How the GOP hung on to CA Congressional seats in 2008

Allan Hoffenblum
Publisher of the California Target Book and owner of Allan Hoffenblum & Associates

It was near miraculous that the Democrats did not pick off a Republican incumbent congressman in California last November.

Not only did Barack Obama carry California by the largest margin since the Roosevelt – Landon landslide of 1936, Obama was able to outpoll John McCain in EIGHT of the NINETEEN congressional districts currently held by a Republican.

The principal reason for their lack of success is that with the exception of the race in CD4 between Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Charlie Brown and the race in CD50 between Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Nick Leibham — both narrowly won by the Republican — national Democratic leaders didn’t make a full court effort to win any additional Republican seats in California.

They are not likely to make this mistake in 2010.

Following are the eight Republican seats Obama carried in 2008, showing his margin of victory:

CD3 (Dan Lungren, Suburban Sacramento): Obama 49.3% – McCain 48.9%
CD24 (Elton Gallegly, Ventura County): Obama 51% – McCain 48%
CD25 (Buck McKeon, Santa Clarita): Obama 49% – McCain 48%
CD26 (David Dreier, Claremont): Obama 51% – McCain 47%
CD 44 (Ken Calvert, Riverside County): Obama 50% – McCain 49%
CD45 (Mary Bono Mack, Palm Springs): Obama 52% – McCain 47%
CD48 (John Campbell, Irvine): Obama 49.5% – McCain 48.7%
CD50 (Brian Bilbray, North San Diego County): Obama 51% – McCain 47%

All of the above districts can be expected to be on the National Democratic Party’s watch list. In three districts, the GOP incumbent was re-elected by a significantly smaller margin than is normal for an incumbent and could well be on their early target lists:

DAN LUNGREN winning 49.5% – 44%
KEN CALVERT winning 52% – 48%
BRIAN BILBRAY winning 50% – 45%

Another district that could be on the Democratic watch list is CD46, represented by DANA ROHRABACHER of Huntington Beach. McCain won the district, but by a narrow margin of 50% – 48%, while Rohrabacher was re-elected with only 53% of the vote.

Look for some very interesting California congressional contests in 2010.

NOTE: The Secretary of State’s office will not publically release the official vote results between Obama and McCain tabulated by legislative districts until mid-April. The California Target Book retained two consultants to retrieve the Obama/McCain vote returns from each of the counties and tabulate the votes by congressional, state senate and assembly districts, which will appear in the next volume of the Target Book.

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