How California`s GOP Immigration Patriots Can Survive 2010`s Mid-Term Elections
May 15, 2009, 05:00 AM
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Of all the thousands of readers' letters that I have read and edited for posting, one sticks with me the most.

California resident Bob Turley wrote that he was so angry at the dereliction of duty by his elected officials that he hopes the state falls into the Pacific Ocean—after he moves out.

I remember Turley's letter so well because I shared his sentiments. At the time, I had not yet fled my native California.

By November 2010, Turley may get his wish—symbolically, if in no other form.

The California Republican Party, the only wall of resistance left to the immigration invasion that has overwhelmed the state, is on the verge of complete insignificance. Analysts believe that the few Republican U.S. Representatives that remain may lose their seats in the upcoming general election.

Given the fundamental weaknesses of the GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and U.S. Senate contender Carly Fiorina who will oppose Barbara Boxer, Republican troubles are much greater than trying to win those key elections.

As a practical matter, victory in the top races is out of reach.  Therefore, the Republicans most urgent concern is not to lose further ground in the Congressional races. But because of the erosion of the Republican base, Democrats are hopeful that they can sweep all 53 seats in the nation's most gerrymandered, least competitive (in Senate and presidential races) state.

Republicans don't have a majority of registered voters in a single congressional or legislative district. Democrats, by contrast, hold a majority in 20 of the state's 53 congressional districts, according to the secretary of state's March 20 voter report. (The math explained: Democrats have a majority—50 percent +1— in 20 Districts, Republicans don't have more than 50 percent in any district, and in the remaining 33 districts neither party holds a majority.)

These latest registration figures show Republicans in California at a historic low of 32.3 percent. While Democrats are gaining voters in key districts, Republican voters are in many cases reregistering as Independent or "decline-to-state" [California Dems Outpace Republicans in Voter Registration, by Edwin Garcia, San Jose Mercury News, October 21, 2008]

Tony Quinn, a veteran GOP analyst and co-author of the California Target Book which conducted extensive voter registration surveys, found that, statewide, a general collapse of new Republican registrations has taken place.  And David Gilliard, another GOP pollster who organized the 2003 successful drive to recall then-Governor Gray Davis, confirmed Quinn's findings when he recently remarked that the party has been down and out for a long time.

While the drift away from the Republican Party has been in progress for years, two recent developments have escalated the trend:

Accordingly, the Democrats smell blood and sense that as many as eight Republican-held House districts that Barack Obama won in November may be up for grabs.

Our long-time adversary, Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres told POLITICO.COM:  "We need to look at all those congressional districts where we think we may have a shot." And Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen recently confirmed that his party would be going for the kill. Said Van Hollen: "California is a place that we will be looking at this time around even more closely than before." [GOP Withering Away in California Heat? by Alex Isenstadt, Politico.Com, April 14, 2009]

Among the most vulnerable Republican Congressional seats are:

  • Elton Gallegly (Immigration Grade: A) His Santa Barbara-area district has seen the Republican registration edge over Democrats drop from 11 percent in 2002 to 6 percent in 2009.
     
  • Mary Bono Mack (Grade: A-). Her district's GOP edge decreased from 11 percent to 4 percent. Bono Mack faces the prospect of a tough reelection challenge from Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet. (Grade: A-)
     
  • Howard "Buck" McKeon's (Grade: A). In his Santa Clarita Valley-area district the Republican registration margin has dropped from 9 percent to 1 percent. As a result, McKeon has experienced a corresponding decline in his reelection percentage, gradually shrinking from 65 percent in 2002 to 58 percent in 2008.
     
  • Dan Lungren (Grade: A), whose Sacramento-area district's GOP registration edge fell from 11 percent to 2 percent over the past seven years, was held to under 50 percent of the vote by Bill Durston, an underfunded and unknown anti-war challenger in 2008.
     
  • Ken Calvert's (Grade: A) His Riverside County seat has slipped from 16 percent to 7 percent GOP registered. In 2008, Calvert narrowly defeated Bill Hedrick, a largely unknown opponent.

What's boxed the GOP in is that California's demographics have dramatically changed over the last two decades. As more Hispanic and Asian voters become politically involved, Republicans haven't been able to draw up a winning game plan that appeals to them—or, more importantly, compensate by rallying their white base, what we at VDARE.COM call "The Sailer Strategy".

Thus in the 2008 Presidential election, CNN exit polls show that John McCain actually succeeded in losing the California white vote (a.k.a. what until recently would have been regarded as the American vote) 46%-52%. (McCain couldn't even carry white men in California: he got 48% vs. 44% for white women). 

In contrast, McCain swept the Alabama white vote, which is almost exactly the same proportion of the total as in California, 88%-10%. So he carried the state easily, 61%-39%.

Furthermore, in California the GOP has consistently nominated unattractive candidates who are predestined to lose either because they avoid mentioning immigration altogether—a comically idiotic strategy in California—or they can't effectively sell the message that more immigration is bad for everyone, especially recent immigrants.

Rightly or wrongly, new immigrant voters in California consider Republicans the enemy. In politics, perception is reality.

Still, a faint glimmer of hope remains. Some of the targeted districts like Lungren's and Calvert's are strongly conservative. If they didn't lose to their Democratic challengers in 2008 when Obama-mania swept through California, they may not do it in 2010, especially if and when the president's popularity slips.

More significantly, California has an amazing record for re-electing incumbents. In 2008, every single incumbent in the State Senate, State Assembly and Congress won overwhelmingly. (See official results here.)

The challenge for Republicans is both easy and hard.

Identifying the right platform is simple. Immigration is California's number one social issue. You don't have be a genius to see the inverse relationship between continuing higher levels of uncontrolled immigration and the state's deteriorating quality of life as witnessed in schools, health care, urban sprawl, etc ad infinitum.

I believe that's a winning argument. But to present it effectively to a Democratic, immigrant-dominated state Republicans will need a well-known, well-funded candidate who has the courage of his convictions.

Most Republican strategists encourage their candidates to "appeal" to immigrants' interests—a big mistake because what they really mean is pander to them.

But Republicans can't outdo Democrats when it comes to immigration pandering. Just ask John McCain.

Republicans only recourse is to drive home the message that for the collective good of all Californians, immigration in all its forms—legal, illegal and non-immigrant visas—has to end.

The beauty of that platform is that it will make sense to enlightened immigrants—that is, English-speaking citizens who are registered to vote.

Still, it's a tough sell, made harder by the hour's lateness and the decades of immigration folly shown by Republicans.

But for prospective Republican office seekers, in Margaret Thatcher's famous words, There Is No Alternative.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.