As my meaty fingers bang the keyboard, Hans Keirstead leads fellow Democrat Harley Rouda by 87 votes to square off against 48th Congressional District incumbent Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s power tool) in the November general election, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
But with several mail-in ballots yet to be counted at press time, it is conceivable the race for second will keep flipping back and forth between Keirstead and Rouda. As we await the final outcome, let’s drill down on the votes that have been tabulated.
As of 10 a.m. June 11, the official count had Rohrabacher with 38,629 votes, followed by Keirstead (21,893), Rouda (21,806) and Republican Scott Baugh (20,332). Under California’s jungle primary system, only the top two vote-getters, regardless of political party, advance to the general election.
Just looking at the numbers individually, it would appear Rohrabacher, with 30.5 percent of all votes counted as of Monday morning, is on his way to cruising to re-election as he had far distanced himself from Keirstead (at 17.2 percent), Rouda (17.1 percent) and Baugh (16 percent).
However, the case can also be made that the majority of those who punched their tickets for the Democrats or Baugh were rejecting Rohrabacher and/or President Donald Trump, with whom the congressman has closely aligned himself.
If you add up the June 11 Keirstead and Rouda tally, you get 43,699 votes, so if they were one person, they would have finished far ahead of Rohrabacher. Baugh likely received votes from people who would never vote for Rohrabacher, so some of them may go with the Democratic challenger in the fall.
Of course, as a former state assemblyman and Orange County Republican Party chairman, Baugh likely drew much of his support from GOP faithful who will either sit out the November election or hold their noses and vote Rohrabacher.
Then there is the exercise of factoring in all 16 candidates whose names appeared on the June 5 ballot. When you look at the race that way, you discover that 67,418 votes were cast for Republicans versus 58,190 for Democrats, who would not even be helped to overcome the GOP if you give them the 1,137 votes that went to a Libertarian and a candidate who indicated no party preference.
The hope for the November Democrat, whoever it ends up being, is that by then, major dissatisfaction with Trump has escalated, a get-out-the-vote strategy works splendidly, and Rohrabacher’s fecklessness and nuttiness actually sticks with the 48th electorate (for a change).
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Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.