This is the fifteenth edition of a research project at PoliticusUSA known as Taking Back the House. You can check out the previous edition here. The purpose of this project is to analyze each Republican Congressional district in the United States and see how likely the district can go ‘Blue.’ To do this, I will take a look at the overall demographics of the district, as well as review the historical voting patterns and the record of the Congressperson representing the district. This series will run until we’ve looked at every single district in the country, which should take us right into the 2014 campaign season.
Congressional District: California 4th District
U.S. Representative: Tom McClintock
Median Household Income: $61,303 (National Average: $51,017)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (National Rate: 7.2%)
Gender: 50.2% Female, 49.8% Male (National Percentages: 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male)
Age: 16.5% 65 and over (National Percentage: 12.8%)
Race: 86.0% White, 1.1% Black, 4.3% Asian, 1.7% American Indian (National Percentages: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian, 0.9% American Indian)
Ethnicity: 87.4% Non-Hispanic, 12.6% Hispanic (National Percentages: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic)
Urban/Rural Population Split: 65.6% Urban, 34.4% Rural (National Split: 82% Urban, 18% Rural)
District Voting Patterns: McClintock was first elected into office in 2008. He took over for John Doolittle, who represented the district for eight consecutive terms. Doolittle decided to retire in 2008 when he saw both a tough primary and general election in front of him. As Doolittle was named in the Jack Abramoff scandal and he had already faced a tough reelection campaign in 2006 against Democrat Charles Brown, he decided to not even bother. This opened the door for McClintock. McClintock was elected by a very narrow margin, as he ran against Brown. The election wasn’t called until nearly a month after Election Day, as McClintock won by less than 2,000 votes.
Aside from Brown, this district hasn’t really seen a Democrat get close in an election since the early ’90s. Brown’s social and fiscal conservative views, as well as him being a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran, are the likely factors in him nearly winning. Doolittle typically won by 20+ points. In 2010, McClintock gained reelection over Democrat Clint Curtis by 30 points. In 2012, redistricting shifted much of the 4th District further south. However, the demographics stayed largely the same, and the district still retained 3 counties from the previous district map. McClintock won that race easily, defeating Democrat Jack Uppal, 61-39.
As for Presidential elections, in 2012 the district went for Mitt Romney by 18 points. The same district lines went for John McCain in the 2008 election by a 54-43 margin.
Congressional Activity by McClintock: McClintock is currently on the Budget Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. He is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Water and Power. He is also a member of the Tea Party Caucus, so you can just imagine what that means for his legislative record. The far-right website RedState listed McClintock as one if the members of its ‘Conservative Fight Club’, which is used to highlight members of Congress who are willing to stand by their beliefs and pretty much vote no on everything. Obviously, McClintock voted against reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling last month. He also voted against the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ bill on January 1st, 2013.
McClintock is one of the members of Congress who has no problems consistently going against Republican leadership and voting against every bill that doesn’t meet his very narrow definition of conservatism. Per OpenCongress, he has voted with his party 90% of the time, which is pretty low when compared to the rest of Congress. Now, the National Joural ranked McClintock as the 206th most conservative member of Congress in 2012. This would seem to suggest that he is actually a moderate. However, his views are very far to the right on fiscal matters, but like many Tea Partiers, he has more moderate to liberal views on national defense. His views on social issues are also pretty far-right, as he is pro-life, against same-sex marriage and against further gun control.
Notable Quotes by McClintock:
“Calling a homosexual partnership a marriage does not make it one. We need to strengthen marriage as an institution, not further dilute it.” — 2008 Congressional debate with Charles Brown.
“As citizens, we’re an integral part of the laws that we enact. That doesn’t mean we act as vigilantes, but it does mean that each of us has an inalienable right to defend ourselves and our families from violent predators with whatever force is necessary. And if we see a child being molested or a woman being robbed or an old man being beaten, we have a moral responsibility to intervene to the extent that we can. A concealed weapon in the hands of honest and law-abiding citizens makes us all safer. Simply knowing that there are responsible citizens among us capable of responding with force is itself a powerful deterrent to crime. That’s the well-documented experience of every State with a right-to-carry law. But a society in which honest and law-abiding citizens are disarmed by their government is a society in which the gunman is king.” — McClintock on Novermber 16th, 2011, discussing his support for more conceal and carry laws.
Odds of District Going Blue in 2014: Slim. All one needs to do is look at these demographics and see why this has been a reliably Red district for 20 years. The district is older than the nation as a whole. Also, it is overwhelmingly white, with a laughably small black population. A large section of this district lives in rural areas. While there is a high unemployment rate, the median income is still higher than the national average. The Hispanic population is somewhat significant, but still below the national average.
Now, Brown was able to make the elections in 2006 and 2008 close. But that was also before the Tea Party really took shape. At this point, it seems fair to say that this district is in favor of the ideology put forth by the Tea Party. It is districts like this, where the population trends towards old and white, that the resentment towards the President is able to fester and lend itself to extreme candidates. Even if the Democrats tried to run a total centrist with socially conservative views, I doubt that the candidate would even be able to get 40% of the vote.
Justin is the Managing Editor and a Contributing Writer for Politicus Sports, PoliticusUSA’s very own sports site. You can check out the site here.