1. California Republicans aren’t used to winning.
“It’s literally difficult for Republicans to conceive of it, even in a theoretical way,” one told me recently. As recently as 2011, the state had a Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger — but he was, of course, a political outsider, elected under irregular circumstances in 2003, when the state held a special election to replace the recalled Democrat Gray Davis. The governator’s victory did nothing to mitigate the lopsided balance of power in California.
In addition to being outnumbered, many California Republicans believe themselves to be embattled. In September, Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, wrote a blog post endorsing Trump for president. He had earlier endorsed Hillary Clinton, he explained, because he had to: “I live in California. It isn’t safe to be a Trump supporter where I live.” This struck me as ridiculous, and — well, it still does. But apparently Adams is not alone. More than 60 percent of Californians voted for Clinton. In Los Angeles and its environs, the margin was even higher. On Los Angeles’ west side, Trump won exactly one precinct. The Los Angeles Times dispatched a reporter to Bel Air to investigate. Two Trump voters were located. One, Marvin Gross, said his vote was more against Clinton than for Trump, really. “I love him. I like him,” said the other, who insisted on anonymity. “I believe that he is going to be like Nixon.”
California Republicans feel like outsiders and losers forced into hiding in their very own state.