In the latest Francine Busby, Brian Bilbray poll, Busby lead by 7% points. Considering the make-up of California's 50th congressional district, even being competitive is a major feat for a Democrat. The press is realizing that a strong Busby showing would change the narrative of the 2006 mid-term elections. Tony Perry in the LA Times reported:
Normally, this district is so Republican that Democratic strategist Donna Brazile says it's not just red, but "ruby red."Not just the press, but political pundits:
However, with Bush's approval ratings severely hobbled by Iraq and other issues and Cunningham in prison for the biggest corruption case in congressional history, the GOP is running concerned, if not downright scared.
A loss here, or even a close victory, could be seen as a sign that the GOP hold on Washington is slipping and that November could see wholesale change.
"This is a biggie," said Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego's Mesa College. "Everyone is going to be reading the tea leaves as a predictor of November."
Because of the Republican party's national problems, the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report has listed the 50th as "a tossup, tilting Republican," a far cry from the usual slam-dunk for the GOP.The GOP fear of this election being close also showed up on the pages of the conservative Washington Times:
There will be hundreds of congressional primaries June 6, but only one special election for an open seat, Rothenberg analyst Nathan Gonzalez said.
"The 50th is a symbolic race," said Gonzalez. "If the Republicans lose, the story nationwide will be: 'Republicans are in even more trouble than we thought.' " [...]
In a district that covers part of northern San Diego and several suburbs, Republicans have a 44% to 30% registration edge over Democrats, with 22% independents.
"The Southern California district is heavily Republican, but some GOP insiders believe that Democrat Francine Busby will defeat former GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray and go on to win a full term in November. More alarming, some worry that a Bilbray defeat could signal the GOP's loss of control of the House.Chris Bowers looks at how National Republican Campaign Committee must be extremely defensive to spend so much money:
"The NRCC has already pumped $3.1 million into the race. 'It is becoming more and more likely,' says one GOP strategist, 'that Bilbray will squeak out a victory.' But another longtime Republican operative isn't so sure. 'This is a district we should never lose,' he says. 'It's the stink of Cunningham, and the Bush problem.'"
$3.1M. The NRCC has only $24M cash on hand. They are spending one-eighth of their cash on hand to defend a seat with a local Republican partisan index of around RNC +20. If Busby wins, Republicans are finished come November. Even if she does not win, Republicans are still in a world of hurt.This will be an exciting election night, stop back by for CA-50 Special Election returns and analysis.