Ten Takeaways from California Target Book Post Primary Analysis in Sacramento

Darry Sragow
Publisher of the California Target Book and USC professor

  1. Democratic and Republican party leaders and their consultants need to get past the grieving stage and accept that the top-two primary is the law of the land.  Instead of debating who benefits and who suffers, they need to figure out how to win under the new rules.

 

  1. In the open primary, running to finish second is a disastrous strategy.  If you chose not to lay a glove on the presumed front-runner, he or she will emerge unscathed after beating you bloody and eliminating you from second place.

 

  1. The Republican Party does not have a strategy to resuscitate itself in California.  Its message continues to be that at some point the voters who have abandoned the GOP will discover the errors of their way and return to the fold. They won’t, at least not for a long time and not until the party ceases being anti-immigrant.

 

  1. Consistent with number three above, Republicans will attempt to drive turn out and convert the fallen by making the fall election about repealing the gas tax.  Gas tax proponents including Gov. Jerry Brown, business and trade union interests have their work cut out. It will be a costly campaign and they may not win.

 

  1. In the battle for congressional seats held by Republicans but won by Clinton in 2016, both parties were incredibly ham-handed and inept but managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and survive to put their candidates on the November ballot.

 

  1. Unconscionably, a Republican state legislator who breaks from his or her party line and votes with the Democrats as an act of conscience will likely be hung out to dry by their own party, and by the national Democratic party.  By the same token, a Democratic senator who votes his conscience risks recall if Republicans seize the opportunity.  Long-term damage was done in both instances.

 

  1. The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction will be expensive and hard fought, ground zero in the battle for supremacy between the teachers unions and charter school advocates.

 

  1. The best options for Democratic Congressional pick ups seem to be CD48 held by Dana Rohrabacher and CD49, held by retiring Darrell Issa.

 

  1. The essential ingredients of successful campaigns are timeless:  Consistent execution of a coherent strategy based on solid, reliable data and repetitive delivery of precisely crafted messages.

 

  1. There are several top flight pollsters doing excellent work in California, but winning Democratic strategists singled out one of them for effusive praise: David Binder

 

The Target Book Analysis was presented to a sold out crowd on Monday in Sacramento.

 

Panels were moderated by Cesar Diaz, Marva Diaz and Dan Morain.  Panelists were Kristin OIsen, Richard Temple, Marty Wilson, Bill Wong, Eric Bauman, Jim Brulte, Alma Hernandez, Paul Mitchell, Bill Burton, Sean Clegg, Wayne Johnson and Dana Williamson.

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