Flip the 49th
- Across the district there is enormous need for aggressive engagement of left-leaning voters who generally do not vote in off-cycle elections, as every community saw substantially greater participation in the 2016 presidential election than in the 2014 cycle, and this participation overwhelming favored left-leaning candidates. 163,142 congressional ballots were cast in 2014 versus 310,155 in 2016. Based on voting patterns and voter preferences, the need for infrequent voter engagement efforts is most acute in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, Encinitas, Solana Beach, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano and La Jolla / UCSD – in these communities we will focus both on mobilizing the base and increasing the pool of activists as well as on voter turnout among likely progressive voters who generally do not vote in off-cycle elections. Increasing turn-out among these infrequent left-leaning voters is essential to building a progressive 49th, and we cannot win if we do not.
- Across the district there are substantial numbers of Republican-leaning voters who rejected Trump in 2016: approximately 20,000 voters district-wide (6.5%) supported Issa but voted against Trump. In every single community in Orange County (San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Ortega, Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, and Dana Point), the difference in the rate of support for Issa over Trump was at least 8% and in some cases as much as 11%; in San Diego, the communities of Carlsbad, Del Dios, Del Mar, Del Mar Heights, Encinitas, and La Jolla / UCSD likewise saw a difference in the rate of support for Issa over Trump by as much as 7%. These are potential “swing” voters (who opposed Trump but supported Issa in 2016), and who we may be able to engage productively in 2018.
- Approximately 465,000 people are eligible to vote in the 49th, but only 390,000 people are currently registered. In this context, the district is home to significant pockets of unregistered, disengaged, and disaffected voters—ranging from Latinos in Vista (over 45% of Vista’s population is Latino, with a substantially lower level of voter registration and participation than whites) to students, especially in La Jolla (only 3,400 out of an estimated 13,000 University of California San Diego students residing in the district voted in the last election cycle), to marines stationed at Camp Pendleton (the male population aged 18-29 is significantly higher in Oceanside than the national average). Voter registration and mobilization of currently non-participating Latinos (in Vista) and students (in La Jolla / UCSD) would be an election game-changer.
- Winning for progressives in 2018 is going to be a difficult uphill battle, but it’s doable if we organize: across precincts and communities, historically turn-out has been substantially lower in off-cycle elections, which has favored Republicans; voter registration is also stacked against us—Orange County is 26% registered Democrat and 47% registered Republican, while San Diego is 33% Democrat versus 38% Republican.
- California is well-positioned to engage young voters and voters that might find it logistically difficult to vote in-person. The combination of online registration (registertovote.ca.gov), pre-registration (allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to register in advance of their 18th birthdays), and expansive permanent vote-by-mail rules create opportunities to expand the percentage of eligible voters who are registered to vote in CD 49. Permanent vote-by-mail rules are significant in Oceanside and Camp Pendleton, as those communities are home to a sizable population of active duty military personnel frequently stationed overseas. Pre-registration is important in the dense coastal communities (as described below). Online registration is a central component of the student voter registration strategy.
- Students in the 49th CD: The University of California San Diego (UCSD), located at the very southern edge of the district in La Jolla, is home to 30,000 students. Slightly less than half of these (approximately 13,000) live in on campus housing located within the district, so are therefore eligible to vote in the 49th. Three commuter community colleges also lie within the district, in North County San Diego. Mira Costa has a part-time student population of 15,000; Palomar is home to 25,000 students; and Miramar has 11,000 students. All three community colleges have minority enrollment rates above 50%. The district as a whole is home to a student population of approximately 65,000.
- Geography of Unregistered Voters in the 49th CD: Coastal Oceanside, coastal Carlsbad, coastal Encinitas, inland Vista, north La Jolla (UCSD) and inland southwest Escondido present the greatest concentration of unregistered potential voters. The coastal areas of Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside provide the greatest potential for (a) success in high traffic voter registration and tabling events, as well as (b) walkable terrain for door-to-door outreach. UCSD is conducive to high traffic voter registration, tabling, dorm barn-storming and other campus focused activities. Inland areas are less walkable due to mountainous terrain and isolated subdivision communities, and include areas less conducive to high traffic activities.
The district is better educated and wealthier on average than either California or the nation as a whole, but there is substantial heterogeneity between different communities: in Del Mar, Fairbanks Ranch, Las Flores, and Ladera Ranch, more than 60% of households have incomes above $100,000, while in Camp Pendleton and Vista, less than 20% do. The District is largely white, but again, there is substantial heterogeneity between communities in terms of race and ethnicity: Vista is 45% Hispanic, while Rancho Santa Fe is less than 10% Hispanic.