Resistance to the Resistance and the 2018 Elections

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Opposition in Orange County from government bodies to the state’s sanctuary law could serve as a sign of the electorate’s mood and just might influence the hotly contested Orange County congressional races. This resistance to the resistance– the state resisting the federal government, the locals resisting the state–comes against the background of Democratic efforts to take back the House of Representatives. Intense efforts are being made to flip congressional seats in Orange County in which Hillary Clinton outpolled Donald Trump.

The state legislature passed and the governor signed SB 54, the sanctuary state law, which blocks local law officials from working with federal immigration enforcement officers in certain situations. The Trump Administration has challenged the sanctuary state and sanctuary city laws in court. This week, a number of states with Republican governors filed briefs in support of the Administration’s position.

After the city council of Los Alamitos in Orange County voted to oppose the sanctuary state law, other Orange County communities and the county supervisors considered actions to oppose the state law, with the county voting to join a federal lawsuit against the sanctuary laws.

Supervisor Michelle Steel who introduced the resolution against SB 54 argued that safety of citizens is at issue, insisting the county should increase “our cooperation with federal immigration enforcement and stop our county from becoming a sanctuary for criminal illegal immigrants.”

Hints on how this issue might play in the coming congressional elections could be gleaned from polling done by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The Orange County districts targeted by the Democrats are Congressional District (CD) 39 currently held by Ed Royce (who is retiring), CD 45 held by Mimi Walters and CD 48, Dana Rohrabacher-Republicans all.

CD 39, which sits about 60% in Orange County with the remainder in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, has a plurality of Republican registered voters, but barely, 1.5% more than Democrats.

CD 45 and CD 48, both completely within the boundaries of Orange County, have 8% and 11% Republican registration leads over Democrats, respectively.

Last May, PPIC asked likely voters if they supported or opposed the then-proposed sanctuary state law. 43% favored the law; 48% opposed the idea. While Democrats were in favor of the proposal by a 2 to 1 margin, Republicans were opposed by nearly 4 to 1.

In the PPIC survey last month, likely voters were asked if they thought if the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants is a good thing or a bad thing. In the Republican leaning districts, 61% said it was a good thing, 34% thought it was a bad thing.

With local elected officials standing up on the side that the polling seems to indicate likely voters in the district support, this could be a positive sign for those hoping the contested districts will remain in Republican hands.

However, the California Target Book publisher, Darry Sragow, thinks the Republicans will have a hard time turning this issue into a winning formula.”If the Republicans in the three threatened Orange County Congressional seats seize on this issue, the poll numbers confirm that they will be preaching to the choir.  Whether it will produce a boost in GOP turn out is one question.  A second question is whether it will be counterproductive, driving Democrats, particularly Latinos, to the polls.”

Sragow continued, “Beyond 2018, the data tells an interesting story.  Back in 1980, Latinos were a little less than 15 percent of the population in Orange County.  In 2010 that number was almost 34 percent.  In 1994, the year Proposition 187 was on the ballot, Republican registration in Orange County was more than 52 percent.  Today, it’s less than 38 percent. Which raises the question of whether the California Republican Party is destined to repeat history, once again trading short term incumbent protection for long term alienation of many Latinos, who now outnumber every other ethnic group in the state.”

How California goes in the coming mid-term elections in the challenged races very well could determine who controls Congress in January.

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