California's 36th Congressional District elections, 2012

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California's 36th Congressional District

General Election Date
November 6, 2012

Primary Date
June 5, 2012

November 6 Election Winner:
Raul Ruiz Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Janice Hahn Democratic Party
Janice Hahn.jpg

California U.S. House Elections
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2012 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of California.png
The 36th congressional district of California held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012.

Raul Ruiz (D) won the election.[1]

This is the 36th congressional district prior to the 2010 redistricting.
Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
March 9, 2012
June 5, 2012
November 6, 2012

Primary: California has a top-two primary system, in which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, go on to the general election.

Voter registration: Voters had to register to vote in the primary by May 21. For the general election, the voter registration deadline was October 22.[2]

See also: California elections, 2012

Incumbent: Heading into the election the incumbent was Janice Hahn (D), who was first elected in 2011.

According to a Cook Political Report analysis, the 36th district was 1 of 13 congressional districts in California that was at least somewhat competitive in 2012. The analysis rated it as Likely Republican.[3]

This was the first election which used new district maps based on 2010 Census data. California's 36th congressional district is located in the southeastern portion of the state and includes most of Riverside County.[4]

Blanket primary

This was the first election year in which California's Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act was in effect. Because of this, all candidates for a seat competed in one blanket primary. The two candidates who received the most votes then advanced to the general election on November 6.

The proposition's intent was to encourage primary competition, which backers of the act said would lead to more moderate legislators being elected. Despite this intention, only a few centrists successfully advanced to the general election. The primary results did reflect an increase in competition, with California's percentage of contested primaries being much higher than the nationwide average.[5]

However, the increase in competition also led to an increase in campaign spending, due to the fact that competition within political parties lasted for the entire year rather than ending after the primary. Experts predict that this will only increase the power of the special interest groups that fund the campaigns.[5]

Raphael J. Sonenshein, executive director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., said the following, "It's hard to argue it's a better system where the incumbent congressman has a huge war chest and nobody else has any money... At least now we can make him spend it."[5]

As a result of the blanket primary, nine of California's 53 congressional districts had same-party candidates battling in the November 6 general election. Of those, seven were between Democrats.[6]

There were also over a dozen same-party races in the state legislature in November.[6]


Note: Election results were added on election night as races were called. Vote totals were added after official election results had been certified. For more information about Ballotpedia's election coverage plan, click here. If you find any errors in this list, please email: Geoff Pallay.

General election candidates

Democratic Party Raul Ruiz Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Mary Bono Mack

June 5, 2012, primary results

Election Results

General election

U.S. House, California District 36 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngRaul Ruiz 52.9% 110,189
     Republican Mary Bono Mack Incumbent 47.1% 97,953
Total Votes 208,142
Source: California Secretary of State "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"

Race background


California's 36th was considered to be Leaning Republican according to the New York Times race ratings. Incumbent Mary Bono Mack was challenged by Democrat Raul Ruiz, her first Latino opponent in a nearly one-third Latino district. Redistricting made the district slightly safer for Republicans than it previously was.[8]

Using the Federal Election Commission's October Quarterly campaign finance filings, the Brennan Center for Justice at The New York University School of Law published a report on October 22nd focusing on the 25 House races rated most competitive by The Cook Political Report, including the race for California's 36th. The report examines the relative spending presence of non-candidate groups, candidates, and small donors in these races - "which will likely determine which party will control the House." [9]

The 36th district race was highlighted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as one of 18 emerging races to watch. In April 2012, Ruiz was named to the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program. The program identifies districts across the country to provide additional fundraising and campaign support. There were 35 Democratic candidates across the country on the list.[11] Ruiz out-raised incumbent Mary Bono Mack (R), in the first quarter of 2012.[12] Ruiz pulled in almost $272,000 while Mack raised about $260,000.[13]

Impact of redistricting

See also: Redistricting in California

The 36th district was re-drawn after the 2010 Census. The new district is composed of the following percentages of voters of the old congressional districts.[14][15]

Registration statistics

As of October 24, 2012, District 36 had the following partisan registration breakdown according to the California Secretary of State:

California Congressional District 36[16]
Congressional District District Total Democrats Republicans Other & Unaffiliated Advantage Party Advantage Change in Advantage from 2010
District 36 272,807 105,560 110,008 57,239 Republican 4.21% 68.60%
"Party advantage" is the percentage gap between the two major parties in registered voters. "Change in advantage" is the spread in difference of party advantage between 2010 and 2012 based on the congressional district number only.

District partisanship

FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012 study

See also: FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012

In 2012, FairVote did a study on partisanship in the congressional districts, giving each a percentage ranking (D/R) based on the new 2012 maps and comparing that to the old 2010 maps. California's 36th District became more Republican because of redistricting.[17]

  • 2012: 48D / 52R
  • 2010: 49D / 51R

Cook Political Report's PVI

See also: Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index

In 2012, Cook Political Report released its updated figures on the Partisan Voter Index, which measures each congressional district's partisanship relative to the rest of the country. California's 36th congressional district has a PVI of R+3, which is the 205th most Republican district in the country. In 2008, this district was won by Barack Obama (D), 51-49 percent over John McCain (R). In 2004, George W. Bush (R) won the district 56-44 percent over John Kerry (D).[18]


Ad attacking Mary Bono Mack

Campaign contributions

Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2012 elections season. Below are candidate reports.

Raul Ruiz

Raul Ruiz (2012) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[19]April 15, 2012$178,785.79$271,866.96$(101,436.43)$349,216.32
Pre-Primary [20]May 24, 2012$349,216.32$94,086.58$(57,447.50)$385,855.40
Running totals

Mary Bono Mack

Mary Mack (2012) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[21]April 13, 2012$524,118.72$258,657.59$(175,373.26)$607,403.05
Pre-Primary [22]May 24, 2012$607,403.05$173,134.61$(188,135.48)$592,402.18
Running totals

Chamber of commerce spending

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a total of $3.3 million on television advertisements aimed at electing ten California Republican congressional candidates, Democratic sources told Hotline.[23]

In California's 36th congressional district, The Chamber spent $330,000 to elect Mary Bono Mack.[23]

District history


On July 12, 2011, Janice Hahn won a special election to the United States House.

See also

External links


  1. CNN "California Districts Race - 2012 Election Center"
  2. California Secretary of State "Elections FAQ," Accessed July 20, 2012
  3. The Cook Political Report 2012 Competitive House Race Chart
  4. California Redistricting Map "Map" Accessed September 25, 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Los Angeles Times, "Few centrists advance in California's new primary system," June 7, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 Reuters, "Democrats face Democrats in new California election system," June 6, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 Palm Desert Patch "Dr. Ruiz, Businessman Eye Bono Mack's Seat," accessed March 10, 2012
  8. New York Times "House Race Ratings," Accessed August 7, 2012
  9. Brennan Center for Justice, "Election Spending 2012: 25 Toss-Up House Races," October 22, 2012
  10. The Cook Political Report, "House: Race Ratings", updated October 18, 2012
  11. Political Insider "Ruiz added to DCCC ‘Red to Blue’ list," April 24, 2012
  12. Political Insider "Can Raul Ruiz keep up momentum?" April 22, 2012
  13. Political Insider "Raul Ruiz bests Mary Bono Mack in fundraising in first quarter for congressional race," April 17, 2012
  14. Moonshadow Mobile's CensusViewer "California's congressional districts 2001-2011 comparison"
  15. Labels & Lists "VoterMapping software voter counts"
  16. California Secretary of State, "Congressional Voter Registration Statistics," May 21, 2012
  17. "2011 Redistricting and 2012 Elections in California," September 2012
  18. Cook Political Report "Partisan Voting Index Districts of the 113th Congress: 2004 & 2008" Accessed October 2012
  19. Federal Election Commission "Raul Ruiz April Quarterly," Accessed July 10, 2012
  20. Federal Election Commission "Raul Ruiz Pre-Primary," Accessed July 10, 2012
  21. Federal Election Commission "Mary Mack April Quarterly," Accessed July 10, 2012
  22. Federal Election Commission "Mary Mack Pre-Primary," Accessed July 10, 2012
  23. 23.0 23.1 National Journal, "Chamber Drops $3.3 Million for California Repubs," September 27, 2012