Wednesday, February 6, 2008

California, here we come ... not.

Last week, Malcolm mused on the febrile state of the Republican Party. The odds are stacked against a three-in-a-row win for anybody, anytime. Add in declining electoral support, disenchantment with the President, a lack of cash flow: nothing looks rosy for November.

Meanwhile, across the gang-way, despite the Clinton-Obama continued Mexican stand-off (though perhaps metaphors involving Mexicans and immigration should be avoided at this juncture), the Democrats have room to cheer.

Malcolm was interested, then, to see the first thoughts from the LA Times on the California Primaries. Obviously, as yet, the final results are a way off, and there was a bit of column-filling to be done. So we were given a piece of news analysis by Cathleen Decker.

This addressed:
a hardening of the state's Democratic tilt and a proportionate drop in Republican support.
And the figures are pretty dire for the G.O.P.:
"To an objective observer, the trend is not the GOP's friend in California," said Don Sipple, a Republican veteran of national and statewide campaigns.
A look at registration figures bears him out: Democrats gained four voters in the last two months to every one gained by Republicans. That left Democrats at just under 43% of the registered voters. Republicans note that is a historic low. The trouble is that Republicans are lower: just over 33% of registered voters. (The fastest-growing segment, Independents, constituted 19.37%.)

A survey of 12 key counties, moreover, showed the difficulties facing Republicans. In all but one, Democratic registration inched up between September and the close of registration Jan. 22.
In all of the counties, the percentage of voters who are registered as Republicans dropped.

California has gone Democrat in each Presidential Election since 1988:
  • 2004: Kerry by 54% to 44%;
  • 2000: Gore by 54% to 42%;
  • 1996: Clinton by 51% to 38%
  • 1992: Clinton by 46% to 33%. This was the tipping point: previously California had an unbroken allegiance to Republican Presidential candidates, back to Tricky Dicky in 1968m and beyond. LBJ had caned Goldwater 59-41 in 1964; but that was exceptional: even JFK could not quite take California in 1960.
So it's way back to 1988, twenty years, since the California electoral votes went Republican: Bush 51% to Dukakis 48%. The demography is constantly moving against the Republicans.

As things now stand, 43% of the registered electors declare themselves Democrats, just 33% are republicans. Both those figures are historic lows: the main percentage increase is in the 19% Independents. That is no comfort for the Republicans: those Independents seem to be tipping 4 to 1 for the Democrat candidates this time round. All in all the Primary showed an increase of 150,000 Democratic voters, and a decline of 25,000 republicans.

Not surprisingly, then, the presumptions are:
  • the Democratic candidate, be it Hillary or Obama, will not spend much time or money rallying the vote in California;
  • the Republicans will have California written off, unless (and, again back to Cathleen Decker's item):
the focus ... would require a confluence of events: John McCain as the nominee, character as the defining issue and a decision that the cost of running a campaign [in California] is worth the exceptional expense it would take.
Independents' presence gives Republicans hope, but there is a consensus that they will vote Republican only if McCain is the nominee. McCain, the former prisoner of war in Vietnam who has made his name as a burr under the saddle of official Washington, is far more in their mold than other recent candidates.
That seems a desperate attempt to whistling in the face of adversity. Once a political fixer mutters "if", it's an admission of impending disaster.

So that's 55 Electoral College votes for Hillary or Obama. Only 215 more needed. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

a very public sociologist said...

The further advantage the Democrats have is continuing exposure thanks to the deadlock. Some commentators think this puts the Republicans at an advantage. I don't think so. The media buzz and political conversations across the US will be about Obama and Clinton and their respective policies. By the time the final nomination is made it will be "John who?"

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