As the age-old saying in political campaigning goes, “Elections are won in the off-year.” Following their embarrassing shellacking last November, the Orange County GOP has not taken this lesson to heart.
As was reported by the OC Register, when asked to be connected with GOP organizers canvassing for votes in Orange County, “no one from the local, state or federal GOP could pair [the] reporter with Republicans currently hitting the streets. All said it is ‘too early’ for that type of engagement.”
As Scott Baugh, the former Chair of the Orange County GOP, put it in regards to the OC GOP’s field game: “‘If they don’t get out there, they will not enjoy success in Orange County,’ he said, potentially losing the area for some time.”
As the OC GOP figures out whether they’d like to start organizing themselves back to relevance, Democrats announced the roll out of the March Forward Field program an aggressive, multi-million dollar effort to defend and expand the new Democratic Majority and the placement of Field Managers across Orange County nearly 20 months before the next general election.
“Democratic engagement on the ground in Orange County was evident in 2018 and is only growing going into 2020. That is exactly why the DCCC made our first major investment of the cycle by bringing on March Forward Field Managers who are trained to execute a modern campaign strategy, keep the GOP accountable and harness that growing enthusiasm across Orange County in 2020,” said DCCC Spokesperson, Andy Orellana. “While the Orange County GOP determines how, when and if to begin implementing a campaign plan, Democrats have been organizing to win from Day One.”
Read more about the flailing Field efforts of the Orange County GOP below or here.
Orange County Register: Orange County Republicans tweak game plan for 2020. Will it be enough?
Brooke Staggs // June 9, 2019
After losing two state and four congressional seats in the 2018 midterm, Orange County Republican leaders say they’re making adjustments as they work to regain political clout in next year’s election.
“We had to look at changing our campaign game plan for 2020 based on the new circumstances,” said Fred Whitaker, chair of the Republican Party of Orange County.
The local GOP, for example, recently rewrote its bylaws so it could endorse Republican congressional candidates as early as six months before the filing deadline for challengers to enter the race — a move that figures to winnow down the number of candidates.
Still, it’s unclear if such changes address the underlying issues that turned Orange County from red to blue.
Though the GOP already is painting local Democratic incumbents as left of the electorate, it’s tough to say if that will push the outrage button among potential swing voters. Unlike two years ago, when local Democrats were able to mobilize national liberal indignation to help flip Orange County House seats blue, there hasn’t yet been a similar visible groundswell of GOP enthusiasm.
And while it’s still early, it also doesn’t appear that big GOP money will be flowing into local races. Many insiders fear the national GOP and aligned supporters plan to finance efforts to reelect Trump and win House seats in cheaper districts where voters backed Trump in 2016 — neither of which will bring money to the campaigns of GOP challengers in Orange County.
Perhaps because of that, the Republican establishment, so far, is throwing its weight behind familiar names, candidates who leaders believe have the name recognition to raise enough money to be competitive.
The stakes in the GOP’s local comeback attempt are high.
If county Republicans overcome shifting demographics and win back seats in 2020, Whitaker believes the effort could serve as a model for GOP groups across the country who might face similar issues in the years to come.
If they fail, it’s not clear where the party goes next. As of this month, voter registration data shows a GOP advantage over Democrats of just 0.3 percent in Orange County, down from a 1.2 point GOP advantage in November and well off the GOP’s 22 point advantage in the early 1990s. If current trends hold, Democrats will outnumber Republicans in Orange County before the 2020 election.
Fleming, with the state GOP, believes there will be a “decent” GOP investment in Orange County this cycle.
“These races are a high priority,” he said.
State GOP spokesman Fleming suggested a similar emphasis is underway throughout California.
“There’s a lot more attention being paid to how we go to door-to-door, and how we engage voters.”
Still, while Democrats were eager to connect the Register with local activists who are already canvassing for votes in Orange County, no one from the local, state or federal GOP could pair this reporter with Republicans currently hitting the streets. All said it is “too early” for that type of engagement.
Scott Baugh, former chair of the Orange County GOP who failed in his bid last year to represent CA-48, said Republicans need to be aggressively building infrastructure to engage voters now.
“If they don’t get out there, they will not enjoy success in Orange County,” he said, potentially losing the area for some time.
Another factor that could be problematic for the GOP is makeup of next year’s electorate. Younger people and Democrats tend to turn out in much greater numbers for presidential elections than they do for midterms, and polling suggests both groups are strongly opposed to Trump and many Republican policies.
That history, as much as anything, is why analysts such as Pitney believe Orange County’s GOP revival probably won’t happen in the next election.
Though he’s not rooting for any failure in the White House, Pitney argues that the GOP’s best hope, politically, is for “Trump’s Democratic successor to fail.”
That, he says, is the one way he sees a quick opening for Republicans to regain the upper hand in Orange County.