Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Michael Rubio out in CA-21

Democratic State Senator Michael Rubio announced today that he's dropping out of the race for CA-21.

This is a big blow to Democrats. Rubio is regarded as a rising star in the Democratic party. The Democrats don't run strong in the Central Valley, so they need things to go right for them. This is a district Fiorina won comfortably, but Whitman lost. The Democrats' bench isn't deep in the area, although Dean Florez would be a good candidate. If he declines, they could have a problem winning it.

I had this as a toss-up, but I'm moving it to Lean Republican.

Member v. Member Congressional Races Part I

As the year closes, only 11 states have yet to complete redistricting. Of those, only New York is likely to produce a member v. member race. That makes it a good time to look at the races that will happen.

CA-30, Sherman (D) v. Berman (D)
Why it's happening: Redistricting has created a Latino seat in the San Fernando Valley that neither is likely to win. Howard Berman, and his allies, have suggested that Brad Sherman run in Ventura County, even though there's more Sherman territory in this district. It's always gracious when you get upset the other guy won't try to avoid a member v. member match-up and not consider you can do the same.

Who'll win: Brad Sherman put out a poll that had him winning, but I see this more as a toss-up.

CA-44, Hahn (D) v. Richardson (D)
Why it's happening: Neither of these candidates live within the district, but both like the district better than the one they live in. Hahn would have to run against the formidable Henry Waxman in CA-33 and there's more of her old city council district here. Richardson's new district, CA-47, has a Black CVAP of 8.3%. This district is 27.6%. She correctly assumes there's no way she could win that district. Additionally, that district might be won by a Republican. This one won't be.

Who'll win: it's tough to see Richardson winning here. She's bogged down with debt and an ethics scandal. The people she's counting on, African-Americans, have a history of supporting the Hahn family. While both are likely to survive top two it's tough to see the district's Republican minority voting for Richardson in the general election.

CA-39, Miller (R) v. Royce (R)
Why it's happening: Due to population shifts a district was created in Riverside that doesn't contain the territory of either and is likely unwinnable for them. That district leans Democratic. So if they win there they'll have a competitive race every two years. Here, you only need to win once.

Who'll win: Royce is more popular and has more money, but Miller has a good war chest. Royce is the favorite.

AZ-6, Quayle (R) v. Schwiekert (R)
Why it's happening: The Arizona redistricting commission created a safe Republican seat in an area represented by two Republicans. While the match-up isn't set yet they both likely view this seat the way Miller and Royce do in California.

Who'll win: Schwiekert. Quayle is lightly regarded and won a more Republican district by a similar margin that Schwiekert did.

IA-3, Boswell (D) v. Latham (R)
Why it's happening: Iowa went from five districts to four.

Who'll win: Latham. Latham has over performed in his district while Boswell's results have been lackluster.

IL-16, Manzullo (R) v. Kinzinger (R)
Why it's happening: Illinois went from 19 districts to 18.

Who'll win: Toss-up. Manzullo is a veteran who'll be 68 in March. Kinzinger is a freshman who'll be 34. You'd think the race would favor the veteran, but Kinzinger has more C-O-H and is regarded as a comer.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Los Angeles County Registration

Current voter registration in Los Angeles County as of November 8, 2011:
* Democrat 2,222,917
* Republican 999,169
* Decline to State 970,633
* Other 152,218
Source: Los Angeles County Registrar

I find it amusing that we can't claim 1,000,000 Republicans in LA County.

The Propublica Artlicle

The Propublica article has generated a lot of reaction all over the web. Basically Republicans are outraged that Democrats cheated and Democrats are saying they did none of the things in the article and that demographics and the Republican party "moving to the extreme right" in the last ten years. Dan Walters puts it best. The Democrats played politics. That's what they do. So did the Republicans. It wasn't as organized and there's no paper trail, but we didn't sit on our hands.

The idea that Republicans have been consistently losing popularity over the last decade is popular and incorrect. From 2000 to 2007 Republicans dropped 0.8% in registration, while Democrats dropped 2.9%. In raw numbers that was a 466,000 drop for Democrats and a 134,000 drop for Republicans. From 2009 to 2011 Democrats have dropped 0.5% and Republicans 0.2%. That's a Democratic drop of 152,000 and a Republican drop of 80,000.

Republicans have lost since 2000 and the Democrats haven't, but that was entirely based on the Obama registration drive in 2008. Democrats dropped more than Republicans during the first 7 years and the last 2. Democrats had an amazing one time blip. Anyone who actually does any research themselves can easily find this out. But they insist on repeating what's popular.

The low congressional seat total for Republicans isn't due to party unpopularity. It's due to the way congressional seats are allocated. Here's breaking down the seats by regions, with Democratic leaning, Republican leaning, and toss-ups.

In most of the state the congressional seat breakdown matches the Brown-Whitman percentages. The two areas that don't are the Bay Area and Los Angeles county. Let's look at the state as three regions: Bay Area, LA, and everywhere else.


In most of the state Republicans have an edge and do a bit better in the congressional seats. The GOP gets around 33% of the vote in the other two areas, and yet has 5% of the congressional seats. In other states Democrats yell that they get a greater percentage of the vote than the percent of districts Republicans have given them. In California? They don't bother to look at how a party that gets 43% of the vote statewide could end up with less than 30% of the assembly, senate, or congressional seats.

The Republicans can't fix this. They could increase their percentage of the vote by 10 points in LA county or the Bay area and pick up 0 seats. The Republican party has never been popular in these two areas and that's not going to change. The GOP is left to fight over the remaining 30 seats.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Poor Republicans

I'm a fairly partisan guy. I make no apologies that this blog is slanted toward the GOP. Dennis Prager always talks about the truth coming first. I want to stick to that.

The popular meme out there is how the Republicans were screwed on the congressional maps. There's another article out today. Let's get some truths out there. First, let's set aside one that's pushed to support Republicans losing seats.

The map isn't difficult for Republicans because of the party's declining popularity or extreme views. If not for the Democrats' 2008 registration success the numbers for Democrats would be horrible. Between 1990 and 2007 Democrats were losing voters at a much faster pace than Republicans and they still are. Since 2009 Republicans have lost 80,000 voters. Democrats have lost 152,000. In 2007 the gap between Democratic and Republican registration was the smallest it'd ever been.

The idea that the Republican Party didn't attempt to influence the decision making process is ludicrous. While I'm not aware of any grand strategy coming from party headquarters I know of a number of people who are very active in the party in L.A. county who testified about what they wanted to see on the map. While their testimony was valid, it was clearly partisan. It'd be naive to assume otherwise.

Democrats didn't get everything they wanted in Northern California. John Garamendi ended up with a district that is bizarre. They've taken Sacramento area Democrats and slapped on a bunch of rural Republican counties.

There are several other districts that were drawn oddly that help Republicans. CA-21 appears to be drawn so that Jim Costa will run in CA-16 and Dennis Cardoza would have to retire. That's what happened.

(Democratic) Hispanics were lobbying for two Hispanic districts in San Bernardino County. That seemed likely, but the final maps tacked on a lot of David Dreier voters in Rancho Cucamonga and Upland onto a district with the city of San Bernardino.For good measure they stretched the district to Relands to include Jerry Lewis' house. CA-31 was competitive enough to scare off Joe Baca, leaving Republicans with a district that they could have either one of two incumbents run.

The commission put very Democratic Long Beach into a district with some very red Orange County cities that it has little in common with. Incumbent Laura Richardson ran for the hills, or at least the neighboring CA-44. Republicans shouldn't be competitive in a district with Long Beach but they likely will be.

I'm not saying there aren't some bizarre lines that favor Democrats. CA-33 looks like it was drawn to make sure that the Republican South Bay couldn't be won by a Republican. CA-26 included all of Ventura County except Elton Gallegly's Simi Valley base.

I will reiterate. The congressional maps slightly favors Republicans. Republicans will likely lose seats because the current map favors them more. Republicans won't lose 5 seats, or 6 or 7 as Chicken Little proclaims. Unless the year turns very Democratic, Republicans should lose no more than 3 seats. If a Republican wins the White House the GOP will likely gain seats. I know the "experts" aren't saying this, but that doesn't make it less true.

Even The Murkiness is Getting Clearer in California

Some California congressmen have yet to announce their intentions for 2012. There's been no press release, no public statement, and no mention of the new districts on their campaign website. Some of these representatives (e.g. Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy) are clearly running for re-election, while others (e.g. Sam Farr, Jackie Speier) haven't given anyone reason to think they won't. Each of them has a district and no one else in their party has announced a run. I'm finally going to give in and assume they are running.

There are three I've talked about before whose intentions are unknown. Jerry Lewis is a mystery. The 8th district contains a lot of his current district, but not his home. Yet that district now has a large field of Republicans running. This district is Safe Republican, so it's no surprise so many Republicans are taking a shot. Lewis has hinted he'll run in the more competitive neighboring 31st district, which does contain his home. No Republican has committed to the district, even though it figures to be highly competitive. Lewis' campaign website provides absolutely no clues on his intentions. If you clicked the link you find that there's nothing on the site. That's unusual for candidates who aren't running. They usually leave their campaign website as is and don't bother with it.

David Dreier figures into the mix in either CD-8 or CD-31. I'm just not sure how. I hope Lewis or Dreier runs in CD-31, as the Republicans need a strong candidate to win there.

Elton Gallegly hasn't been exactly mum on his plans. Last month he indicated he hinted to a run against fellow Republican Buck McKeon in the safe Antelope Valley/Santa Clarita/Simi Valley district which contains his home. This month his office responds with "Elton and I wish you a Merry Christmas."

I'm going to read between the lines here and say that he's avoiding the question. Okay, that's obvious. That sure doesn't sound like someone who is retiring. No Republican has jumped in, waiting for Gallegly's decision. While that hurts fundraising, whatever Republican does get in will surely be among the top two in the June primary. Only one Democrat reported any fundraising through Q3 2011 and his total was a meager $37,790. Tony Strickland could raise that in a few days.

Friday, December 16, 2011

PPP and New Mexico poll

Public Policy Polling a Democratic firm is once again embroiled in controversy. They put out a poll this morning that has a larger Democratic electorate and a smaller Republican electorate than in 2008, the best year Democrats have had since the 80's. No one thinks they'll have a year like that in 2012 and that the electorate may be closer to 2010 than 2008.

No one in this debate understands why PPP's polls before elections are good and their polls prior to that are very Democratic. It's the pattern they went through in 2009-2010 when their polls were also very Democratic. They switched to a likely voter model from a registered voter model, around Labor Day 2010. Suddenly their electorates had a lot more Republicans and less Democrats. The numbers changed dramatically. Their likely voter model was strong. Their registered voter model is from Mars. I'm sure they'll switch again around Labor Day 2012 and then crow about how close they were, hoping we'll once again forget how inaccurate their polls were before then.

Redistricting Scorecard/Democratic Targets

With Pennsylvania and Ohio pretty much completing redistricting this week, there are only two significant states, Florida and New York, which haven't completed redistricting. Texas remains in court and could result in gains of 3 or 4 for each side. Redistricting is hardly over but there won't be a lot of changes.

I get a bit more minute than the Washington Post and factor in seats other than those that'll be directly impacted by redistricting. So I only have Democrats losing 0.4 seats in Indiana but also have the Democrats even or slightly positive in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Republicans have a number of seats which would lean Democratic in most years. They've turned some into seats that lean Republican. That doesn't make them secure and Republicans will likely lose some of these.

If Republicans have a net loss of 1 seat, that's a huge victory, as they'll keep the congressional majority by 24 seats. Republicans don't need to gain seats to win the congressional elections.

If the Democrats want to hit 25 they'll have to win even more of these marginal seats. Here's a rough estimate of how they'll have to do:
They'll need to hold seats in Indiana, Utah, and North Carolina that look lost right now and they'll have to win 2-3 Republican seats in Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, states where they're likely to start one seat behind.

I don't see this as doable, although it is possible.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Newt Can't Sink California for the GOP

NBC LA thinks he would. Presidents do have an impact on congressional elections, but effect of coattails is overrated. People split their tickets. Incumbents usually exceed the Presidential candidate. In 2008 Barack Obama got a higher percentage of the vote in California than every Democrat statewide since 1990. He had long coattails, with the Democrats ending up with 257 congressional seats. He won 8 of the 16 congressional districts where Republicans faced a Democratic opponent. Democrats won none of those seats. Democrats took most of the seats Obama won nationwide, but couldn't manage to get one in California. Here's how incumbent Republicans did compared to John McCain.

Barack Obama got over 53% of the vote nationwide. He's unlikely to have a landslide again. So he should do worse than in 2008 in each state. He did around 6 points better than the average Democrat in California. So he overachieved even his nationwide percentage. It's difficult to believe that Obama will do better than he did in 2008, even with Gingrich. Democrats not only couldn't beat Republicans then but they got beat badly. If they couldn't do it under ideal conditions, they're unlikely to do it in 2012.

Of course there are a few districts that are more Democratic, but have moved that Democratic. Republicans could do worse with Gingrich as the candidate, but it's tough to imagine them doing worse than McCain. Republicans could suffer some losses in 2012, but I doubt Gingrich would really hurt them that much.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bill Kristol's Fantasy

Bill is still sad that Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Paul Ryan won't return his love. He thinks someone could enter on February 14 and still win. Setting aside the money and organization issues, this person wouldn't be able to get on the ballot.

By February 14, Bill's fantasy candidate will have missed the filing deadlines in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and DC. He'd have to hustle to file in Pennsylvania that day.

The only primary states he could get on the ballot would be California, Delaware, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and South Dakota. Even with the remaining caucus states, the maximum delegates might be about 25% of the total. I'm working on my math but that sounds like less than half.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


We hear a lot about how voting patterns trend. Usually it's about demographics, but there are geographic trends too. Cook PVI is a measurement of how strongly congressional districts lean toward one political party compared to the nation as a whole. In order to make that determination we use the country's voting breakdown by party.

In 2000, the two party vote was Gore 50.3%, Bush 49.7%. Thus, a district where Gore got 55.3% would be D+5. In 2008, the two party vote was Obama 53.4%, McCain 46.6%. Thus, a district where McCain got 48.6% would be R+2.

By comparing the PVIs in 2008 and 2000 we can see which way a district is going. I've excluded Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Hawaii, and Arizona, as these states had home state bounces for the candidates. I also excluded Indiana. The 2008 results were such an outlier of other results that I believe they're misleading. Other elections haven't indicated the state is turning blue.

This is a chart of California districts which are moving Democratic. While there are a lot of them, there are several factors to consider.

1. The change was only 6-7 points over two elections, the bare minimum to be considered trending.
2. Most of these districts are Safe Democratic. It doesn't help to become safer.
3. The districts have been changed so much that the current district might not have nearly the trend.

We do know that Herger and Campbell were moved to safer districts. McNerney and Capps are now in competitive districts. This may indicate a trend, but some of the new area might be trending the other way.

There are a lot of overwhelming numbers here, mostly 6-8 points. North Dakota and Montana have been trending Democratic, and that might bode well for Democrats as both districts will be open in 2012. Most of the rest of the Republicans were moved to safer districts. So the opportunity might not be there. The OR-1 movement likely indicates Democrats will hold this district in the special election.

This group contains seats moving Republican that are in the south, Ozarks, and Appalachia, all areas that have been talked about as trending. The good news for Democrats is that the districts aren't trending as fast on local races. Still, the districts will likely catch up to the Democrats in the next few years.

This is an interesting and sup rising group. We see that there was a heavy concentration in Massachusetts and the New York metro. It includes 6 of the 9 districts that aren't majority minority. Two of the three other districts are just off this list. This is why Republicans were able to win the NY-9 special (It moved 17 points!) and why the GOP should make sure the redistricted New York metro to have as many competitive districts as possible.

Six of the ten Massachusetts districts are on here and two others are just off this list. As with New York, one of the ones that isn't is majority minority. There figures to be opportunity in Massachusetts some time this decade. Since the Democrats hold all the seats any one that does will be one that presents a Republican opportunity.

Two Palm Beach-Broward, Florida districts are on here. These counties have a lot of people from New York and Massachusetts, so it's possible that some of the people trending Republican have made it down here. The two districts, like New York and Massachusetts, are heavily Jewish. I don't know if this is just coincidence or if it means something. Republicans aren't doing a lot better in heavily Jewish areas around Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

There may be a number of unexpected Republican opportunities some time this decade. The Democrats don't seem to have as many, especially since many of these districts got safer for the GOP.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hints about California Congressional Decisions

The Inland Valley Bulletin has an article today that looks at the San Bernardino County congressional races. There are some interesting take-aways.

1. The San Bernardino Republican Party is talking to both David Dreier and Jerry Lewis about running in the safe 8th district. There's been no indication Dreier is considering the district.

2. Dreier isn't mentioned for the 31st, even though it has more of his territory than Lewis'

3. The 3 people mentioned for the Democrats in CA-31 have all recently lost races. Actually they've lost them fairly badly.

a. Warner lost to Dreier in the San Bernardino section of the current CA-26 53%-36% in 2010 and 52%-40% in 2008, the most Democratic year you're going to get.

b. Wickman lost the assembly race 58%-42%.

d. Ramirez-Dean finished third in the superintendent of San Bernardino County Schools with 17%. The other two candidates had 61% and 22%.

The 31st may have a Democratic lean, but without a good Democratic candidate they won't win it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

8 Seats? Really?

Aaron Blake at The Fix is analyzing the congressional races. Some of his analysis is good and some of it is coming from a horse's posterior. This is my favorite.

We could see the results spanning from a total wash to Democrats gaining eight seats.

Every single prognosticator, including the most pessimistic ones, has the Republicans with at least 12 safe seats. Since they have 19 now, they'd lose 7 if the ceiling collapsed in a Democratic wave. Not 8. The only two districts he might think Democrats can win are CA-25 and CA-49. Republicans have a decent size registration advantage in both seats, while Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina blew their opponents out in these districts. Heck, Mimi Walters had the 2nd worst Republican statewide performance in 20 years and won them by 10 and 3. If Democrats are winning districts like that, it's a huge Democratic wave where they're gaining at least 80 seats.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gallegly v. McKeon

Knock me over with a feather and call me Shirley. I didn't see this one coming. I assumed that Congressman Gallegly would run in the new CA-26 or retire. I didn't see him challenging Buck McKeon. Member vs. member races in the same party can get ugly and they don't get the party any additional seats.

The district was won decisively by Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, so it's Safe Republican, something that can't be said about either man's current district. So there is a draw to run here. Gallegly has long roots in Simi Valley and likely would only want to represent the people he's known for years and year and not move. Yet Gallegly's contemplated retirement before. If he beats McKeon, will he do so again in 2014 or 2016?

Thee's no way both will make it to November. It's a safe district for the GOP, but there are enough Democratic votes where both Republicans can't beat a Democrat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Referendum on the U.S. Congressional District Redistricting Plan

It got no play with the Senate map referendum turned in but the date for the Congressional maps passed Sunday. I can't find anything indicating anyone turned in anything, but it's safe to assume this is dead.

Rep. Dreier promised us that these weren't the final congressional lines. His only avenue left is the Federal lawsuit. If I'm not mistaken, the only jurisdiction the Feds have is through the VRA. The state has jurisdiction on these maps and that lawsuit was dismissed.

At some point, congressmen Gallegly, Dreier, and Lewis are going to have commit to run somewhere.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Relative Strength of Congressional Incumbents

How applicable are Obama-McCain numbers to local congressional races? I compared how Obama did in each congressional district to how the incumbent Democrat did and McCain to how the incumbent Republican did. For open seat races, I compared the Democrat to Obama.

I excluded districts where a candidate ran unopposed and those that were significantly one-sided either way. The incumbent will win these races whether he performs above or below the Presidential candidate.

Incumbents average a lot better than their Presidential candidate. A rule of thumb is that incumbency is worth 3 points, but these numbers suggest it may be larger. The Democrats had a higher average, but this may be explained by the quality of Democratic challengers vs. Republican challengers. In some cases Republicans barely contested the seat. There were also a number of Democrats in southern legacy districts who continued winning even as their district started voting Republican at a Presidential level. Some of these congressmen didn’t survive the 2010 Republican onslaught, while others are retiring this year. You can see this in the list of Democrats who did the best compared to Obama. Many who did the worst compared to Obama also lost in 2010.

The Republican performances weren’t nearly as strong as the Democratic ones. While fewer Republicans who had strong performances will run in 2012, there are also several Republicans who ran further behind McCain than the Democrats ran behind Obama.

While there are several factors into how an incumbent performs, including the quality of the challenger, incumbents in a number of states performed similarly. I’ve highlighted those where one party’s incumbents did significantly better compared to Obama than Republican ones did compared to McCain. And vice-versa. I’ve highlighted those in yellow.

There were ten states where the Democratic incumbents ran significantly more ahead of Obama than the Republican incumbents did ahead of McCain. Of these, however, six are southern states where Democratic congressmen still manage to hold districts that vote Republicans on the Presidential level.

That’d explain the relative Democratic strength and Republican weakness in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Keep this in mind when anticipating whether the GOP can pick up districts in these states. Fortunately, Republicans picked up a number of them in 2010. In 2012, North Carolina won’t be as easy as some people think it will.

It’s not surprising that Arizona Democrats ran far ahead of Obama, while Republican incumbents didn’t run far ahead of John McCain.
Knowing this, Democratic congressmen in them will once again be difficult to defeat in each of them.

The weak performance of Colorado Republicans is worrisome since the GOP has several potentially vulnerable incumbents. I’m surprised at the incumbents’ relative strength compared to Obama in Indiana, Minnesota, and Missouri, since Obama did very well in each of those states. Ohio Democratic incumbents did well enough to outweigh Dennis Kucinich, who has trouble appealing to anyone outside his base. Put Kucinich in anything close to an even district and he’ll lose.

The good news on the Republican side is the party’s strength, and Democratic weaknesses, in Iowa. There is a lot of opportunity there, especially if Obama is lackluster. California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania all have vulnerable Republicans. Fortunately, Republicans have run very strong in these states.

On the other hand, low R+ PVIs in Texas could result in losses. If a court draws the map, Republicans there might be in trouble.

There were other states where neither Republicans or Democrats didn't have two incumbents. That makes any relative comparison of the two parties difficult, although one can see why Democrats lost both New Hampshire districts in 2010.

Incumbents are difficult to beat in a non-wave year. Most will be tough to beat, but those that aren't as strong will be vulnerable.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ohio Election Day

Somehow I'm still amazed how positive Democratic news is reported and positive Republican news isn't. I know. I know. I'm just being silly. Lose in the midst of the labor union win over the citizens of Ohio was that Ohio voters rejected the individual mandate by a greater margin. It's understandable if you didn't hear that because it gets less than half as many linked news articles. Most of them are conservative media like Newsmax.

If we look at the union win only one might say that Democrats are on the way back. If we look at the two votes together we wouldn't draw that conclusion. The unions in Ohio were able to frame the issue as an effort to destroy the working man and ensure that fires wouldn't be put out.


Who wants to be against that?

Of course that doesn't mean they'll vote Democratic in 2012. The public employee unions aren't running for President, Barack Obama is. You need to make a leap from "I think unions should have collective bargaining" to "I'm voting for a Democrat."

I'd embed a :30 issue 3 ad, but I haven't been able to find one on Youtube. I don't think they people supporting this one spent nearly the same money on it. And yet they got more votes. The individual mandate is tied directly to Barack Obama. The health insurance bill may even by regarded as his signature issue. And voters don't like it. I don't think Obama will win Ohio if he talks about the individual mandate. I'd guess that no Democratic candidates will talk about it either. Sherrod Brown, a strong supporter of Obamacare, may have trouble avoiding it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Ohio Conundrum

Republicans in Ohio created an ambitious congressional redistricting map, one that would likely net them 12 seats to the Democrats' 4.

One problem. Democrats can get the map suspended if they get enough signatures for a referendum. Since they managed to get three times the necessary number to challenge SB5, this seems likely.

Realizing the difference between their map and a court drawn map would likely be vast, Republicans decided to negotiate with Democrats. Those negotiations fell apart. Now Republicans are left with a choice. How much to offer the Democrats. The good news is that even in a court drawn map three competitive seats look to be safe Republican.

The bad news can be seen below. These are the percentage of the vote Barack Obama got in each district. The first line indicates where they're at now. The second is what they passed. The third is the map from last week. And the last column is a court drawn map.

They were able to change OH-1 significantly, while not really impacting the remaining districts. Keep in mind they eliminated one Republican and two Democratic seats, and then put a new Democratic seat in Columbus. Hence the safer seats above.

The offer made OH-1, Cincinnati, much more competitive and put the Dayton district in play. The concern, of course, is what would happen to several other districts. Three Cleveland area Republican seats could go from 47-51% Obama to 52-56% Obama. And then there's the possibility a Toledo area seat might be drawn competitive.

The three big concerns are OH-4, OH-7, and OH-16. How much more should they offer? I'd put the line at making OH-10 and either OH-7 or OH-16 more competitive. You don't want to give up too much, because at that point you can roll the dice with the courts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

David Dreier

“There’s a new federal court case just filed this week. And that will play a big role in making the determination, won’t it? It depends on the lines.”

As I speculated Congressman Dreier earlier is under the assumption that somehow the congressional lines will be overturned and he'll get a wonderful district just tailored for him. He's probably one of the few who think that the lawsuit has a chance at succeeding, it doesn't, and his optimism that new lines are going to be great for him also isn't shared by many. The lawsuit asks the court to draw the lines and I see no reason why the court will draw Dreier better lines. He may operating under the idea that he only wants to run in a district with San Dimas. Since he can't win the district San Dimas is currently in, it can't get worse.

He could win the 31st district, however, and no Republican, or Democrat for that matter, is currently running there. It isn't drawn to favor a Republican, but it's drawn so that a good Republican candidate can win. Many Democrats are upset at that. One of the lawsuits sought to invalidate the district and move some Hispanics from the neighboring 35th in. That'd mean Republicans wouldn't be able to win either the 31st and 35th. Be careful what you wish for, because it can be worse.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Beating Feinstein

I have this theory, one I’ve mentioned before, that in the right circumstances with the right Democratic moderate, we could knock off a liberal heavyweight. The circumstances are right to knock off Dianne Feinstein. The man to do it is retiring Blue Dog congressman Dennis Cardoza. Cardoza is high profile enough to have strong crossover appeal and there is no real Republican candidate in the field.
Here’s how it’d happen:

In statewide elections California votes around 54% Democratic/39% Republican state with the rest going to minor parties like the Libertarians or Greens. This isn’t an electorate of 53% Democrats and 39% Republicans, but one where Republicans, Democrats, independents, and minor party voters vote 53% for the Democrat and 39% for the Republican.

Let’s assume we have Feinstein, Cardoza, and a low profile Republican in the race. If Cardoza can get 1/3 of the Republican vote and 1/3 of the Democratic vote, we’d end up with:

Feinstein 36%
Cardoza 31%
Republican 26%
Others 7%

Of course this isn’t a slam dunk. It requires a strong enough appeal among Democrats to give 1/3 of their vote to someone other than Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein is an established, well-liked senator, the type that would get 85-90% in past Democratic primaries. Cardoza would have to push hard to the moderate wing of the Democratic party, especially Hispanics and those from the Central Valley.

Harder than that is convincing 1/3 of Republicans to vote for someone who is going to vote Harry Reid majority leader, not Mitch McConnell. People who vote for a party will cast their vote for their party’s nominee even if that person has no shot. If some Republican leaders encouraged votes for Cardoza instead of the Republicans on the ballot you risk the backlash from Democrats that Cardoza is a closet Republican.

If the fall election is Feinstein vs. Cardoza, Cardoza’s path to victory is much clearer. Without a Republican nominee, Cardoza can pull 90% of the Republican vote (38% of 42%) and only 25% of the Democratic vote ((14.5% of 58%) and end up with a 52.5%-47.5% victory. No matter how much money she spends Feinstein will have a lot of trouble garnering much of the Republican leaning vote. So it’d come down to Cardoza getting a small, but not insignificant share of the Democratic vote.

Of course Cardoza is unlikely to run and Republicans may eventually get a strong enough candidate that Cardoza siphoning off one third of the vote won’t happen. I'd like to see if my theory could happen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How a PAC sets the narrative

House Majority PAC, a Democratic political action committee, released 12 polls today that they say shows Republicans are in serious trouble. Sure enough, the sheep in the media printed exactly that.

This poll is actually very good news for Republicans.

Wait a sec, you're saying. All these Republicans have higher don't elect than elect. That's 12 seats Republicans will lose. There are three problems with that narrative.

1. This is a poll by a Democratic pollster for a Democratic PAC. Nate Silver has talked about partisan polls being off by as much as 6 points.

2. They polled registered voters. While they chose not to release the in-tabs, PPP has repeatedly had polls all year with the Democratic share of the electorate higher than it was in 2008, a great Democratic year, and often larger D/R spreads than in that year. PPP claims they don't weight by political party. It just happens that way. Yeah, right.

3. They ask the question, "would you like to re-elect Rep. XYZ or prefer someone else?" That question isn't on the ballot. People often express their unhappiness with their congressman when the alternative is the perfect congressman they've made up. Congressmen will always do better, sometimes a lot better, when faced with an actual opponent.

Since they didn't release in-tabs we don't know how the "someone else" broke down by party. These days a good share of the Republican electorate is unhappy with their congressman. They may say they wouldn't re-elect, as long as the alternative was another Republican. When faced with their Republican congressman against a Democrat, they'll vote for the Republican they're unhappy with. Since PPP conspicuously didn't release the in-tabs we don't know how it breaks down.

I'm going to add 7 points to the congressmen and drop the "don't elect" 7 points for a Democratic challenger. I think that's conservative considering the problems above, all of which could add 4-6 points to the Republican's total. If we add the 7 we end up with:

AR-02 R51-42
CA-07 R50-47
CA-10 R45-42
CA-26 R49-41
CA-36 R50-48
CA-52 R49-44
IL-10 R49-43
IL-11 R48-45
IL-13 D46-40
IL-17 R46-42
WI-07 R50-44

Ok, we did all that and it doesn't look so great for Republicans. In half of them the Republican leads by 4 points or less. In 9 of them it's 6 points or less. These Republicans could lose. Yes, they could, but look closely at the districts. There are four of them, CA-26, IL-10, IL-11, and IL-17, that the experts have already declared Democrats are sure to pick up. So not only aren't they sure Democratic pick-ups, but they might actually be leaning Republican. Three other districts, AR-2, CA-52, and WI-7, have big enough leads that they should be definite favorites.

It's not all good news. CA-10 and CA-36 are far closer than expected. There are probably 4 districts that Democrats are more likely to flip than these 12. There are probably 9 Democratic districts that are likely to flip and there will be more once all the redistricting is done.

The Democrats may need as many as 20 districts beyond these 12 to get enough seats to flip the House. If they can't count very many of these, they certainly won't get anywhere near 20 others.

So, yeah, it's a good group of polls.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cardoza out. Lewis in. But where?

Dennis Cardoza finally made up his mind. He is, in fact, retiring. This hardly seems like news, because most people expected him to hang it up. Still, this is a relief to Republicans. Jim Costa will now be running in the 16th. Last year Jerry Brown won Cardoza's district by 11 points and Costa's by 19. Yet Cardoza coasted to victory, while Costa won on a recount. The 16th won't be easy for Republicans. Brown only won it by 9 points, however, so it's no sure thing for the Democrats either. Yet this is the only competitive district where Republicans don't have an incumbent considering or even a candidate at all.

Jerry Lewis, on the other hand, is in. He just hasn't decided if it's the 8th or 31st. The 8th is a Republican lock, regardless of who runs. The 31st is a lot more winnable with either Lewis or Congressman David Dreier. While Lewis is racked with indecision, Dreier appears to be waiting for the districts to get thrown out.

Other retirements are possible. Rep. Elton Gallegly is on everyone's retirement watch. Republicans have a strong bench in Ventura County, can you say Congressman Tony Strickland, but Gallegly is the best choice.

Anyone else? I'm going to speculate Maxine Waters will hang it up. Waters hasn't made her intentions known, despite having a district she could easily win.

Southern California Q3 Fundraising

26th District
The national press has practically declared this district a Democratic pick-up. I don't see it. Both Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina won here. There's no declared Republican, but most of this district is currently represented by Elton Gallegly. Gallegly has $824k in the bank. The Democrats? They have two candidates. Neither of them has even submitted a fundraising report. Gallegly would be a strong favorite here. If he doesn't run, the Republican nominee might not be behind in fundraising.

30th District
Democrats are taking this one awfully seriously. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman have nearly $6 million in the bank between them. Republican Mark Reed has less than $4,000 in the bank. Despite that there's virtually no chance that both Berman and Sherman will make the general election. This district has 26% Republican registration with another 21% Decline to State and roughly 5% other parties. No matter how much money Berman and Sherman spend they won't convince Republicans or Republican leaning independents to vote for them. There simply aren't enough Democrats for the both of them.

31st District
There are no candidates in this district, a true oddity in a state where half the legislature trips over each other to run for congress. The conventional wisdom is that Jerry Lewis, who lives in this district, will run. David Dreier, another Republican without a district, has represented some of the most Republican parts of the district. The district slants only slightly Democratic. Both of these veteran congressmen have just under $800k cash-on-hand. Either would win. If neither runs, it'll be a toss-up, especially since, you know, there are no actual candidates.

36th District
Mary Bono Mack has taken all the Democrats have been able to throw at her in tough races all decade. Her C-O-H of $437k isn't impressive and her opponent, unlike many others, has started to raise money. The district did move slightly more Republican, however.

39th District
Ed Royce has been busy winning endorsements and went to the GOP Convention last month to lock up activists. Fellow Republican Gary Miller has more than $1 million in the bank, but Royce has $3 million. While no Democrat has declared, there are too many Democrats here for both to make November. I don't see Miller beating Royce.

41st District
Right now this is Republican John Tavaglione against Democrat Mark Takano. Both have raised similar amounts of money, but it isn't that much. There figures to be other candidates here, so no clear favorite is likely to emerge for some time.

44th District
This intriguing match-up is likely to actually have two Democrats go at it in November. Newly elected Janice Hahn has just been through a rough race. Laura Richardson hasn't. Isadore Hall is the wildcard in the mix. None of impressive war chests and Hall actually has the most right now. Hahn just spent over $1.5 million on a race where she was only raising money for a short time. Hahn has to be the favorite here.

47th District
Early favorites Steve Kuykendall and Alan Lowenthal haven't raised much money. Republican Gary DeLong has. Late entry Troy Edgar has as well, although almost all of it came from his own bank account. It's all green no matter where it comes from. This is another intriguing match-up.

51st District
This is a heavily Democratic district but there are enough Republicans that a GOPer would likely make it to November. Juan Vargas has more money, but Denise Ducheny is competing for the nod.

52nd District
Brian Bilbray has Republicans and Democrats on either side of him. While his fundraising has been mediocre, none of his rivals has much money.

The fundraising report, overall, was better news for Republicans. They have more challengers with strong bank accounts than the Democrats do and several of the open seats are still wide open. It's early, of course, but better to be ahead than behind.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Northern California Q3 Fundraising

Third quarter Congressional fundraising is out on Opensecrets and the FEC's website. I assumed candidates put the district they're running in on their FEC filings. I thought it'd shed light on where some incumbents are actually running. David Dreier is listed in the 26th, his current district number, by the FEC and the 32nd by Opensecrets. His house is in the new 32nd, but he's unlikely to run there because it's too Democratic. The FEC has Jim Costa in the 20th, his current district, and Opensecrets has him in the 21st. He's running in the 16th.

The fundraising reports do have some interesting information.

2nd District
This district isn't especially interesting from a Republican point of view. No Republican is currently running. Democrats Jared Huffman, Stacey Lawson, and Norman Solomon all produced healthy fundraising reports. While this isn't a district the GOP can win, any Republican on the ballot will get 25-30% of the primary vote. With three strong Democrats, any Republican will move to the general. As long as one is on the ballot.

3rd District
Incumbent Democrat John Garamendi has only $112k cash on hand. Republican challenger Kim Dolbow Vann has $125k. While Dolbow Vann's fundraising total isn't great, it's surprising when a challenger has more C-O-H than the incumbent. This district contains only 20% of Garamendi's old district. In 2010, Democratic congressional candidates beat Republican candidates in this district 52%-48%. The 3rd is a prime pick-up opportunity for the GOP.

6th District
Doris Matsui has a Republican opponent, Erik Smitt. Smitt won't win, but at least the district will be contested.

7th District
Right now, Democratic challenger Ami Bera has 70% more C-O-H than incumbent Dan Lungren. This isn't that surprising since Bera ran in 2010, but that also makes him more dangerous. This may be the most competitive match-up in the general next fall.

9th District
The 9th may give the 7th a run for its money. This district is slightly more Democratic than the 7th, but both incumbent McNerney and challenger Gill have over $600k C-O-H.

10th District
Republican Jeff Denham is regarded as vulnerable, but neither of his Democratic opponents, Mike Barkley and Jose Hernandez, have filed fundraising reports. It's early, of course, but Denham has over $600k C-O-H and he's a fundraising powerhouse. Hernandez and Barkley may have to spend a lot of the money they do raise just to make the general.

16th District
While Jim Costa's fundraising numbers are hardly stellar for an incumbent, the GOP has yet to field an opponent here. Carly Fiorina won the 16th by 2 points, so it'll be one the Republicans will want to contest. Costa's colleague Dennis Cardoza lives in this district, but he's indicated he's unlikely to challenge Costa. Cardoza has $62k in his campaign account. That won't make the retirement speculation go away.

21st District
The 21st is a district Carly Fiorina won comfortably but Jerry Brown edged out Meg Whitman here. Both parties are running highly regarded candidates. Republican David Valadao and Democrat Michael Rubio haven't gotten their fundraising into high gear yet, but both have raised some money.

24th District
Both incumbent Democrat Lois Capps and Republican challenger Abel Maldonado have been strong fundraisers. Capps has more C-O-H, because she brought some cash in from previous cycles. The 7th and 9th slightly favor incumbents, but this district was almost equal in both the 2010 Senate and Governor races. Capps is an experienced rep and won't go down easily.


I finally saw Moneyball last night, how statistical analysis changed the game of baseball. Before the ideas presented in the book, scouts judged players on their knowledge and intuition. They just knew what they saw. In politics, the experts just know what they know. They too don't think statistical analysis applies, but it does too. Here are a few.

Individual Predictions are Dicey
What happens overall is far more predictable. While statistical analysis can tell us what's likely to happen, it can't tell us what will always happen. Nothing happens every time. Thus, predicting several races is far easier than predicting individual races. The experts predict Republicans will lose four seats in Illinois because Democrats will be favored in each district. Favorites don't always win in anything. Republicans will win 1 or 2 of these districts. Which ones? No idea. Based on the odds I think Democrats will win 2.4 districts and Republicans 1.6.

Districts that lean Republican will eventually elect a Republican
A Democrat may win an R+3 in a Democratic year, but the next election is unlikely to have a higher number of Democrats, lower number of Republicans, or strong independent advantage. When things return to normal, most of these districts will go back to Republicans.

The 2010 Republican wave was very predictable because the Democrats had 257 districts but only a Democratic PVI in 192. Republicans have a positive PVI in 234 districts. A Republican majority is the normal state of things.

Party registration is like batting average
Batting average used to be sacrosanct, but it really was an okay stat that doesn’t predict results as better stats. It’s not how many people that are registered that counts. It’s how many people that vote. This may sound obvious, but too often people look at a 5 point Democratic registration advantage and think that means the Democrat will win. Democrats have a 14 point registration advantage in Pennsylvania, but exit polls have shown that they never have had more than a 7 point advantage with voters. It’s not universal, but Democrats tend to register a lot of people who don’t vote very often.

A wave year will only happen under certain circumstances
There are certain factors that lead to a wave year. Absent of them, a wave is rare. Presidents make big gains in their first election but don’t make big gains in re-elections, no matter how they do.

Issues need to be current and active to impact elections
In 2010 Democrats ran on “Republicans are going to kill Social Security.” It didn’t resonate because Republicans hadn’t passed a Social Security bill and the issue wasn’t a big deal. Democrats, on the other hand, passed a health insurance bill and that bill was still a big deal.

At some point political experts will realize that past voting is highly predictable of future voting. Until then, we’ll just go on their feel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Redistricting Scorecard

There's been a lot of talk about Republicans controlling redistricting in more districts, with The Washington Post and Cook Political producing scorecards. While I may dispute their ratings, their conclusions both say that there won't be a net gain for either party. As expected, Republicans probably won't be able to leverage their advantage into gains. But that's not the goal. The goal is to keep a significant seat advantage. So no net gain is a win for the GOP.

The numbers give the data of how the district voted in the Presidential race in 2008 and how the successor 2012 district voted. I assigned districts based on where incumbents are running and in ones where they aren't running, I used the closest open district. So far there have been over 100 districts moving in the Republicans' favor.

Democrats only have 72 which clearly have moved toward them. When it comes to new and eliminated districts the GOP is +1, while the Democrats are -2.

It's more important to look at those that have significantly moved one way or the other. Again, Republicans have the advantage, with a 61-43 advantage in districts moving 3 or more points each way.

There are still several states left to go, but there are no states where Democrats can expect to get a redistricting advantage of more than 1 or 2 seats. The only way the Democrats will regain the House is if the environment gives them a distinct advantage. Those years are rare and it doesn't look like one of those is coming for the Democrats in 2012.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Obama and the open seat

With Obama running for re-election I was wondering how his performance will impact districts across the country. Most incumbent Democrats beat Obama's percentage in their district in 2008, while many incumbent Republicans exceeded John McCain's totals.

Open seats, however, don't have an incumbent's influence. Both candidates are challengers. Below are the Obama-McCain numbers and how the Republican did in the district compared to McCain.

What we get is half the congressional candidates doing better than John McCain and half worse. There was, however, nine Republicans running for an open seat that did at least 8.8 points worse than John McCain and none that did more than 8.8 points better. Republicans didn't go all out recruiting for open seats in 2008, as things didn't look good, and many of the candidates weren't well-funded. Overall, McCain did 2% better than all Congressional Republican candidates, including Republicans and that's reflected here.

What we do see here is that Republicans lost, sometimes badly, districts McCain won, even one where McCain got 63.6% of the vote. On the Democratic side, a Republican challenger won a district where Obama got 53.1% of the vote. I don't think that means that Democrats will won all open seats where Obama does better than that, however, since Republicans are likely to field better candidates in a better environment. Still, if Obama gets 55%-56% of the vote, Republicans aren't a good bet to win the district.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How you beat Henry Waxman

Of course it wouldn't be easy to beat Waxman. He's an entrenched incumbent with $1 million in the bank. Yet California's top two could conceivably make for an interesting election. The authors envisioned three candidates, one on the right, one on the left, and one in the center, with the idea that more people would go to the one in the center.

As the recent special election in CA-36 showed voters in each party will gravitate to the most conservative or most liberal candidates. This is often true even if the voter considers him or herself a moderate. People who join a party and identify themselves as a member tend to go for the party endorsed candidate. A certain chunk of independents will do so also, as the candidate usually is more well known or better funded. There just aren't enough voters who vote in the middle to finish in the top two.

Waxman's CA-33 was won by Jerry Brown last year 54%-40%. In a 3 way race, a Republican will get enough of the votes to advance against Waxman. A strong Blue Dog candidate like former Congresswoman Jane Harman would get a lot of Democratic votes in the less progressive part of the district, south of the airport, but not enough to beat him with Democrats. We'd end up with a Republican 38%, Waxman 32%, Harman 22%, Other Republican 2%. In the resulting two way race between Waxman and the Republican in November Waxman wins easily.

If the primary ends up with Waxman having 32% of the Democratic vote and Harman 22%, then Harman would need one of two scenarios.

The first is that 2-4 Republicans split the vote to advance. That's only likely in a Democratic district if the candidates are equally as good or equally as unknown. It's unlikely that you'll get two strong Republicans in a safe Democratic district. Harman's hope would be that 2 or 3 Republicans are so unknown that they randomly split the vote. Even that is no guarantee.

Last year's 7th district primary had four Republicans and two Democrats, including incumbent George Miller. Even though the four Republicans each got at least 5% of the Republican vote, the Democratic challenger, John Fitzgerald, only managed 9,188 votes to Rick Tubbs 15,245.

Last year's 13th district primary featured two Republicans, who split the GOP vote 55%-45%. Democrat Challenger Justin Jellinic still fell 1,500 votes shy of the leading Republican.

It can happen, however. In the 19th district the two Democrats split the vote. Even though there were four Republicans, two of them were top two. The big difference between this election and the others is that there was no incumbent to suck up all the Republican votes.

The second scenario, one the authors of Prop. 14 were counting on, is the Blue Dog Democrat would win enough Republican leaning votes to beat the Republican. I'm skeptical of this scenario, since Republicans will vote for a Republican if one is in the race. The big question is in a race with two strong incumbents, like Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, one of them could possibly pull it off.

In a fall election between Waxman and Harman, Republicans would vote Harman because she's more of a moderate and would like to see Henry Waxman defeated. It's just that getting there would be difficult for a Blue Dog without a strong base of support. If Republicans want to beat Waxman they'd need to rally around a Democratic moderate who still had "Democrat" next to his or her name.

While I consider that Republican vs. Democrat is the most likely outcome of all primaries, there are 53 of them in California. As the 2010 19th district shows, there's liable to be at least one that doesn't turn out that way. It'll be interesting to see how the two candidates of the same party go after the other party's voters.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Redistricting 2001

Conventional wisdom has it that the Democrats blew California congressional redistricting when they controlled the whole procedure. They opted for a plan that protected their incumbents. They also protected the Republican incumbents as a result.

In 2000, Mike Honda took an open seat, while Adam Schiff, Jane Harman, and Susan Davis knocked off Republicans. These seats were viewed as vulnerable, as well as those of Lois Capps, Cal Dooley, and Ellen Tauscher, all of whom won re-election with less than 53% of the vote. So the Democrats had a lot to protect. And they didn't lose any of these seats in the next five elections. So Democrats can say they succeeded in their goal.

While a lot has been made of the Democrats not winning any Republican seats, but Barack Obama won 9 of the 20 districts Republicans held at the beginning of the decade. Since Al Gore won none of them, there clearly was eventual opportunity in the seats. Democrats may just not have had good enough candidates to knock off Republican incumbents.

There were several Democratic incumbents who, if their districts had moved to the right, could've been in real trouble. They were able to make 31 of the 33 seats at least D+7, Democratic enough that a move to the Republicans was unlikely to endanger the seats.

While all the closest ones moved to the left between 2000 and 2008, George Bush won two of the districts in 2004 and nearly won a third. The Democrats probably made too many of their seats safer than they needed to, but while there were a few close calls Democrats held the seats. Could the Democrats have foreseen California's leftward move or that there'd be two Democratic wave elections? If the answer is yes, then the Democrats definitely blew it. If not, then the Democrats successfully held the seats they had.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

California Congressional Ratings Changes

Roll Call has finally gotten around to taking a look at California and they’ve actually gone beyond conventional wisdom that the Republicans are going to lose six seats. Okay, they mention that, but they actually look a little deeper at the seats. They correctly identify that Capps, Costa, Cardoza, McNerney, Garamendi, and Loretta Sanchez as all being NRCC targets.

They also identify Republicans who are potentially in trouble. They go a little beyond, however, listing Darrell Issa and Buck McKeon as potential targets. Both of them have never been threatened in a race and they’re in districts where Meg Whitman won by at least ten points.

Here’s an update:

CD-3: Lean Democratic
John Garamendi has two opponents, Rick Tubbs and Kim Dolbow-Vann. Garamendi ran for an open safe seat in November 2009 and underperformed. He did better last year but this district is more than 5 points more Republican than his old district. I’m not sure either Republican will put up a serious challenge, but then I’m not sure Garamendi is a strong incumbent.

CD-7: Lean Republican
Dan Lungren is battle tested and this district is only two points more Democratic than the old one was. Ami Bera is back and his performance was actually pretty good in a Republican year.

CD-9: Lean Democratic
Jerry McNerney won this district, while Meg Whitman was winning it at the gubernatorial level. Republicans insist that if it hadn’t been for the American Independent party candidate, they would’ve beaten McNerney. Ricky Gill is only 24 but he’s been a fundraising machine.

CD-10: Likely Republican
Jeff Denham has been through tough races before, but his only congressional race was a breeze. He’s a great fundraiser and strikes me as the sort of guy who’ll be around a while. He’s in a district that is five points more Democratic and that can’t be discounted.

CD-16: Likely Democratic (was Lean Democratic)
Jim Costa barely won in 2010 and this district is 6-8 points more Republican than his old one. He doesn’t have an opponent yet, however, and you can’t beat someone with no one.

CD-21: Lean Republican (was Toss-up)
It now appears unlikely any Democratic incumbent will run here. This is the Central Valley, a Republican stronghold, and Fiorina cleaned up here. Expect a David Valadao-Michael Rubio match-up to be interesting.

CD-24: Lean Democratic
I might not be giving Lois Capps enough credit here, but this district is 8-9 points more Republican than her old one, and her opponent, former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado figures to be formidable.

CD-26: Toss-up
I have no idea why people are so up on the Democrats in this seat. They have a small registration advantage, but Meg Whitman won this district. Democrats have two candidates officially in and the Republicans have none. The GOP is waiting on Elton Gallegly and for good reason. While Barack Obama was winning his district in 2008, Gallegly was sailing to a 58%-42% win. Around 20% of the Obama voters voted for Gallegly. So he has less to fear than other candidates. If Gallegly runs, it’ll move to Lean Republican. If not, I’ll leave it here until the candidates sort out.

CD-31: Toss-up (Was Likely Democratic)
The rating was dependent on Joe Baca running here. He chose the neighboring 35th. There’s definitely a Democratic lean to this district, but with no candidates currently running I’m classifying it as a toss-up. If Jerry Lewis does run here, it’ll be Lean Republican.

CD-36: Likely Republican
Mary Bono Mack’s district got a little more Republican. Any rep who survived 2006 and 2008 and has a more Republican district is fairly safe.

CD-41: Toss-Up (Was Lean Democratic)
This district has a definite Democratic lean, but Democrats don’t have a history of winning in Riverside County. I’d want to be more impressed with Mark Takano before declaring him a favorite.

CD-46: Likely Democratic
Loretta Sanchez is a strong favorite, but this district moved to the right.

CD-47: Lean Democratic (Was Likely Democratic)
This is an open seat that leans Democratic but now that Republican congressman Steve Kuykendall has joined the fray.

CD-52: Likely Republican
This is district that Meg Whitman won, but also one where the Democrats have strong candidates. It could easily be classified Leans Republican but Brian Bilbray is an incumbent and I think incumbents tend to be pretty safe in non-wave elections.

Monday, September 19, 2011

People May Be Getting Impatient

There remain 12 California congressmen who have yet to announce their intentions for 2012. People are assuming Davis, Farr, Pelosi, Speier, Nunes, McCarthy, and Waters are running and know where. It's still possible that Waters may retire but McCarthy isn't going to.

It's the other five that are annoying some people. Elton Gallegly's intentions are unknown and it's delaying any other Republican making plans. Candidates need time to raise money. If Gallegly isn't running he's handing the Democrats a head start.

My speculation is that he's waiting for Buck McKeon's decision. No one thinks McKeon will retire, but Gallegly may consider his seat. While most of Gallegly's district is in CA-26 his home and base of Simi Valley are in McKeon's safe CA-25.

Two of the other three are David Dreier and Jerry Lewis. Their decisions should be easier with Joe Baca's decision to run in the less competitive CA-35. The final congressman, Dennis Cardoza, has no easy decision. He either will challenge fellow Democrat Jim Costa or run in a district with little or none of his current territory.

Here are the updated charts with who is running for congress, in red, and who may, but hasn't announced. In the last two weeks the following has happened.

1. Wally Herger picked up an opponent in Jim Reed.
2. Alyson Huber decided not to run in CA-7.
3. Barbara Lee announced her re-election plans.
4. Joe Baca decided to run in CA-35.
5. Raul Ruiz announced he'll challenge Mary Bono Mack.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Joe Baca to run in CA-35

In a move that should surprise no one, congressman Joe Baca decided to run in CA-35. The district is a safe Democratic district and assures his re-election. Democrat state senator Gloria McLeod declared for the district but there's no way she beats Baca. She may shift to the 31st. While this move helps Baca, it hurts the Democrats. Baca was their best candidate in the 31st and McLeod or Assembly member Norma Torres could've beaten any Republican in the 35th.

While Democrats have a registration edge in the 31st, Republicans David Dreier or Jerry Lewis would likely be slight favorites here. Both have huge war chests, strong name recognition, and currently represent GOP leaning parts of the district. Neither has announced their intentions.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Winning California Congressional Districts

When looking at the congressional races, some people have been skeptical of the Republican chances. If Jerry Brown beat Meg Whitman by 10 points, 55%-45%, how could a Republican hope to win?

It’s pretty simple. Meg Whitman isn’t running against Jerry Brown for congress. In 2010, the high Democrat was Bill Lockyear, with 60.9% of the vote. The high Republican was Steve Cooley with 49.6%. These have pretty much been ceilings for both parties. Dianne Feinstein did better in 2006, with 62.9%. On the Republican side, Steve Poizner got 56.9% and Arnold Schwarzenegger got 58.9%. It’s possible the Democratic ceiling is slightly higher and the Republican ceiling is much higher, but I think these totals are safe extremes.

Cooley won 12 districts that treasurer candidate Mimi Walters also won. Lockyear won 26 districts that Kamila Harris also won. So we can pretty safely say that the Democrats will win 26 and Republicans 12 for the foreseeable future.

What about the other 15 that Cooley and Lockyear won? Those could conceivably be in play. Of course the Republicans won’t be running Steve Cooley against Kamila Harris in these 15 districts. But they might run a popular incumbent with a big war chest like Jerry Lewis in a district the Democrats appear to be favored.

Neither Meg Whitman nor Carly Fiorina won the 31st district, but Cooley got 54% of the vote. If Lewis runs here and Joe Baca doesn’t oppose him, I could easily see this district as Lean Republican.

Former Republican congressman Steve Kuykendall is running in the open 47th district, one that neither Whitman nor Fiorina did better than 46%. Cooley, however, did get 53.3%. Likely opponent, Democrat Alan Lowenthal, would be favored, but Kuykendall has a clear path to victory. This isn’t like the Massachusetts Senate race where Scott Brown had to beat the typical Republican by 7-10 points to win. Kuykendall needs to be 3% less popular than Cooley to do so.

The 33rd, which is at the bottom of the list, will be where Henry Waxman will be running. No one sees this district as a possible Republican pick-up, but it’s worth noting that a Democratic district is the only one on the list that’s perceived as fully safe.

How it’ll shake out depends on candidates and political environment, but the floor for the GOP, in the event of a Democratic landslide, is 12 seats. Meg Whitman won 15. Carly Fiorina won 21. Steve Cooley won 27.

The three districts that Whitman won that Mimi Walters didn’t will all have incumbent Republicans, Brian Bilbray, Mary Bono Mack and Jeff Denham. The environment doesn’t seem to be tilting one way or another. So the floor should be 15 seats. While many pundits are predicting a 4-5 seat Republican loss, I see a 4 seat Republican loss as the worst the GOP can do.

The districts that Fiorina won, but Whitman didn’t, are a bit trickier. We know that 3 Democratic incumbents and 1 Republican incumbent will be running in those 6 seats. Elton Gallegly may still run in one of the districts.

Without incumbents I’d put all six of these seats as toss-ups, but incumbents will push the lean. Thus, I have the 3rd,16th, and 24th as Lean Democratic and 7th as Lean Republican. I have the 21st and 26th as toss-ups, but Gallegly would push the 26th into a Lean Republican rating.

I’m standing by my prediction that Republicans will lose 1 seat, although I could see a range of Democrats +4 to Republicans +2 . The right Republican candidate in a few of the districts could push the GOP upper limit.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Republican California Popularity

The current California meme is that the Republican Party has adopted an extreme racist agenda and that’s why they’re unpopular now. As we looked at earlier, Republicans generally get around 42-45% of the vote statewide. That’s not good, but you can’t claim an inability to get 33% of the state senate seats on a lack of popularity. Based on how popular Republicans are, the party shouldn’t get that few.

But has it moved to the “extreme right?”


Below are party registration statistics going back to 1972. The real story is actually how dramatically people are leaving both parties to become Decline to State, but that’s another post.
What we see here is that a 13 point registration gap is hardly unprecedented. It was much higher in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. In fact, since 1972 Democrats have lost 12% of the registration, while Republicans lost 6%. The high point of Republican registration was 1990, when the party had 39% of the registration, but still a 10% gap. In 2006, the registration share in both parties had dropped and the gap was at its lowest, 8%. So if the Republican Party moved to an extreme right wing agenda it happened very recently or California likes the extreme agenda.

Of course, in 2008 Democratic registration went up 2% and Republican registration went down 3%. That was pretty much the same in 2010, with small declines by both parties as people continue to move to decline to state.

In 2008, George W. Bush and the Republican Party were very unpopular, while the Democrats did a big registration drive for their exciting new candidate, Barack Obama. This jump had more to do with the GOP’s failure and the Democratic excitement than any analysis of an agenda. Some of those people remain conservative, but feel the GOP moved too far to the left on spending. The agenda wasn’t “extreme” enough for them.

You can’t use one year with extraordinary circumstances and say conclusively what it means. The best you can say that in 2010, a year of Republican resurgence nationwide, the Republican Party didn’t see a registration bump. So it’s possible that some people are turned off by the Republican agenda, but if they are the turn off is very recent. It’s not like the Republican pledge not to raise taxes is something new.

The Results
Below are the results for eight statewide races since 1990. When a senate race was in an off year it was assigned to the year two years ahead. The third party vote is eliminated so that Republican v. Democrat can be compared on the same basis.

The years 1990, 1998, 2002, and 2006 were fairly consistent, with Republicans getting between 44.3% and 46.0% of the vote. So GOP popularity at the polls remained fairly constant. Nationwide 1994 was a banner year for the GOP and was so here too.

Two thousand ten, however, marked the first real change in voting patterns. Democratic voting share jumped 3%. Of course one election isn’t enough data to prove anything substantially, but if it is a sign that Republicans are becoming unpopular in the state it’s a recent phenomenon, not one that’s been happening over time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lungren Commits

Dan Lungren decided against challenging Tom McClintock for CA-4 and instead will run in CA-7. This is good news for Republicans, as the party will get good candidates for both seats, and Tom McClintock. Dan Lungren will have a tougher road.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September House Ratings Comparison

Listed below are my current House race ratings along with those from Cook Political Report, Larry Sabato, Rothenberg Political Report, and Roll Call.

1. This list only includes states that have completed redistricting or states with 1 or 2 congressional districts that won’t vary much. There’s no way of knowing who will be in danger in states that haven’t finished redistricting.

2. Representatives in yellow have yet to commit to the districts listed and may run in different seats or retire.

3. The percentage of the vote Barack Obama got is listed for the old Republican district and the new one.

4. While there are three new California districts on the list that Barack Obama won there are three additional districts that he won but will be districts John McCain won. The recipients of this gift are Buck McKeon, John Campbell, and Ken Calvert.

5. Barack Obama didn’t win Justin Amash’s current district but will have narrowly won the new one. He is the only Republican congressman to have such a distinction.

6. Steve King, Renee Ellmers, Quico Canseco, Blake Farenthold will go from districts Obama won to district McCain won.

7. Once New Hampshire redistricting is done, both of those districts are likely going to be ones Barack Obama won.

8. Republicans hold three districts that have been eliminated.

9. There are five new districts that I believe the GOP will win easily.

10. Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato still include the old California districts, so assigning their ratings included some guesswork.

11. The Rothenberg and Roll Call districts with a light background are ones that both services have yet to rate.

Some additional notes for Democratic seats
1. The percentages are the share John McCain got.

2. John Barrow, Larry Kissell, and Brad Miller move from districts Barack Obama won to ones John McCain won.

3. IA-3 is listed here as Leonard Boswell’s district but could just as easily be listed on the GOP side as Tom Latham’s district.

4. Democrats hold two districts that have been eliminated.

5. There is one new district that the Democrats can safely be expected to win.

6. Republicans are favorites in 4-6 Democratic seats, while Democrats are favored in 5-7 Republicans seats. When including new and eliminated seats, Republicans are actually favored in more races.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Who's running for congress in California? Update

Below is the latest update on who's running for congress in California. I've made a few changes.

1. If a district has a majority minority population, the ethnic group making that up is listed next to the cities. Thus, (A/B/H) is a district where the majority of the population is Asian, Black, and Hispanic

2. Candidates who've announced where they're running are in red. Candidates who have yet to do so are in Black. These include some incumbents and rumored challengers. Even though it's common knowledge that Nancy Pelosi is running for re-election and no mystery which district, she's in Black until she confirms it. Anna Eshoo confirmed her plans this week and is in red.

3. I've eliminated a column to better show who is running against whom. Incumbents have a green background, while challengers have yellow one. If a seat is open, both parties have a blue background. While I list multiple challengers together, I've listed a challenger in the incumbent's party separately. Gregory Cheadle is listed separately so that it's clear that Wally Herger is the incumbent.

David Dreier and Dennis Cardoza aren't listed, as there has been no indication which district they'll run in. Dreier may consider a San Bernardino district that Jerry Lewis doesn't run in or may be deciding to do nothing and hope that in a few months these districts are put on hold by the Supreme Court. Cardoza is rumored to be considering retirement.

Dan Lungren, Jerry Lewis, and Joe Baca are listed for districts they may run in. They could have easily been moved to other districts.

Since my last update, the following candidates have announced.

CA-3: Kim Dolbow-Vann(R) will challenge incumbent John Garamendi(D)
CA-15: Pete Stark(D) announced his re-election plans.
CA-18: Anna Eshoo(D) announced her re-election plans.
CA-21: Michael Rubio(D) will challenge for this open seat.
CA-26: David Cruz Thayne(D) is the second Democrat into a district Elton Gallegly has yet to commit to.
CA-28: Adam Schiff(D) announced his re-election plans.
CA-31: Joe Baca(D) decided that he's undecided whether he'll run in this district.
CA-32: Grace Napolitano(D) switched districts for her re-election. Roger Hernandez(D) dropped out.
CA-35: Norma Torres(D) became the second Democrat to declare for this open seat. If Joe Baca decides to run here, she may change her mind.
CA-37: Karen Bass(D) announced her re-election plans.
CA-38: Linda Sancehz(D) announced her re-election plans.
CA-47: Steve Kuykendall(R) announced his intention to run for this open seat.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sanchezes Survive

There have been eight California reps who hadn't made a decision where to run. I assumed Linda Sanchez was a goner, as there were Democratic incumbents in all the districts that were carved out of her current district. Maybe she'd carpet bag to San Bernardino or Riverside? That seemed questionable. It turns out she can stay where she is. Grace Napolitano did an about-face. A few weeks ago she announced her intention to run in CA-38, as she lives in the district. She's decided to run in CA-32, leaving CA-38 for Sanchez. Almost none of Napolitano's current district is in CA-32 and she could be seen as a carpetbagger. She isn't moving that far and I'm not sure that a rep from only a few miles away will be considered a carpet bagger in the Hispanic community. Hispanics tend to be more mobile than Anglos. So they might not identify a person as a "local politician," but as a "Hispanic leader."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Other Shoe

I've been perplexed what David Dreier and Jerry Lewis were waiting for. I speculated that since the senate map challenge didn't include anything on congress, I assumed that ship had sailed. Were they really going to try to get 500,000 additional signatures and spend more money. The answer is yes. First, they need to collect the 500,000 signatures in three months. Then they have to hope that the Supreme Court will set aside the current districts until after a referendum. Then they have to hope the court draws better districts. None of these things are guaranteed. They can go for it, but if it fails they'll have to run in these districts. They don't lose anything by preparing for that in the interim.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New York, New York

I was looking through the Presidential voting numbers by congressional district and decided to index them against the national numbers to see how different the district was from the national average. For example, in NY-2 George W. Bush got 41% of the vote in 2000 and 46% in 2004. John McCain got 43% in 2008. When we adjust the percentages to the candidates’ national average we get that the district was D+9 in 2000, D+5 in 2004, and D+3 in 2008.

I noticed that Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, and Oregon districts were trending to the Democrats across the board. In Colorado the average district went from R+4 to D+2. Every district moved at least three points more Democratic. None of those were surprises.

What was a surprise was the states that are moving Republican. I expected to find Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia on the list. I was very surprised Massachusetts moved so far to the right. MA-1 and MA-8 pretty much stayed the same. The other 8 districts, however, moved on average from D+13 to D+7. Since I included only 2000 and 2008, there was no John Kerry effect. Massachusetts isn’t moving to the GOP any time soon, of course, but this would explain how Scott Brown could win an election. A D+13 state would be out of the question, but if it was still moving right, a D+5 or D+6 state can be won by a Republican. This suggests Brown was no fluke and that there may be congressional opportunities later in the decade depending on how the state is redistricted.

The other state that surprised me was New York. On the surface it doesn’t look like a big deal. The state moved 2.3 points more Republican between 2000 and 2004 and another 1.1 points between 2004 and 2008. Some of the districts, however, moved heavily to Republicans. The 8 districts that moved an average of 8.7 points more Republican had one thing in common, they were white majority districts in the New York metro area. In fact, there was only one white majority district that didn’t move at least 5.3 points more Republican. While NY-14 didn’t move more Republican, the other Manhattan district, NY-8 went from D+30 to D+21. That doesn’t put the district in danger of flipping to the GOP, but NY-1, NY-2, NY-4, and NY-9 all moved Republican enough that a Republican nominee might win them. If not in 2012, then in 2016.

What this tells me is that there’s a chance that the White majority areas in Long Island, Brooklyn, and Queens may be moving enough Republican that GOP congressional challengers could win these districts within the next decade. The one hurdle they’ll have to overcome is that redistricting could push these districts out of reach. Republicans need to make sure that these districts aren’t gerrymandered and left similarly. Republicans will have a good chance in the ones that keep moving to the GOP. We don’t know which ones will, so they should go for an equal shot in all of them. They don’t need to worry about creating safe seats for King or Grimm. The areas is moving far enough to the right that almost any redistricting will create districts each can win.

The stories circulating out there are that Republicans will settle for a 21-6 map, because that would “fairly” take out one Republican and one Democrat. I don’t understand how settling for 22% of the districts in a state where even John McCain got 37% of the vote is fair. Right now 9 districts have a positive McCain PVI and another 4 are moving that way. There are another 3 that may get there this decade.

If a map that isn’t gerrymandered in favor of the Democrats enables Republicans to be competitive in 13 districts, or even just 9, settling for 6 seats is shooting themselves in the foot. New York represents the greatest opportunity for Republican pick-ups in the next decade. Unless the Republicans settle for a map that makes 21 Democratic seats safe.