Taking Back the House, Vol. 22: Ed Royce and California’s 39th District



This is the twenty-second 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 39th District


U.S. Representative: Ed Royce


Population: 711,645


Median Household Income: $76,748 (National Average: $51,017)


Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (National Rate: 7.3%)


Gender: 50.3% Female, 49.7% Male (National Percentages: 50.8% Female, 49.2% Male)


Age: 12.1% 65 and over (National Percentage: 12.8%)


Race: 55.1% White, 2.4% Black, 28.3% Asian, 0.4% American Indian (National Percentages: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian, 0.9% American Indian)


Ethnicity: 65.4% Non-Hispanic, 34.6% Hispanic (National Percentages: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic)


Urban/Rural Population Split: 99.4% Urban, 0.6% Rural (National Split: 82% Urban, 18% Rural)


District Voting Patterns: Royce has been in Congress since 1993, representing the same basic district that whole time. As I wrote in the previous edition, after redistricting in 2012, a handful of incumbent Republican Congressmen had to make decisions on where or if they would run for office. Gary Miller went to the 31st District, which was far more competitive, while Royce went to the 39th whereas he was previously in the 40th. Both had previously represented mainly Orange County. Miller’s district now is primarily in San Bernardino County while Royce is still in Orange.


In the 2012 election, Royce defeated Democrat Jay Chen by 16 points. While a pretty easy victory, it was the closest election that Royce ever had to deal with, including when he first got elected in 1992. By contrast, in 2010 he won reelection by 34 points and in 2008 by 25 points. As for Presidential elections, the district went for Mitt Romney in 2012 by a small 4-point margin. In 2008, John McCain barely carried the same district lines, 49-47.


Congressional Activity by Royce: Ed Royce currently chairs the Committee on Foreign Affairs and is also on the Financial Services Committee. During his time in office, Royce has secured his opposition as one of the biggest hawks in Washington. He was extremely in favor of the Iraq War and was one if its biggest cheerleaders. In 2006, he voted to have the Iraq War labeled as being part of the overall war on terrorism, which would in essence make the war there go on indefinitely. Lately, he has been more muted on his hawkish stance, due in part to it falling out of favor with the Tea Partiers and not wanting to seem to support any of President Obama’s positions on national defense.


Royce is also very socially conservative, as he is pro-life and against same-sex marriage. Besides not supporting same-sex marriage, he is also against gay couples adopting children. Royce also opposes, for the most part, further gun control measures. Regarding immigration reform, his stance is a bit more ambiguous as he does represent a district with a high number of Hispanics and Asians. While he initially was opposed to the DREAM Act, he seems to be willing to compromise on allowing some form of ‘amnesty’ regarding military service.


Per OpenCongress, Royce has voted with his party 96% of the time. He voted against the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which raised the debt ceiling and reopened the federal government last month. However, he did vote for the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ bill on January 1st, 2013. The National Journal ranked him as the 167th most conservative member of Congress in 2012 and the 80th in 2011.


Notable Quotes by Royce:


“Our nation is hurting. Twenty-five million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. The big government policies of liberals in Washington have failed because they are based on the assumption that government creates jobs.” – From Royce’s 2012 campaign website.


“He says he wants to take on entitlement reform. Okay, well he really said he wanted to trim Medicare and Medicaid around the edges. Yet he brought us the newest entitlement program called Obamacare. Not only did this create an unfunded liability for generations to come, it pulled $500 billion from the same Medicare program he now apparently wants to fix. You don’t ‘fix’ entitlements by creating new ones and you don’t rein in the deficits by calling for more spending. The damage caused by this Administration’s first two and a half years has been profound and it has further imperiled our economy. Not that we need any, but the latest evidence came this week when the World Economic Forum dropped the U.S. on the list of most competitive economies to 5th place; we were 1st when the president came into office. Until the president realizes that real economic growth will not occur until this bloated government is scaled back, the unsustainable deficits are reined in and his job-killing agenda is repealed, our economy will continue to sputter.” – From statement made by Royce on September 9th, 2011.


Odds of District Going Blue in 2014: Low, but not impossible. There are some signs that this district will change to Blue in the future, if not in 2014. Asians and Hispanics combined actually make up a majority of this district. The district is almost entirely urban. While Obama did not carry the district in either 2012 or 2008, it was very close, as he lost in low single digits both times. In 2012, Royce dealt with his closest election campaign ever. It was the first time that a Democratic candidate got over 40% of the vote against him.


Having said that, Royce is still a heavy favorite to hold onto his seat in 2014. He has been in office since 1993 and has amassed a sizable war chest. He will definitely have the funding edge on any Democratic candidate. Also, while demographics are changing, this is still a rather affluent area where the median income is much higher than the national average. With money comes a more conservative mindset. Democrats probably can’t get by running a true liberal in this district if they want to have any chance of winning.


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.

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