Voters in California will play no role in the high profile national elections that have dominated the public stage.
Not only will our reliably blue state deliver its treasure trove of votes in the Electoral College to Hillary Clinton, but also thanks to the “top two” election system adopted by voters some years back, both of the United States Senate candidates on the ballot, front-runner Attorney General Kamala and dark horse Rep. Loretta Sanchez, are both liberal Democrats.
Still, more votes will be cast here in the Golden State than in any other state in the Union, and here are 5 things to be looking at as the results come in:
TRUMP VS ROMNEY
While Trump will lose California, will he over- or under-perform Mitt Romney’s dismal 2012 performance? President Obama was re-elected by Californians with 59.3% of the vote over Romney’s 38.3% — with a margin of over 2.2 million votes. This margin will matter in down-ticket races.
KEY U.S. HOUSE RACES
Most of our state’s 73 House seats are reliability Democratic or Republican. That said, there are a number of GOP incumbents who are facing tough elections this year – Jeff Denham, David Valadeo, Steve Knight and, surprisingly, Darrell Issa, who has been investing heavily to stave off a strong opponent.
Two incumbent Democrats are facing tough battles: Ami Bera is under heavy assault by challenger Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, and incumbent Mike Honda is in a tough same-party match against opponent Ro Khanna.
KEY STATE LEGISLATIVE RACES
There are quite a number of intra-party battles on the Democratic side, again a by-product of the “top two” election system now in place. But the show in the Big Tent, so to speak, is whether or not the GOP can hold onto enough seats in one or both legislative chambers to block a two-thirds majority by Democrats. With that supermajority, Democrats could raise taxes without a statewide vote. Republicans cannot afford to lose a single State Senate seat, and most eyes are on three seats. Republicans are trying to hold onto the seat held by Sharon Runner with Assemblyman Scott Wilk, and the seat held by Bob Huff with Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang. There is a pickup opportunity if term-limited Republican Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich can defeat Democrat Anthony Portantino in the race for the seat of retiring Democrat Carol Liu.
On the Assembly side, it’s all defense for the GOP, with the incumbents in tough battles being Catharine Baker, David Hadley, Marc Steinorth, Young Kim and Eric Linder. The GOP has two open, competitive seats it needs to retain, with candidates Jordan Cunningham and Dante Acosta. Democrats need to win two of these seats to take the supermajority in the lower house.
California’s experiment with direct democracy continues with a fervor, with a massive ballot filled with significant issues. Some of the biggies: Will voters decriminalize recreational marijuana? Impose a ban on plastic grocery bags? Vote for income and cigarette taxes? Implement more gun control? End the death penalty? Let violent criminals out early in the name of reform? Issue $9 billion in school construction bonds? Bring back bilingual education to public schools? Require voter approval for issuing revenue bonds for huge public works projects? There’s even more.
RECORD-SETTING LOCAL TAX AND BORROWING MEASURES
Today there are more than 400 proposals on ballots across the state to either raise local taxes or allow local governments to borrow more money. The California Taxpayers Association has estimated that if all of them were approved. proposals before California voters could result in tax increases of more than $13.6 billion annually. State and local bond measures, if all approved, would mean an additional $31 billion in long-term debt.
Generally, it is thought that GOP turnout will be off this year in California, and Democratic turnout will be higher (this is already being seen in absentee ballot returns). If this ends up the case, regardless of who wins the White House or control of the U.S. Senate, it could be a very difficult year for California’s most endangered species: namely, elected Republican officeholders.
Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. A longtime participant, observer and chronicler of California politics, Jon is also the publisher at www.flashreport.org.