The Riggs Report: Trump trauma on the ballot?

October 27, 2016

GOP candidate’s polling slide spells trouble for other California candidates

Donald Trump’s polling deficit is no surprise in Democrat-dominated California. After all, no Republican has carried the presidential vote here for 28 years.

But how big is the current gap? The latest UPI-CVoter poll gives Hillary Clinton a 20 point lead in the Golden State. However, Trump, who once pledged to run competitively in California, is now threatening to become an election liability for other Republicans in close races on the ballot.

There has been longstanding concern within Republican circles about the potential for Democrats to regain a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature, as they did in 2012. To make that happen, the Democrats would only have to gain two seats in the Assembly and one seat in the Senate.

That means that freshman lawmakers like David Hadley, R-Torrance, Catharine Baker, R-Walnut Creek, and Young Kim, R-Fullerton, have all been targeted and face a tough re-election fight.

But Trump’s numbers could also claim California Republican casualties in Congress.

National Democrats are targeting four seats in particular—those occupied by Jeff Denham and David Valadao in the Central Valley, and those held by Darrell Issa and Steve Knight in Southern California.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the Denham race as a toss-up, to use one local example. That explains why House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Super PAC is spending at least $2 million on broadcast and online advertising to defend the Denham seat.

That seat, Congressional District 10, is virtually split, with Democratic registration at 39 percent and Republican registration at almost 38 percent. President Obama carried the district vote in both 2008 and 2012.

Democrats already have a significant edge in registration statewide: 45 percent to the Republicans’ 27 percent, according to the latest numbers from the Secretary of State’s office—add to that an enormous spike in online registration on Sunday and Monday of this week.

More than 500,000 people registered or updated their registration during that time frame, and most of those were in the 18 to 35 age group, a demographic that favors the Democrats.

Combine Trump’s low poll numbers with the fact that there is no Republican this year on the ballot for California’s open U.S. Senate seat, and it poses a significant problem for the GOP.

The top of the ticket has significant influence on who turns out, or in Trump’s case, who doesn’t.