Last night’s primaries are over. South Dakota, New Mexico, Alabama, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Montana had contests, but the one to watch was California. Democrats are targeting several Republicans whose districts broke for Hillary Clinton. There was a real danger that three contests could end up in Democratic lockouts due to so many liberals running. In the Golden State, the top two vote getters advance to the general regardless of party, so it’s possible that these races could have had only Republicans on the ballot. Hey, the National Republican Congressional Committee would have liked that, but alas—that didn’t happen. Democrats were locked out of the U.S. Senate race, where incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who failed to secure her state party’s nomination, is facing State Sen. Kevin de Leon. Republican John Cox secured enough of the vote to face Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome in the gubernatorial elections. So, there’s no lockouts; the blue wave is coming, right? Well, not quite. The LA Timescalled the turnout unexceptional, asking if California Democrats slept through the primaries [emphasis mine]:
Final numbers on voter participation won’t be in for a while, but turnout seems unexceptional. With more than 97% of the precincts reporting, less than 21% of registered voters had cast ballots. That’s in line with the anemic turnout in the 2014 primary, and far, far below the five previous midterm election primaries.
Who said this year was special? Oh right — Democrats did.
The line from the national media echoed this making-lemonade-out-of-lemons paragraph by The Times’ Christine Mai-Duc: “Democrats in California appeared poised Tuesday night to avoid getting shut out of key congressional races for the November election, the most pressing risk they faced as they seek to retake control of the House.”
Yes, there were a lot of Democrats competing with one another to flip the six Republican-held U.S. House seats in districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. But not getting shut out isn’t exactly the same as “striking fear deep in the heart of Republican incumbents.” Democrats may remain within hailing distance in four of those seats, but the strongest candidate in each of them was from the GOP.
Strongest? Every GOP candidate in the seven races targeted by Democrats secured over 50 percent of the vote. Jonathan Allen at NBC News has more:
These tallies are *not* final, but right now here's the cumulative Dem/GOP % for the 7 battleground CA districts (held by R's now/won by Clinton in '16): pic.twitter.com/lHqxIUsif3— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) June 6, 2018
They [Democrats] managed to avert the total disaster of getting "locked out" of general election contests in California, where candidates of all parties compete against one another in primaries and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election.
But they didn't look particularly impressive in doing it.
Moreover, Republicans in congressional races will surely point to the strong economic numbers that the president has promoted — historically low unemployment and steady growth among them — as long as they continue. And while Trump's approval ratings are persistently negative, most of the GOP incumbents don't carry the same political baggage. That is, they have both swords and shields with which to defend their turf.
For now, Democrats are relieved that they'll have candidates on the ballot in all the potentially competitive House races in California — a development that was far from certain when voters went to the polls Tuesday and that had Democrats cursing California's primary system.
Neera Tanden, president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, tweeted her frustration at the process on Tuesday night before eventually reveling in Democrats' advancement in each of the races.
"I think I can speak for America when I say CA’s jungle primary is super dumb," she wrote.
Even The Washington Post wrote this was a rather lackluster performance by Democrats, adding that last night’s performance shows there’s no evidence that the Democratic Party is making any gains, though it stressed that these numbers are preliminary [emphasis mine]:
Those preliminary results are what we have to work with, and they’re not what Democrats would want to see.
Democratic candidates got more than half of the vote in two races, in the 7th District — a Democrat-held seat — and the 49th District, left vacant when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced his retirement. In every other race, Republican candidates got more than half of the vote.
According to preliminary results. Preliminary.
Let’s assume, though, that the final tallies from the primary don’t differ from these percentages by much. What about the shift we saw between the primary and the general in 2014 and 2016?
Let’s take the most optimistic scenario. In races where the final margin was less than 15 points in 2014 (that is, in relatively close races), Democrats gained an average of 2.7 points between the primary and the general, and Republicans lost an average of 2.2 points. (Remember that there are third-party and nonpartisan candidates who got some votes in the primary but won’t be on the ballot in November.) That’s a swing of nearly five points.
If we apply those shifts to the preliminary totals in our contested races, what happens?
Democrats pick up only one other seat, the 10th District — and that’s by less than a point. They also narrow the margin in the 25th District to less than a point, with Republicans still winning.
Assuming these preliminary results hold and assuming the generous shift seen in 2014, the Democratic wave in California is a net gain of two House seats.
On a side note, the GOP has increased the number of women recruits for congressional races. Also, the Democratic supermajority in the Senate has come to an end. Voters recalled State Sen. Josh Newman over his vote to raise gas taxes. Republican Ling Ling Chang will succeed him (via WaPo):
California Republicans knocked off a freshman state senator in Orange County, recalling Democrat Josh Newman after a campaign that focused almost entirely on his vote to support a 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax.
With 77 percent of precincts reporting, the recall effort had passed by a 20-point landslide. Republican assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang led in the simultaneous election to replace Newman. A victory by her would end the Democratic supermajority in Sacramento through the end of the year, though the legislature had little work ahead of it.
And there’s this story from CA-48, one of the targeted districts represented by incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher. Apparently, a Democratic candidate was told his name sounded “too brown” to win the district. Hey, that’s not who we are!
Via Free Beacon:
California Democratic candidate Omar Siddiqui on Tuesday talked about discrimination within his own own party, describing how party officials tried to get him to change his name because they believed him to be "too brown" to have a chance at winning in the 48th Congressional District.
Siddiqui, who was on the ballot in Tuesday's jungle primary and was seeking to unseat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.), appeared on Fox News to tell his experience with party officials and how he refused to change his name. He went on to explain what he would do as a congressman to unite his district and bring Americans together.
"‘You have government experience, you've worked with the FBI, but you know what? The name Omar Siddiqui will not work in Orange County. You need to change your name,'" said Siddiqui, reflecting on what the local party officials said to him. "You can imagine that was just unacceptable to me. I do not want to be judged on the color of my skin, but rather the content of my character."
"Well, what I did was I told them point blank, I said I'm not going to change my name. I'm not going to drop out of the race because I think somebody by the name of Omar Siddiqui is not going to have a chance in Orange County. And I moved forward, and we ran an excellent campaign, a clean campaign, and we did very well. I'm very excited about the results that are going to come out tonight," Siddiqui said.
If there’s one thing this shows, Democratic enthusiasm has cratered. The generic ballot advantage has been chipped away to within single-digits and hopefully the economic news, which has been solidly tremendous, is trickling through. Over three million people have found jobs since Trump was elected, with an equal amount receiving an average $1,000 bonus check (some cases $3,000) from their employers. Over 250 companies have benefitted from Trump’s tax reform package. It has formed the foundation for the good economic news we’re receiving right now. In May, 223,000 jobs were created, wages increased, small business and consumer confidence are through the roof, and we have more jobs available exceeds those who are looking for them. What is the Democratic response to this? Well, it’s not good. It’s all a lie because the tax bill is a bad, bad thing. And families don’t care about strong employment numbers. Yeah, that’s Nancy Pelosi speaking, who apparently graduated from St. Mary’s of the Blind, Deaf, and Dumb. Given these remarks, it’s no wonder why younger Democrats want her to go, and are having trouble seeing Pelosi and her ilk as leaders of the party (via NTK Network):
MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked [Rep. Seth] Moulton [D-MA] whether he agrees with Pelosi’s assessment that she is a master legislator, and has a following in the country that no one apart from presidential candidates can claim.
“I don’t,” Moulton said. “Her popularity ratings do not comport with the description she just had.”
“What I hear as I travel around the country from Democrats and Republicans alike is that we need leaders,” Moulton said. “It’s time, I think, for a new generation of leadership.”
Hunt then asked Moulton who he thinks the leader of the Democratic Party is.
Moulton repeated Hunt’s question back to her and then remained silent before asking, “does my silence say something?”
Yeah, the Democratic Party is still a mess. Hating Trump is what’s uniting the establishment and progressive wings, but that’s about it. Keep the faith, folks. And don’t forget to vote come November. If the economy remains strong and Trump continues to force the Left to defend trashing the flag, national anthem, and MS-13 gang members, the 2018 midterms could be a good year for Republicans and most of all President Trump. Who’s ready for the triggering part II?