Democrats and political analysts are blaming “defund the police” and high Republican turnout — driven by enthusiasm for President Donald Trump — for their party’s losses in Orange County, California, in 2020, after riding a “blue wave” in 2018.
Democrat Reps. Gil Cisneros (CA-39) and Harley Rouda (D-48) were part of the class of 2018 that saw Democrats sweep the former conservative stronghold. But in 2020, they were both unseated by Republicans — both Korean-American women.
Cisneros and Rouda spoke to the Orange County Register about the reasons for their defeat:
Cisneros noted that Trump galvanized his base in pockets of CA-39 where Republican registration still is high. In his hometown of Yorba Linda, for example, Cisneros said his team expected turnout of maybe around 75%. Instead, turnout was an unprecedented 90%.
Both Rouda and Cisneros said the pandemic also forced them to forgo door-to-door canvassing, which they felt had been very effective in 2018.
Fred Smoller, political science professor at Chapman University, said that couldn’t have helped Rouda’s performance with the significant number of Vietnamese American voters in CA-48.
Smoller believes both men also were hampered by calls from the progressive left to “defund the police,” which he believes hurt Democrats in purple districts.
While Democrats claim the pandemic forced them to forego traditional campaigning, that may have been more the result of an ideological choice by the party as part of a national message, rather than actual medical or scientific necessity.
Republican Michelle Steele, who defeated Rouda, has said that door-to-door campaigning was key to her campaign — and that she did not have to give it up because of the pandemic.
She told Breitbart News Sunday recently that volunteers were able to maintain social distancing and were greeted warmly by voters whom they visited at their homes.
Representative-elect Young Kim likewise ran an aggressive campaign in a district she lost narrowly to Cisneros in 2018, when it was an open seat.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.