California Presidential Primary Moved to March; May Hurt Trump in 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders raises his fist at his California primary election night rally on June 7, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. Hillary Clinton held an early lead in today's California primary. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images
Sacramento, CA

California’s presidential primary will be moved up from June to March starting in 2020, thanks to a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

SB 568 will push all primary elections in California forward by three months — including all statewide, legislative, congressional and presidential races — starting in 2019, which will be just in time to impact President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

That puts California’s primary on March 3rd, 2020 — which will likely be a Super Tuesday, with half a dozen other states holding their primaries on the same day.

The Sacramento Bee reports that Trump is the primary reason for the change, even though helping more liberal and potentially California candidates compete was also on the minds of California Democrats:

“We have a responsibility to drive a different agenda at the national level and promote inclusion and consensus, not the politics of division,” he added in a swipe at President Donald Trump.

Among the potential beneficiaries of the earlier primary are U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, rising Democratic stars who are often discussed as possible presidential candidates. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has been active in the state early.

An analysis by Paul Mitchell, a consultant and elections expert with Political Data Inc., found that under the current delegate count and schedule, California would account for 37 percent of the elected delegates on Super Tuesday, and 33 percent of all delegates elected to that point.

Even if the national party penalizes California for going early by stripping 70 delegates, the state would still have 32 percent of the delegates awarded on Super Tuesday, and 28 percent of all the delegates awarded by that point in the process.

If there was any doubt that hurting Trump’s re-election chances was the reason behind the change, a Reuters report confirmed it:

“California is the beating heart of the national resistance to Trump, and California Democrats are defining the progressive agenda for America,” state Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman said in a press release. “When it comes to deciding the Democratic nominee, our voices need to be heard early in the process.”

As Breitbart News noted in an earlier story on this bill, the earlier primary will favor the less populist, more calculating establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, not the Bernie Sanderses and Donald Trumps of the world.

But the strange thing is that California has a storied history of bad luck when moving up its primary in order to be more relevant in choosing presidential candidates:

In 2008, California moved its vote all the way up to February.

And it worked. California was excited about its key role in picking the first woman president, as Clinton won the state. But Barack Obama outlasted Clinton by picking off a bunch of smaller states in a strong finish.

One silver lining for California: the early primary did boost turnout to nearly 58 percent among registered voters.

The June primary has, in fact, been decisive at times. In 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy (D-NY), a leading critic of the Johnson administration’s policy in Vietnam, announced his victory over fellow Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-MN) after winning California. He would have likely clinched the Democratic nomination. Tragically, moments later, Kennedy was shot in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and died the next day.

Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman and Author, currently on a book tour for his new book: Patriot Not Politician: Win or Go Homeless.  He also ran for governor in 2014.


Twitter:  @PatriotNotPol