For the first time since the days of Reagan the Republican Party has a real chance of winning a national election in California. You read that right, not only is Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat in real jeopardy for the first time since she took office in 1992 but President Obama has his work cut out for him as well.
Once thought untouchable, Sen. Feinstein’s poll numbers are at an all time low. According to a report by CBS Los Angeles, Feinstein’s approval rating has dropped to a dismal 41 percent. Furthermore, even amongst her Democrat base, Feinstein only receives a 60 percent approval rating. And like the rest of the country, only 9 percent of Californians approve of the job Congress is doing.
In 2010, Senator Barbara Boxer had the fight of her life and narrowly defeated Republican upstart Carly Fiorina. The DNC had to pull out all the stops in defense of the longtime Democrat stronghold. For starters, Sen. Boxer had to spend a whopping $28 million which was nearly double what she had to spend in her previous election.
Sensing potential defeat in California, which would have been an even bigger political slap in the face than Scott Brown winning in Massachusetts, President Obama had to make no less than three trips to California in a desperate attempt to save Boxer’s seat. But the president’s coattails are all but nonexistent in 2012 and he will be fighting to save his own political life this November.
In evaluating election results from the last two presidential election cycles,California is not nearly as blue as the Democrats would lead you to believe. In 2008, the year of President Obama’s sweeping victory, he only won twenty-four counties in California compared to Sen. John McCain’s thirty-four. President Obama carried the urban counties and that was enough to ensure victory for him in California.
In 2004, John Kerry only received 54 percent of the popular vote in California and won a paltry twenty-two counties compared to President Bush’s thirty-six counties. More importantly there were seven counties that were within 3 percent of going to Bush which would have easily carried him to victory had those counties gone the other way.
There are three candidates who have emerged as front-runners to challenge Sen. Feinstein in November;John Boruff, Elizabeth Emken and Dan Hughes.
Boruff, who once served as a reserve police officer, worked his way through the ranks of a regional auto-parts retailer, starting as a clerk and working his way up to president of the company. Over the years Boruff developed a knack for real-estate and is now a partner in a largeSan Diego area property management firm.
Emken is a former IBM executive who now serves as a vice president at Autism Speaks which is the largest autism advocacy group in America.
Hughes served in management before launching his own hospital services company.
To be sure, whoever emerges from the Republican primary in June faces an uphill battle in November. That being said, if the Republican establishment will get behind one of these candidates and force Sen. Feinstein, who will be 79 in June, into a protracted campaign; it will be interesting to see if she is up to the challenge.
Is it a long shot to think that the GOP can win in California? Of course. However, when you consider that there is still major discontent within the electorate, both Republican and Democrat. Then factor in that Congress has an abysmal approval rating, an economy that still hasn’t hit bottom, rampant unemployment, inflation that is nearing 10 percent, fuel prices that are predicted to eclipse the four dollar mark this summer and you have conditions conducive for the perfect political storm, which, in the aftermath, the GOP may be able to shock the world and win in California.