Destroying The Myth: CD-Level Obama-McCain Results Show There Is No Red California
Bipartisan death cultists love to tell us that the real problem in California is that gerrymandered seats lead to extremists of both sides in safe elections, and that no opposition can win in such a rigged game. Thanks to the Swing State Project and some dedicated individuals who have done the work, we can now pronounce that myth dead. Completely dead.
Volunteers processed county-level information to come up with the Obama/McCain split in virtually all California Congressional districts. Fresno, Madera, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Ventura counties have yet to release the county-level data, so we're missing a few districts, but hopefully that information is forthcoming. What we can already view, the data for 43 of the 53 districts, is stunning.
Obama won 34 of those 43 districts, including 7 held by Republicans. He just missed in CA-46 (McCain was under 50% and the spread was less than 5,000 votes). Also, seven of the 10 currently unknown districts are held by Democrats, and I'll bet CA-24 goes blue as well, or at least close to it. I think we can say that Barack Obama won or was extremely competitive in 43 of the 53 Congressional districts in the state. Here are the 7 GOP-held districts where Obama won:
CA-03 (Lungren): Obama +1,600 votes
CA-25 (McKeon): Obama +3,000 votes
CA-26 (Dreier): Obama +12,000 votes
CA-44 (Calvert): Obama +2,500 votes
CA-45 (Bono Mack): Obama +13,000 votes
CA-48 (Campbell): Obama +2,500 votes
CA-50 (Bilbray): Obama +14,000 votes
The data I've wanted is the downticket ballot dropoff stats, and now we have them. I'll list it for these seven key districts, plus CA-46 (Rohrabacher), which Obama nearly won. These are rough estimates of the total number of votes in the Presidential contest and the Congressional contest for each district:
CA-03 Presidential 336K votes; Congressional 314K votes
CA-25 Pres. 271K, Cong. 250K
CA-26 Pres. 292K, Cong. 267K
CA-44 Pres. 269K, Cong. 253K
CA-45 Pres. 276K, Cong, 266K
CA-46 Pres. 303K, Cong. 285K
CA-48 Pres. 330K, Cong. 308K
Ca-50 Pres. 329K, Cong. 313K
Though it may have made a small difference at the margins, the ballot dropoff is relatively small, actually, and to be expected to a certain extent. Some people are just going to come out for the Presidential election, on both sides.
But what is indisputable from these numbers is that Democrats can win in California in virtually every district, even when they are "hopelessly" gerrymandered. The shifts from 2004 to 2008 are quite incredible and represent a realignment. In '04 Kerry lost CA-03 58-41. Obama won. Kerry lost CA-25 59-40. Obama won. Kerry lost CA-26 55-44. Obama won 51-47. Etc. You can check the numbers for yourself.
There's only one Congressional candidate who outperformed the top of the ticket and that's Charlie Brown. Obama lost CA-04 54-44. Therefore it's untrue that, even in unfriendly areas, there is no Democrat that can make a race competitive. The right Democrat can win in any seat in California. And I think the numbers would bear this out in the Assembly and Senate as well.
The "hopelessly gerrymandered" line is an excuse. An excuse used by elites who are pretty happy with the status quo and don't want the crazy libs having a working majority in the legislature. An excuse used by those in Washington who don't want to spend money on expensive California races. It's a pernicious excuse because it restricts progress and leads us to the brink of crisis. But it's an excuse, nonetheless.