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- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Monday, November 14, 2016

California Democrats bet big on an anti-Trump strategy. It didn't work

The GOP Really Defeated Themselves

  • Republicans could have put the funding for Jerry Brown's corrupt High Speed Rail on the ballot to give their candidates a rallying point, but as usual the GOP caved and did jack shit.
  • If the GOP actually stood for something they might, just maybe, attract voters.

(Los Angeles Times)  -  Although Donald Trump’s victory stunned true-blue California, Democratic strategists in the state are grappling with another reality: Relying on anti-Trump sentiment as a strategy to launch more Democrats into the state Legislature doesn’t appear to have delivered as they’d hoped.

In the final weeks before the election, Democratic party leaders and consultants doubled down on the effort to tie GOP candidates to Trump in campaigns up and down the state, placing his name and image on mailers, television ads and lawn signs.

So far, although it appears Democrats will pick up three seats in the Assembly, there were four races in which the anti-Trump strategy was used and didn’t work. And the Democratic victors appear to be winning by closer margins than pollsters had expected. 

“The overall impact was kind of a dud,” said Andrew Acosta, a consultant for Democrat Dawn Ortiz-Legg. In the race for the Assembly, Ortiz-Legg compared her Republican opponent, Jordan Cunningham, to Trump, emphasizing his stances on women’s reproductive issues.

Ortiz-Legg lost to Cunningham by nearly 10 points in the 35th Assembly District on the Central Coast, despite the fact that state Democrats vastly outspent Republicans to help her. 

“We rolled with the Trump hit, and it obviously didn’t have the impact we were hoping it would,” Acosta said.

Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) survived a challenge from Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio, even after her rival took pains to compare the socially moderate Republican to Trump on gun policy and equal pay. Democrats ignored that Baker had said early on she would not vote for Trump. The Republican incumbent won by 12 points even though Democrats enjoy a 12-point advantage in voter registration in her Bay Area district.

The “Trump effect” also failed in Democratic attempts to flip U.S. House seats. The most vulnerable Republican, Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale, who denounced Trump and said he couldn’t vote for his party’s nominee, coasted to reelection with an 8-point victory. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had spent big in an attempt to link Knight to Trump. The strategy also failed in two Central Valley districts. 

In Southern California, where the tactic was aggressively pursued, Republican Dante Acosta prevailed in his Assembly race despite his opponent’s frequent efforts to compare him to Trump. Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga) is ahead by 4 points and, if trends hold, will likely hold on to his seat against Democratic challenger Abigail Medina, who called Trump and Steinorth “two sides of the same coin.”

“Honestly, it was just a really lazy way of political consulting,” said Jessica Patterson, CEO of the California Trailblazers program, which grooms Republican candidates for office.

In Orange County, for example, Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) is losing to Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva. With ballots still being counted, Kim trails by just 1,500 votes in a district that has added more than 14,000 registered Democrats since January alone and where the Democratic voter registration edge has grown to 9 percentage points from less than 2 in 2014. Quirk-Silva made Trump such a central part of her campaign that she filed papers with the FEC as an independent expenditure committee opposing him.

Democrat Al Muratsuchi defeated Assemblyman David Hadley after spending months tying the Republican to Trump through lawn signs and the hadleytrump.com website. Although unofficial results showed Muratsuchi winning the coastal L.A. County district by 6 points, voter registration favors Democrats 41% to 30%, a gap that’s widened by 3 points since two years ago.

Read More . . . .

Mike Antonovich did not lose because of Trump. He lost because GOP
registration in his Glendale-Pasadena area has been in free fall for years.

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