Friday, April 29, 2011

Prop 14 Impact

California's Prop 14 is a "Top Two Primaries Act." This means that all parties participate in the primary, with only the top two vote getters in the primary advance to the general election. When the general election comes around the voters will have to vote for one of the major parties.

There are four "third parties" in California, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, Green, and American Independent. American Independent is affiliated with the Constitution Party nationally. So there are two parties on the right and two on the left. They aren't just on the right and left. The two on the right are considered to the right of the Republicans, while the two on the left are to the left of the Democrats. Assuming they vote in the general election again, these people will probably vote for the party on their side of the aisle.

This is significant, because third parties are very popular in California. Almost every time they have a candidate they'll get 5,000-15,000 votes. The chart below shows the margin of victory for the major parties, along with the number of votes the minor parties received.

The two parties on the right got 127,719 more votes than the two on the left. This vote proved decisive in the 11th. If the Republicans had only gotten a quarter of the American Independent vote they would've won. Overall, Republicans lost 2.3% more than Democrats. In the seven races where more than one party appeared on the ballot, the left wing parties had more votes overall. This shouldn't be surprising, however, since 5 of 7 of these contests were in left wing counties.

That was 2010, a Republican year. What about 2008, a Democratic year? Surely, the left wing parties did better.

Better than in 2010, but the right wing parties again took 1.1% more of the vote. The left wing parties even had the advantage of Cindy Sheehan. Unlike all other third party candidates she received a lot of publicity and spent money on her campaign. The 37 votes for Peace and Green in the 9th isn't a typo. There was no candidate on the ballot. Those are write-ins.

At first glance it doesn't look like this is a big deal. After all, they only changed the outcome of one race. That's true, but in 2012 many districts will be drawn competitive. So 11,000 votes could be the difference between a win and a loss. And that should favor the Republicans.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2012 Congressional Race Ratings

While many people have tried to rate the races without knowing what the districts look like, the recent maps show that a judgement like that should only be made after the maps are approved. So I'm only including districts I know about and those in states with 2 seats. They won't change that much.

Republican Seats
MT-AL Likely Republican
NH-1 Likely Republican
NH-2 Toss-up
LA-4 Likely Republican
AR-1 Lean Republican

Until I know the maps I'm going to treat the district # that won't be around in 2012 as the lost district. Thus, Republicans lose IA-5, IL-19, LA-7, MO-9, NY-29, OH-18, and PA-19. It looks like MO-3, currently a Democratic seat, will replace MO-9 as a Safe Republican district. I'll wait until I see the final map and include MO-3 as a flip if the district is drawn that way.

Democratic Seats
IA-1 Lean Democrat
IA-2 Lean Democrat
IA-3 Toss-up
AR-4 Likely Democrat
OK-2 Likely Democrat

Democrats will lose MA-10, MI-15, NJ-13, NY-28, and OH-17.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Redistricting in Iowa and Arkansas

The congressional maps in Iowa and Arkansas and Iowa are done. The results seem to benefit the Republicans. First here's Iowa's 2010 congressional vote as it was in 2010 and how it would've been with the new districts:

Since these are 2010 numbers, they'll probably be about 2-3 points more Democratic in 2012 than they were in 2010. Iowa, like the rest of the Midwest, has been trending Republican. So it might not be that high.

There are two ways to look at this. Republicans had two safe districts and shots at three other districts. The new configuration only has one. So the Republicans could easily end up losing the district. On the other hand, the 3rd probably leans Republican and the GOP has a better shot at the 1st and 2nd. Republican win?

The 1st moves towards the Democrats, but not by much. The 4th, the only one the Democrats hold, is a lot more likely to be in play. Considering the Democrats controlled all the levers this is a very good map for the GOP.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Government Shutdown

The conventional wisdom about the 1995-1996 government shutdowns is that Bill Clinton won and the Republicans lost. Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996, after having very low approval ratings two years before. It's likely that Clinton did benefit, although Bob Dole was certainly an underwhelming opponent.

The Republicans didn't get punished as a result. In the 1920 election the Republicans picked up 62 seats. Two years later the Democrats won 76. In the next 60+ years a wave election was followed by a wave the other way in the next election with the exception of the 1930-1936 and 1974-1976 periods. Both of those were extraordinary circumstances, the Depression and Watergate. The Democrats took control of the House and Senate in 1932. The Republicans recaptured both houses in 1946, only to lose them both in 1948. They took both them again in 1952, only to lose both again in 1954.

In 1994, the Republicans took 54 Democratic House seats in 1994, along with 8 Senate seats. They once again had the majority in both houses. Heading into the 1996 elections, the Republicans held 236 seats in the House. The Democrats had at least 242 seats in the House after every election from 1958 to 1992. They should've won at least 46 seats, probably more because their President won re-election.

The Senate numbers were similarly in favor of the Democrats. Republicans were defending 19 seats to the Democrats 15. The party with more seats usually has a net negative. This happened in both 1972 and 1984 when the Republican President won in a landslide.

The Republicans were likely to get shellacked in 1996. They didn't. The GOP lost 9 seats in 1996, retaining a 22 seat advantage over the Democrats. The conventional wisdom is that if a party doesn't win a seat in a wave election, they won't win it in the next election. Yet the Republicans won 13 Democratic seats.

The Republicans retained 18 of their 19 seats, and managed to pick up 3 of the Democrats' 15 seats. Thus, they increased their majority. This was the first time since 1928-1930 that Republicans won the House and Senate and didn't lose them in the next election.

If that's being blamed, the Republicans should hope for the blame again.