Does California Need an Alternative to the GOP?

At Daily Kos, James Lambert has some good news for Democrats:

It’s very probable that registered Republicans [in California] will fall behind both Democrats and “no party preference” voters at some point by Election Day this fall, essentially relegating the California GOP to third-party status. This, in the state that sent both Nixon and Reagan to the White House.

What stuck for me most in the statistics, which were provided by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, is that California has added seven million residents in the last twenty years, which has resulted in 1.7 million more registered Democrats and about a half a million fewer registered Republicans. In truth, both numbers are astonishingly low. By comparison, there are three million more people who are registered to vote but don’t express a party preference. This latter group now represents one in four registered Californians, which is the same rough percentage that are registered as Republicans.

The overall point of Lambert’s piece is that the “no party preference” group will surpass the Republican group in size any day now. And, because the ‘no party’ group leans to the left, the Republicans are even worse shape than registration numbers might suggest. Thus, they can be characterized as almost a third party.

They say that California often leads the way for the rest of the nation, but it will be a long time before the rest of the country has the same demographics as the Golden State. What I am more interested in seeing is if some right-leaning people on the left coast can come up with some alternative to the Republican Party. It’s probably easier to do this in California than anywhere else because of their unique election laws. Candidates don’t have to identify with a party and all candidates are lumped together in one giant jungle primary, with only the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election.

I’ve long toyed with the idea of progressives running candidates for the U.S. House who will pledge to vote only for a Speaker of the House that is collectively acceptable to them. California always struck me as the best place to start some a movement. But it could be that some right-wing Silicon Valley billionaire pursues the idea first. If they can get enough candidates elected who will reject a Paul Ryan in favor of someone who has a much different and more California-friendly ideology, they can become king-makers. Either they get their Speaker, of the Democrats get to choose.

All I know is that if you’re not a Democrat or on the left, and you live in California, the GOP isn’t a brand you want to be saddled with. You can already see this with how many Republican members of Congress are not seeking reelection this year. Maybe someone can prove again that California leads the nation by getting started on a new center-right party. I’m sure New England would follow, and then perhaps the Mid-Atlantic.

Martin Longman

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