October 4, 2018 at 1:12 pm PST | by Karen Ocamb
SoCal is key to keeping democracy

Katie Hill with HRC volunteers (Photo courtesy Hill for Congress)

Warning: this is not hyperbole. If the Democrats do not flip the House on Nov. 6, Trump Republicans will control the White House, the US Senate, and the US Supreme Court, with the elevation of controversial nominee Brett Kavanaugh, despite the outcry from a majority of women who think his character makes him unfit to serve for a lifetime on the highest court in the land. 

President Trump successfully convinced many Republicans that federal Judge Kavanaugh was effectively put on trial during his confirmation hearing and was denied due process since the FBI did not corroborate Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s sworn testimony that a very drunk 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexual assaulted her when she was 15. Democrats claimed the FBI investigation, limited in scope by the White House, was a whitewash since the FBI failed to interview many of the people Ford said could corroborate her account. Indeed, Democrats insisted that his Senate confirmation hearing was a job interview where his lies under oath, Ford’s powerful public testimony, as well as the accusations of other alleged would ordinarily have been an immediate disqualification by any other potential employer.

How much will Kavanaugh and Trump’s mocking of Dr. Ford at a campaign rally in Mississippi have on voters? The answer is hard to gauge, especially since each day brings a new, explosive revelation that could tip voters one way or the other. But right now, the fight over 

Kavanaugh has so galvanized sleepy conservative GOP voters that most poll takers think the Senate, once a possible win for Democrats, will now remain in the hands of Republicans. The House, on the other hand, has become increasingly more vulnerable—Democrats need 23 seats to re-take the House.

But that Big Blue Wave may now have subsided as the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans shrunk to only two points with the Kavanaugh hearings.

The Hill Reports: “Polling released from Harvard CAPS/Harris on Monday (Oct 1) showed that registered Democratic voters are slightly more likely to vote than Republican and independent voters based on the battle over the Kavanaugh nomination, which could provide some comfort to the party. Half of Democratic voters say they’re more likely to vote, compared to 46 percent of GOP voters.”

But the polls are hard to decipher: bisexual candidate Katie Hill, 31, had a sizable lead over anti-LGBT incumbent Steve Knight in California’s 25th Congressional District to the point that she was a “Lean Democrat” in the Cook Political Report. On Oct. 4, that race was listed as a “Republican Toss Up.” Real Clear Politics’ summary of polls had Kight up by two points though Hill was still within the huge 10 point margin of error. Roll Call also took Knight off their list of the most vulnerable House incumbents.

“At this point, the consensus is that this race will be close,” Lindsay Bubar, Senior Advisor to the Hill for Congress campaign, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “Every poll has it within two points one way or the other, indicating that every single dollar we raise and every door we knock on will matter. We need all of the support we can get between now and Election Day to ensure we flip this seat and elect Katie to Congress.” 

Roll Call also took anti-LGBT Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s seat in California’s 48th District off their vulnerable House list.  The Cook Report has that seat as Republican Toss Up, though Democratic businessman Harley Rouda is more confident of winning if women, young people and minorities turn out to vote.

Indeed, Rohrabacher’s notoriety as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite congressman ties him directly with Trump—both of whom are essentially on the ballot for voters who care about the range of issues from national security to LGBT and women’s rights to climate change to basic human decency as an example for the next generation. 

“Unfortunately, Donald Trump is a bad example, in so many ways, for our kids and also for elected politicians. I think what we’ve seen in the Senate with this breakdown in decorum—Donald Trump has to take some responsibility for that happening by creating an environment where that type of behavior is not only acceptable but it’s almost encouraged. Rouda told the Los Angeles Blade at an LGBT fundraiser in Los Angeles Oct. 3. “The role of the President of the United States is to bring Americans together. This is the first time in our lifetime that we have ever seen a president who purposely and systematically is pitting Americans against Americans.”

A new poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies— taken before the Kavanugh hearings—suggests the Republicans “are at risk of a wipeout in California’s six most hotly contested congressional races.” But, the Times points out, “if the tide ebbs only slightly, the GOP could emerge with much of its control intact.”

“Trump appears to be the main motivator for voters in these districts,” veteran pollster Mark DiCamillo, who directs the Berkeley IGS Poll, told The Times. “He’s the central figure.”

As of their Oct. 4 poll, The Times reports:

– Republican incumbent Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale (CD 25) “is narrowly trailing in the only remaining L.A.-centered district the GOP holds.” Hill has a slight edge, 50% to 46%, within the poll’s margin of error.

– longtime anti-LGBT incumbent Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine (CD 50), who has been indicted on federal fraud charge, “has only a 49%-47% lead over Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a result well within the poll’s margin of error.”

– Democrat Mike Levin has a 55%-41% lead over Republican Diane Harkey to replace retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa in CD 49.

– longtime anti-LGBT Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa and  Democrat Harley Rouda in CD 48 “are in a dead heat, each with 48%. Voters also split almost evenly on whether they approve of Trump.”

–  Republican incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters of Laguna Beach is trailing Democrat UC Irvine law professor Katie Porter, 52% to 45%, a big deal since Walters is so tied to Trump.

– Democrat Gil Cisneros and Republican Young Kim are locked in a dead heat for CD 39, an open seat vacated by Ed Royce. Kim and the Republicans have been running a horrific ad against Cisneros, touting a sexual harassment charge by a woman who later retracted the allegation. But the harm may have been done. The Times poll show Cisneros holding a nominal 49%-48% edge.

Another poll commissioned by Democrats show that women will be the key to winning and voter turnout. The poll by Change Research, commissioned by Fight Back California SuperPAC and the California Labor Federation, which tracked 337 likely women voters from Oct. 2-3 shows:

“In CA-39, Cisneros leads Kim among women voters, 58 percent to 39 percent. In CA-45, Porter leads Walters among women, 53 percent to 42 percent. In CA-48, Rouda leads Rohrabacher among women, 56 percent to 43 percent. In CA-49, Levin leads Harkey among women, 59 percent to 36 percent.”

“Based on this poll, It is clear that suburban women who fueled Hillary Clinton’s victories in these districts are now fueling the support for the Democratic Congressional candidates in these districts,” lead strategist Katie Merrill told POLITICO.

LGBT voters are turning out, too, from Human Rights Campaign and Equality California, to Stonewall Democratic Club, Stonewall Young Democrats, and others, to unseat the Republican incumbents who they say do not represent California and pro-equality values. But only turnout will determine if Democrats can flip the House, keep Trump Republicans in check and democracy viable until Trump can be relieved of command.

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