Thursday, June 30, 2011


After considering the effects of Prop. 14 I realize it's not as simple as I first thought. Jerry Brown won the district 55%-38%. That should indicate it's Democratic enough to be safe, but not Democratic enough to ensure two Democrats are in the top two and go to the November election against each other. In the primary, the two Democrats would split the 55% of the vote, with the loser getting no more than 27%. Republicans would get 38% of the vote. The Democrats would need more than one Republican in the race splitting the vote, because if one Republican gets 28% of that 38%, it'll be only one Democrat in the November election. The Democrats would need the Republicans to have two or more viable candidates for the top vote getter to get less than that.

No matter how many candidates there are in a primary, 30% should be enough to get a candidate to November. In the primary for the CA-36 special election 8 candidates split 95% of the vote. With 3 Democrats and 5 Republicans in the contest, it only took 21.1% of the vote to make it to the general election.

So the June primary is likely to be very important to Brad Sherman and Howard Berman. The loser will likely finish third.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Berman v. Sherman

Louisiana and Washington have had top two but most, if not all, of their elections have had one person from each party finish in the top two in the primary.

Get ready for the Wild West in California. Because they'll likely be in the same district, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman will face off in June and then again in November. I'd guess that they'd call off the dogs in June, as each should coast into top 2. But you'll have the unusual circumstance of two high profile Democrats going at each other, in a possibly ugly race, in November. That could siphon donations from candidates running against Republicans and dominate media time.

Parties usually cringe at a knock down drag out primary, but it's part of the landscape. Here they'll be having that in November, in a race they can't lose. I imagine that'll give Steve Israel headaches.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Huey for Congress

Last Saturday I canvassed two precincts on the Westside. For those who don't know that's the area of Godzilla's head in the district.

This is Democratic country. These areas were 75-80% Obama, which is pretty mild when there are precincts that are over 90% Obama nearby. Still, this is the area where Hahn needs to GOTV. I didn't see any Hahn door hangers in the morning and only two in the afternoon.

Today I went down to the Torrance office. I probably just missed the big busload of people from San Diego brought up by Roger Hedgecock.

The area they had me walk went 50-50 for Obama and McCain and that made sense. I was pretty much going to 2 out of every three houses but half I went to had Democrats. I saw 5 Huey yard signs and no Hahn yard signs. There were a bunch of Christian ministry flyers in people's doors but nothing from Hahn. Sure, we were within 3 miles of Huey's headquarters, but Jerry Brown got nearly 21,000 votes, 45%, here. After Los Angeles and Santa Clarita, Torrance had the most votes in LA County.

I went to Twitter to see what they're saying about Janice Hahn. More than half the Tweets are anti-Hahn. Half the Hahn Tweets are talking about the web ad. Still. Obama for America CA links to a page where you can find out how to phone bank. Phone banking is okay, but pounding pavement is better. Hahn has Tweeted twice herself in the last week and didn't mention this election in either one.

Huey has Tweeted 10 times in the last 24 hours with all sorts of info on precinct walking, phone banking, and two town hall meetings he has this week.

Certainly, Janice Hahn can't be running this bad an election. This isn't the first election she's been in. Surely her supporters read the Internet. Hahn must be doing a lot I can't see... I mean other than watching that video again and again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Republican Primary End Game 4/24/12

John McCain was assured the 2008 Republican nomination because on Super Tuesday he won "winner take all" states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California. His lead was so big that Mitt Romney quit.

Things will be a little different in 2012. The 4 early primaries (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada) will in February and Super Tuesday on March 6 may include Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas. That's a formidable group of states. If they were winner take all in 2012, a candidate winning several key states (e.g. Texas, Florida, Ohio) would have it all but wrapped up. The delegates will be divvied out proportionally at any March primary. It seems likely that at least two candidates will still be vying for the nomination. The next major primary will likely be Illinois on March 20, but the rules make this state also divide their delegates proportionally.

The first primaries that could be, but don't have to be, winner take all are Wisconsin and Maryland on April 3. Neither are big enough to end things.

There looks like a break of 3 weeks after that before New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut are on April 24. If a candidate takes all the delegates in New York and Pennsylvania, he or she may have enough delegates to get the nomination.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Prop 14 Scenarios

California's Prop 14, top two primary, may change elections and it might not be in the way the authors expected. Let’s look at several scenarios:

The very safe district (Incumbent usually gets 75% or more)
In the past, reps in these districts have run unopposed. I think that’ll end. The opportunity to be the only opponent is going to encourage someone to run everywhere, even if it’s a third party. In order for the rep to remove the race a political party might run a secondary candidate who’ll get enough votes to knock out the other party. The Republican had no chance to win, but Nancy Pelosi had to put up with a well funded opponent running a lot of ads last fall. Pelosi should prefer to run against a Democrat and not have to worry. Even if Pelosi took 60-70% of the vote a Democrat could finish second in her district.

The safe district (Incumbent gets 60-70%)
Normally the rep here would be safe, but what if they aren’t running in the general election against a member of the other party? This might be unusual, but some candidates get challenged by members of their own party, from the left or from the right. While the incumbent may get the most votes in the primary, the inter-party challenger might finish second.

Then the concern would be the general election. First, there are supporters of the challenger. This could be a tea party candidate, a progressive, or someone from the center. They’re unlikely to change their support. After all, voting for their candidate won’t hand the seat to the other party. Then there are independents and voters in the other party.

In a scenario Republicans will have a say which Democrat gets elected and their votes become an important unpledged block. One scenario will have them voting for which candidate is closer to the center, but they might want to be rid of the entrenched rep so much that they’ll vote for the progressive. Or maybe they’ll feel the progressive is someone they’ll be able to beat in the next election.

In a district like this an attack from a Democrat in the center might also succeed if that person can appeal to enough of the Republican minority to make top two in the primary and then turn that into a win in the general. If it were a Republican-Democratic match-up being in the center might not help the Republican win the general election. Democrats would rally to the Democrat. No matter how angry the Clinton voters were in the 2008 Presidential primaries, most of them threw their support behind Barack Obama, the Democrat.

The 36th special election will be between a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat. It’s widely assumed that Debra Bowen, perceived as more moderate than Janice Hahn, supporters will vote for Hahn. Politico thinks they might stay home, however.

The competitive district (incumbent gets 50-60%)
The Abel Maldonado theory is that a centrist can pull enough from the left and right to make the top two and then pull from the losing party in the general election to win. This might’ve worked for Charlie Crist. He finished 2nd in the November election. It’s very possible that in a one-on-one match-up with Marco Rubio he would’ve won. The race would’ve been two Republicans facing off, just as a run-off in Alaska would’ve been two Republicans.

On the other hand, an election with two Democrats and a Republican in the Hawaii 1st district ended up with the Republican first and one of the Democrats second. The November election was a run-off of sorts and the Democrat won. Of course the 1st was a very Democratic district.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

House Prediction: June 2011

I know a prediction that only has the Democrats picking up one seat goes against conventional wisdom but that's all I see right now. There are a number of states (e.g. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio) where Republicans made big gains in 2010 and control redistricting. The redistricting will help but I think Republicans will lose seats in such states. There are just too many vulnerable reps.

That'll be balanced out by gains in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. I don't see big losses in Illinois or California, but even if the GOP loses 6 seats more than I have them losing that's still only a 7 seat Democratic swing. It's possible that environment and further redistricting will sway my prediction more Democratic, but I doubt it'll approach anything near 15 seats, let alone the 24 they now need.

Monday, June 13, 2011

California Redistricting; Competitive Districts

The new districts don’t have numbers yet, so I’m sure people will assign different ones than mine. I count 17 seats that are potentially competitive.

Potentially competitive Democratic seats (Likely Democratic)
CD-11 McNerney
CD-29 Open
CD-32 Chu
CD-36 Open
CD-37 Richardson
CD-38 Schiff
CD-53 Davis

Steve Cooley, the Republican AG candidate in 2010, won five of these districts. In the 6th, CD-53, Meg Whitman got 45% of the vote, as did 2010 Republican congressional candidates. Cooley was certainly a strong candidate, but he didn’t get 50% of the vote statewide. While his numbers are good, they certainly aren’t impossible. If Cooley can win a district in a year that Republicans didn’t do that well in California than it’s winnable.

Of course, some of these districts will have Democratic incumbents that will push their district from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic. Just remember that when it comes to looking at the Republican seats.

David Dreier could run in the new Hispanic majority San Bernardino district that likely won’t have any other incumbent running. Rancho Cucamonga is in here and Dreier won that area 60%-40% in 2010. Gary Miller won Chino 60%-40%. So the district really isn’t as unfriendly as people are making it out to be.

Potentially competitive Republican seats (Likely Republican)
CD-2 Herger
CD-45 Bono Mack

Bill Lockyer was the only Democrat to win CD-45. No Democrat won CD-2 in 2010. Brown was competitive in both districts, although Bono Mack’s district is more Republican than it was in 2010 when she won it 55%-45%.

Competitive Republican seats (Lean Democratic)
CD-42 Open

This seat is centered on Riverside and has no incumbent. Whitman got 47% here and Republican congressmen got 48% in 2010. Neither side has a clear candidate, although the district is carved up from Gary Miller and Ken Calvert.

Competitive Republican seats (Lean Republican)
CD-19 Denham
CD-50 Bilbray

CD-19 is one of three Central Valley seats that look very competitive. This is the most Republican of them, so I put Denham here. Bilbray’s district consists of some of his current district, some of Duncan Hunter’s and some of Susan Davis.

Toss-up (Democratic)
CD-18 Cordoza
CD-20 Costa
CD-23 Capps
CD-47 Lo. Sanchez

By mixing in parts of Denham’s district with those of Cordoza and Costa these two become more competitive. Costa won on a recount in 2010. Capps’ district now has a lot of inland Republican areas like Paso Robles and Atascadero and she’ll be challenged by Abel Maldonado. Maldonado ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2010 and won this district. Sanchez’s current district is gerrymandered to give her only the few Democratic areas in Orange County. There are so few that almost any map would make this district a toss-up.

Toss-up (Republican)
CD-3 Lungren
CA-24 Gallegly

The map makers didn’t do either of these guys any favors. They took out heavily Republican suburbs in both these districts. Lungren’s district makes sense. The district now consists of only Sacramento County suburbs. Gallegly’s district makes less sense. They took out Simi Valley and Moorpark at the last minute and put in Malibu. This put in areas outside Ventura County in, while taking out part of the county and giving it to a district that is more than a mountain range away. Not only are the areas excluded Republican leaning areas, but they’re also where Gallegly’s base is.

Safe Democratic (Republican seats)
CD-26 Open

This Hispanic majority district sort of replaces David Dreier’s district, so I gave it that number. Democrats are lined up for this seat. That’s understandable. They’ll win it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Redistricting Scorecard

There's been a lot of negativity for how the Republicans are doing so far in redistricting, with experts predicting 5 seat losses in both California and Illinois.

It could be that bad, but only if the roof falls in. You're talking about the Democrats upper limit here. They'd have to win every single competitive district in both states. The roof fell in with the 2006 election. And then we had an earthquake, fire, and flood in 2008. Yet these were two states that Democrats failed to get many of their targets.

I looked at the states that have either completed redistricting or almost have and calculated how each party will do. I calculated the odds for each district and assigned them a numerical value with 1 being safe, 0.8 likely, 0.6 lean, and 0.5 toss-up. One party could lose a bunch of seats that I predict as likely, but the odds are that they'll keep 4 out of 5. The numbers don't add up because some states, e.g. Illinois, are losing seats, while others, e.g. Texas, are gaining seats. Keep in mind this doesn't always reflect candidates, as some are unknown. That and election conditions can change this.

The numbers are relatively negligible right now. Even if you assume the worst for Republicans and add a few you'll get the Democrats gaining around 8 seats. That's tough but not a great dent into the Republican majority. It'd result in a 233-202 Republican advantage.

But there are still a bunch of states to go. Republicans control redistricting in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Utah, Georgia, and North Carolina. Democrats control redistricting in West Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The remaining states are small or have a split redistricting. Republicans do control redistricting in Florida but the Fair Districts law will limit their gerrymander. That said, they still will be able to skew the districts somewhat.

What's immediately noticeable is that while Republicans have few opportunities in states they control, they also can prevent losses. Republicans have 4 congressmen in the three states the Democrats control and it'll be difficult to gerrymander 3 of them out of office. Simply put, it's unlikely the Democrats will pick up more than a seat in a handful of states, while Republicans will pick up several and prevent losses. The Democratic opportunities have already been redistricted.

That means that Republicans should be able to sail to at least 233 seats. This could go lower if Obama wins big, but re-elections don't have long coattails and the 16 additional seats is likely too long. Of course Obama might squeak out a win or the Republican could win. Usually when a new President is elected his party gains seats. Thus, a Republican victory would push it the other way.

Friday, June 10, 2011

California Redistricting

The maps have passed the first round and will be open to public scrutiny. I'm sure you'll read how the Democrats are going to pick up 5 seats and it's a big win for them. It could be, but my preliminary analysis says that's unlikely.

I can't go precinct by precinct but I do see four districts flipping to the Democrats, a safe Democratic, a likely Democratic, and 2 lean Democratic. Using a formula of 1 seat for safe, 0.8 for likely, and 0.6 for lean that's only 3 seats. In addition, two Republican seats appear to be toss-ups and two are only lean Republican. So that'd put the pick-up for the Democrats at 4.8 Republican seats.

This is where all the Democrats will finish.

The problem is that the two Democratic held Central Valley seats look lean Republican, three other seats look like toss-ups, one seat is lean Democratic, and one likely Democratic. That'd be 3.3 seats for Republicans to pick-up.

We get a net 1.5 seats for the Democrats. I'll reserve my judgement for when I have more definitive numbers but the Democrats will only pick up 5 seats if the roof falls in and everything goes wrong for the GOP.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Republicans in special elections

The Democratic upset in a recent special election in New York-26 has been explained as a push back against the Republican Medicare plan by the Democrats or the big spending of the tea party candidate by the Republicans.

I won't dismiss these as contributing factors, but they don't explain the larger issue of why Republicans lose special election after special election, even in Republican districts. One thing that stands out is that Republicans won two special elections that were actually held on the day of the 2010 congressional elections. Indiana-3 is very Republican, but New York-29 is a little less Republican than New York-26.

You look at the date and say, "well, of course they won that election. It was on the same day as a big Republican win." True. That's exactly why they haven't been able to win the other special elections. They weren't on days when there was a big Republican turn-out. Take a look at the three elections:
In both of the previous elections Republicans didn't need to do a lot to get people to go to the polls. Even though 2008 was a bad Republican year, they still had plenty of Republicans turning out in a Republican district. Since 2010 was a Republican year they did better.

The 2011 election had 44% of the 2010 election turn-out and 35% of the 2008 turn-out. Hochul didn't even get as many votes as the 2010 candidate got in a bad Democratic year. Yet, she won, mostly due to turn-out. Special elections only get the hardcore voters. The most important thing isn't candidate or advertising, but the party's GOTV-ground game. The Democrats only needed to turn out 44% of their 2008 voters to beat the Republican party's anemic 29%.

The Democrats have a good "ground game" and the Republicans have a terrible one. I don't know if it's national Democrats coming in from elsewhere or tremendously good local organizations, but the Democrats got people to the polls. On the other side, again and again the Republican party has been unable to get their voters interested in special elections.

Apparently this isn't something easy to fix. The Democrats' GOTV is just head and shoulders above the Republicans. As long as that's the case the GOP will keep losing special elections regardless of issues, third party candidates, or district PVIs.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Florida is not a swing state

And it wasn't in 2008 either. A Presidential swing state is one that if it swings to either candidate then that candidate has a better chance of winning the Presidency. The state with the smallest margin of victory that would put the candidate over the top is the one that swung to him, giving him the Presidency.

Ohio would've put either candidate over the top. Hence the "O."

The states with the smallest margin of victory to get George W. Bush to 270 electoral votes were Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio. Bush also won New Mexico and Iowa but didn't need to win either to get to 270. Had John Kerry won Iowa, New Mexico, and Ohio, the three states where he was closest, he would've won the Presidency.

All of the states above voted for Barack Obama. Barack Obama also won North Carolina, Florida, and Indiana. Had John McCain gotten enough votes to win those states he wouldn't have won. He would've also needed to win Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, and Iowa to capture the Presidency. If I'd told you McCain had scored enough votes to win Indiana you wouldn't have known whether he'd have won. If I told you he won Minnesota and Pennsylvania you would've known he would've won.

Here's 2010:
The Republicans won a majority of votes in all these states. Had they gotten the same votes in a Presidential election, they'd have won easily. We see some of the same names on here, notably, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. If the Republican nominee doesn't get enough votes to win Florida, he's not going to win all the states where Republicans have done worse.

We know no one is going to advertise in Texas or California. Those are in the bag for each party. If either party lost these states, no matter how much they were outspent, they'd have lost in a landslide. So no one advertises there.

Thus, there's not a great reason for Republicans to advertise in Florida. If they (Republicans) don't do well enough in Florida, it's over. Thus, there's not a great reason for Republicans to advertise in Florida. If they do well enough nationally, the Republicans will win Florida. The Democrats also don't need to waste their resources on Florida. If they're able to take Florida, they'll have likely taken enough states on this list to put them over the top. They could win Florida. There's enough variance that states move up and down the list, but it's unlikely the Democrats won't have won enough states on this list to get to 270 if they win Florida. Since eeking out a victory isn't necessary, then why waste your resources?