Could a Dem v. Dem Governor’s Race Save Some Congressional Republicans?

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

Despite all the anti-Trump resistance in California that quickens the heartbeat of Democrats hoping to knock off a number of California’s congressional Republicans their survival hinges on turnout and just maybe could be influenced by California’s unique top two primary system. Just a theory here, but if the top-two primary delivers a Democrat vs Democrat final in the November election for the top job in California, might that lower Democratic voters turnout to help some Republicans?

Sure, this theory in contradictory to conventional thinking about voters reaction to same party runoff. There was a notable drop-off in Republicans voting in the Democratic vs Democratic senate race last year. But the non-presidential election usually has a stronger percentage showing of Republicans when compared to the percentage of Democratic voters who turn out.

One thing that draws attention is the top of the ticket. If the casual Democratic voter knows that a Democrat will secure the top job, will they be less likely to vote at all?

Republican voters may not want to vote for the governor’s race either, but in districts that historically send a Republican to congress, Republican turnout is more predictable.

Or is it?

I ran my theory past voter analyst expert Paul Mitchell from Political Data and he wasn’t buying it. Mitchell said if the Democrats grabbed the two top spots in the primary, “I’m sticking with the straight impact: Republican turnout drops.  Maybe all turnout drops, but Republican turnout drops the most.”

Mitchell conjectured on the outcome of a Democrat vs. Democrat final: “No Republican on the ballot would emaciate the Republican turnout, since there is nobody on the top of the ticket that they can vote for, and both candidates are appalling to them.  It would also be incredibly demoralizing, suggest a core weakness of the party, and foster all kinds of hyperbole from the Media and political talking heads about how Republicans are never going to win another election in CA.”

Democrats have targeted 7 of the 14 California Republicans in Congress in districts in which Hillary Clinton outpolled Donald Trump: CA-10: Jeff Denham CA-21: David Valadao; CA-25: Steve Knight; CA-39: Ed Royce; CA-45: Mimi Walters; CA-48: Dana Rohrabacher; CA-49: Darrell Issa.

With the announcement that Democratic officials are sending operatives to California to help elect Democrats in the seven congressional seats now held by Republicans that Democratic strategists believe are vulnerable, it would be ironic if the Republicans held those seats because an all-Democratic gubernatorial race kept less engaged Democratic voters away from the polls.

Ironic if it happens, but probably unlikely.

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