Updated: July 14
Dem : 38%
GOP : 39%
DTS : 18%
Obama's performance (margin / vote):
+1.1% / 49.5%
Jackie Conaway : 42.2%
McKeon : 57.8%
Oh well. I'm sure he has his reasons.
CA-25 is one of California's big weird districts where a conservative suburban area is attached to a vast rural region. Rural voters are all conservative, right? Whatever, I'm not driving all the way to Bridgeport to find out. But for CA-25 that grueling six hour excursion could make the difference.
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Unlike the other Obama Eight districts, CA-25 is not a red district. The registration margin has halved since just last November (Swing State Project has the raw numbers). The GOP's advantage is now only a little more than one percent, so let me repeat myself:
In CA-25, the northernmost edge of the SoCal megalopolis is combined with its winter hinterland, Mammoth Lakes. Obama's mediocre showing and McKeon's strong win make this look like a safe seat. Obama did okay in the Santa Clarita Valley, or SCV, and only narrowly lost in the High Desert, but he took a 10 pt. thumping in Inyo County, pulling down his margin. When the Dem registration actually catches up next summer, however, that will be the local meme. Every time Buck McKeon or his prospective challengers get mentioned in the news, it will be along side some boilerplate about how the district recently became purple.
The bright spot is that there seems to be a good base of Democratic organization all across the district. That organization was working hard to get Obama elected and I suppose they deserve credit for making CA-25 one of the Obama Eight. There are several groups in the SCV and CSU Northridge is in the next district over. The Mojave Desert Dems in Barstow have recently gotten onto Facebook – good for them.
And up Highway 395 is the Owens River Democratic Club. They are a consolidation of the Inyo and Mono Counties' Dem communities, and their website is well put together. I recommend their blog, which will give you a good sense of the rebellious temperament of liberal mountain folk. For example, there's this prescient post from way back in October:
Dems Badly Misreading Public Mood on Bailout
The Democratic leadership, Obama, Reid, and Pelosi, are badly misreading the public mood on the bailout. Never have I seen the American people so united in outrage over a proposal. This is sadly reminiscent of the vote on the Iraq war and Kerry's spineless defense that he would have done "everything differently".
This is a phenomenal opportunity to show real leadership, limit the power of investment banks and put forward a real progressive agenda. Obama is playing not to lose and has left a huge opening for the republicans to put forward a populist bill.
Those who love wildlife will note that the Full-Throated Eastern Sierra Democrat shares its territory with the bighorn sheep, and like the bighorn, it is a stubborn, unique specimen.
Oh, and $5,800 dollars is barely more than two max donations for a Congressional campaign. Just two! That is not acceptable.
Some mix of Dem registration drives, party apparatus development, and improved performance in the suburban areas could put a candidate over the top. David Dayen sums up the challenge:
There is certainly a profile of a Democratic candidate that could attract serious votes out here. But that person does not yet exist.
I Heart SCV
SCV Dem Club
Democratic Alliance for Action
Mojave Desert Dem Club
(website / Facebook)
Owens River Dem Club
Remember, this is an on-going project, so leave a comment or email with any suggestions or tips!
I don't want to harp on the earmarks thing but, like Gallegly, Buck McKeon is a conservative Republican who ♥ earmarks. Why isn't this being used more? This is the perfect wedge issue; they made it. It's like a murder mystery where the victim is a swordsmith killed by his own masterpiece.