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Oxnard is where the race was won

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The key to winning in any political campaign is for a candidate to maximize his or her base of support while holding down the other in his base. The 26th Congressional District was no exception. An analysis of city-by-city vote results from Tuesday shows that Democrat Julia Brownley did the best job of accomplishing that objective -- which is why she defeated Republican Tony Strickland.

(A complete city-by-city breakdown is at the end of this post.)

Brownley really ran up the score in Oxnard, winning that city 66 percent to 34 percent in the final unofficial vote count. That 32-point difference was four points better than the city's Democratic voter registration advantage of 28 percent, meaning that Brownley solidly held the city's Democratic base and won a sizeable majority of independents.

Oxnard voters provided Brownley with her entire margin of victory and then some. She carried Oxnard by 12,360 votes; she won districtwide by 7,099.

Meanwhile, in Thousand Oaks, Strickland underperformed the Republican voter registration advantage, winning 54 percent to 46 percent. That 8-point margin is 2 points less than the city's 10-point GOP registration edge -- which means Brownley likely picked up a fairly good number of Republican crossover votes.

Strickland always knew that this would be a tough district for any Republican, and his polling months ago told him that he would need to outperform GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the district. He accomplished that, but not by nearly enough. Barack Obama carried the Ventura County portion of the district 54 percent to 46 percent. Strickland did slightly better, losing by four points rather than six.

The results from Thousand Oaks show that there was no "Linda Parks effect" dragging down Brownley in the supervisor's hometown. Some observers had speculated that there could be lingering hard feelings against Brownley left over from the primary, when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unfairly trashed Parks, who ran as independent, in hamhanded mailers that voters familiar with Parks found to be offensive.

In fact, the numbers suggest that if there was a "Parks effect," it worked to Strickland's disadvantage. Perhaps there were some residual negative feelings about the Strickland name two years after the candidate's wife, Audra, challenged Parks in her campaign for re-election to the Board of Supervisors. For whatever reason, Strickland clearly underperformed in Thousand Oaks.

Following are the city-by-city percentage breakdowns:
(Brownley percentage - Strickland percentage)
Camarillo -- 44-56
Fillmore -- 55-45
Moorpark -- 46-54
Ojai -- 62-38
Oxnard -- 66-34
Port Hueneme -- 63-37
Santa Paula -- 59-41
Simi Valley (small portion of city) -- 47-53
Thousand Oaks -- 46-54
Ventura -- 53-47

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95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at therdt@vcstar.com
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