The San Joaquin Valley is often touted — along with Orange County and Southern California’s Inland Empire — as one of the Republican Party’s bulwarks against the rising tide of Democratic control.
But last November, Fresno County — the very heart of the Valley — once again went for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney in the presidential election. It wasn’t a blowout. Obama won 49.7% to Romney’s 47.9%. So Fresno County is light blue, but blue nonetheless.
How did it break down?
Generally speaking, east went for Romney (in the 23rd Assembly District, which elected Fresno Republican Jim Patterson, Romney won 55% to Obama’s 43%) and west for Obama (in the 31st Assembly District, which reelected Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea, Obama won big, 62% to Romney’s 36%).
These are, of course, generalizations. Turnout, for instance, was higher in the 23rd District.
For those keeping score across the Valley, the three main Fresno-area congressional districts (Republican Tom McClintock represents the sparsely populated foothill and Sierra parts) broke down like this:
In the 21st Congressional District, Obama won 55% to Romney’s 44%. This district, which covers parts of Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties and all of Kings County, elected Hanford Republican David Valadao.
In the 22nd Congressional District, Romney won 57% to Obama’s 42%. This district, which covers parts of Tulare and Fresno counties, reelected Tulare Republican Devin Nunes.
And in the 16th Congressional District, Obama won 59% to Romney’s 39%. This district, which covers parts of Fresno and Madera counties and all of Merced County, reelected Fresno Democrat Jim Costa.
Fresno County on Friday did its first vote-count update since Tuesday’s election, and not much has changed.
Everybody who was leading on election night is still leading, and no challengers have significantly closed any gaps.
For instance, on election night Republican challenger Mitt Romney had 50.72% of the vote and President Barack Obama was at 47.13%. Now, Romney is at 50.37% and Obama at 47.45%. That means Obama has shaved about two-thirds of a percentage point off of Romney’s initial lead.
Fresno County counted 19,000 absentee ballots and has 78,000 still to count. Of those, around 54,000 are absentee, and the rest provisional.
“It’s going to take us days,” Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth said.
In Tulare County, around 20,000 absentee and 10,000 provisional ballots remain to be counted, and in Kings, it is 1,500 provisional ballots.
Madera County doesn’t do updates until it completes its count, but Clerk Rebecca Martinez said Friday that around 4850 ballots remain to be counted. Almost half are provisional, with the rest absentee ballots.
The race to watch in Madera County is the District 3 supervisorial race to replace incumbent Ronn Dominici, who chose not to seek re-election after 12 years on the board.
On election night, just eight votes separated Madera City Council Member Gary Svanda and businessman Rick Farinelli, with Svanda holding the slight lead.
Martinez said District 3 has 1,041 absentee ballots and 545 provisional ballots to count.
In city after city across the central San Joaquin Valley, President Barack Obama has attracted more donors for his reelection campaign than his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney.
But when it comes to the local cash haul, Romney rules.
Take Fresno, for instance. Obama had 2,214 donors with Fresno mailing addresses, while Romney had just 696. But those 696 donors gave Romney $438,050, while Obama’s more than 2,200 contributed $223,716.
The average per donor? It is $629.38 for Romney, and just $101 for Obama.
Across the region, it is similar story — Exeter, Visalia, Kingsburg, Hanford, Madera, Merced mailing addresses all show more Obama donors, but more total money for Romney.
It even holds true in a Republican stronghold like Clovis, where Obama had 455 donors to Romney’s 259, but Romney raised $135,107 to Obama’s $42,700.
Given Romney’s local high-dollar fundraisers, this is hardly surprising. The biggest of them all came in May, when Romney raked in more than $1 million at a fundraiser at the Sanger-area home of prominent west-side rancher John Harris and his wife, Carole.
Obama, by comparison, has never held a Valley fundraiser. All his campaign donations came from local people who took the initiative and sent in a check. The only exception would have been if a local wealthy Democrat attended one of Obama’s Los Angeles or Bay Area fundraisers.