Capitol Alert

Paul Mitchell’s tip sheet for California’s presidential primary

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walks out to speak during a campaign press conference at the Old Post Office Pavilion, soon to be a Trump International Hotel, in Washington on Monday.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walks out to speak during a campaign press conference at the Old Post Office Pavilion, soon to be a Trump International Hotel, in Washington on Monday. The Washington Post

California’s sudden and surprising relevance in the presidential primary is generating the kind of hype unseen here in more than three decades, when Walter Mondale ultimately held off Gary Hart to capture the Democratic nomination in 1984.

Twenty years before that, there was the epic clash between Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller.

The long gap in time necessitates a refresher on the process for even the most astute politicos, never mind national reporters preparing to parachute in. Enter Paul Mitchell, California’s preeminent data guru. Mitchell wrote up a tip sheet over at Capitol Weekly for those working the Golden Primary. Here’s a brief summary:

California is diverse, ethnically and politically. As a rule, coastal districts tend to be liberal, while inland voters are more conservative. Also, the preferred terminology is Latino, not Hispanic. If someone says “The City,” he notes, they are not referring to Los Angeles, the state’s largest city, they are referring to San Francisco.

He also gets into some details: Half of the state’s voters are registered as so-called PAVs, or ‘permanent vote by mail.’ Thanks to a new law, their ballots will push the count into overtime. They must be postmarked by Election Day and received within three days of that date.

“Yes, election geeks at Cook Political Report and 538, your spreadsheets will not have final delegate allocations until all these ballots are received and tallied – likely not until the following weekend, or later if there are a lot of provisional and challenged ballots,” Mitchell writes.

Finally, Mitchell adds a warning for those wishing to stop Donald Trump:

“You might have forgotten, but in the 2000 California primary, Donald Trump won the Reform Party nomination for president.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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