California Republicans Headed for the Slaughterhouse

Conservative Californians are going to have almost no reason to vote in November.

There are a couple of outliers, but the general consensus of the polls is that Donald Trump is going to get right around 33% of the vote in California. Maybe when all the undecideds are counted, he’ll do slightly better than that, but it’s still likely that when Election Day rolls around in November, Golden State Republicans will be looking at a party champion who is trailing by twenty points or more. It’s hard to find a reason to drag yourself to the polls under circumstances like that.

Now, maybe a Republican might get motivated to vote in the governor’s race, but there is no governor’s race there this year. And, perhaps a good Senate contest might interest a conservative voter, but the only two people on the ticket in November in the race to replace Barbara Boxer are Democrats: Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez. And check this out:

A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released this week found Harris leading Sanchez 47 percent to 22 percent. The survey also found that 64 percent of Republicans said they would not cast a ballot for either candidate in November.

Now, if there is no governor’s race and the presidential race is a foregone conclusion (and don’t forget that Californians will know how most of the country voted long before their own polls close) and 64% of Republicans have no intentions of casting a vote in the Senate race, then the only reason most California Republicans will have to show up at the polls is to cast a vote for their U.S. Representative and some state and local races.

Can you imagine the turnout challenge facing Republicans running for the House of Representatives this fall?

Democrats will at least have a Senate race to weigh in on, although I kind of doubt the polls will be close in that contest either. Still, the business community is pondering whether it might profit them to get behind the candidacy of Loretta Sanchez. Her own campaign is pitching her pro-business “Blue Dog” credentials.

Sanchez appears to be reciprocating the interest [of the business community]. In her [second place] victory speech after last week’s primary, she said she would “work with businesses, labor leaders, chambers of commerce, and workers to strengthen our economy.”

“She’s a social progressive, but she’s a Blue Dog Democrat that looks at fiscal programs to see if they are paid for,” said Luis Vizcaino, spokesman for Sanchez’s campaign. “And I think that appeals to many Californians, who want somebody aligned with their social views but at the same time is fiscally moderate.”

That has the president of the California Business Roundtable, Rob Lapsley, intrigued.

Lapsley said that he and many in the business community are still assessing the candidates and November’s expected turnout patterns to determine if getting involved makes sense.

But he called Sanchez’s campaign “viable” and praised her political brain trust — led by longtime California consultant Bill Carrick — as “top-notch.” What’s more, Lapsley indicated that business groups’ involvement in this year’s Senate race could be a test run for 2018, when California voters pick a successor to Gov. Jerry Brown.

California’s primary system awards the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to advance to the general election. In a deeply blue state like California, which hasn’t elected a statewide GOP official in almost a decade, that could mean two Democrats could make the final ballot.

The Roll Call article I am citing notes all the obstacles in Sanchez’s way, including a lack of money. Personally, I think Kamala Harris will get a primetime gig at the Democratic National Convention and put any slim hope Sanchez has away.

So, turnout may be surprisingly light in California this year, but Democrats will have more enthusiasm and more reason to participate. A lot of people, including many in the Latino community, may be pretty jazzed to show up just to cast a vote against Trump.

It’s a recipe for a complete slaughter of downticket Republicans, including many who are not seen as vulnerable by anyone at this point. If the national Republicans are going to lose control of the House of Representatives, this may be the reason why.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.