Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Repeal AB 1621

In 2016 Democrats in the state legislature passed AB 1621, a law that makes it legal for someone other than a family member to get a person's ballot to a polling place. The law doesn't limit it to a friend. It allows campaigns and other groups involved in partisan elections to collect them too. I didn't hear about this law when it passed but it's horrible. And sure enough a campaign is already pressuring people to give them their ballots.

What will the Wendy Carillo campaign do with the ballots they collect? They could open them even if they’re sealed to see who the person voted for and discard the ballot. I'm guessing they're not allowed to do that but if you’re going to go to the trouble to get the ballots into your office are you going to really care about that? You don’t even need to open the ballots. You can go into neighborhoods where your opponent is likely strong and “forget” to turn in the ballots. Sometimes things get lost.The person who cast their ballot has no idea if the ballot made it to the polling place, so who's to say that any ballots were collected that weren't turned in?

People have worried about voter intimidation from employers or unions. With this law these organizations are encouraged to ask their employees or members to give them their ballots. There's nothing stopping anyone collecting ballots from changing an election.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Wave Didn't Miss California

Paul Mitchell has an article at Capitol Weekly about whether the wave that hit Virginia and elsewhere will come to California. He states, "First, California didn’t experience a Republican wave election after Obama." Paul is an astute guy with great insights but this is just wrong. He makes the mistake casual observers make and measure a wave based on seats won or lost. A party winning or losing seats isn't a wave. It's the consequences of a wave. A wave is when one party gets a higher percentage of votes than they had in the last election. When that happens, the result is often that party winning a lot of seats. Republicans in 2014 didn't win a lot of seats here and Democrats didn't win a lot in 2016. But there were waves.

Take a look at my spreadsheets. In them I compare the percentage of the vote each party got in 2012 to 2016 and 2014 to 2016 in seats where a Republican and a Democrat ran against each other in an election.

here were 33 congressional seats where that had a Democrats and a Republican in both 2012 and 2014. In 2012 Democrats got 57.1% of the vote in 2014 they got 53.9%. There was a slightly different group of congressional districts that had a Democrat and a Republican in 2014 and 2016. In 2014 Democrats got 53.3% of the vote in them. In 2016 they got 58.9%. For good measure we can compare the 35 congressional seats with both a Democrat and a Republican in 2012 and 2016. In 2012 Democrats got 56.0% in these seats. In 2016 they got 58.2%. The swings from 2012 to 2014 and then in the other direction in 2016 were dramatic.

These swings didn't result in seats flipping, however, because the seats which had the biggest shift from 2012 to 2014 weren't ones that were close in 2012. Republicans lost 7 congressional districts by 5 points or less in 2014. Since Republicans didn't take these districts in 2014 they couldn't flip back to the Democrats in 2016. The seats Republicans did win in 2014 were mostly one sided. Democrats lost all of them by 12 points or more. So even a big shift in 2016 didn't result in any of these districts flipping.

Democrats are certain to do much better in 2018 than they did in 2014 and may even do better than they did in 2016, the best year they've had this decade. If they do that might result in a dramatic number of seats flipping, but it also might not. Mimi Walters won by 17 points in 2016. David Valadao won by 13 points. Ed Royce won by 14. The shift could be big enough where these seats flip, but it also could be big and these seats won't. If there is a wave, it won't miss California. Because it hasn't in other elections.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Virginia Governor Numbers Very Similar to 2016 Presidential

As I mentioned yesterday the Virginia governor's race was a wave for Democrats. I'm not convinced it'll be a wave to get them the House. Democrats won legislative districts Clinton won by won only one Trump district and that was a small Trump victory. There are 23 Republican seats that Clinton won. It seems unlikely they’ll win all of them but if Democrats do, and lose no seats, they’ll fall short of a majority by 1 seat. Here is a comparison of Clinton v. Northam margins:

1: Trump +12, Gillespie +10
2: Trump +3, Northam +4
3: Clinton +32, Northam +37
4: Clinton +22, Northam +25
5: Trump +11, Gillespie +9
6: Trump +25, Gillespie +22
7: Trump +6, Gillespie +4
8: Clinton +53, Northam +53
9: Trump +41, Gillespie +37
10: Clinton +10, Northam +12
11: Clinton +39, Northam +41

Except in VA-2, Northam ran almost universally 2-4 points ahead of Clinton. Democrats can’t take the House that way because Clinton only won 205 districts. It appears that Trump voters are staying with Republican in districts Trump won. That could mean that Democratic incumbents in Trump districts are vulnerable even in a Democratic wave. Republican congressional candidates in MN-1, MN-7, MN-8, PA-17, did far better than expected due to Trump's coattails. Trump voters stuck with Gillespie, who is very unTrumpy and they may stick with Republicans in 2018 too.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Landslide Good Sign for Democrats

Last night Democrats in Virginia demolished Republicans up and down the ballot. They had similar smaller victories in Georgia, New Jersey, Washington, and elsewhere. They picked up 14 Republican House of Delegates seats and could end up with 18 more when the final count is in. Gerrymandering doesn't help as much as some people imagine it does, but gerrymandering was supposed to make sure Republicans kept their majority. They might not. I'm sure a lot of people will spin this election to mean what they want it to mean, but I'll try to cut through all that.

Turnout was high, not low. There are already 16% more ballots counted in Virginia than there were in 2013. And there are provisional and absentee ballots to count. Anyone who tries to spin that Ed Gillespie lost because he wasn't conservative enough or enough like Trump are barking up the wrong tree. He has 16% more votes than the 2013 nominee, conservative Ken Cuccinelli. Gillespie didn't lose because voters didn't turn out for him. he lost because Ralph Northam has 31% more votes than Terry McAuliffe got in 2013. (Note: If one candidate got 31% more and the other 16% you'd think turnout would be more than 16% higher. In 2013 3rd party candidates got 7.0% of the vote. Yesterday they got 1.2%.)

Gillespie did very well in getting right leaning voters to show up to the polls and vote for him. Northam just did a lot better. Democratic enthusiasm showing up at the polls is good news for Democrats but Gillespie doing much better than Cuccinelli is a silver lining for the GOP. There's going to be a drop off in voters from a Presidential election to any non-Presidential one. In 2013, McAuliffe got 54% of Barack Obama's 2012 vote total. Ken Cuccinelli got 56% of Mitt Romney's. This year Northam got 71% of Hillary Clinton's vote total, while Ed Gillespie got 66% of Donald Trump's. And, as I said, there are still ballots to count.

As elections this year have shown, Republicans haven't had a problem turning out their voters. They are actually turning out at higher than expected numbers. Their problem is that Democrats are doing even better than that. The worst combination for a party is when the other party is enthusiastic while your party isn't. There's not much you can do there. If your party is enthusiastic while the other party is more enthusiastic you can win if the other party is a little less enthusiastic. We don't have any reason to expect Democrats not to be as enthusiastic as they were last night but such high enthusiasm levels can be tough to maintain across the country. That doesn't mean Republicans will do better in 2018 than Democrats did in 2010 or 2014. It does mean they are more likely to do better than the Democrats were then.

Virginia Democrats did extremely well in traditionally Republican suburbs that have been getting bluer. The voters continued to support Republicans down ballot even as they voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Republicans did very well in rural white working class areas.

From the New York Times:
Of the 16 districts where Democrats currently lead in Virginia, Mrs. Clinton won 15 of them and received 49.7 percent of the vote in the other, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project and Daily Kos Elections.

If this continues it's extremely bad news for Republicans holding the upscale suburban districts that went Clinton but voted Republican down ballot again. There are 22 districts that voted for Hillary Clinton but voted Republican for congress. The good news for Republicans is that some more traditionally Democratic areas that went Trump in 2016 went for them last night. Congressional Democrats won 11 districts Trump won in 2016. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to win the House of Representatives. They'll have to win most of the districts Clinton won and some Trump won. If they lose their own districts that Trump won in 2016 they'll have win even more Trump districts in 2018. As good as this election might be for Democrats all it shows is that they can win in areas Hillary Clinton won. Unfortunately for them, that won't be enough.

That shouldn't discourage Democrats. Right now they look better than they have at any time since 2008. Not taking the House next year would be a disappointment but they've only had a higher percentage of the House vote in one of the last four elections. If they only do good it's a lot better than they have been doing.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

CA-Sen Poll Good News for Dianne Feinstein

When it comes to understanding California politics and elections, few are better than Capitol Weekly. Out of state pollsters don't ever seem to be able to figure out who is going to vote and who won't. One piece of information that's publicly available is how many of the last five elections a voter has cast a vote in. Anyone participating in California campaigns knows that when you're targeting voters you go after "4s" and "5s." Those are people who've in either 4 of the last 5 elections or all 5.

When polling you want to heavily poll the "4s" and "5s," especially in a mid-term. Mid-terms draw less voters and the "1s" and "2s" have likely skipped previous mid-terms. Of course, there are exceptions. Young voters weren't registered for the last 5 elections and some people move to California from out of state. I don't know who Capitol Weekly surveyed in their latest poll but I trust them.

Capitol Weekly polled for the primary, asking people whether they preferred Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Democrat Kevin de Leon, or Republican John Cox. Cox is running for governor, so he won't be running for senate. Cox, however, was polled with 9% favorable 6% unfavorable that are 9%/6% with 14% having no opinion and 71% having never heard of him. He's pretty much “generic Republican" to the voters. They could've used almost any name.

In a hypothetical match-up between Feinstein, de Leon, and John Cox, Feinstein gets 40%, Cox 32%, and de Leon 15%. They don’t break down the vote by party but, but Cox’s number is high enough that Feinstein is getting no more than 5-10% of Republican voters. And there are likely a few more Republican points in the 13% undecided voters. If Republicans get 35% of the vote in the primary, De Leon would need Republican voters to split their votes among 3-4 candidates or he’d need to significantly eat into Feinstein’s 40%. This should be a wake up call to California GOP chairman Jim Brulte. He wants a Republican to make the general election. If one is on the ballot he's more likely to get better turn out to help Republicans down ballot. He needs someone with a little bit of name ID and a little bit of money. Neither has to be that big.

The hypothetical general election head-to-head for Feinstein and de Leon has Feinstein winning 36%-17%. In that election 28% said they wouldn’t vote for either. These are likely almost entirely Republican voters. In 2016 15% of voters left the race blank and that was pretty high compared to other states. It certainly would help de Leon in a general election if Republican voters were to leave the ballot blank. If they do vote, Feinstein will probably get 75-80%. Anything over 50% puts him further behind.

This poll is what I expected. There's little path to victory for de Leon due to top two.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Kevin de León Ad

A Super PAC supporting Kevin de León is out with an ad. As expected de León is running as the progressive champion. As I've gone into in detail that's not going to win him a U.S. Senate seat.

So why are they positioning de León here? He has nowhere else to go. His resume is as a progressive champion. His reason for running is to be a progressive champion. Dianne Feinstein is vulnerable from a progressive position.

Don't they realize de León can't win if all he's running is as a progressive anti-Trump candidate? I'm sure they do but it's possible that progressives think that over half of California's voters will support a progressive.

Why run if they don't? I can give a few possibilities. Maybe the objective isn't for de León win but highlight progressive policies and move Feinstein and the rest of California to the left. De León is termed out of the state senate so why not do that?

What else? It may be macabre to say this but Dianne Feinstein will be 85 next year. While I haven't heard she isn't healthy that's years past the average life expectancy. It's possible that she withdraws due to illness or death before the primary deadline in March. While beating Feinstein might be nearly impossible de León could win a race she's not in. If that happens after the filing deadline Feinstein will still be on the ballot. You can't get off the California ballot once you're on. Yes, even if you die. If she were to finish top two, she'd advance to the November election, even though she wouldn't be able to serve. Either of those scenarios could put de León in the U.S. Senate.

If Feinstein is re-elected but can't serve her entire term de León will have an excellent argument that he should be appointed to the seat, since he will have gotten a lot of votes. And he'd have an excellent argument in a special election, along with name ID and a volunteer/donor base.

I'm not wishing ill on Dianne Feinstein. May she live a long life. But if I've considered the possibility de León's people have also.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Kevin de León Will Challenge Dianne Feinstein

Kevin de León made it official. He's challenging Diane Feinstein for her U.S. Senate seat. I understand his desire to run. De León wants to be a senator. He wants to have a bold progressive in office. They think California, the leader of the resistance, is perfect for that. Clinton did win 30 points here after all.

Beating Dianne Feinstein one-on-one in a Democratic primary would be hard to do. She's got name ID, money, and is beloved. Feinstein is the establishment Democrat (Hillary Clinton) and de León's is the bold progressive Bernie Sanders. Sanders couldn't beat Clinton in a Democratic primary in California. He lost by 7%.

But wait. Am I forgetting that top two means no Democratic primary? I haven't, but I think de León has. Yes, it's possible de León finishes 2nd in the primary. It's debatable whether it's possible for him to finish 1st. Even if he does there's no way Feinstein finishes 3rd. He has to go up against Feinstein in November.

But wait. Am I forgetting that Kamala Harris won a Senate seat and she's fairly progressive? No, because Harris was running against an unknown Loretta Sanchez and de León is running against Dianne Feinstein. Harris didn't run on progressive policies. She never mentioned the environment, healthcare, or immigration. She ran on how she was a fearless fighter who sued everyone on behalf of Californians. Few people would be against a candidate the big corporations to cough up bucks for the average Californian.

Kevin de León's record isn't that he was the attorney general who took on big banks. His record is progressive champion and he wants to let you know Trump "demonizes our diversity. Attacks our civil rights, our clean air, our health access and our public safety." He's running on the idea that Trump is terrible and his voters are deplorables. While I shudder at a politician showing contempt for any of their constituents, the resistance will love it the more he does it.

If de León makes top two he won't be in an election with only Democratic voters. He'll have Republicans and moderate NPPs. They'll be somewhere between 34-41% of the electorate, but there'll be blank ballots. So the numbers may be 29-35%. If they are 33% and Feinstein takes 80% of them, de León would have to beat Feinstein 65%-35% with left leaning voters. Sanders got 46.5% of the vote. How's de León going to get 65%.

I'm doubtful de León gets 20% of right leaning voters. His ads will emphasize how he's going to stop the evil Trump is and how progressive he is. Harris gave Republicans a reason to vote for her. He's running on how he doesn't want their votes. Will de León even send mailers to Republicans to get their votes? What would those mailers say?