The San Francisco East Bay’s 16th Assembly District could be Exhibit A for a seminar called “The Top of the Ticket Doesn’t Matter.”
Heading into the Nov. 8 election, Assembly Democrats were intent on ousting Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 12 percentage points in the 16th, which is chock-full of well-educated, white-collar suburbanites – the type of voter that pre-election polls showed had little appetite for Baker’s fellow Republican at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump.
Baker nevertheless won re-election with 56 percent of the vote, twice Trump’s vote share in the 16th and only several points behind Democrat Hillary Clinton, who is on track to get about 62 percent of the vote there, based on unofficial precinct results. Some late-arriving mail and provisional ballots remain to be counted.
Parts of the two-county district featured even larger Baker-Trump differentials. Clinton trounced Trump in Moraga, where only 19 percent of voters backed the Republican, but 54 percent supported Baker. She outpolled Trump in neighboring Lafayette and Orinda by about 30 percentage points, unofficial results show.
Some of Baker’s Republican colleagues didn’t fare as well despite running ahead of Trump.
The district of Assemblyman David Hadley, R-Manhattan Beach, has comparable education and income levels and also slightly higher GOP registration. Hadley, though, lost with 46.5 percent of the vote, about 12 percentage points higher than Trump’s election-day share of the vote.
The district of Assemblywoman Young Kim, R-Fullerton, has GOP registration almost three percentage points higher than Baker’s. Kim also lost, with 46.9 percent of the vote, about 10 percentage points better than Trump’s vote share, based on unofficial results. Assemblyman Eric Linder, R-Corona, lost.
“Baker really is the model,” Republican consultant Rob Stutzman said at a recent conference on the election results. “There is a lot to understand there for Republicans and probably for Democrats in moderate districts, as well.”