by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When one considers the Republican Party’s future and electoral aspirations, California isn’t usually on the list. The Golden State has endured nearly a full generation of Democratic rule. The last time a Republican won the governorship here was in 2006, and the last time without a Hollywood celebrity helming the ticket was in 1994. The current California Senate and Assembly feature Republicans mostly as a vestigial party, representing nine of 40 and 19 of 80 members, respectively.
Nevertheless, there are promising signs that Republicans just might make a comeback in America’s wealthiest and most-populous state. The 2020 elections illuminate the possibilities — as do the Democratic Party’s missteps leading into 2022.
Looking past the tumult of the presidential race, the real story of 2020 was the remarkable Republican and conservative performance at every other level. Deep-blue California was very much part of that, with Republicans seizing three new congressional seats from Democratic opposition — including the first California-Republican win over a Democratic incumbent since 1994. …
… What’s happening here? First and foremost, we’re seeing a breaking of the ethnic balkanization and bloc-voting upon which Democrats nationally have pinned their hopes. Asian-American voters understand that a party whose fervent ideologues would deny their children equitable admission to educational opportunity is not for them. Latino voters understand that the cultural values espoused by a progressive movement unfriendly to religion and family are not their own. African-American voters understand that the politics of job destruction and high taxes are exactly the opposite of what their families and communities need.
In other words, the so-called permanent Democratic majority is impermanent because American minority voters are, in the end, just like all the other American voters. They’re rational actors who accurately perceive their own interests.
We’re seeing something else, too: Republican candidates who don’t fit the party’s traditional mold of older white men.