Capitol Alert

Could Donald Trump make a run at California in November election?

Donald Trump blasts 'rigged' delegate system

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the California Republican Party’s convention in Burlingame in April, blasts 'rigged' delegate system.
Up Next
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the California Republican Party’s convention in Burlingame in April, blasts 'rigged' delegate system.

So California won’t get a hotly contested presidential primary.

Maybe Donald Trump makes things interesting in November?

Not likely.

“No. Very clearly no,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, one of three polls in the last month that show Hillary Clinton beating Trump by a huge margin in California. Field put Clinton 28 percentage points ahead of the presumptive Republican nominee.

Fans of Donald Trump attend a rally in Costa Mesa on April 28, 2016.

Clinton’s dominance over Trump includes every region of the state, including California’s more conservative, inland reaches. Her support crosses genders and all ages and ethnicities.

Even 16 percent of California Republicans said they would vote for Clinton over Trump, according to the April poll, and nearly two-thirds of independent voters would.

If Trump has an opening in California, it is with the small proportion of the electorate – 25 percent – who say they are financially worse off now than a year ago. Those voters favor the New York businessman over Clinton, though at a level within the poll’s margin of error.

Ted Costa, a veteran of conservative ballot initiatives who has been helping Trump vet potential delegates in California, said Wednesday that he would not prioritize California over some other states in a general election. But he said that “by no means is California a write-off state.”

“Listen, I believe, and I’ve always believed, Donald Trump can get the same percentage of votes that Arnold Schwarzenegger got in California, maybe 1 or 2 percent more,” Costa said. “You’ve got the Central Valley, people are starving for water, they’re pissed off in California ... This is not the same state it was two years ago.”

Trump himself appears to recognize the difficulty of a general election campaign in California. At the state party’s convention in Burlingame over the weekend, where Ohio Gov. John Kasich suggested – before backing off – that he could “expand the field” in California, Trump did not include the state in a list of Democratic-leaning regions in which he said he could compete.

“No way,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant who specializes in Latino politics in California. “I think this will be one of his worst states, I would imagine.”

No way. I think this will be one of his worst states, I would imagine.

Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant who specializes in Latino politics in California, on Donald Trump’s chances of winning the state in November

California is so heavily Democratic that no Republican holds statewide office and GOP registration has fallen below 28 percent statewide. California has not gone for a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Twelve years later, George W. Bush took a passing stab at California, spending more time and money in the state – if very little – than two Republican presidential nominees before him.

“We looked at the numbers and said, ‘Hell, we’ve got an opportunity here,” said Madrid, who worked on the 2000 campaign. “We couldn’t close the gap, and it just broke away late.”

Bush wound up losing California by 12 percentage points to Al Gore (Trump supporters take note: Bush still made it to the White House).

Following the 2000 election, California’s then-Senate Republican leader and now-party chairman, Jim Brulte, offered an assessment of the state that has not changed much in 16 years.

“I believe this is a Democratic-leaning state,” Brulte said at the time. “We clearly have an image problem in California. That's nothing new. We have a long rebuilding process for the party, and I believe that process has already begun.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments