Mitt Romney’s loss of the Presidential election, which confounded expectations of many Republicans and the conservative news media, has set in motion a tidal wave of commentary both from inside and outside the Beltway on what ails the Republican Party.
California deserves its share of blame. After all, Romney lost nationwide by fewer than 4% (50.9%-47.4%) – much of that attributable to his 20% margin of defeat in the Golden State. Indeed, nearly two-thirds (64%)of President Obama’s victory-margin in popular votes nationally is attributable to California alone.
Let’s face facts: California hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate or elected a U.S. Senate candidate since 1988. Since then, only three Republicans have been elected to statewide offices on more than once occasion – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pete Wilson and Bill Jones. Some would scratch Arnold from that list, given that he famously rebranded himself as “post-partisan” and replaced a stable of Republican aides and appointees with Democrats for the last five years of his tenure.
This is just part of the long-term trend of declining Republican influence in California. Republicans have gone from 41-vote control of the State Assembly briefly in 1995 to a 55-25 minority, and from 15 seats to 11 seats in the State Senate, their lowest number in the upper house in 50 years. Add to that ledger a loss of four seats in the Congressional delegation, down to 15 – the lowest number of Republican seats held since 1961, when California had 23 fewer congressional districts. How low has the GOP sunk? Los Angeles County still has more than one million registered Republican voters, but only three partisan representatives with substantial portions of their districts in the county (one state senator; two assemblymen).