Sunday, October 28, 2012
California GOP An Early Sign Of Nationwide GOP Collapse?
There's an interesting article in the New York Times that discusses the current state of the California Republican Party. The same party that produced presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and gave Sen.Dianne Feinstein the scare of her political life during the 1994 midterms is now a weakened shell of its former self.
They have shrunk to the point in which the state is a Democratic political bastion and despite the 2010 Teapublican wave, couldn't break through and lost high profile races for the governorship and the US senate.
Registered Republicans have fallen to just 30% of the electorate, and that's not enough to win a statewide race when 43% of the electorate in California is made up of registered Democrats and another 21% is made up of independent voters.
“The institution of the California Republican Party, I would argue, has effectively collapsed,” said current MSNBC commentator Steve Schmidt, who once worked as a senior adviser to former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
“It doesn’t do any of the things that a political party should do. It doesn’t register voters. It doesn’t recruit candidates. It doesn’t raise money. The Republican Party in the state institutionally has become a small ideological club that is basically in the business of hunting out heretics.”
What caused the fall of the once mighty California Republican Party? The self inflicted troubles go back to their political high point in the state in 1994 when Governor Pete Wilson (R) and California Republicans successfully pushed the anti-Latino Proposition 187 that was later found to be unconstitutional. While it unified the GOP base, it pissed off Latinos just as their numbers were exploding as a critical voting bloc in the state and Republicans have paid for it in statewide races ever since.
Being on the wrong side of gay rights, environmental issues, immigration, and abortion.also doesn't help them in this state either.
Starting with this 2012 presidential election cycle, California is now worth 55 huge electoral votes through 2020. The Democratic presidential candidate having that many electoral votes as a building block in their electoral vote calculations is a major political headache for the national GOP.
Today the Republicans in California are a shell of their former selves with no Republicans in statewide offices, and the California state legislature, both US senate seats a majority of the states US congressional delegation, and the governor's mansion in Sacramento firmly in Democratic hands.
The deep bench of young, diverse political talent in California has the Democratic label, and the Republicans have become so focused on ideological purity that whatever moderate candidates they do have left in the party are leaving or running as independents.
While that's music to my ears as a Democrat living under the opposite political reality situation in Texas that demographics and a resurgent Texas Democratic Party are slowly climbing out of, democracy is served best when we have two healthy parties competing honestly and vigorously for everyone's votes. .
The question I'm pondering is this. Is what happened to the California GOP a tale that is about to replicate itself at the national GOP level and in other state Republican parties?
Or is this just a temporary situation they can come back from? That's a question political scientists and political junkies will also be keenly interested in observing over the next few election cycles.