Thanks to the new primary dynamic, Miller faced a fellow Republican in the general. It’s unlikely he’ll be so lucky this cycle, and Miller will go into 2014 as the one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country.
Meanwhile, Republican optimism is tempered by the financial failures of the state party and the lack of a legitimate bench of candidates capable of competing statewide.
“We have a governor’s race in less than two years, and there’s no one even being talked about as a candidate,” Gilliard said. “In the biggest state in the union where there is plenty of money to go around there is nobody even doing anything yet to make moves about running for governor.”
California was bombarded with outside spending from both parties in 2012. That’s likely to continue in 2014, but strategists said success relies on a richer overall effort.
“It will require a sustained effort, it will require excellent candidate recruitment, it will require building grass-roots organizations in these districts over time and not just relying on last-minute television,” Nehring said.
Nehring was particularly frustrated by national Republicans’ lack of outreach to Hispanics and said that’s had a grave effect on the party in the Southwest and California.
Mark DiCamillo, director of the San Francisco-based Field Poll, wrote in a memo last week that minority influence on California statewide elections will only grow, and the GOP’s inability to connect with minority voters “bodes poorly for the long-term electoral fortunes of the Republican Party in the state.”
Matt Rexroad, a GOP consultant optimistic about House race opportunities in 2014, agreed that the GOP’s statewide troubles may not erode in the near future even with Obama’s absence from the ballot.
“Is this a once in a lifetime tidal wave, or is the flooding for Republicans here to stay?” Rexroad said. “It appears that it might be water that’s here to stay.”