Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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Archive for August 17th, 2010

No House Party in California

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Here’s a sure-fire way for a Democratic to make himself persona non grata, even in the bluest of blue nation-states: fly into Los Angeles for a weekday fundraiser and seriously screw up the evening commute.

This morning’s Los Angeles Times is chock full of tales of woes of Angelenos who found their lives inconvenienced by yesterday’s presidential money heist.

Here’s my favorite passage:

“One man, who did not want to give his name, said it had taken his wife four hours to drive home from Brentwood. Another man trying to walk west on 6th Street to his office shouted at the officers blocking his way and told them he wished he had voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Obama’s opponent in the 2008 presidential race.”

A Facebook friend of mine wasn’t shy about his feelings:

“Dear President Obama, the Secret Service, and the LAPD, F–k you. You cannot lock people out of their homes for 3 hours, past children’s bedtimes.”

If I’m the Obama White House, maybe I can afford to make this kind of blunder in Los Angeles. It’s not as if California’s gonna be in play in 20102. But I wouldn’t do the same in Miami, or Cleveland, or any other large city in a potential swing state.

So Angelenos were furious about their roads being closed. They would have been further annoyed had they known that the purpose of the Obama visit — a $2,500-a-head fundraiser at the home of ER and West Wing executive producer John Wells — was for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which funds House candidates. 

Why the rub? Because the Golden State’s 53 districts have little to do with the Democrats keeping control of the lower chamber of Congress come next January.

Let’s do a little election-year math. The current division of the House is 253 Democrats, 178 Republicans. The GOP needs a net gain of 40 seats to get to the magical 218 and majority control (a pickup of 15-18 is the norm; political stargazer Larry Sabato thinks it will be somewhere in the neighborhood of the 30’s).

As California’s 53 seats account for nearly one-eighth of the entire House, logic would dictate that California’s contribution would be 5 seats if indeed there’s a Republican tide a-risin’.

The problem is, analysts tell us, there aren’t 5 vulnerable Democratic seats in the Golden State to be had in this cycle.

Political handicapper Charlie Cook subdivides “competitive” House races into three categories: “likely”, “lean” and “toss-up”.  Per his numbers of last week, Cook has 64 Democratic seats as “lean” or “toss-up”. Only one is in California: the 11th CD, a Bay Area seat held by two-termer Jerry McNerney.

So Obama’s visit to L.A. wasn’t about keeping California seats in the Democratic column.

Instead, it was business as usual in the Golden State: America’s political ATM.

One final irony about the California in the 2010 House cycle. Maybe the Republicans do indeed knock off McNerney. That pick-up could be offset by a GOP loss in the 3rd Congressional District, where third-term Republican Dan Lungren is seen as vulnerable.

Meaning, should both districts change hands and thus offsetting a partisan gain of any kind, California would have little to say about the future of the House.

Well, except for all that money — and Speaker Pelosi now the poster child for bad behavior in Republican ad buys in at least 40 Democratic-held seats nationwide.

Written by Bill Whalen

August 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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