  • Democrats were looking for a sign that anti-Trump passion among Democratic voters would lead to a turnover in some or all of those seven seats; a significant number of the 23 seats Nancy Pelosi needs to take back control of the House.

  • Then, the panic struck. California has adopted what they call a "jungle primary" system. Everyone - regardless of party or no party who can get on the ballot runs like the start of the Boston Marathon - all together.

  • The top two vote-getters - notwithstanding party status - run against each other in the general election in November.

  • What's the problem? Well, the problem for the Ds were they started worrying they had been too clever by half. In many of those Congressional Districts a ton of Democrats were trying to use the perceived anti-Trump zeal to get a ticket to Our Nation's Capital. But, if they split the votes among them, that might well leave two Republicans facing off in the General.

  • That would take winnable CDs off the table.

  • As the LA Times' Mark Z. Barabak wrote:
    "In northern Orange County, [Republican] Ed Royce's retirement attracted more than 13 candidates, seven Republicans and six Democrats, to replace the 12-term GOP incumbent."

  • In that District, as in the other six, the Democratic nightmare didn't happen. In each of those Districts it will be one R and one D on the ballot next Fall.

  • But, there is still a problem for the Democrats. Turnout. According to the LA Times turnout statewide in California was 21 percent - one out of five eligible voters.

  • I was quoted in the UK Independent the other day as saying about primary turnout:
    "It's the terror of small numbers. Such a relatively small percentage of the voting population will participate, depending on the state, I think drawing conclusions about those sorts of things is dangerous."

  • Each Member of Congress represents about 710,000 people. Not all of them are of voting age. Of those who are, not all of them are citizens. Of those who are citizens, not all of them are registered to vote. And, not all who are registered to vote actually participate.

  • What we may find out is this: If turnout in November is typical of mid-terms will the energy of the pro-Trump voters be more or less than the energy of the anti-Trump voters when it comes to actually turning out?

  • I think what Democrats were secretly hoping for was at least one of those seven Districts - especially one of the four that are in Orange County - would end up with Democrats ending up in each of the top two places, thus guaranteeing at least one turnover.

  • A Wall Street Journal peek at Southern California points out that:
    "In 2007, there were about 264,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. A decade later, that advantage fell to 57,000, records show."

    Further, "in 1980, the percentage of white residents was 78% compared with 44% in 2010. The Latino population grew to about 34% from nearly 15% during that time, according to census data, and the Asian population grew to about 18% from 4%."

  • That's why, as the NY Times' Jonathon Martin and Tim Arango wrote:
    "Democrats breathed sighs of relief Wednesday as party candidates in California's seven most competitive House races were set to advance to the general election and go on the offensive in those Republican-held districts, all of which Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

  • But, this is a mid-term and the results can be, and often are, surprising.

  • Dreams die hard. Especially California Dreams.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the LA Times and to the WSJ articles. Also to the NY Times piece.

    The Mullfoto, although of a license plate, contains information I'll bet you didn't know.

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