Why doesn't California have more Republicans?

The Republicans surprise in California

The Democratic candidates in California failed to secure important seats early on. The Republicans, on the other hand, managed a surprise.

Five months before the US congressional elections, the Democrats performed disappointingly in major California elections - with ramifications for power in Washington. Because in order to regain the majority in the House of Representatives, the Democrats must win 23 seats from the Republicans in the congressional elections on November 5, without losing any. They should have an easy game in California, because seven districts in which the Republican MP is up for re-election in the fall voted for the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, with a majority in the 2016 presidential election - for the first time since the Second World War.

Special pre-selection system

The problem seems to be that too many Democrats have hoped for these seats and have taken votes away from each other. Because California's pre-election system is a special one: In 2010, the so-called top two primary system was introduced by referendum, which is otherwise only known to the Washington state. According to this, voters in the primary election can make cross-party decisions about candidates; the two with the most votes win the main election, regardless of whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

If the Democrats had managed to put both top candidates in said Republican districts, they would have already secured important seats in the battle for the House of Representatives. They missed this opportunity: In all seven boroughs, the Democrats only finished second, with a Republican going into the race as the favorite on November 5th. At least one has secured a place in the main election everywhere - so some Democrats try to be optimistic. The Republican MP Dana Rohrabacher, who secured first place in his district, scoffed: "How many times do we have to hear: 'A blue wave will wash us all away'?"

Observers assign part of the blame to the party leadership, the California representation of the Democratic National Committee. They missed agreeing on a democratic favorite at an early stage and supporting them. "The Clinton Democrats would have been ready, but not the Bernie Sanders Democrats, who still feel that their votes have been cheated," says Bob Butler, political commentator for the Californian radio station KCBS.

Motivated basis

For the Republicans in California and Washington, however, the results of the primaries were extremely positive - especially with a view to the California gubernatorial elections in the fall. Her goal was for her top candidate, John Cox, to make it to at least second place. That seemed unlikely for a long time - until President Donald Trump personally interfered in the election campaign and supported Cox. For Trump, the gubernatorial election in California is almost personal, as he is leading a feud against incumbent Jerry Brown, who will no longer be allowed to run due to term restrictions in the fall.

Cox has no real hopes for governorship in the deep blue state - this seems almost certain to his now established democratic rival Gavin Newsom. Newsom is currently the deputy governor and a clear favorite. But the Republican Party's calculation is that a top Republican candidate will lure the grassroots to the polls on November 5th and they will then cast their votes for the Senate and the House of Representatives. On Tuesday evening, Cox was "trumpet" and emphasized that he wanted to make California the "Golden State" it once was.

The pre-election results are a glimmer of hope for the Republicans in California: It was recently announced that the party is no longer the second but only the third largest political force in the most populous member state. Voters without political affiliation (“independents”) now make up 25.5 percent in California, while Republicans only make up 25.1 percent. Most of the 19 million registered voters feel they belong to the Democratic Party (44.4 percent). The fact that fewer and fewer voters call themselves Republicans is also due to the growing proportion of Latinos who traditionally tend to vote for the Democrats.

On Tuesday, however, the Republicans proved that they can mobilize their base for elections.