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"It was a splendid population - for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home - you never find that sort of people among pioneers - you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day - and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, "Well, that is California all over."

- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

California Democrats brace for low 2014 turnout

Skeletor Runs for Re-Election
Democrats are worried that unenthusiastic Leftist voters might stay home allowing the GOP to win seats in the legislature.

Just because California Democrats hold every statewide office and a supermajority in the Legislature doesn't mean they're not worried about 2014.

Some Democratic insiders fret that, essentially, life may be too good for the party right now. Their lurking fear: Without a high-profile presidential election or a big-name Republican challenger lined up yet against Gov. Jerry Brown, Democratic voters won't be interested enough to cast ballots in November. If that happens, the GOP could pick off a few seats in the Legislature, wrecking the Democrats' two-thirds majority and damaging Brown's ability to move his agenda.

Adding to Democratic insiders' anxiety is that social and religious conservatives are close to qualifying a ballot measure to overturn a new law that grants rights to transgender students. That could boost GOP turnout. And if the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature health care law, continues to stumble, that could bring a few more Republicans to the polls reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

While the rest of California may not tune in to the election until weeks before residents cast ballots, the political class thinks about this kind of stuff now - a year before election day - because this is the time when campaigns are formed, major donors are solicited and ballot measures are circulated.

'Concern out there'

"Definitely I think there's a concern out there," said Ben Tulchin, a Democratic pollster in San Francisco who takes regular surveys on statewide and national issues. "In a low-turnout election, those factors could be enough to shift the balance."

Turnout among registered voters in California has averaged 73 percent in the past seven presidential elections, going back to 1988. Turnout during the past seven gubernatorial contests - all in nonpresidential years - has averaged 57 percent, according to the secretary of state's office.

"This year is definitely going to offer some turnout challenges to Democrats," said Kevin Spillane, a veteran Republican consultant who is not affiliated with any statewide candidates for next year. "Their voters are not necessarily motivated."

This month, Democrats got a preview of their 2014 nightmare as they nearly fumbled away a safe Assembly seat and suffered a setback in the San Diego mayor's race, both in low-turnout elections.
In the 45th Assembly District special election race in the San Fernando Valley, well-funded Democrat Matt Dababneh defeated Republican Susan Shelley by just 329 votes.

Democrats hold a 2-to-1 advantage in registered voters in the district, but turnout was a mere 10 percent.

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