California Update

On November 5 there were quite a few U.S. House seats still hanging fire in California, creating the impression that the Golden State might well yet contribute to GOP congressional gains this year. But now that the dust is settling and the excruciatingly slow count of mail and provisional ballots has resumed, it’s looking more and more likely that Democrats will wind up with a net gain of one U.S. House seat (CA-31, vacated by Rep. Gary Miller). Democrats also swept all eight state constitutional offices.

Yes, Republicans did succeed in ending the very narrow super-majorities Democrats had in the state legislature (less crucial than it used to be before the enactment of 2010’s Proposition 25, which allows for passage of the state budget by a simple majority, and 2012’s Proposition 30, which enacted a major tax measure that Republicans had been blocking in the legislature). But given the very, very low turnout (about 35%, as compared to 72% in 2012 and even 46% in 2010), it’s hard to imagine a better environment for California Republicans, and they didn’t do a whole lot with it. I’d expect what gains they had will be endangered in 2016.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.