California will award 172 delegates in the Republican presidential primary, a mother load of support that could guarantee a decisive national role for Golden State GOP voters on June 7.
Unlike several other states in the election cycle where the winner takes all delegates, California Republicans designed special rules to empower grassroots activists a few years ago.
Often dismissed or ignored, an ironic twist of fate has positioned Latino Republicans in a particularly strong position.
Under those rules, California apportions its Republican delegates by Congressional district — with each of the state’s 53 districts allocated three delegates. The overall statewide winner gets an additional 13 delegates.
The strategy may look sensible enough on paper, but there’s been an unintended consequence we’ve never had to deal with until now that California’s primary matters: the rules effectively give the greatest influence to voters in congressional districts with the least number of Republicans, conservative grassroots activists and the weakest party infrastructures.
And the rules turn all 53 districts into battle zones, presumably favoring the candidate with the strongest organization and ground game.
In California, thanks to its size and diverse demographics that overwhelm other states, it appears Latino Republicans may play an outsized role in choosing the Republican presidential nominee — potentially blocking or ensuring victory for Donald Trump.
Often dismissed or ignored, an ironic twist of fate has positioned Latino Republicans in a particularly strong position given these circumstances. Despite conventional wisdom there are a lot more Latino Republicans in California than most people realize — more precisely there are 657,684 Latino Republican voters in California.
From a national perspective, those are significant numbers — and they could rise as more Latinos register in anticipation of the June primary. In fact, there are more California Latino Republicans than ALL the Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and several other influential states that have already voted.
Republican Latinos in California will have tremendous incentive to vote in the presidential primary.
Republican Latino voters are rarely heard from, given their residency in communities almost universally represented by Democrats. But under the state’s GOP presidential primary rules, the Latino Democrat districts have so few Republicans and such low turnout that a very small number of voters can win an outsized share of delegates. Because the GOP has a ‘closed’ primary system, Latino Democrats and ‘Decline to State’ voters — who are most likely to hold fervent anti-Trump views, can’t vote against him.
As a result, Latino Republicans are likely to play a decisive role in determining the Republican Presidential nominee. Ironically, they will have far greater influence in the Presidential campaign of 2016 then the 2,178,629 Latino Democrats in California who aren’t likely to be of much consequence in either the primary or general election.
Of the 53 congressional districts, 40 are represented by Democrats. Of those 40, 10 are Latino seats, almost all with significant Latino populations. In these districts a simple plurality of a few Republican voters will lock up 3 delegates per district:
–120 GOP delegates will be selected in Democrat held districts, that’s more than every other state except Texas (155). Florida has 99 and New York is next with 95.
–30 delegates will be selected from Latino Democrat seats, that’s more than all the delegates in 20 states.
Republican Latinos in California will have tremendous incentive to vote in the presidential primary. With their outsized influence across many congressional districts, they have the opportunity to make their voices heard on such issues as immigration, international trade agreements, health care and Trump’s vow to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
It’s also important to note that outside of Texas, Cruz has performed worse than Trump with Latino Republicans in Nevada, Puerto Rico and Florida.
From an organizational standpoint, Cruz has claimed a big jump on Trump and Kasich. The Texas senator has been organizing ground staff in California for several months. His opponents are just getting started. However, there is little to work with since dozens of these districts haven’t seen Republican activity in decades.
As Jon Fleischman, publisher of the influential conservative website “The FlashReport,” stated, “so starved of Republicans are these areas that the presidential campaigns are having a hard time finding even three delegates to send to convention, let alone building some kind of campaign organization in these districts.”
It’s also important to note that outside of Texas, Cruz has performed worse than Trump with Latino Republicans in Nevada, Puerto Rico and Florida, though recent surveys have shown him doing better in California recently.
If none of the three remaining candidates reaches the Republican National Convention this summer without 1,237 delegates, the Cleveland spectacle will see a fight for delegates on the floor of the convention. Given those numbers, California’s 172 delegates can make the difference. And of those, Latinos in California are sizing up to be a deciding factor.
Ed’s Note: Mike Madrid is a veteran Sacramento GOP political consultant and an expert in Latino voting trends. He is a partner in GrassrootsLab.