Dan Walters

Capitol and California – Dan Walters
Published: Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Were California Republicans a biological genus rather than a political one, they could demand special protection under laws protecting endangered species like the kangaroo rat, to wit:

• New voter registration data show the GOP losing three percentage points in just the last four years and now trailing Democrats by a whopping 13-plus points;

• Republican Meg Whitman lost badly to Democrat Jerry Brown in 2010’s gubernatorial contest, despite outspending Brown by tens of millions of dollars, and the GOP now doesn’t hold a single statewide office;

• The independent redistricting that many Republicans hoped would block a Democratic gerrymander of legislative and congressional seats did the party no favors, with Democrats now likely to gain congressional seats this year and achieve a two-thirds supermajority in the state Senate;

• With voters’ decision in 2010 to eliminate the two-thirds legislative vote on state budgets, Republicans now have almost zero power in the Capitol; and

• A sophisticated analysis of Californians’ ideological leanings, based on their votes on key ballot measures, by University of San Francisco professor David Latterman, finds that the state leans more liberal.

As California Republican activists gather for a convention this weekend, they should be mulling their near-demise as a political force, but most likely will pretend that they still matter and waste energy on internal feuds and squabbling over micro-points of ideology.

Did Republicans, who just a generation ago were ascending to near-dominance of the state’s politics, do it to themselves, or are they victims of trends beyond their control?

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