Republicans have taken over leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives by just a handful of seats. The razor thin margin is forcing California Democrats to wonder if they could have won some more seats by running a significant statewide turnout effort.
In past election cycles, the California Democratic Party, along with elected Democratic leaders, would organize a statewide “Coordinated Campaign Effort”. Races that were expected to be close were targeted to be a part of a large statewide campaign effort. Resources would be provided to the campaign and would include funds for staff, headquarters, and grassroots get-out-the-vote programs. Statewide bus tours that would include statewide elected officials, candidates, and celebrities would be organized and stops would be made in each targeted district.
In addition to a lack of coordinated campaign efforts, the Democratic statewide candidates felt confident in their ability to win without running significant campaigns, so they didn’t. As Calpeek has discussed, Governor Gavin Newsom’s focus seemed to be on other states. In past elections, candidates in close races would rely on the rallies, press coverage, and other efforts to inspire volunteers, encourage donations, and turn out votes.
Julia Rosen, in a guest commentary for CalMatters, states “It’s not far-fetched to say that under-investment in get-out-the-vote operations in California cost Democrats their shot at retaining control of Congress.”
Political scientists and those around the water cooler will be looking at the voter turnout data to see what the impact might have been. Party leaders will have to explain why they did not organize a coordinated effort. Statewide Democratic elected officials may be held accountable for not helping out vulnerable candidates.