Romney coattails? In California? Maybe

Oct. 23, 2012

By Chris Reed

After Barack Obama’s 61% to 37% wipeout of John McCain in California in 2008, we were spared the quadrennial tradition of some senior Republican peddling the idea that the GOP had a chance at the Golden State’s 50-plus electoral votes this campaign. The last time a Republican actually won California was George H.W. Bush in 1988.

But as strange as it may seem to talk about Mitt Romney having coattails in a state in which he has no chance of winning, it just might be true.

Over the past three weeks, on statewide races, the news has gotten worse for Prop. 30 and better for Prop. 32. In San Diego, where I live, polls seem to be moving in Republicans’ favor in the San Diego mayor’s race between Republican Carl DeMaio and Democrat Bob Filner and in the congressional race between GOP incumbent Brian Bilbray and Democratic challenger Scott Peters. Redistricting, it was assumed, left Bilbray at risk, leading to millions of dollars in super PAC ads targeting the 52nd congressional district race.

But I haven’t heard an insider talking up Peters’ chances for weeks.

What changed? Maybe we’re seeing a California version of the national dynamics that turned Romney from a clear underdog before the first debate on Oct. 3 to arguably a narrow favorite today.

The top of the ticket matters. More Republicans want to vote. More Democrats are disillusioned about the president.

Sometimes, it’s that simple — even in a state that regularly elects people like Pete Stark, Laura Richardson and John Burton.

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