It’s Worse Than You Think: New Research From GrassrootsLab Highlights Massive GOP Losses at the Local Level

New research from GrassrootsLab, analyzed here by the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Barabak, shows the enormous extent to which Republicans have lost ground in California. And yes, it is even worse than it looks.

While the focus has been on GOP losses in state and congressional races, painstaking research by GrassrootsLab shows that during the 2018 Midterm Elections Republicans also suffered unprecedented losses at the local level.

Democrats now hold 49% of all local seats in California. Republicans hold just 38%. Another 11% are held by people unaffiliated with either party, while the rest belong to third parties or had affiliations that could not be determined. Newly-elected Democrats now outnumber Republicans by almost 2-to-1. This represents a marked contrast from several years ago when Republicans occupied nearly half of California’s 2,500 mayoral and city council seats.

The damage to Republicans wasn’t just deep; it was widespread. Former conservative strongholds like Orange and Riverside counties also saw huge losses. And therein lies the biggest warning sign of all.

By now, it almost sounds like a platitude, but there's little doubt that the election of Donald Trump is what made the difference.

“He injected that you’re-with-us-or-against-us element into politics so much” Republican campaign strategist and GrassrootsLab partner Mike Madrid told the Times. “The environment became hyper-partisan, with people looking to elect Democrats.”

As CountyNews reported previously, even an L.A. County sheriff who no longer identifies as a Republican got swept up in that blue wave, becoming the first incumbent sheriff to lose an election in over a century in part because his challenger was able to sort of, kind of, possibly tie him to Trump in the minds of voters — or at least suggest he wasn’t pushing back enough on the president’s immigration policies. In another upset, two-term Escondido mayor and pro-Trump immigration hardliner Sam Abed lost re-election. Plenty more examples abound. 

All politics is no longer local and local politics are less frequently nonpartisan affairs. Everywhere you look, even on city and county boards, it is increasingly about the man who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

With California’s demographics continuing to shift, the future is not looking bright for the state’s GOP at any level.

“Until and unless Republicans can generate significant votes out of the two fastest-growing voter groups, Hispanics and Asian Americans, we are going to suffer continued losses,” said Jim Brulte, as quoted by the Times.

Don’t hold your breath.