Finally, California Might Actually Matter

| Tue Mar. 13, 2012 10:18 PM EDT

John Holbo muses over tonight's razor-close election results:

One of the many, many reasons to hope the unusually silly primary season stretches on and on is that eventually we get to New York (April 24). Maybe all the way to California (June 5). What if California actually matters? If Newt and Santorum are still hanging on, how are they going to pander shamelessly to California voters?

This is a good question, and one I've been wondering about too. When was the last time a California presidential primary really mattered? 1968? And what happens this time if the race actually goes that far?

One thing to keep in mind if you're not from California is that our Republicans are not like, say, Maine Republicans: kind of moderate because they live in a basically liberal state. California Republicans are fire-breathing, take-no-prisoners, down-with-the-ship Republicans. I live in Orange County, which most people think of as ground zero for conservatism in the Golden State, and it's true that we're pretty conservative here. Our county board of directors routinely turns down federal money if it's sullied in any way with connections to Obamacare. Still, as near as I can tell, OC Republicans are pussycats compared to Central Valley Republicans. I don't know if the Central Valley Rs are more conservative than Alabama Republicans, but they'd sure give them a run for their money.

Anyway, all this is to say that although Romney seems like he'd be the best bet to win California — it's a big, media-driven state; he's ahead in the polls; he's got good connections; etc. — a guy like Santorum has a chance. Maybe even a pretty good one. Does anybody out there who pays a lot of attention to state politics (which is decidedly not my thing) care to weigh in on this?

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