Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Orange County, Trump and the GOP: the BIGLY picture

Orange County, showin' those pearly whites
     FEBRUARY 2016: A short 16 months ago, OC Republicans viewed Mr. Trump as a clown, a nut, a reason for mild concern (see Among Orange County’s Republicans, Trump is trouble). GOPers routinely noted that the Trumpster is no conservative and that he was attracting the right-wing fringe. People awaited Super Tuesday, the super-sized primary day on March 1. Surely this crazy Trump fellow will be knocked out of the race by then!
     Natch, some of the local Republican teapartiers kinda liked the Donald. He wants to “shake things up,” said Villa Park's Deborah Pauly, herself an antiestablishmentarian (Muslim-bashing/DUI division). He’s an outsider! He’ll shake up the establishment in Washington!

     MARCH 2016: Super Tuesday arrived, and, amazingly, Trump emerged as the “unrivaled favorite” among Republicans. To the horror of many, he started to look like the guy.
     But, long-term, the GOP had a problem with demographic realities. It needed to appeal to Latinos, ‘cause, increasingly, they’ll have the numbers. Everybody has known this for decades, but old school conservatives like the late Tom Fuentes had difficulty suppressing their anti-Latino and anti-immigrant natures, and that prevented the party from growing. In the long run, the persistence of that older kind of conservatism, the conservatism with which OC has long been identified, will be disastrous for the GOP.

Ms. Pauly, hissing at Muslims
     Guess what? Trump is a Latino- and immigrant-bashing kinda guy, and that's a big part of his appeal.
     Alas, the GOP, unlike its rival, the Democratic Party, is “organized.” In Republicanland, folks know to be good soldiers, and that means eventually falling in line behind the candidate. After Super Tuesday, that started to happen for Trump.
     Darrel Issa, a Congressman representing the northern part of San Diego County (and a small part of OC) and Dana Rohrabacher helped lead the charge.
     But the strategic fretting about the long-term consequences of Trumpism for the party persisted as well. (See Donald Trump and Orange County's GOP.)

OC Party chief for many years, self-loathing Latino
     APRIL 2016: By April-May, Rubio had dropped out, and the Trump bandwagon had grown bigger than ever among Republicans. Everybody was thinking about California (June 7), the big prize.
     In our state, the Repubs allot three convention delegates to each district, no matter how Republican (or unRepublican) that district is, and that rule seemed to put some normally poorly situated politicos temporarily in the catbird seat. The Cal primary was getting interesting, or so many thought.
     Trump did his thing. California Republicans (see Trump’s message to California Republicans good news for Democrats) soon realized that he was makin’ like a narcissist, focusing only on himself, indifferent to the fate of other Republicans running in the state.
     Meanwhile, the Trump phenomenon was making Cal Dems happy, because tying Republicanism to Trumpism meant more alienating of women, Latinos, and millennials, which spelled disaster, politically, in the Golden State for GOPers. As it was, the Republicans are a minority in the state legislature and can’t get Repubs elected to state-wide office. What could be better, for California Democrats, than for Republicans to embrace Trump!

     JUNE 2016: In the June primary, nearly 75% of California Republicans voted for the Trumpster. In Orange County, the figure was 76%.
     Trump was riding high.
Camp on Trump: miserable
example of a human being
     So the Republicans had their noisy, attention-grabbing candidate, but, really, they were in a pickle. Alienating women, Latinos, et al. in California is bad politics; in fact, it’s bad politics in many places in the country. You’ve gotta think about the changing demographics, man!

     JULY 2016: Late in July, after the Republican convention crowned Trump, bigtime Cal GOP consultant Jimmy Camp quit the party over Trump’s ascendency within it. (See Republican strategist quits party because of Donald Trump.) Said he: “Donald Trump is a narcissistic, self-centered, unprincipled, miserable example of a human being.” If the Republican Party wants to last, it has got to include people, not exclude ‘em!, said Jimmy.
     And so said lots of other strategy-minded Repubs. (Two months later, sage conservative columnist George Will announced his exit from the GOP—again, because of the party's embrace of Trump.)
     But not the party hoi polloi. Republicans in general were embracing their candidate, Donald Trump, in part because of his “incorrect” rhetoric and nature. He was their kind of guy, apparently.
     Ted Cruz, for his own reasons, failed to support the heir-apparent, eliciting boos. Meanwhile, Republican fire-breather, Darrel Issa, noisily joined the Trump bandwagon. Stragglers will be left behind, he seemed to say.

* * *
     NOVEMBER 2016: As election day approached, things were getting weird in Orange County. Orange Countians hadn’t voted for a Democrat for President since FDR in 1936. Now, it looked like Hillary Clinton, of all people, was gonna capture the OC vote!
     In part, this reflected a national trend (see the Times' Orange County has voted for the GOP in every presidential election since 1936. This year, it could go blue):
     The Trump phenomenon seems to be speeding up a trend: that white, blue-collar workers are increasingly Republican while the suburbs, which are becoming more diverse, are increasingly blue. That reversal doesn’t bode well for Republicans’ future. “It could be an even bigger problem in the longer term because those suburbs are among the nation’s most economically dynamic, growing regions.”
     This is especially true in OC. Experts said that, in recent decades, the Latino and Asian communities in OC have grown enormously, and not just in poor neighborhoods. Whites are now a minority. That’s why Obama very nearly won OC in 2008. In 2016, the Republican Presidential candidate bashed Latinos and immigrants. He embraced trade policies that are distinctly non-Republican. He behaved like a lout.
GOP's Ward: Trump is "verbally offensive"
     Local GOP fixture, Cynthia Ward, said “He’s so verbally offensive to so many people that it’s distasteful to have someone like that as the standard bearer of the party.”
     Trump’s stinkitude was especially strong in wealthy suburbs and among college-educated white women. Often, they disliked Mrs. Clinton, but they saw Trump as a bully and an incompetent.
     So, in November, it looked like OC’s red might change to blue. Even some local Republican leaders acknowledged that OC’s switch from red to blue was inevitable, especially given Trump.
     Local loudmouth and blogger Jon Fleischman said:
     “There is no doubt if Hillary Clinton wins Orange County, California, that it will certainly dethrone Orange County’s position as the Republican crown jewel of the country,” he said.
     “And once you lose that crown, you’re probably not going to get it back.”
* * *
     In November, Trump won, of course. It was an amazing upset and, especially among progressives, it produced (and still produces) massive and sustained reelage.
     Darrel Issa survived, but just barely. Other House members in and near OC—Royce, Waters, Rohrabacher—won by big margins.
     And, indeed, Hillary beat Trump in Orange County, just as the polls said she would.

* * *
Local GOP chief Whitaker
     FEBRUARY 2017: Three months after the election, local party chief Fred Whitaker acknowledged that 2016 had been a tough year for California Republicans, but, still, the local party was in fine shape. After all, Republicans still held nearly 2/3 of the offices in the county, and all the Supes were Republicans. Plus the GOP still led in voter registration. (See Whitaker: Republicans’ Path Toward Prosperity For Orange County.)
     True, the Dems were making gains in north county, but Whitaker’s team had a plan: to exploit social media, focus on Latino and Asian-American communities, and target independents. The Republican Party would prevail, he said, and would even become a model for Republicans across the country who are facing demographic shifts similar to those in OC.
     Meanwhile, added Whitaker, the Dems own the lousiness of schools and the culture of disrespect of cops. They own the massive, bureaucratic state. What have they got? What do they stand for? Their brand is crap.

The Issa Man, now moderating
     MARCH 2017: By March, people were saying that Darrel Issa was the country’s most vulnerable incumbent. (See Yahoo! News' In the age of Trump, can Democrats turn Orange County blue? Their first target is Darrell Issa.) Clinton had won strongly in his conservative district, an indication that Trump was held in low regard there. Issa had boldly tied himself to Trumpism and that now looked like it might destroy him, politically, so he moderated his position, lurching toward bipartisanship. Always a global warming skeptic, he joined the House’s Climate Solutions Caucus. He even supported the notion of an independent investigation into Trump’s connections to Russia. Eventually, he even laid off of the dreaded Planned Parenthood.
     The Democrats thought they smelled blood, and so they targeted Issa, along with the House’s Mimi Walters, Ed Royce, and Dana Rohrabacher, whose districts are in, or touch on, Orange County.
     According to Yahoo News’s Andrew Romano,
     The hope among Dems is that the forces behind that sudden leftward lurch [indicated by Clinton’s success] will trickle down to the congressional level in time for 2018, and that the challenges Issa faces today will become the challenges his O.C. colleagues Dana Rohrabacher, Mimi Walters and Ed Royce — along with other suburban Republicans nationwide — face tomorrow.
     According to one-time McCain spokesman Dan Schnur, “Orange County is no longer an ideologically safe space for Republicans.”
     Why’s that? According to Romano,
     The first factor is demographics. In 1980, roughly 285,000 Latinos lived in Orange County.... As of 2014, that number had grown to more than 1 million….
     In recent years, the local Asian population has surged as well. The result is a region that’s much more diverse — and much more reliant on immigrants — than it was in Ronald Reagan’s day.
     At the same time, the white voters who still make up a plurality of Orange County’s electorate are, for the most part, a particular breed: wealthier and more educated than average….
     Which brings us to the second force at work here: Donald Trump. In the mid-1990s, registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats in Orange County by 52 percent to 32 percent. But since then, droves of former O.C. Republicans have defected to the “no party preference” category, shrinking the GOP’s share of the electorate to about 38 percent — only 4 percentage points more than the Democrats’.
     These largely white, largely affluent, largely college-educated and largely suburban voters used to be a source of strength for Republicans. But in 2016, Trump underperformed among white college graduates, and even lost college women to Clinton by 7 percentage points. Combine that weakness with Trump’s widespread unpopularity among Latinos and other minorities, and you start to see why Orange County flipped to Clinton: Trump was a particularly bad fit for its evolving electorate.
     “Our wealthier enclaves didn’t vote in as high a margin for the Republican candidate as they have in the past,” admits Orange County GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker. “Meanwhile, the Latino demographic hasn’t been with us lately, and the Asian vote wasn’t as strong. Some of that had to do with Trump. He just didn’t resonate.”
     “Donald Trump achieved tremendous success with white working-class voters last year, but he didn’t get those voters for free,” adds Schnur. “In order to win over all those NASCAR dads, he had to trade away a lot soccer moms.
     Republicans like Whitaker weren't so sure about all this. He seemed confident that, though locals didn't much like Trump, they’d still vote mostly Republican. He thought the Democratic Party was wasting its money here.
     Local progressives, however, felt genuinely excited for once. According to Romano,
     Right now, progressives throughout Orange County seem energized. They’re flooding the phone lines, protesting outside offices, demanding town halls — and even hosting their own. The anti-Trump project Indivisible has a strong presence in the area — so much so that UC Irvine sociologist David Meyer, author of “The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America,” recently predicted that “Orange County is really the front line … where the future of ‘#resistance’ is going to be written.”
The guy
     By late March, there were indications that it was not only Darrel Issa who felt the need to distance himself from Trump:
     Issa and other coastal California Republicans in Congress are increasingly distancing themselves from Trump, who is enormously unpopular in the state and a threat to their chances of being re-elected….. . .
     While Democrats fret over how to win over Rust Belt voters who backed Donald Trump, their chance to win the 24 seats they need to win a majority in the U.S. House in next year’s midterm election depends on unseating California Republicans like Issa. (See Sean Cockerham, Sacramento Bee)
     There are 23 Republican congressional districts nationwide that voted for Clinton and four of them touch Orange County.
     Issa, who represents a stretch of sunshine, sand and smoothies north of San Diego into Orange County, is a top target of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. So are Orange County Republican Reps. Ed Royce, Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher, all of whom also represent districts that voted for Clinton in November.
(See Alexei Koseff, Sacramento Bee)
Targeted by Dems: Royce, Walters, Rohrabacher, Issa
      Royce, in the meantime, is beginning to create distance between himself and Trump. Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, broke with other Republicans to criticize Trump’s budget proposal, declaring himself “very concerned that deep cuts to our diplomacy will hurt efforts to combat terrorism, distribute critical humanitarian aid, and promote opportunities for American workers.”
     He condemned Trump’s tweet threatening the withdrawal of federal funds to the University of California-Berkeley after violent protests over a planned speech by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopolous.
     Both he and Walters joined the Democrats in calling for Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself into the Justice Department investigations of Trump and Russia.

     Rohrabacher is pushing back against the White House threat to crack down on California and other states that legalized recreational marijuana. Rohrabacher, though, disputes the notion that he and the other Orange County Republicans are vulnerable to an anti-Trump backlash. (See Christopher Cadelago, Sacramento Bee)
     Also in March, prolific author (and associate professor of English at Chapman University) Tom Zoellner, writing in Orange Coast Magazine, reflected on the GOP’s reign in Orange County (see O.C. Voted Blue in 2016: Is the Identity of the GOP Here in Danger?). First, he described OC's old political order:
     Republicanism [in OC] was ironclad and precise: a defiant stars-and-stripes missile aimed at Eastern elites and their inclinations toward one-worldism; a ringing celebration of cowboy capitalism, limited government, entrepreneurial pluck, new technologies, and low taxes.
     There were John Birch Society chapter meetings in living rooms, Orange County School of Anti-Communism meetings held by Walter Knott at his amusement park, and Wally George doing his “Hot Seat” show from Anaheim with the jingoistic shouting and the portrait of John Wayne on the wall. “We were considered to be the golden county,” says former party chairman Lois Lundberg. “We had it made back then.”
     Every morning R.C. Hoiles gave the libertarian view a good airing in his paper, The Orange County Register, which didn’t believe in public libraries or even public roads. Every Sunday, parishioners went to a church...that emphasized the old-time religion of individual salvation. Every month a presidential candidate gave a fundraising plug in somebody’s Newport Beach home and tapped the county’s buttons like an ATM. If liberals sucked up to Hollywood to find their cash, then conservatives could find even better running money tucked behind bougainvillea-flanked gates in a 10-mile radius of Fashion Island. Not for nothing did Ronald Reagan call this place “where good Republicans go to die.”
     Many in Orange County believed America was besieged from within—whether from communist infiltrators or liberal softies—and it had to be purged of foreign influences.
     But then “times changed.” With the fall of the USSR, anticommunism ceased to be a rallying cry, and the “defense economy” was derailed. “The county’s Latino population went from about 15 percent in 1984 to 30 percent in 2000….” The John Birch Society had disappeared.
     Zoellner quotes political consultant, Jimmy Camp: “Orange County was the pinnacle of the Republican brand….There was a pride in conservatism that we had here, and that turned to embarrassment,” what with the rise of Trump. According to Camp, most of the party’s campaign literature didn’t even refer to Trump. “Just about everybody running for office here didn’t even endorse Trump, and wouldn’t say who they were voting for….”
Smoller: not your grandfather's OC
     Zoellner also quotes Chapman University political scientist Fred Smoller: “This is not your grandfather’s Orange County where people grew lima beans and never left … It is more cosmopolitan, with major corporations. A generation of anti-immigrant rhetoric [think Tom Fuentes] cost Orange County Republicans dearly. They lost Hispanics, they lost the youth, they are losing the Vietnamese.”
     According to Zoellner,
     Now the dominant tone of the national party—with talk of immigrant registries and concertina-wire walls on the Mexican border—is playing poorly in a county that is one-third Latino, one-fifth Asian, and less Anglo than at any time in the past 140 years.
     “It used to be you’d see yard signs and mail ‘Vote for Republican Bob Dornan’ or whoever,” Smoller says. “But now with the branding of Trump, deep down people are embarrassed by that label. And that’s going to take a long time to change.”
     Might this be true? Hope so.
     The GOP’s Whitaker thinks that the party’s message has remained constant: “We stand for principles of limited government, low taxation, strong defense, free-market economy, traditional cultural influences….”
     But then there’s Trump:
     Trump fits into none of the conventional categories Republicans here might recognize. His personal life—the multiple marriages, the affairs, the casino riches, the boasting of grabbing women by their genitals—was repellent to many attendees of Calvary Chapel, Saddleback, Rock Harbor, and the other powerhouses of worship that form the Big Church core of the Republican base. His noises about setting new tariffs on imports also went against the free-market teachings that local libertarians and mainstream conservatives have touted for decades. The heads of Orange County old-timers likely explode at the thought of the Republican nominee possibly being helped by Kremlin black-ops....
     Local party chief Whitaker, for one, wanted nothing to do with Trump’s immigrant-bashing:
     “We’re a nation of immigrants, and we can’t be a party that’s anti-immigrant.… We can be on the forefront for the party and figure out how our ideological pillars work for the Latino community. That’s part of the place we’re able to lead in Orange County: to make sure the message and identification work for people no matter where they come from. Tone matters. And some people might not have gotten that message.”
     Whitaker, said Zoellner, wants the local party “to show fellow conservatives that hyping up divisive rhetoric might have worked in this election, but it will not lead to long-term victories.”
     Let’s hope he means it.
Nguyen: irony seen
     Republican consultant and blogger Chris Nguyen sees irony in the tension between OC Republicanism and the national party:
     For … Nguyen, the crashing irony of 2016 is not how much Orange County changed but how much the national sentiment seemed to be opposed to what the county has become since the days of citrus farms, drive-in chapels, and living-room crusades against the United Nations. It is now the sixth most-populous county in the nation with major universities, nearly a dozen Fortune 1,000 corporations, a GDP almost as big as Finland’s, and a business class that doesn’t want to see radical disruptions, wild reinventions of government, or “shaking up Washington.”
     “In some ways, Orange County has become the establishment,” Nguyen says. “We have become the global elite, and we’re now far more oriented toward the Pacific Rim. You might say that Donald Trump was running against Orange County. We now have more in common with Los Angeles than with farmers in the Midwest.”
     According to Zoellner,
     It’s as though Trump voters across the nation have discovered the old Orange County tune with the speakers jacked up to full volume: America is under siege, the enemy is within, and it takes a strong dose of patriotic medicine to make everything whole again. Only by this time, the county itself has moved on from the music it helped to compose.
     I do hope Zoellner knows what he’s talking about.

     APRIL 2017: Late in April, on a 3-2 vote, the Anaheim City Council declined to approve a resolution condemning Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric. About 50 pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators clashed outside the hall.
     On the 29th, Trump held a noisy rally in Costa Mesa, an event that produced some violence.
     Party chief Whitaker said that he was not involved in planning the rally. “Unlike other campaigns, they haven’t called us to ask for assistance…. They run things their own way. They have their own event planners.” (See Martin Wisckol's Donald Trump in Orange County.)

     MAY 2017: In May, Sarah D. Wire of the Times wrote about the new enthusiasm of OC Democrats (see Jolted by Trump, Orange County Democrats see a shot at victory on GOP turf), who are energized with hope that they can take at least a few congressional seats in the four heavily Republican congressional districts of OC.
     According to Wire,
     17 months before the 2018 election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is making Irvine ground zero for its efforts in western states, with a full-time staff member brought in to help with races.
     The four targeted Republicans are Reps. Ed Royce of Fullerton, Mimi Walters of Irvine, Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach and Darrell Issa of Vista. They have been among the most lambasted after Republicans voted to roll back the Affordable Care Act.Though the minority party historically wins seats in midterm elections, the national Democratic Party faces a tough path to flip the 25 districts it needs to reclaim majority control of the House in 2018.
. . .
     Seven of the 23 congressional districts that sent a Republican to the House and also picked Hillary Clinton for president are in California.
     “They need to cast a wide net for opportunities, and as soon as Donald Trump lost Orange County that set off some sirens at the DCCC,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor of the nonpartisan political analysis site Inside Elections.
     But the Democrats had an up-hill battle ahead of them:
     Perhaps Republicans just didn’t like Trump, Gonzales said. That doesn't make them liberals.
     “I just don’t know that we can throw away a couple of generations of history, of election results, after one race,” he said.
     Except for president, Republicans won the majority of other races in Orange County, all the way down the ticket. The state’s voters rejected a ballot measure to require voter approval of revenue bonds, but the county voted 57.1% in favor. A vote signaling opposition to the Citizens United decision allowing money to flood into politics passed statewide but garnered just 46.6% in Orange County.
     Republicans still lead voter registration here, though they make up less than 45% of registered voters in any of the targeted congressional districts.
     Democrats have managed to narrow the registration gap over the last four years from 10 percentage points to 3.7 points, and they'll have to continue to chip away if they want to win seats. Almost a third of voters are registered as having no party preference, and Democrats are hoping to leverage independent voters to win. As one activist pointed out, the majority of voters in Orange County don’t back the Republican Party, and might be willing to go in a new direction.
     But some Democrats thought that the Democrats' OC strategy was wrong-headed:
     Democratic strategist Mike Trujillo said Democrats have a better chance of flipping seats in the Central Valley, where they’ve trained operatives and built a political infrastructure over years of challenging the region’s Republicans….
     “I don’t believe you have that same cohort of field organizers that have been trained in Mimi Walters’ district, or Dana Rohrabacher’s district,” Trujillo said. “When you have the infrastructure in place like we do in the Central Valley it just gives you the edge and it makes the chances of flipping those districts even better.”
     Meanwhile, again, local party chief Whitaker opined (or at least said he opined that) the Dems were wasting their time and money:
     “Let them spend their money,” Whitaker said with a laugh. “If they are spending all their money here where we’re going to win, then that allows us to win in other places where Democrats might have a chance across the nation.”
     He noted that Rohrabacher won reelection in 2016 by 16.6%, Royce by 14.4% and Walters by 17.2%. Even in the closest race, where Issa eked out a win over a novice opponent with 0.6%, or 1,621 votes, the congressman performed strongly in the Orange County section of the district.
     JUNE 2017: In June, the local Democratic effort to unseat Republican members of Congress was going strong (see Trump casts shadow over Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher reelection bids). The strategy: “the four GOP Congress members are framed as surrogates for President Donald Trump.… All four districts voted for Hillary Clinton last year and Democrats think they can win the congressional seats next year if they tap into the distaste for the controversial commander in chief.”
     Not everybody thought this would work:
     “In terms of getting Democrats to the polls, it’s a winner,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of CSU Los Angeles’ Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs. “But in terms of building a campaign around it, it may not work.”
     That’s because each of the four Republicans — Issa, Walters, Ed Royce and Dana Rohrabacher — has served in elected office for at least 16 years, making them familiar names in their districts with political identities apart from Trump. While its advantage is shrinking, the GOP still has the edge in voter registration in each district. And voters last year showed that they made a distinction between the GOP incumbents, whom they reelected, and the Republican nominee, whom they rejected.
     Still, at least for now, local Dems were highly motivated, a rare thing:
     Trump’s election has inspired an opposition groundswell of local activism, with weekly rallies targeting Congress members in each of the four districts. Of the 11 Democrats to declare candidacies in those districts so far, eight have said it was Trump’s win that motivated them to run.
     “Trump is making Democrats even more motivated by the day and I don’t see that ending,” said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who teaches political science at USC. “In most cases, this kind of energy peters out after a while unless they’re provided with fresh outrages — and Donald Trump provides plenty of fresh outrages.”
     While three of the Republican incumbents cruised to victory by more than 14 percentage points last year, Issa — who faced the most formidable opponent — won by just 0.6 points. That surprisingly close finish gave local Democrats a whiff of blood and the conviction that the other three may be vulnerable as well — particularly given the record low popularity of Republican president.
     The Democrats’ did have some advantages:
     Beside the activist energy, demographics in the four districts continue a long-trending shift that favors Democrats. Additionally, the party that wins the White House typically loses congressional seats in subsequent mid-term election. A May poll in the Orange County portions of the four GOP districts by Sextant Strategies & Research found that 51 percent of voters disapproved of Trump’s policies and that independent voters favored an unnamed, generic Democratic candidate over a Republican one, 46 percent to 21 percent.
     All these elements, Democrats hope, will add up to a win or four.
     It’s an optimism that reaches well beyond local activists and the early rush of Democratic candidates. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted all four seats and sees Orange County as ground zero for 2018 House gains in the west. It has begun funding campaign activity in the districts, including setting up its western regional office in Irvine.
     Some Democrats were focusing, not only on Trump, but on the health-care issue in particular:
     While Trump’s name is a constant refrain by those targeting the GOP incumbents, details of the attacks often address policy issues. Most prominent of those is the repeal of Obamacare, promised by Trump and taking shape in Republicans’ AHCA replacement plan — a proposal supported by the four GOP House members.
     The current version would eventually leave 23 million more Americans without insurance and could send annual premiums soaring, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Tyler Law, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called AHCA “the single most unpopular policy in the country.”Sonenshein is among those that think the issue may be Republicans’ most vulnerable area.
     “Once people realize their health care could be lost, it could be very big,” he said. “(GOP incumbents) can make distinctions between themselves and Trump, but they can’t separate themselves from health care.”
Devin Nunes
     In mid-June, the Times (Rep. Devin Nunes says it's 'critical' for Republicans to keep winning in Orange County) reported on an OC fundraiser, where keynote speaker, Rep. Devin Nunes, “told party donors … that their pushback was key to fighting the majority Democrats’ power in the state.”
     Evidently, Nunes thought that local GOP Congresspeople were vulnerable.
     As usual, party chief Fred Whitaker was “unfazed.” “Bring it on,” he said, referring to the Democrats’ effort to take out the likes of Issa and Rohrabacher.
     Nunes went on to attack the media à la Mr. Trump. “He suggested at one point that the media was partly responsible for the shooting at a GOP baseball practice this week that left Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana critically wounded.”
     You’ll recall that, recently, Mr. Nunes behaved very oddly as the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
     He’s a global warming denier.
     Nunes spoke of “the relationship the Democratic Party and the extreme left have with the media, the universities, Hollywood….” He’s into conspiracies, I guess.
     The audience of about 1000 “cheered and applauded.”

     Politico (see GOP rallies in Orange County) also reported on the event, describing Republican unconcern about Democratic efforts to take out local GOP Congresspeople:
     Fred Whitaker, chairman of the county party, told POLITICO after a GOP dinner in Irvine on Saturday that the party aims to register 50,000 new Republicans over the next 18 months and will spend $1.6 million on the effort.
     -- “The Democrats think they’re going to pop something here,” Whitaker said. “We’re not going to let them.”
     -- Nor are Republicans here shying away from Donald Trump. Issa at the dinner touted his role in the House vote on Obamacare, and Rep. Devin Nunes, a Central Valley Republican in town to deliver keynote remarks, said there “was never any collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians.”
     On June 22, political journalist and editor, Charlie Mahtesian, in Politico Magazine, prophesied doom for the Repubs. (See The GOP’s Suburban Nightmare.) He emphasized long-term demographic trends:
     Surveying the Democratic wreckage after a disastrous 1952 campaign, Robert Taft … made a bold prediction about the opposition. “The Democratic Party,” the onetime Senate majority leader asserted, “will never win another national election until it solves the problem of the suburbs.”
     Taft wasn’t exactly right, but he wasn’t wrong either. The millions of voters fleeing overcrowded cities to seek the American dream would ultimately power Republicans to victory in six of the next nine presidential elections, and in the process, reshape the GOP’s postwar image as the party of the suburbs.
     But that Republican Party is now gone, and suburbia is no longer its trusted wingman. Although Donald Trump managed to win the suburbs narrowly in 2016, 49 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 45 percent, a little over half of suburbia voted against him, according to exit polls. This marks the third presidential election in a row in which the GOP nominee failed to crack 50 percent of the suburban vote.
     Once the Republican Party’s stronghold, suburban America threatens now to become its nemesis. A combination of demographic change and cultural dissonance is gradually eroding its ability to compete across much of suburbia, putting entire areas of the country out of the GOP’s reach. It’s a bigger crisis than the party acknowledges, a reckoning that threatens Trump’s reelection and the next generation of Republican office-seekers.
Rick Perry, Lois Lundberg
     Natch, Mahtesian soon zoomed in on the curious case of Orange County:
     There’s a reason Ronald Reagan once said Orange County was the place good Republicans go to die—before 2016, it had last voted Democratic for president more than 80 years ago. The symbolism of Trump’s defeat in one of the GOP’s holy places was apt: This was the election where the full extent of the party’s suburban rot was finally revealed....
     Some of the erosion can be written off as a one-time reaction to Trump, a candidate uniquely ill-suited for the suburbs. His populist style—the bombast, belligerence and frank disregard for credentialed elites—sounded discordant notes in the more comfortable precincts, among the well-educated professionals who flocked to John Kasich and Marco Rubio during the GOP primary. So did Trump’s caustic or tin-eared statements on gender, race and ethnicity on a suburban landscape that bears little resemblance to the original lily-white version.
     But the truth is that Trump arrived in what was already the twilight of the GOP’s suburban era.
Not a member of an organized party
     Truth? Hope so.
     Mahtesian went on to describe changes in Democrats’ tactics in the 90s. (Some would note that these changes illustrate the Dem’s epic betrayal of blue-collar workers and the middle class, the philosophy that Obama/Hillary came to epitomize. See Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal.)
     “Perhaps the biggest change of all,” he says, [was that] “The suburbs themselves grew far more diverse….”
     Mahtesian offered data. Check it out.
     Is this “demographic shift” yarn for real?
     Think so. Hope so.

* * *
     NOW: So, if you listen to some people, credible people, from a progressive point of view, things are pretty rotten, short-term; but, long-term, no so much, really. The Republicans cannot persist in the Trumpian philosophy and survive. Not even in Orange County.
     I suspect that’s true.
     On the other hand, the Democrats are a clueless bunch. They seem not to have learned the lesson, or what I take to be the lesson, of the 2016 race: that their Neoliberal brand sucks and that they’ve got to take a strong turn toward progressivism. They’ve got to take Bernie’s road, not Hillary’s. (Please go away, H.)
     Yeah. How’s that going so far? (See Why Does the Democratic Party Insist on Marginalizing Bernie Sanders?)

UPDATE, 11/8/17: Suburbs Rebel Against Trump, Threatening Republicans in Congress,
RICHMOND, Va. — The American suburbs appear to be in revolt against President Trump after a muscular coalition of college-educated voters and racial and ethnic minorities dealt the Republican Party a thumping rejection on Tuesday and propelled a diverse class of Democrats into office.
     From the tax-obsessed suburbs of New York City to high-tech neighborhoods outside Seattle to the sprawling, polyglot developments of Fairfax and Prince William County, Va., voters shunned Republicans up and down the ballot in off-year elections. Leaders in both parties said the elections were an unmistakable alarm bell for Republicans ahead of the 2018 campaign, when the party’s grip on the House of Representatives may hinge on the socially moderate, multiethnic communities near major cities....


Anonymous said...

You're giving me some hope, Roy. Thanks. And Happy 4ith of July.

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful Sir Roy. And much appreciated.

And the best of a Happy 5th.

Anonymous said...

Chapman prof. Tom Zoellner is in that new book of Rebel Girl's.

Trust teachers. We know.

Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly at UCI's Langston Library, Saturday October 13 Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords came to t...