Several days after the midterm elections, I’m still processing how different the results were between California and the rest of the nation. I wasn’t surprised that Democrats won the statewide races, but the margin was significantly more than I expected. Given the anti-incumbent fervor in the country, I thought at least some of that would be seen in narrower Democratic wins here.
Where the Democratic strength in California really shows up is Los Angeles County. Though the Attorney General’s race won’t be decided for at least a few days, I’m stunned to see Republican Steve Cooley trailing Democrat Kamala Harris by 14 percentage points in his home county. Cooley has been a popular DA and has far higher name recognition locally. But the disadvantage he couldn’t overcome in L. A. is his party affiliation.
I also wonder what the strong showing by California Democrats means nationally. Though our state’s demographics are different than the country as a whole, California has traditionally offered a preview of where the country is going. As the U.S. gets less white, will Republicans be able to attract enough voters of color and women to stay competitive?
Clearly the GOP is in no danger of losing relevance for the next several years. We saw a number of Republican women and minority candidates do quite well on Election Day. However, having a more diverse pool of candidates doesn’t by itself guarantee support from those communities. It will be fascinating to see how the party adapts to population changes and the necessity that it broaden its base of support.