This is the nineteenth 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 45th District
U.S. Representative: John Campbell
Median Household Income: $89,383 (National Average: $51,017)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (National Rate: 7.3%)
Gender: 51.1% Female, 48.9% Male (National Percentages: 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male)
Age: 12.0% 65 and over (National Percentage: 12.8%)
Race: 66.9% White, 1.4% Black, 21.0% Asian, 0.3% American Indian (National Percentages: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian, 0.9% American Indian)
Ethnicity: 81.3% Non-Hispanic, 18.7% Hispanic (National Percentages: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic)
Urban/Rural Population Split: 99.6% Urban, 0.4% Rural (National Split: 82% Urban, 18% Rural)
District Voting Patterns: John Campbell has been in Congress since 2005, when he won a special election to replace Christopher Cox, who had resigned in the middle of his term to become the head of the SEC. Prior to 2012, Campbell represented the 48th District, which was in Orange County. After redistricting, his district was moved over to the 45th, pretty much representing the same area. After winning the special election in 2005, Campbell hasn’t had a whole lot of issues in his reelection campaigns, winning each race by at least 15 points.
In the last election, Campbell faced off against Democrat Sukhee Kang. During the open primary, Campbell did face mild competition from Republican John Webb, but Campbell was still easily able to move on to the general election. During the general election, Campbell defeated Kang by 17 points. As for Presidential elections, the district went for Mitt Romney by 12 points in 2012. John McCain was able to carry the same district lines in 2008, but it was much closer as he won 51-46.
Congressional Activity by Campbell: Congressman Campbell has already announced that he will not seek reelection in 2014. Currently, he sits on three committees: the Budget Committee, the Financial Services Committee and the Joint Economic Committee. He is also Chair of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy and Trade. During his tenure in Congress, Campbell has been well known for missing votes on the floor or abstaining. According to GovTrack, Campbell missed 7.9% of the votes through March 2013. That is much higher than the median of 2.2%.
Also, per OpenCongress, he has abstained 46% of the time a vote has come up. That is just insanely high. That means nearly half of the time a vote is held on the floor, Campbell will decide not to have his name on the record as a Yea or Nay. That just comes across as cowardly and wishy-washy. When he does vote, he goes with his party 96% of the time. One time he decided to actually put his name on record was when he voted against the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which raised the debt ceiling and reopened the federal government last month. He also voted against the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ bill on January 1st, 2013.
As far as the issues, Campbell is a typical Republican. He is pro-life, against same-sex marriage and against further gun control. He is opposed to ‘amnesty’ when it comes to illegal immigration and supports building more fences along the border. And, of course, he is against further government spending as a way to stimulate or increase economic activity as well as any increases in taxes. In 2012, The National Journal rated him as the 158th most conservative member of Congress. Also of note, Campbell is one of the wealthier members of Congress, as his net worth is estimated at around $30 million.
Notable Quotes by Campbell:
“I have been a longtime member of both the NRA and the Humane Society. I do not see their missions as being in conflict. I strongly support the Second Amendment to the Constitution and believe that people should have the right to keep and bear arms. This is about freedom, it is about self-defense, and it is about respect for the Constitution. I also love animals. I believe that human beings should treat animals humanely, in part, because they are God’s creatures and we have a moral obligation to care for and protect them. I also think that how a society treats animals is closely correlated to how that society will treat its people… I will continue to speak out for and vote to support the Second Amendment. And, I will just as vociferously support laws that protect animals, both wild and domesticated, from abuse at the hands of the dark side of human behavior. I’m a gun-owning animal lover. And, I think that’s just fine.” – Public statement made on June 21st, 2011
“There’s a lot of rhetoric right now saying that we can solve the deficit problem by just taxing households that bring in $250,000 or more. We can’t. If you want to solve the deficit problem, then you have to either significantly reduce federal spending or you have to increase taxes on virtually everybody.” – Facebook post made on February 2nd, 2012
Odds of District Going Blue in 2014: Possible, but not likely. Yes, Campbell is not running in 2014, so this provides a window of opportunity. Also, while he won by a decent margin in 2012, it wasn’t a blowout. There is a large Asian segment of the overall population, as well as a decent amount of Hispanics. Combined, they represent nearly 40% of the district. The district is also basically entirely urban.
However, this is an extremely affluent area. The median income is nearly twice the national average. This part of the country is known for being very well off. This isn’t a district where the constituents are all the worried about cuts to the social safety net or raises to the federal minimum wage. They are mostly concerned about keeping their own taxes down and reducing regulations. That will be a tough hill to climb for a Democratic candidate. This is where the Democrats have to hope that the Tea Party shoots the Republicans in the foot and runs a crazy person that can make it through the primary. If the Democrats can pit a reasonable candidate against an extreme conservative, then it is possible that this district can turn Blue.
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.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).