Rhodes Cook — CALIFORNIA: THE KEY TO THE ELECTORAL LOCK

Rhodes Cook:

For Republicans to have any real hope of a comeback in the next presidential election, that will have to change. Over the last few decades, whichever party won California was highly competitive nationally, and the vast majority of the time also won the White House. Meanwhile, whichever party lost California had to struggle hard to cobble together an Electoral College majority that left them little room for error.

In the 11 presidential elections since 1968, the California winner has been elected eight times. In the other three contests–1976, 2000 and 2004–the victor in California lost nationally but still garnered at least 240 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory, a respectable tally that kept those three races close through Election Night.

But it could be a tall order for Republicans to put California back in play anytime soon. Democrats have carried the state by more than one million votes in five straight presidential elections, and their margin in 2008 swelled to more than three and a quarter million.

Barack Obama’s victory margin in California was historic. It was more than twice as large as any compiled by favorite sons Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan when they sought the White House. And for that matter, Obama’s huge California win last November was the largest margin in raw votes ever posted by a presidential candidate in any state at any time in American history.

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