The key word for this upcoming election is: TURNOUT. With Democrats holding a 13-point voter registration edge over Republicans in California it will take a strong Republican turnout and/or a correspondingly weak Democratic turnout to push Republican candidates across the finish line first.

National polls indicate that enthusiasm is on the Republicans side in this election. The USC/LA Times poll a few weeks ago indicated that Latinos, a core Democratic support group, were less than eager to vote when compared with other groups the poll tested.

But, there also have been indications that California will buck the national trends. I asked well-respected political observer, Jack Pitney, of Claremont McKenna College, if he felt a national wave would play out before it reaches California.

"The real question is the extent to which national trends will affect California. Polls suggest that California is an outlier, with a majority still approving of the president’s job performance," Pitney wrote to me in an email. "The job approval numbers, however, do not necessarily foreshadow the shape of the electorate. The angry people may be much more likely to turn out."

The ‘angry people’ are in many cases members of the Tea Party. Some insiders predict there could be a backlash against Tea Party candidates not only in the states in which Tea Party candidates are running but in other states as well.

Pitney responded: "By all available measures, the "enthusiasm gap" appears to be very real. The tea party activists may well energize some liberal Democrats – but the kind of people who would get upset about the tea party are the kind of people who would vote Democratic in a midterm anyway. One side is reacting to a massive expansion of government power and federal debt. The other side is reacting to some over-eager protesters and novice candidates. The first motivator is a lot stronger than the second."

A national Republican wave, if it spills over to California, could produce results similar to the election of 1994 when, despite a 12-point registration edge, the Democrats saw Republicans take the governorship, a number of constitutional offices, and, for a short time, the Assembly.