The California 48 special election

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Voters went to the polls yesterday in the 48th Congressional District of California to replace Christopher Cox, who resigned to become head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Here are the results: www.ss.ca.gov State Sen. John Campbell received 46 percent of the total votes, short of the 50 percent required to win without a runoff under California law but enough to make him the clear favorite when that contest is held in December. Republicans received 67.3 percent of the votes, Democrats only 16.6 percent, just ahead of the 14 percent cast for the single candidate of the American Independent Party. Marilyn Brewer, a pro-choice Republican supported by Sen. John McCain, received 17 percent of the votes, ahead of the 9 percent for leading Democrat Steve Young. Under California law, in the runoff Campbell will face the leading vote-winners of the American Independent, Democratic, Green, and Libertarian parties.

Overall, 80,361 votes were cast, only 26 percent of the 305,767 cast for president in the district in November 2004. This was less than the 115,576 votes cast in the seriously contested Ohio 2nd District special election in August.

Does this election have any precedential value? Not much, I think. Democrats made no serious effort here in a district that was once the most heavily Republican district in California (now Bill Thomas's Bakersfield-based district is) and which George W. Bush carried by a 58-to-40 margin over John Kerry. Turnout was not bad for a special election, but not enormous either: not much of a clue as to whether enthusiasm in the Republican base is still running high. The good news for Republicans is that they seem sure to hold a seat no one ever thought they'd lose. The good news for Democrats is that Campbell won't get to vote in the House until December.