The GOP finds a silver liner in Trump’s California landslide


In May, when Representative Mike Garcia won a special house election in suburban Los Angeles, it was the first time since 1998 that the GOP had overthrown the state’s Democrat-held house. It has been even longer since 1994 for Republicans to remove an incumbent. Yet this has already been done three times this month in the election – Republican Michelle Steel beat Harley Rouda Democrat in the Orange County coastal district and Republican Young Kim sent Gil Cisneros, Former MP David Valadao defeated Democrat TJ Cox to regain his headquarters in Central Valley.

Garcia is currently running ahead of Democrat Christy Smith in a race that is still too close to the call.

“The pendulum is backing up,” said Jim Brulte, a former president and long-term legislative leader of the California Republican Party. – There is an equal and opposite reaction to every action. It’s not just physics. It is also political. And I think he’s starting to see a reaction to full democratic California control.

This is an intoxicating assessment in a state where Democrats hold all state offices and legislative supremacities – and where the state was last filled as a Republican presidential candidate in 1988 by George HW Bush. Democrats have a registration advantage of more than 20 percentage points over Republicans. nationwide, the margin has increased since 2016.

Yet it was not so long ago that the California Republican Party was described as dead. His success this month not only increased the desperate vote of Democrats across the country, but also dealt a blow to a delegation from House of President Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party’s signal. More importantly, he recalled how volatile parts of the political landscape remain even in California, a state that will be critical in the medium term in two years.

“He suggests that no one has yet signed the California Republican Party’s death certificate,” said Darry Sragow, a long-time democracy strategist and publisher of the partyless California target book that is delaying elections in the state.

Nowhere was the assembly of the Republican Party more evident than in Orange County, the one-time citadel of conservatism that Democrats eventually cracked in 2016. Hillary Clinton became the party’s first presidential candidate to run the county since 1936, and so on it toppled two years later – Democrats swept away all four congressional races in Orange County. Last year, registered Democrats outperformed Republicans there.

But this month, Rouda and Cisneros, in which part of the county is located, both lost their seats in front of Republicans, at least one of whom, Steel, seemed to outperform Trump in his district, according to Target Book data.

For Republicans, this was the kind of achievement that suggested the future of the party in the post-Trump era. The icing on the cake was that the party’s victory came in a high-turnout presidential election, usually catastrophic for the California GOP, after Republicans opposed efforts to facilitate the vote for years. The public participation rate is expected to have reached 80 percent.

Recalling how often California In recent years, Republicans have been criticized for saying “you can only win because we have a record low turnout, or you can win a special election, but usually not,” Jessica Millan Patterson, president of the State Republic Party, said. : “This is a real wake-up call for California Democrats. … Attendance was record high and we were able to flip … maybe four congress chairs.

The party’s house gains reflected the GOP’s nationwide improvement in congressional races, with Republicans throwing back the most competitive places they lost in California two years ago. But Republicans in the state have also stepped up the registration of their voters and the collection of ballot papers, using the same practices, including what critics call “collecting votes” that Democrats used.

In some ways, the victories achieved by Republicans have overturned the traditional post-election scenario in California. Over the years, Republicans have avoided many defeats in house and legislative races, as well as nationwide races, and instead have raised their successes in local races as evidence of growth.

But this week in Orange County, the local Democratic Party promoted the election of more Democrats, including women and colored people, to local governing bodies, while noting that Biden bears a greater proportion of the county – 9 percentage points – than Clinton.

Ada Briceño, president of the Orange County Democratic Party, described the result as a “mixed bag,” but warned him not to read anything into it. lessons for 2022. House Democrats performed poorly across the country, not just in California, mainly because of Trump-led participation.

“I think Donald Trump has created some of the chaos in the voting results we’re seeing, and I think we’re going to get some kind of normalcy after Trump,” he said. “California California. … We are a very progressive place.

Amanda Renteria, who was director of national policy for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and launched unsuccessfully against Valadao in 2014, said in that house district “there was not nearly as much energy on the ground as in 2018,” in part because Democrats tended to focus on presidential elections in the swing states.

He also said the coronavirus epidemic has stifled a message of democracy in the economy that may have resonated in rural areas like the Central Valley or the Latinos – a group with which Trump entered modestly and who make up about 40 percent of California’s population.

“It’s no longer about telling the story of Prop. 187,” he said, referring to the 1994 initiative that limited services to undocumented immigrants – a measure that was largely flawed because of the GOP’s long decline in California. “It’s a different era and a different time.”

Instead, Renteria said, “We need to start thinking about a real Latin economic agenda and show tangible results.”

Across the country, there is no evidence why Democrats should worry, as the party’s registered voters in the state are almost two compared to one in the state. Given the math, some Republican home recordings should have been expected after the GOP ranks shrank to seven of the state’s 53 congressional seats in 2018.

“This is not a state that is 80 percent democratic,” said Garry South, the state’s longtime democratic strategist. “It was inevitable that two years later, Republicans would try to grab some of the seven lost seats, and they did. … But let’s be honest, that’s only 11 places out of 53. “

He said, “Is this something we can use to pop the champagne corks?”

Not yet – yet. But the majority of the House of the Democratic Party is tight enough for House races here to be critical here in two years, when Republicans have a credible chance of getting the house back. The president’s party traditionally loses its mandate in the first half. And there’s finally some hope for California Republicans.

The state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, beat his Republican opponent, John Cox, by about 3 million votes two years ago and received a high public approval rating. But what struck me most recently was the fact that he attended a birthday party at a fancy restaurant amid the pandemic. Kevin Faulconer, the mayor of the moderate Republican San Diego, recently said he was “seriously considering” the post of governor.

Patterson said the 2022 election – against Newsom – could track down the GOP. There are others strongly Democratic states with Republican leaders such as Vermont and Massachusetts. Back in 2011, there was a Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in California.

“I think 2020 was about tablecloths, and in 2022 we can really restore balance in California,” Patterson said. “If we are able to recruit a candidate who can start and win in California, we will find the balance.”