CA GOP aims for demographic rebound

CA GOPConvinced that expanding voter appeal is a make-or-break proposition, leading California Republicans have begun to pivot toward a broad-based demographic strategy meant to rebuild from the ground up. In recent weeks, both the state party and the GOP’s minority caucus in Sacramento have put demographics at the center of their political plans heading into 2016.

Though party officials and elected officials acknowledge they face a long road to the level of support maintained decades ago, the change in emphasis has begun to draw notice from analysts at both ends of the political spectrum.

Assembly shakeup

Aware that their influence on legislation has been effectively limited by Democratic majorities and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, Sacramento Republicans have recently been determined to place voter outreach above legislative wrangling. The strategic shift has led to a decrease in consulting and clerical staff among Assembly Republicans, the Los Angeles Times reported, and to an increase in communications staff, specifically targeting better social media outreach.

“‘We have to accept the playing field for us has changed and put our resources into tactics that move the ball for Republicans,’ said Assembly GOP leader Kristin Olsen of Modesto. ‘Unless we are getting outside of this building and telling Californians what we are doing, we’re really not going to make a whole lot of progress in resonating with voters,’ she said.”

Kristin_Olsen_PictureThis month, evidence of the shift emerged in the form of a new package of legislation, complete with a new hashtag to match. Unveiling the #GrowTogetherCA package, Olsen cast the legislation in thematic terms, pitched more at voter perceptions than fellow colleagues across the aisle. “It’s time to end the outdated thinking in Sacramento that sees new industries as a threat,” she said. “Our #GrowTogetherCA package will change this attitude to welcome the modern economy and to help close income gaps that are hurting the vast majority of Californians. We also want to focus on infrastructure needs that have gone neglected for too long, driving away jobs and stifling our state’s economic growth potential.”

Republicans have sensed a political opportunity amid Democrats’ struggles to settle on a successful infrastructure policy. In recent months, Democrats have found themselves divided across a range of infrastructure issues, including Gov. Brown’s ambitious, multibillion-dollar scheme to construct massive underground tunnels routing water to the state’s thirsty southerly half.

An opportunity for an edge

The GOP’s newfound emphasis reflected an awareness that, although Sacramento Democrats have remained united enough to rebuff GOP-led legislation, California voters have soured on Brown’s approach to infrastructure. A Field Poll released this February showed that majorities supported Brown’s performance as a whole, but not his penchant for large-scale, big-ticket projects such as high-speed rail and the tunnel plan:

When asked to consider three negative statements that have been made about the governor, a 57 percent majority agrees with one of them – “favors too many big government projects that the state cannot afford right now.”

Although Republican strategists have not drawn a straight line between infrastructure issues and demographic targets, “Republicans hope that focusing on such matters — rather than on divisive social issues — may help broaden the party’s appeal,” as the Times noted.

Party politics

At the same time, under the leadership of chairman Jim Brulte, the state GOP has undertaken its own focus on demographic improvement. In a recent interview with liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Brulte spoke bluntly about the political logic. “California is the leading edge of the country’s demographic changes,” he told Dionne. “Frankly, Republicans in California did not react quickly enough to them, and we have paid a horrible price.”

As Dionne observed, “Brulte has concentrated his own energies on rebuilding the party from the bottom up. He has enjoyed some real successes at the local and county levels, and the GOP eliminated the Democrats’ veto-proof majorities in the state legislature in the 2014 mid-terms.” Re-elected last month to another two year term, Brulte recently attributed those successes to the new demographic focus. “Brulte credited the victories to fielding candidates that better reflected their communities,” according to the Sacramento Bee.


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  1. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 28 April, 2015, 15:15

    Brulte spoke bluntly about the political logic. “California is the leading edge of the country’s demographic changes,”

    “Brulte credited the victories to fielding candidates that better reflected their communities,”

    Allow me to translate the message: California Republicans have realized that it’s time to throw their dwindling cohort of white folks under the bus. Of course, if this doesn’t work they will have alienated their last remaining bastion of support and sealed their doom.

    Try to keep in mind that the Republican Party is first and foremost the handmaiden of Big Business and the Military Industrial Complex. The Crony Capitalists demand cheap labor and the Military Establishment demands an endless supply of immigrant cannon fodder for our endless and futile wars of aggression.

    That’s why the national Republican Party has already thrown in the towel on amnesty and Obamacare, while at the same time working ceaselessly to pour even more blood and treasure into the bottomless pit of military expenditures/foreign adventurism.

    Have you noticed that Republican leadership in Mordor On The Potomac has done nothing to reign in the metastizing growth of the national security police state, and is busy fomenting perpetual war, even with a nuclear armed Russia over a worthless Corruptocracy like Ukraine? These chicken hawks are as insane as their dreadful counterparts in the Demonrat Party.

    “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…”
    ― H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series

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  2. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 28 April, 2015, 17:56

    The California Republican Party broke its pick irrevocably when Pete Wilson and his cronies decided they didn’t need any stinking Latino votes and pushed through Proposition 187. Given the changing demographics of the state since that time, the only way Republicans will ever get any significant votes from that demographic will be by clearly and convincingly repudiating the legacy of Prop 187 and purging the anti-immigration faction from the party. They haven’t spent enough time on the bottom to do that yet.

    Reply this comment
    • Queeg
      Queeg 28 April, 2015, 20:21

      Yep……old grungee wooden box cars await the huddled masses…..for the midnight train to Mexico!

      Reply this comment

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