The California primary on June 7 will likely prove decisive for both parties. For Democrats, 548 delegates are at stake — 11.5% of the total. For Republicans, 172 delegates are at stage — 6.9% of the total. Neither Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton nor Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is likely to have a majority by the time the Golden State votes. Their challengers are throwing everything into a last-stand effort to force a convention fight.
With that in mind, here are five essential — and bizarre — facts about the decisive California presidential primary.
1. The Republican primary is a district-by-district battle. For Democrats, 158 (29%) of the California delegates are divided proportionally on a statewide basis, while 317 (58%) are divided proportionally by congressional district, with each district providing between 5 and 8 delegates. The remaining 73 (13%) are “super delegates.” That means there are delegates for both Clinton and Sanders everywhere, but the overall margin of victory may be small.
For Republicans, however, only 13 (8%) of the delegates are awarded statewide, with ten going to the candidate with the highest number of votes on a winner-take-all basis, and three going to “pre-determined” delegates (the State GOP Chair, the National Committeewoman, and the National Committeeman). Meanwhile, 159 (92%) are awarded by congressional district on a winner-take-all basis, with each district providing 3 delegates. That means every vote will count, everywhere. It also means that while the margins of victory in each district may be small, theoretically it is possible for one candidate to seize a huge majority of delegates, with profound consequences for the nomination.
Note that the California presidential primary is “closed,” i.e. restricted to voters registered with each party, unlike the state’s now-familiar “jungle” or “top-two” primaries, which pool every candidate together from every party.
2. Republicans will campaign hard in liberal districts. This is a point that Breitbart California political editor Jon Fleischman has been making for over a year. Because every district has three delegates, a win in liberal San Francisco means the same as a win in conservative Yorba Linda. Since there are fewer Republican voters in liberal districts, however, each vote has greater impact. Moreover, since liberal districts are more densely populated, each Republican voter is easier and cheaper to reach. Suddenly, Berkeley Republicans matter — both of them.
3. Crowds don’t matter, and neither does money. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) drew some of the first “yuge” crowds of the 2016 campaign in Los Angeles. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been a frequent visitor to the state on fundraising visits. Millions of dollars may be spent in the state’s big media markets. But the district-by-district nature of the campaigns, especially on the Republican side, means superior organization can defeat bigger rallies, bigger ad buys, and bigger media coverage. Hence Sanders and Cruz both think they can do well in California.
4. Rubio was the spoiler, and is no longer. Trump opened up a big lead in California early this year. That gap has shrunk considerably in recent weeks, owing largely to the departure of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) from the race. While one poll in early March showed Trump leading in almost every region of the state, except the agricultural (and heavily Latino) Central Valley, Rubio’s departure could make Cruz competitive in Trump strongholds like Orange County and the Sierras. It could also benefit Ohio Gov. John Kasich in liberal Northern California.
5. An anti-corruption referendum could boost turnout. Californians will be deciding Proposition 50, which would allow legislators to be suspended without pay for corruption. That could bring even more voters to the polls.
Stay tuned to Breitbart California for daily updates on a district-by district basis. Updates thus far include:
- California District 01
- California District 02
- California District 03
- California District 04
- California District 05
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.