Donald Trump could bring huge turnout to the typically moribund California primary — both for and against — and the results have pundits and pollsters guessing.
The Los Angeles Times‘ Phil Willon, Patrick McGreevy and Christina Bellantoni provide an extensive analysis showing that while high turnout could help some Republican candidates into the general election, turnout could also push at least one Democrat over the line and into November.
The key is to understand that while the presidential race in California is “closed-party,” meaning that only voters who are registered with a particular party may vote within that party’s primary, the rest of the races on the ballot — for all voters — will be run according to California’s “jungle primary” or “top-two” system. Voters will be able to choose candidates for downtick races regardless of party, with Democrats voting for Republicans and vice versa.
High Republican turnout means that in some congressional districts, Democrats could be edged out of primary races — even in places where they currently hold seats, such as the 24th congressional district.
However, strong turnout by anti-Trump voters, particularly Latinos, could help Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) make the top two in her Senate race against California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who might otherwise face a weaker Republican opponent.
In the 17th congressional district, where Rep. Mike Honda and challenger Ro Khanna, both Democrats, have traded accusations that each is more like Donald Trump than the other, high Republican turnout might force them to court moderate Republican voters, the Times notes.
And there are a number of ballot initiatives that could also benefit, such as Proposition 50, a measure to allow the state legislature to suspend members for corruption without pay.