Back in June, retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate shocked the political world by holding veteran GOP Rep. Darrell Issa to a feeble 51-45 margin California's top-two primary. A few weeks later, the DCCC released an in-house poll showing the general election tied at 43 apiece, and Issa never responded with contradictory numbers of his own. Now we have further confirmation that this race is for real, thanks to a new internal poll from Applegate that gives Issa just a slim 45-42 lead.
In fact, the survey, which was conducted by Strategies 360, portends even more trouble for the incumbent. That's because Hillary Clinton is currently beating Donald Trump 46-41, which should really scare the bejebus out of Republicans given that Mitt Romney won here by a 52-46 margin in 2012. That's an 11-point swing in favor of Democrats at the top of the ticket, which, if accurate, is enormous, given that Hillary Clinton is "only" doing about 2 to 3 points better on a national basis than Barack Obama did four years ago.
On top of that, the undecided voters in this poll are also trouble for Issa. Thirty-seven percent identify as Democrats while only 27 percent are Republicans. The remainder are independents, and according to the poll, this segment of the electorate favors Applegate as well, so Issa's going to have a hard time persuading voters who haven't yet made up their minds to vote for him.
So what explains Issa's woes? A stubby-fingered, Cheeto-hued blowhard whose name rhymes with Ronald Rump. Trump's legendary unpopularity runs deep in affluent, well-educated areas, and California's 49th District, located in the San Diego suburbs, is both. Indeed, a new piece in the New York Times cites unnamed Democratic strategists who are looking to expand the House battlefield into this type of turf, and they specifically cited this seat as a new target.
But Issa, who infuriated Democrats for years with his vexatious "investigations" when he chaired the House oversight committee, still has one huge advantage: money. Not only does he have $3.8 million in his campaign account, he's also the richest member of Congress, with a net worth of at least $250 million. Applegate, meanwhile, got off to a late start and had just $136,000 banked at the end of June. He'll need more than that—plus a healthy dose of outside help—to pull off an upset, but Issa's vulnerable position makes him exactly the sort of congressman who could fall if the Trumpocalypse is sufficiently Trumpocalyptic.
Daily Kos endorsed Applegate precisely because we thought this district could be in play. Now we know it is.
Please give $3 to Doug Applegate to help him close the gap and oust the odious Darrell Issa.