Donald Trump is to blame for California Republicans’ devastating losses in the 2018 mid-term elections, thanks to the party’s failure to properly estimate the amount of hostility towards the 45th president in the Golden State, Politico is reporting.
California has been one of the most reliably blue — that is, Democratic — states for decades. However, pockets of strong conservative support remain – in suburban Orange County, for example, or in parts of the central, agricultural region of the state. It was in those pockets that California Republicans hoped that voters would propel them to victory in the 2018 mid-terms.
The opposite happened.
Democrats in California flipped six House of Representatives seats that had previously been held by Republicans, and a sixth race remains undecided and may yet go to the Democrat challenger. In statewide offices, Republicans also took a beating. So severe were the losses that Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel called the California results “a nuclear political holocaust for Republicans.”
No one in the California GOP camp saw it coming — indeed, going into the day before the election, Republicans had close, if not comfortable, leads — leads that evaporated once the votes started getting counted.
You can blame Donald Trump for that, at least partially, says Politico analyst Elena Schneider.
“The nightmare results were the end result of a toxic brew of overconfidence and presidential unpopularity, as some Republicans failed to recognize and reckon with the unprecedented negative reaction to President Donald Trump in districts from Orange County to California’s agriculture-heavy Central Valley.”
To be fair, California Republicans don’t necessarily see things that way.
The age-old claim of voter fraud has been brought up, for example. As New York Magazine reports, California Republican National Committee member Shawn Steel said that the situation might have been different with tighter voting rules.
“Merciless and unsparing, California Democrats have systematically undermined California’s already-weak voter protection laws to guarantee permanent one-party rule.”
And of course, as in any political campaign in the U.S., money was an issue. Many California Republicans were simply out-spent by their opponents, much to the disappointment of the California GOP. For example, Dana Rohrabacher, who lost to Democrat Harvey Rouda, blames Michael Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC’s $4.4 million donation for thwarting his campaign.
“[I] didn’t lose this vote, my district was purchased.”
Shawn Steel believes similarly, saying that the $91 million in out-of-state donations that went to Democrats are a pretty clear indication that “billionaires run the Democratic Party.”