Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Unexpected Battle in California’s 36 District

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Just over a year ago, few would have questioned Mary Bono Mack’s chances of winning California’s 36th district. Mack has many factors in her favor, including a Republican advantage in the district as a result of a redraw after the 2010 census. This partisan advantage, combined with Mack’s experience as an eight term Republican incumbent in the state, made her race seem like a simple victory.  Fast forward a year and the political climate of this district has drastically changed. The New York Times is dubbing this race one of the “10 House Races to Watch”. What caused this drastic change forcing Mary Bono Mack to frantically campaign in order to secure a win with just one week until Election Day? Keep reading to find out.

Perhaps the biggest change in the 36th district that has impacted the race is the increasing number of Latinos living in Los Angeles County. In fact, this district is nearly a one – third Latino district. The increasing number of Latinos living in the county has made Mack’s battle against Democratic Latino challenger Raul Ruiz all the more difficult.

Ruiz, an emergency room physician who practices in Coachella Valley, is a local celebrity. Ruiz is a highly relatable politician for many voters as he is a true rag to riches, American dream story. As the child of two farm workers Ruiz had to borrow money and work extremely hard to travel across the county to attend one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country, Harvard. This is a narrative that resonates among communities and parties in the 36th district.

Mack on the other hand, has had a more difficult history with Latino voters in the district. In 2010, she voted against the DREAM act and most recently said she would “address Latino voters after November.” The Ruiz campaign is using these facts in vicious attack ads and on the campaign trail.

With under a week to go will Mack be able to secure the win or will Ruiz gain enough momentum to take the district? Keep checking destination 270 for the latest on this race.

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