From Steven Harmon’s article in the Mercury News:
The biggest obstacle to a Democratic tidal wave: districts that Democrats themselves had a hand in drawing seven years ago that protect the majority party in each and make it hard for the opposing party to mount a credible challenge.
“If they had drawn more competitive seats,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, “a real tidal wave might wipe out Republicans. But Democrats worried that with competitive seats, their majorities might shrink. It turns out those lines now may prevent them from building majorities as large as they might have.”
Tony Quinn, a former Republican legislative aide who specialized in redistricting, said he doubted California Democrats can exploit the national mood.
“I don’t see the Democrats having the candidates in place to take advantage of the tremendous wave they claim is there,” said Quinn, co-editor of the California Target Book, which analyzes legislative races. “I don’t deny the potential for a big wave, but I don’t see that they’ve laid the groundwork for it.”
For one, Democrats failed to even field a candidate in one of the Legislature’s rare competitive seats, the 15th Senate District, held by Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-San Luis Obispo, whose district extends into parts of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. Despite holding a four-percentage point registration advantage, Democrats decided he was too strong an incumbent to challenge.