Friday, April 14, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

Muddled Outcome for Both Parties in California Primary

The muddled outcome left Democrats and liberal activist groups cheered by the strong showing of the Democrat, Francine Busby, a school board member, but debating whether to pump significant resources into the June 6 primary. The district is strongly Republican — President Bush drew 55 percent of the vote there in 2004 — and Ms. Busby, in winning 44 percent of the vote, benefited from a splintered field that included 14 Republicans.

“Muddled” is a good word for the situation. Ms. Busby’s 44% is impressive, but there is a legitmate question as to whether the votes exists to close the gap between an impressive plurality in the first round and a win in the second.

As Matthew Shugart points out, the profession of the likely second-place finisher (Bilbray) is that of lobbyist–not the most admired of jobs these days–but he is also fairly moderate. To further muddy the water, he lobbied for stricter immigration controls.

Still, the fact remains that this is a Republican district and the likelihood is that the GOP will pull this one out. Indeed, the cautionary response by many of the Democrats quoted in the above-linked piece are indicative of the fact that despite the bravado of some, they understand the political realities on the ground.

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3 Responses to “More on CA District 50”

  1. Matthew Shugart/Fruits & Votes Says:

    Of course, the story repeats the error that Busby somehow benefitted from the split field of Republicans.

    She benefited from being the only “serious” Democrat in the race, sure. But there is a very good chance–as I have been arguing at F&V–that the sum of all these separate Republican parts is greater than what any one candidate can pull together. Republican candidates could specialize in the runoff, seekling only to get a plurality (within their party’s field). Now Bilbray be able to appeal to all flavors of Republicanism? Very possibly not.

    I think Busby has a shot, though it is still a long one. Not as long as it looked when polling put her at only 35% going in to the election.

    Actually, I do not think this result is “muddled” at all. 53% of the vote for 14 Republicans in this district is a powerful rebuke, albeit not (yet) a defeat.

  2. Alan Kellogg Says:

    The impression I got of Bilbray back when he had a congressional seat was honesty. Without the vindictive bitching of the National Republican Congressional Committe he may have gained more votes than he did.

  3. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:


    “Muddled” resonated with me in terms of the various interpretations of the results that various politicos have proffered. In general I always find it amusing (if not silly) when these off-schedule elections are supposed to “mean” something beyond what they mean for the contest at hand.

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