ONTD Political

California GOP Showing Worries Party Strategists

8:00 pm - 11/10/2012
LOS ANGELES — If the future happens first in California, the Republican Party has a problem.

The nation's most populous state – home to 1 in 8 Americans – has entered a period of Democratic political control so far-reaching that the dwindling number of Republicans in the Legislature are in danger of becoming mere spectators at the statehouse.

Democrats hold the governorship and every other statewide office. They gained even more ground in Tuesday's elections, picking up at least three congressional seats while votes continue to be counted in two other tight races – in one upset, Democrat Raul Ruiz, a Harvard-educated physician who mobilized a district's growing swath of Hispanic voters, pushed out longtime Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

The party also secured a supermajority in one, and possibly both, chambers in the Legislature.

"Republican leaders should look at California and shudder," says Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain's 2008 campaign and anchored former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election team in 2006. "The two-party system has collapsed."

Republican voter registration has dipped so low – less than 30 percent – that the party's future state candidates will be hobbled from the start.

Republicans searching for a new direction after Mitt Romney's defeat will inevitably examine why President Barack Obama rolled up more than 70 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote, and 9 of 10 votes among blacks, essential ingredients in his victory. Women also supported Obama over Romney nationally and in California, where they broke for the president by 27 percentage points.

There is no better place to witness how demographic shifts have shaped elections than in California, the home turf of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan that just a generation ago was a reliably Republican state in presidential contests.



A surge in immigrants transformed the state, and its voting patterns. The number of Hispanics, blacks and Asians combined has outnumbered whites since 1998 in California, and by 2020 the Hispanic population alone is expected to top that of whites. With Latinos, for example, voter surveys show they've overwhelmingly favored Democratic presidential candidates for decades. Similar shifts are taking place across the nation.

"There are demographic changes in the American electorate that we saw significantly, first, here in California and Republicans nationally are not reacting to them," said Jim Brulte, a former Republican leader in the California Senate.

"Romney overwhelmingly carried the white vote – 20 years ago, that would have meant an electoral landslide. Instead, he lost by 2 million votes" in the state, Brulte said.

Perhaps no part of the state better illustrates how Republicans surrendered ground than in Orange County, once a largely white, GOP bastion where Nixon's seaside home became known as the Western White House.

Today, whites make up a little more than 40 percent of the population, while 2 in 10 residents are Asian and about 1 in 3 is Hispanic, according to the census.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter managed to collect about a quarter of the vote against Reagan in the county. But by 1996, with the county diversifying, Bill Clinton grabbed 38 percent of the vote, and Al Gore boosted that to 40 percent in 2000. This year, Obama won 44 percent of the vote in Orange County, according to preliminary returns.

Romney "implemented a winning election strategy for 1980," University of Southern California professor Patrick James said in a statement issued by the school. "If you look at the demographics and voting proportions, the Reagan coalition would not win a majority today."

Celeste Greig, president of the conservative California Republican Assembly, said in an email to supporters Friday that the party was in need of a makeover, emphasizing Main Street over Wall Street.

"We have to admit that as a party in California, we're just plain disorganized," she wrote.

Romney bypassed California this year, waging his fight in battlegrounds such as Ohio and Florida. In claiming the biggest electoral prize in America, California's 55 electoral votes, Obama rolled up a nearly 21 percent margin. Voters also returned Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Washington in a landslide, after Republicans put up a virtually unknown candidate, Elizabeth Emken, an autism activist who had never held elected office.

Independents now outnumber Republicans in 13 congressional districts in California, a trend analysts predict will continue.

California counted more registered Republicans in 1988 than it does today, although the population has grown by about 10 million over that time. You'd have to go back to that year to find a Republican presidential candidate who carried the state, George H.W. Bush.

Surprisingly, Democrats continued to make gains in the state even at a time of double-digit unemployment, with polls showing that voters are unhappy with Sacramento and Washington. And it could get worse for the GOP. Republicans are trailing in two other House races in which the vote counting continues.

It remains unclear what direction Democrats, who have close ties to public employee unions, will take with their additional clout. If they achieve the supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, Democrats can pass tax increases and override gubernatorial vetoes without any Republican support.

The state is saddled with a litany of problems, including a long-running budget crisis, massive, unfunded public pension obligations, tuition increases at California universities and growing demands for water, affordable housing and energy.

Gov. Jerry Brown sounded a cautionary note this week, saying he intended to avoid spending binges.

Still, Democrats believe they have the state's demographics on their side with a message that appeals to a younger, more diverse population.

More than half the young voters in the state, ages 18 to 39, are Hispanic, according to the independent Field Poll. Thirty-five percent are Asian. If you look into a classroom in the Los Angeles area – tomorrow's voters – 3 of 4 kids are Hispanic.

The GOP retains pockets of influence regionally, including rural, inland areas.

Republican National Committee member Shawn Steel has been pushing the party to become more aggressive about recruiting Asians.

"It's not just all about the Latinos," he says.

Schmidt traces GOP troubles with Hispanics to 1994, when voters with encouragement from Republican Gov. Pete Wilson enacted Proposition 187, which prohibited illegal immigrants from using health care, education or other social services.

The law eventually was overturned, but it left lingering resentment with many Hispanics at a time when the Latino population was growing swiftly and becoming increasingly important in elections.



California "is not just a large state, population-wise, it's a trend-setting state," said Schmidt, a public relations strategist. "It could be a glimpse of the future."

Source.
astridmyrna 11th-Nov-2012 05:37 am (UTC)
Trend-setting state, eh? That would be fucking awesome if the Republican party would phase itself out so that Dems can go against Independents, and the rest of the nation follows suit. It would be nice to have a not so obvious choice of who to vote for.
hinoema 11th-Nov-2012 06:35 am (UTC)
It's staring them right in the face and they still don't see it. People are sick of being demonized and shamed by the Republicans for daring to be black, Hispanic, female and sexually active, gay, non-Christian, etc etc. Until they get that, they'll flounder.

Isn't the saying 'as California goes, so goes the country'?
effervescent 11th-Nov-2012 07:06 am (UTC)
Yup. And yet they're convinced that they didn't ~get the base out~. It's like, no, you *got* your base out, but your base isn't ENOUGH anymore.

Edited at 2012-11-11 07:06 am (UTC)
pennylane101 11th-Nov-2012 10:37 am (UTC)
if they don't change the same will happen in 2016. i guess they'll have to learn the hard way which is fine by me
moonbrightnites 11th-Nov-2012 02:09 pm (UTC)
I don't see them changing by 2016. Most of them think they lost because their guy wasn't conservative enough.

(I absolutely think they should go with that.)
tinylegacies 11th-Nov-2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
The lack of logic ASTOUNDS me. I mean, you look at a race like Akin vs McCaskill. That should have been an easy win for them but after Akin's uber conservative rantings, he lost. It's like HELLO. This election spelled it out for you - the country is not all white, heterosexual, Christian men.
pleasure_past 11th-Nov-2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
He lost in a red state, at that! They really need to get a clue.
romp 11th-Nov-2012 06:48 am (UTC)
I'd like to think this is a sign of things to come. It makes sense that the central valley has been southern in culture since southerners moved in the 1850s and then dust bowl refugees moved in during the 1930s. Baptist, conservative, wary of high education,... Generations kept this up while Latinos kept their heads down but the internet has to help end the cultural isolation.
sixdemonhag 11th-Nov-2012 06:59 am (UTC)
It sure doesn't feel that way here in Kern County. :(
martydressler 11th-Nov-2012 07:54 pm (UTC)
Seconded so hard. (Fellow Kern Countyite.)
zinnia_rose 11th-Nov-2012 07:35 am (UTC)
The nation's most populous state – home to 1 in 8 Americans – has entered a period of Democratic political control so far-reaching that the dwindling number of Republicans in the Legislature are in danger of becoming mere spectators at the statehouse.

As a Californian I would be more than okay with that, tbh.

Now if we could just get our shit together and repeal Prop 8...

Edited at 2012-11-11 07:39 am (UTC)
keestone 11th-Nov-2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
And we might even be able to balance the budget while we're at it.
jadehunter 11th-Nov-2012 07:47 am (UTC)
Phasing out Republicans and replacing them with Democrats and Independents? Sounds like a plan to me. And, as a Californian, this part:

The nation's most populous state – home to 1 in 8 Americans – has entered a period of Democratic political control so far-reaching that the dwindling number of Republicans in the Legislature are in danger of becoming mere spectators at the statehouse.



I remember being at work on Election Night, CNN was on and tracking the votes as the polls closed in the east coast. Romney was leading by quite a few electoral votes, but everyone was like, tra-la-la, they haven't even gotten to us yet and the shattering of neocon dreams when they get to CA will be delicious.
pennylane101 11th-Nov-2012 11:19 am (UTC)
Romney was leading by quite a few electoral votes, but everyone was like, tra-la-la, they haven't even gotten to us yet and the shattering of neocon dreams when they get to CA will be delicious.

haha yeah i wasn't worry at all when he lead in the beginning i was like
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Edited at 2012-11-11 11:19 am (UTC)
shadwing 12th-Nov-2012 12:28 am (UTC)
Same here my roommate was like "THats not good.." I said "Chill they haven't called NY or CA yet..."
autumnleaving 11th-Nov-2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
That's exactly what I thought so too. When I saw the numbers on Tuesday and Romney's lead, I immediately looked to the West Coast and saw that CA, OR, and WA haven't counted their ballots yet so I was like ", CA will give Obama a huge boost, it will make Romney's 'war room' cry."

The West Coast went blue this time. And if my plans work out, WA will gain another blue voter (ohaaai, me). The Repubs can analyze this bass-ackwards all they want - single women voters, "dem brown pplz," etc. - but there's still only a few who are willing to look inwards, within the party, and say "Um... I think we're the problem, guys." 'Cause a lot of us have a huge problem with telling women what to do with their bodies, why their specific religion is so much better than everyone else's, and why those who can afford to pay higher taxes aren't. Eva Longoria had such an awesome line during her DNC speech: "The Eva Longoria who worked at Wendy's flipping burgers—she needed a tax break. But the Eva Longoria who works on movie sets does not."

This election... I still feel the same relief that I feel when I am finally able to pee after the long hours of holding it in. No shame.
elobelia 11th-Nov-2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
I live in a very conservative part of California. People here are practically frothing at the mother in rage and threatening to leave. My aunt said she wants to retire and move to Colorado where everyone is white (according to her). Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.
trojanchick99 11th-Nov-2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
I grew up in the SJV and have family like that. One Uncle did move to Missouri, to get away From people who spoke Mexican. His wife said this in front of me, the half Mexican who at the time was the ONLY person in that family to have graduated from college. I don't miss them.

Edited at 2012-11-11 07:20 pm (UTC)
thenakedcat 12th-Nov-2012 01:55 am (UTC)
PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT.

Sorry, Incredulous Coloradoan here. Ohhhhhhh sweet Bastet, I would love to SEE HER FACE if she ever did visit deep-blue, Espanol-hablaing Denver.
trojanchick99 11th-Nov-2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
There is a reason I like to refer to the West Coast as the Left Coast.

Oh and if the blue revolution could spread to the Central Valley that would be awesome.
futureframe 11th-Nov-2012 08:47 pm (UTC)
it's almost like we're actually becoming the cultural melting pot after all...
lizzy_someone 11th-Nov-2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Republicans searching for a new direction after Mitt Romney's defeat will inevitably examine why President Barack Obama rolled up more than 70 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote, and 9 of 10 votes among blacks, essential ingredients in his victory. Women also supported Obama over Romney nationally and in California, where they broke for the president by 27 percentage points.

Here's a hint: it would probably help if you stopped being so racist and misogynistic.

Next thing you know they'll be scratching their heads over why Democrats do better with queer and trans voters. We're not stupid, guys. We can tell when people hate us.
animegirl0087 12th-Nov-2012 12:20 am (UTC)
During the last election, I voted for Obama while I was a freshman at Berkeley. This year, the whole atmosphere was different and I have to admit it was hard coming back home and come across a lot more conservatives and Obama-haters. However, it was wonderful to hear that San Diego had more registered Democrats and Republicans ( article here ) and that things are slowly changing, hopefully for the better. It's a small consolation, especially when I have to deal with people on my newsfeed posting up pictures about flying their flag half mast and mourning the loss of this country's future. I don't ever expect San Diego to become like Berkeley, but any steps toward a better future that will be beneficial and open toward everyone is all I can ever hope for.

ETA: oops, forgot to put the link.

Edited at 2012-11-12 12:31 am (UTC)
checkerdandy 12th-Nov-2012 02:23 am (UTC)
It's cause all the California Republicans moved to Idaho. Duh.
caerfrli 12th-Nov-2012 03:14 am (UTC)
Nevertheless I suspect reports of the Republican Party's demise are greatly exaggerated. You may recall the death knell was sounded in 1964 and 2008, too.
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