Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Cook PVI calculations

I've calculated the Cook PVI for most of the 435 congressional districts. The districts in red are estimates based on incomplete data that isn't yet available at a precinct level. Some may be off by a 1 or 2 points, but most end up fairly accurate doing it this way.

R + 5+ - 195
R+4-5 - 9
R+3-4 - 12
R+2-3 - 10
R+1-2 - 9
R+0-1 - 6
D+0-1 - 7
D+1-2 - 7
D+2-3 - 4
D+3-4 - 10
D+4-5 - 8
D+5+ - 157

Median PVI: R+2.9
Romney won 226 districts, Obama 209

The numbers heavily favor Republicans for two reasons. First, Democrats tend to cluster in urban areas. The Voting Rights Act can group together heavily Democratic voting minorities into districts, leaving Republicans with majorities in nearby districts. There are around 55 districts that are D+20 or greater, but about half that number for the Republicans. Many of these districts are in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland, states Republicans didn't control redistricting.

The second reason is that there were states where Republicans did control redistricting, clustering Democrats into districts and ensuring strong Republican districts around them. It's difficult to say which had a greater impact but both had significant impacts.

Under the old lines the median 2008 PVI was R+1.4. Under those Democrats did hold the majority for two terms, but we should keep in mind that they had a number of districts with higher Republican PVIs at the time. These districts were mostly inhabited by Blue Dogs and were held by Democrats since before the district starting voting Republican. Democrats aren't winning these districts back, even in a wave.

Friday, December 21, 2012

California Presidential election

Let’s start at the top of the ticket and work our way down, shall we? With every ballot counted Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney 60.3%-37.2%. While the margin of 23.1% is below Obama’s 2008 24.1%, the Cook PVI is over a point higher at 10.0 compared to 2008’s 8.6. In addition the polling average was Obama by 15, so he beat the polls fairly dramatically. The only other seriously polled state that he beat by more was New Jersey. So clearly Barack Obama has a strength in California.

Obama won California by 3 million votes. He won the rest of the country by roughly 1.7 million. By Obama increasing his California margin since election day, the PVIs in many other states have actually moved toward the GOP.

Dianne Feinstein was even better. Her margin of 25.0% exceeds her 2006 margin of 24.2%. Of course in 2006 others got 6.4% of the vote. If California had top two then, she likely would’ve won by 25-26%.

These two are at the upper limit of what a Democrat has achieved in California. If you’re a Democrat, you’ll see this as proof that California is trending Democratic. If you’re a Republican, you’ll be relieved that the two most popular Democrats in the state will never ever be on the ballot again. Okay, she might be, but she’ll be 85 in 2018.

It’s difficult to know if the state is trending Democratic. The Democrats do have their highest margin in registration since 1984. Of course they had a 13% margin in 2010, a 5 point increase over 2006. And it really didn’t show up at the ballot box. Democrats were bleeding registrants faster than Republicans for pretty much every period between 2008 and 2012 up until the final registration report.

Online registration obviously made an impact. Democrats got a big boost in registration from it and it’s possible that without it, Democrats wouldn’t have had nearly the year they did. The SOS has reported that online registrants showed up at higher rates than people who registered the traditional way.

That begs the question of whether the online registrant spike was a one off low hanging fruit or something that’ll keep growing the Democratic advantage. I’m skeptical it’ll be as big a deal in the future, but it is definitely an asset for the Democratic party.

The state’s minority population is getting larger. It should continue to grow. Of course Hispanics and Asians are low propensity voters and it remains to be seen how well they’ll show up when Barack Obama isn’t on the ticket, especially in a mid-term.

What we do know is that Democrats did well this year and they have every reason to be optimistic. Republicans don’t have a lot to point to. Some people are drawing the conclusion that Democrats won’t lose anything they’ve gained this year and they will, in fact, pick up more Republican seats. I’m skeptical of such absolutes, as elections tend to be a teeter-totter not a continual straight line. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

House 2014 – Democratic held seats

Which seats could flip in 2014? Retirements will change any list, putting otherwise safe seats into play. We don’t know what those will be, so we’ll look at the close 2012 races. I’ve included any race that was within 7.5 and a few select races that had a bigger margin.

There are only 9 Democratic seats that Romney won.

Romney seats
NC-7 – Mike Mcintyre 50.1%-49.9%, Romney 58.7%-40.1%
McIntyre will clearly be challenged and the GOP will want to find a top challenger. Vulnerability: High

UT-4 - Jim Matheson 48.8%-48.5%, Romney 67.2%-30.2%
Matheson will be a target every cycle until he goes down. Vulnerability: High

GA-12 - John Barrow 53.7%-46.3%, Romney 55.4%-43.6%
Georgia Republicans did all they could to get rid of John Barrow. The district is favorable. They just need a candidate who can win. Vulnerability: High

FL-18 – Patrick Murphy 50.3%-49.7%, Romney 51.7%-47.6%
Allen West turned in a disappointing performance. West ran 3,000 votes behind Mitt Romney in St. Lucie County and 5,000 behind in Martin county. He finished 2,000 behind. I like Allen West but another candidate probably will win the district. Vulnerability: High

AZ-1 Ann Kirkpatrick 48.8%-45.1%, Romney 50.5%-47.9%
The district will be a top target in 2014. Vulnerability: High

AZ-2 – Ron Barber 50.4%-49.6%, Romney 49.9%-48.4%
This was a bit of a surprise. The GOP couldn’t take the old AZ-8 and this district was supposed to be more Democratic. McSally should take another shot if she’s game. Vulnerability: High

WV-3 - Nick Rahall 53.9%-46.1%, Romney 65.0%-32.8%
Eventually Republicans will figure out how to take down Rahall. Vulnerability: Mid

TX-23 Pete Gallego 50.3%-45.5%, Romney 50.8%-48.0%
There’ll be new lines in 2014 and those lines may make Gallego safe. Vulnerability: Mid

MN-7 Colin Peterson 60.4%-34.9%, Romney 53.9%-44.1%
This seat isn’t in danger as long as Peterson is running. Vulnerability: Low

Obama seats
FL-26 -Joe Garcia 53.6%-43.0%, Obama 53.1%-46.4%
It’s a D+1.5 seat but it’s a traditionally Republican area. The GOP should have a good shot to win this back with a non-scandal ridden candidate. Or maybe the Democrats finally have a Hispanic district in South Florida. Vulnerability: High

NY-21 – Bill Owens 50.2%-48.2%, Obama 51.5%-47.0% (estimated)
Owens finally managed to clear 50%, just barely. Another perennial target until he goes down. Vulnerability: High

CA-52 – Scott Peters 51.2%-48.8%, Obama 52.1%-45.7%
This is a district where Republicans hold a registration edge. California has several inviting targets and it remains to be seen if the GOP really has a shot at them. Vulnerability: High

CA-7 – Ami Bera 51.7%-48.3%, Obama 50.7%-46.9%
This district was trending Republican, but that didn’t help the GOP this year. It also didn’t help that Democratic outside spending dwarfed Republicans spending. Vulnerability: High

NY-18 - Sean Patrick Maloney 51.7%-48.3%, Obama TBD
Like other Upstate New York seats, this one will be fought over for the next deade. Vulnerability: High

NH-1 - Carol Shea-Porter 49.8%-46.0%, Obama 50.2%-48.6
She doesn’t get a lot of respect but she once again won the more Republican seat. This seat is too enticing not to go after, although you have to think that this district will continue to swing. Vulnerability: High

AZ-9 - Kyrsten Sinema 48.8%-44.7%, Obama 51.1%-46.6%
Barack Obama won here by 4 points in 2008, so there wasn’t a lot expected of Vernon Parker. I hope he’ll be back to try again in 2014. Vulnerability: High

CT-5 - Elizabeth Esty 51.3%-48.7%, Obama 53.5%-45.3%
I thought Andrew Roraback would take it, but he may take another shot in 2014. Connecticut has been tough for the GOP and this might be the best they can do. Vulnerability: Mid

IL-10 – Brad Schneider 50.6%-49.4%, Obama 57.5%-41.1%
Can anyone other than Bob Dold challenge for the seat? The GOP will want to consider that if he passes. Vulnerability: Mid

NY-1 - Tim Bishop 52.4%-47.6%, Obama TBD
Like McIntyre, Matheson, and Owens Republicans will challenge Bishop every cycle until they win. Not that Bishop will go down easy. Vulnerability: Mid

NH-2 - Ann McLane Kuster 50.2%-45.4%, Obama 54.2%-44.5%
She will be challenged, just not by Charlie Bass. Vulnerability: Mid

CA-26 - Julia Brownley 52.7%-47.3%, Obama 54.0%-43.7%
The Obama numbers suggest this’ll be a tough district, but Tony Strickland kept it closer than those would suggest. I think he will take another shot. Vulnerability: Mid

CA-36 - Raul Ruiz 52.9%-47.1%, Obama 50.7%-47.5%
Mary Bono Mack had survived all her previous challenges. Is Ruiz a strong giant killer in a district that’s trending blue or is he lucky to have run in a Democratic year with the GOP’s long bench is ready to beat him? Vulnerability: Mid

IL-12 - Bill Enyart 51.7%-42.7% Obama 49.7%-48.2%
This is a traditionally Democratic district, but it’s R+1, not D+7 like IL-17. Vulnerability: Mid

NY-24 - Dan Maffei 48.9%-43.4%, Obama 57.3%-40.8% (estimated)
Republicans have beaten Maffei once with a candidate that wasn’t highly regarded. They’ll try again in 2014. If those Obama-Romney numbers are right, it’s an uphill climb. Vulnerability: Low

IL-17 - Cheri Bustos 53.3%-46.7%, Obama 57.6%-40.6%
This is a traditionally Democratic district and it’s one that is more Democratic than the one Bobby Schilling won. I’m skeptical this district will be high priority. Vulnerability: Low

MA-6 – John Tierney 48.3%-47.2%, Obama 55.1%-43.9% (estimated)
This’ll be fool’s gold. Republicans had the best candidate they could get, Tierney’s family issues will fade, and Scott Brown won’t be on the ticket. Vulnerability: Low

OR-5 - Kurt Schrader 54.1%-42.5%, Obama 50.5%-47.1%
The GOP hasn’t shown much fight in Oregon, but it’s difficult to completely dismiss a district with an even PVI. Vulnerability: Low

MN-1 - Tim Walz 57.6%-42.4%, Obama 49.6%-48.2%
Like OR-5 the GOP hasn’t challenged Walz, but this district is R+1. Vulnerability: Low

OR-4 - Peter DeFazio 59.2%-39.1%, Obama 51.7%-45.0%
At D+1.6 it’s worth mentioning but not likely to be vulnerable. Vulnerability: Low

Overall there are 13 highly vulnerable seats and 9 mid-vulnerable.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Congressional Vote Retention

There are always less congressional votes than Presidential votes in any Presidential election, since some people who vote in a Presidential race don't vote in a congressional race.

Here are the percentages of each party's Presidential candidate's votes for each party's congressional candidates since 2000.

2000: 91.0%
2004: 89.4%
2008: 93.9%
2012: 90.5%

2000: 92.7%
2004: 89.8%
2008: 87.1%
2012: 95.6%

Republicans showed the best Presidential retention in any election since 2000.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Districts Obama and Romney won

All the districts aren't calculated but I'm estimating Romney won 224 districts to Obama's 211. In addition I'm estimating that there will be roughly another 16 districts that'll be R+0.1 or greater that Obama won. While it's true Democrats do cluster a lot of this is due to Republican line drawing. Romney won 9 of 14 Michigan CDs. He won 7 of 11 in Virginia. I'm pretty sure he won 12 of 16 in Ohio, although OH-14 could've gone Obama.

I'm thinking that district 218 is going to be around R+2.6.

It'll be hard for the Democrats to win the House this decade.

The 2012 Presidential Election

The votes are almost entirely counted and Barack Obama has a 51.0%-47.4% victory. If you’re a Democrat you think that Obama was a huge underdog to win because no President wins re-election with unemployment as high as it is. He won because of the demographics of the electorate and the electorate will only get more and more Democratic. Thus, the Republicans won’t win another election… or Presidential election. One or the other.

It’s a good victory with a decent margin, although it’s only half his 2008 margin. While a victory by 3.6% is certainly a good sign for Democrats, winning by half of 2008 isn’t. The final exit polls calculations aren’t in but early exit poll number indicate that the electorate was 28% minority, 3% more than 2008. When demographics are moving your way, your lead is supposed to increase, not decrease. One of the reasons the electorate was 3% more minority was because the electorate was missing 6 million White voters who voted in 2008. If they would’ve voted like the remaining White electorate, Obama’s margin of victory would’ve dropped from 3.7% to 2.6%. He would’ve won, but not by any sort of margin where a definitive judgment could be made on the electorate.

Not only were there White voters that didn’t go to the polls, it’s likely that Romney didn’t hit a Republican ceiling with the White voter. Romney improved on John McCain by 4 points, from 55% to 59%. That 59%, however, wasn’t uniform. Romney likely didn’t improve in states McCain maxed out in states like Georgia and Louisiana where McCain got 80%+ of the White vote.

He showed good improvement in swing states however, managing 51% in Wisconsin, 49% in Minnesota, 47% in New Hampshire, and 55% in Michigan. While these states certainly aren’t Louisiana, there clearly is more potential for Republicans with the White voter. Republican governor Scott Walker got 53.1% of the vote in the June Wisconsin recall election, 7% better than Mitt Romney’s total.

There are definite reasons for Democrats to be optimistic for 2016. They’ve won two Presidential elections in a row and neither were squeakers. There’s no doubt the electorate is becoming more minority, their core supporters, although perhaps not as fast as they think it is. There’s the still unanswered question of how much of the minority vote is loyal to the Democrats or just loyal to Barack Obama. Can Democrats get the turn-out and vote share that the President got in 2012?

It’s possible that we won’t see much of an increase in the minority vote in 2016, as gains due to population increase could be offset by uninspired voters staying home. We saw a lot of uninspired White voters staying home this year. Minority voters tend to be less likely to vote than White voters. So them staying home is in the realm of possibility.

If Republicans don’t pick up more minority voters they’ll have to hope White voters turn out in more significant numbers in 2016 and that they can pick up more White voters in swing states. That’s certainly a tougher task than the Democrats face.

Of course we still have a mid-term in 2014 to worry about first. After a remarkable 2008, Democrats saw an enormous drop in their turn-out and voting shares in 2010. They went from winning Latinos by 40% to winning them by 22%. They went from losing White voters by 8% to losing them by 24%. No one expects 2014 to be nearly as bad for Democrats as 2010, but they need to show that they can turn out the voters who voted for them this year.

There’s reason for them to worry. In 2008, Barack Obama got 53.0% of the vote, while congressional Democrats got 55.6% of the two party vote. The Democrats’ beating Barack Obama showed a strength in the Democratic brand that went beyond he President. This year Barack Obama got 51.0% of the vote and Democrats got 50.5% of the two party vote. While Barack Obama’s erosion was 2.0%, congressional Democrats showed a drop of 5.1%. Without Barack Obama on the ballot, they likely wouldn’t have done that well.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

California Counting Done

Well, it's supposed to be done. Santa Barbara county hasn't updated their count since November 13, is the lone holdout. The state lists them as having 13k ballots left, so they won't change the final result. It's Obama 60.3% Romney 37.2%. Obama just cleared a 3 million vote lead in the state. He won the rest of the country by 1.7 million votes. So California provided 64% of his margin.

Obama's margin nationwide now is 3.6%. At best it'll end up being 3.7%. In 2008 it was 7.3%. So Romney halved it.

Of course being less of a loser than the worst Republican performance since 1964 still means he lost.

The CA GOP has been down for 40 years

The November election has brought a lot of Republican handwringing and a lot of advice from Democrats and the media how we need to change our extreme positions to be closer to the Democratic positions. We’re told that this is a recent phenomenon, but isn’t this the same advice we got in 1994 after Prop. 187?

I’m certainly not against the Republican Party re-evaluating our positions and our message. But let’s not fool ourselves. We can gain a few seats, but we’re not going to starting winning statewide elections. We haven’t been viable statewide in 40 years. This situation is nothing new.

When discussing Republican prospects in California people often cite GOP performance in the 70’s and 80’s in Presidential elections. What they fail to mention is that the two Presidents who won were Californians and the other two candidates were their Vice Presidents. This wasn’t reflected in statewide races.

Here are the GOP two party percentages for statewide offices since 1974:

1974: 45.8%
1978: 43.8%
1982: 43.7%
1986: 43.5%
1990: 47.0%
1994: 50.2%
1998: 44.3%
2002: 45.3%
2006: 44.3%*
2010: 43.0%

The senate election in 1976 is included in 1978, 1980 is included in 1982, 1988 is included in 1990, 1992 is included in 1994, 2000 is included in 2002, and 2004 is included in 2006.

* - The 2006 number excludes gubernatorial election. Arnold Schwarzenegger was never identified with the Republican Party and his stardom was separate from the party.

Republicans have been between 43% and 45.8% in 8 out of 10 election periods. That's remarkably consistent. The 1990 number is higher because it includes two Pete Wilson elections, 1988 for senate and 1990 for governor, and 1994 was a big GOP wave. Wilson and Schwarzenegger show that if Republicans have a star who transcends party they can win an election. Unfortunately, we don’t have a star like that right now, let alone five or six to run statewide.

Here are the statewide offices the GOP has won:

1974: AG 1976: senate
1978: AG, LG,
1982: governor, senate
1986: governor
1988: senate
1990: governor, AG
1994: governor, AG, secretary of state, treasurer, insurance commissioner
1998: secretary of state, insurance commissioner
2006: governor, insurance commissioner

Four of these elections were won by Pete Wilson and three by George Deukmejian. If we set aside the anomalous 1994 election we have only two Republicans, Dan Lungren in 1990 and Steve Poizner in 2006, who’ve won initial elections since 1982. The rest were won by incumbents.

People will recall how we had 15-17 senate and 30-32 assembly seats during much of this period. That’s true, but that was largely due favorable maps. One of the biggest reasons the GOP lost seats this year is that the maps weren’t drawn to protect our districts.

I’m libertarian, so I’m all for a shift in our party’s stance on immigration but we need to keep in mind that becoming Democrats light isn’t going to make us more attractive than the Democrats and that our position isn’t some recent phenomenon that can be changed with a shift in message or position.

This idea ignores something that is borne out in the voting totals. These aren’t the California Democrats of the 1980’s. That party had working class people in the defense industry. This one is loaded with progressives who’ve flocked to California to work in the tech industry. We could win votes from people at Litton. We are unlikely to win votes from people at Yahoo! No matter how bad a job Democrats in Sacramento do, their supporters won’t turn to the GOP. On the contrary. They’ll find a way to say it’s our fault.

The GOP may be a point or two worse right now than we have been since 1974. So, yeah, we can work hard and get back to 44-45% statewide. That won't win us any statewide elections but maybe it'll get us back to 30 seats in the assembly. This is nothing new. We haven’t recently started losing. We've been in the same spot for almost all of the last 38 years and no matter how we change that'll continue.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gerrymandering Results

1. Pennsylvania - No one does gerrymanders like Pennsylvania. Their imagination goes beyond what most of us can draw. Their 2001 gerrymander was incredibly ugly. And they outdid themselves this time.

In 2010 Republicans won 5 districts and had 2 other incumbents sitting in Obama D+3 and D+5 districts. The state was losing a seat. And it was sure to be a year that Barack Obama and Bob Casey carried the statewide vote.

Republicans congressmen carried all 7 of those districts by at least 13 points. On top of that they drew a district to make sure two Democratic congressmen challenged each other and not take on a Republican incumbent. And then they won that district too. Outside of that district I don't see Republicans losing any of the other districts this decade. Maybe PA-8 in a wave year.

2. Illinois - I put it #2 because the Democrats weren't redrawing as many questionable districts, but this job was equally impressive. It impressed me because I expressed skepticism that they'd take more than 2 Republican districts.

Barack Obama's win dropped 8 points in Illinois, a fairly substantial drop when he only dropped 4 points nationally. Democrats still took out 4 GOP incumbents and came very very close to winning a fifth Republican seat. They won 3 of them in the Chicago area and they did this all without endangering any surrounding Democratic seats. The fear that IL-12 was in trouble proved unfounded.

I'm not sure that IL-10, 12, and 17 will be in play this decade, but IL-13 certainly will.

3. Ohio - They gave Chabot, Gibbs, and Stivers safe seats and drew seats good enough for Johnson and Renacci to beat a current and former congressman by 5 and 7 points. The Democrats got the Republicans to redraw OH-10 and it still wasn't competitive.

4. Maryland - It's tough to rate this one higher because Democrats only gained one seat and none of their congressmen was in danger. Yet every one of their incumbents won by 27 and Delaney took MD-6 by 20.

5. North Carolina - Republicans did manage to draw three good wins, but the 9th was closer than than it should've been and Mike McIntyre pulled out a squeaker.

6. Wisconsin - You could probably rate this state higher since all five Republicans won by double digits.

7. Virginia - The GOP protected all their wins and only one of those districts was close. We'll see what happens if Randy Forbes or Frank Wolf decide to retire.

8. Michigan - The state did go was D 1, so they achieved their goal, but MI1 was way too close, MI-3 was closer than it should've been, and you have to wonder how Bentivolio will do against a good opponent.

9. Missouri - They eliminated Russ Carnahan and every Republican won by 23 points. So mission accomplished.

10. Indiana - They made IN-8 safe, but IN-2 was close. Still passable.

11. Georgia - It was nice that GA-6 and 7 don't look like they'll be in danger, but the GOP had a major fail in GA-12. The candidate was weak, so maybe we'll re-evaluate.

12. Oklahoma - There really wasn't a question that OK-2 was going to be easy to take.

13. Massachusetts - I don't know if the Mass legislature was really trying to freeze out the GOP and Republicans didn't try in most districts. They were 9 for 9.

14. Tennessee - I suppose Republicans should get credit that Scott DesJarlais won his district so easily, but they could've drawn a district they could challenge Jim Cooper.

15. South Carolina - I suppose that it's an accomplishment to draw 6 districts Mitt won by at least 12 points in a state he won by 10.5, but SC-7 ended up much closer than it should have.

16. Utah - How hard would it have been to draw a district that Jim Matheson couldn't win?

17. Arkansas - There are now four safe Republican districts drawn by... the Democrats.

Honorable mention
Florida - FDF was in effect to make sure Florida wasn't a partisan gerrymander. It's clear to me that a few districts violate that, notably the 5th, 14th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th. Three of those gerrymandered districts actually went to the Democrats, however, and FL-27 wouldn't be in danger if it were even if it were more compact. Republicans went from 19-6 to 17-10, which isn't bad, considering two of the losses were more the candidates than the maps.

In a redraw they can create FL-21 as a Palm Beach district and FL-22 as a Broward district. This may mean Republicans have no shot at either, but that's a small price to pay. I would draw it but the maps in DRA continually move in my computer.

Texas - Republicans ran afoul of the law here too and these maps are also likely to be redrawn. The GOP did lose TX-23, but they preserved the other seats.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The National Picture

The Presidential vote can provide a nice piece of insight into the national landscape and even on a local level. The problem with putting too much faith in these numbers is that they are heavily influence by the two candidates who ran for President. A great candidate/campaign or a bad one will skew the results. And we know that neither of those guys will be running for congress any time soon. The House vote provides a better insight, although it's not perfect. There are districts where one party isn't trying or an incumbent has huge crossover support. We have 6 districts with two Democrats 2 with two Republicans, some with no major party candidate, and 9 where the vote wasn't even counted.

Since we get that on both sides some of these issues cancel each other out. Here is the current national Presidential vote:

Obama 63,992,436
Romney 59,966,061
Johnson 1,236,280
Stein 445,247
Goode 117,810
Other 49,553
Now the House vote:

Democratic 56,422,275
Republican 55,397,266
Libertarian 1,321,377
Green 349,729
Constitution 85,052
Other 1,471,879

House Democrats had 7.5 million less votes than Obama, while House Republicans had 4.5 million less votes than Romney. Some of the Democratic congressional voters were Romney or third party voters. Obviously in a district like CA-30 where no Republican was on the ballot, most Romney voters had to choose between Howard Berman or Brad Sherman.

Democrats may win elections in years to come, but we don't know how well they'll hold the Obama coalition together. We do know that they had trouble holding some of them even as far as halfway down the page.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The misleading party ID #s in exit polls

The exit polls are showing a big advantage for Democrats that may not be as big as it seems. They are 38%D/32%R, D+6.

In 2004, the exit polls had John Kerry winning independents by 1 and Bush won nationally by 2. In 2008, they had Barack Obama winning independents by 8 and he won by 7. This year Barack Obama won by 3, but Mitt Romney won independents by 5. The speculation is that the exit polls are capturing people previously identified as Republicans in the independent groups.

By designating them independents, instead of Republicans, you're putting them in a different place than they were 4 years ago, making comparisons difficult.

If we take 2% of the independents and assume they vote like Republicans, Romney 93%-6%, we end up with a 38%D/34% electorate and Barack Obama wins independents by 3%, 49%-46%. In a 38%D/35%R breakdown Obama wins independents by 5%.

Why is it better to use this breakdown instead of the exit poll breakdown? When many of us try to figure out who is going to win an election we look at the spread in party breakdown. When Obama wins by only 3% in a D+6 environment it means Republicans have an inherent advantage. Greater turnout doesn't mean a Democratic win.

In 2008, turn-out was D+7. Obama won by 7%. To compare the two elections we need to have both of them designating voters the same way.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The House in 2014

What will 2014 look like? 2010? 2012? Neither. Post second mid-terms can show us what to expect this time. The House result is usually a mix of two factors, environment and the seats’ natural lean. Environment is a well known phenomenon. It can be coat tails for a Presidential, a negative reaction to an unpopular President, or in an unusual circumstance rallying around a President. In many cases the environment is fairly neutral.

Most congressional districts will go to a certain party in a normal environment. If one party controls districts which lean to the other party as a result of a wave, a neutral environment will return most of those to that party. Thus, 2010 was going to be a GOP year regardless, since the party was nearly 50 seats below the seats’ natural party lean. Republicans would’ve made big gains, just not that big, even without the wind at their backs.

Here are the second term mid-terms. If a President has a bad second mid-term he’ll usually have had a first mid-term without real losses. Presidents just don’t have two horrible mid-terms. There are probably a lot of reasons for this.

1950 – I’m sure this looks like a bad mid-term for Harry Truman, but it really wasn’t. His enormous win in 1948 resulted in Democrats getting 263 House seats, about 30 more than they’d get in a normal year. Without Truman’s momentum Democrats lost 28 seats, to put them at 235, about where they’d expect to be in this era. Truman had a very bad mid-term in 1946 and this one wasn’t.

1958 – While Republicans had lost the House in 1954, this was just simply a return to normal. The Democrats had 232 seats in 1954 and 234 in 1956. Unlike 1954, this was a horrible environment for Ike and the Republicans. They got thrashed at the polls and lost 48 seats. The Democratic conference was bloated with seats they couldn’t hold as a result. Thus, they lost seats in 1960 even though Kennedy won the Presidency.

1966 – Johnson’s 1964 landslide gave Democrats 295 House seats, a conference they couldn’t hold. The era average was 256 and Democrats lost a little more than that, dropping to 247. Kennedy hadn’t lost seats in the first mid-term.

1974 – Republicans were about 13 over their era average, so losses were likely. Add in Watergate and Democrats picked 49 seats. Nixon’s first mid-term had been mild.

1986 – After the 1984 election Republicans stood only 3 seats above the era average. Democrats gained 5 seats. Reagan had had a tough first mid-term, but not a second.

1998 – The Democratic performance here has been attributed to the impeachment. That certainly helped the Democrats, but both sides entered the year at their era averages. So there wasn’t the opportunity districts of 1994.

2006 – Bush had a mild first mid-term, but not the second. The environment was terrible for Republicans and the Democrats gained enough seats to put them 26 over the era average. That makes this mid-term similar to 1958 when Democrats were 27 above their era average.

2014 – Most of the 2012 Democratic pick-ups were Democratic leaning seats. They won a decent share of marginal seats but not many. In 2010 Republicans could identify dozens of R+ seats for pick-up. Democrats probably have a handful now. So the obvious pick-ups aren’t there this time, the way they were in 1950 and 1966. It’s possible that the election will be like 1958, 1974, and 2006 but those were all in Presidencies that didn’t have heavy first mid-term losses.

Thus, I don’t see big gains for the GOP in 2014. That said, it won’t be a good year for Democrats. There have been 17 mid-terms since 1944 and in 16 of them the President’s party has won a lower percentage of the House vote than they did in the Presidential election. This occurred regardless of whether the President’s party controlled the House or what vote share the party got in that year. That one exception was 2002, when President Bush’s approval rating was sky high due to 9/11. That seems unlikely to happen again.

All the gloom and doomers, especially those saying all our California seats are lost, should consider this when making those pronouncements.

I think Democrats will get 48%-49% of the vote, which should result in losses. I’m thinking the GOP will pick up 8-15 seats.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Palm Beach County

One county I’ve been particularly interested in has been Palm Beach County, Florida. It has gotten redder over the last several years and I was curious if that’d continue. Here are the PVIs of Palm Beach for statewide office. PVI here is county/state.

Attorney General
2006: D+16
2010: D+12

Agriculture commissioner
2006: D+15
2010: D+8

2006: D+12
2010: D+6

2006: D+15
2010: D+10

We saw the same thing with the President. PVI here is county/national, but also county/state just to go apples and apples.

President (county/national)
2004: D+12
2008: D+8

President (county/state)
2004: D+13
2008: D+10

And now with 2012

President (county/national)
2004: D+12
2008: D+8
2012: D+7

President (county/state)
2004: D+13
2008: D+10
2012: D+8

So there was some movement, but not nearly as much as 2004 to 2008. I don’t know the final Romney-Obama numbers but I’d guess that FL-18 and FL-22, which were E and D+4 in 2008 were more Republican this time around. I think this shows Republicans made a major mistake. In their effort to save Allen West they drew an FL-22 that clearly didn’t comply with Fair Districts. Republicans lost that district and lost FL-18 also, mostly because they drew it into St. Lucie County. If they do a redraw I think there’s a compact Palm Beach/Martin County district that a Republican will win.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Republicans took down Stark, Baca, and nearly Waxman

When it comes who Republicans dislike among California Democratic representatives, Pete Stark stood a close second to Nancy Pelosi. And Henry Waxman wasn't far down the list. Joe Baca has never been a major thorn in anyone's side, but he and Stark lost and Waxman won by 7 points. How did they do it? They might have used the strategy I laid out in September 2011.

All three districts are around 45-48% Democratic and 23-28% Republican. So they're districts no Republican could win. You have to be a Democrat. Bill Bloomfield tested that as an independent but couldn't pull it off. He likely couldn't get enough Democratic votes. Swalwell was well positioned. He was a Democrat Democrats could vote for, but also the not Pete Stark that Republicans and independents could get behind. Negrete McLeod's victory surprised me, due to her vote on HSR. Baca didn't make it an issue and Michael Bloomberg's PAC was able to sell Negrete McLeod as a moderate.

The lesson of 2012 is that a Democrat running against a fellow Democrat can win as long as he or she proves to Republicans and independents that he's the more moderate choice. The Democrats has to get a decent level of the Democratic vote, probably 30%, but they can clean up with the other half of the electorate.

There are plenty of other districts where this could happen. A Democratic challenger needs to make top two first, of course, and that's not easy if there's a Republican challenger. In the CA-32 primary Republican David Miller got 41.8% of the vote and Democratic challenger Bill Gonzalez got 12.1%. Swalwell and Negrete McLeod were helped by no Republican entering the race. If the challenger can get past the primary, they can beat an unbeatable entrenched Democrat is they can position themselves as the alternative for Republicans and independents.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What Happened in California

There'll be a lot of data to analyze when the counting is done. I'll reserve any judgements until after that.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Counting the California Ballots

Counting the VBM, provisionals, and damaged ballots starts today. So, no, counting didn't move at all yesterday. We have some issues that are unique in this state.

Counting is done by the counties. We have over 37 million people and only 58 counties. There are 99 counties in Iowa. We have some counties that are sparsely populated but have some that are bigger than some states.

You can drop off your VBM ballot on election day at any polling place in the county. So, they need to get the ballot to the right place and that takes time to make sure it's done right.

It takes nearly a month to count all the ballots. Charlie Brown conceded to Tom McClintock on December 3, 2008 after the initial count was completed. He could've then asked for a recount.

On election night, November 2, 2010, Andy Vidak led by 1,800 votes. On November 23, Costa led by more than 3,000 votes.

So these results aren't final. Look at this way, you don't have to go cold turkey on elections. This'll take time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

California Uncounted Ballots

I don't know how many ballots are uncounted, but we are 4 million ballots below 2008 now. The SoS doesn’t have a site that I can find for uncounted ballots, but they did in June. This is a VBM report as of Tuesday.

This is D+7, which is favorable to the GOP.

It took the SoS a month to count all the primary ballots and the final results moved a little bit towards the GOP. It wasn’t much, but when you consider that the primary results were big Republican wins, any move toward them is good for them.

The current results aren’t very Republican. So if the VBM is in fact as Republican as this report indicates, then the GOP should improve quite a bit. If the remaining CA-52 ballots are 40%R/34%D, then Brian Bilbray should win. I don’t know how many ballots are left uncounted, however, and what the partisan make-up of the current ballots are. If this is the partisan make-up of the uncounted ballots then Bilbray should win, Strickland and Bono Mack should improve, and Lungren is even money.

That said, my forecast for the election was skewed towards the Republican party based on this very data. So draw whatever conclusions you want.

Post-Election Thoughts

I know there's going to be a ridiculous amount of Republicans handwringing about how we need to change everything and last night was certainly a defeat. As of now Mitt Romney lost by 2 points, 5 better than John McCain. He went up against an incumbent President who is a great campaigner and has an appeal to minorities that no Democrat can match. I'm not saying we don't need to take a look at the party, but this wasn't 2008.

The senate defeat had more to do with bad candidates and bad campaigns than anything else. Republicans lost or may have lost in 6 states Mitt Romney won or may have won. In most cases the GOP senate candidates ran behind Mitt.

There's no magical formula for Republicans to attract minorities. My stance on immigration is at odds with the party's stance, but I don't believe that changing the GOP immigration stance isn't going to suddenly cause Hispanics to vote for us. We are the party of low taxes and low spending. We don't believe in an activist government. Part of Obama's appeal is his relationship with minorities.

Whites were 72% of the electorate and Democrats lost them by 20 points. Why doesn't this concern them?

I see a number of encouraging signs in exit polls. Obama took the 30-44 segment 52%-45%, pretty much identical to how he did 4 years ago. The 26-29 group moved in. The 41-44 segment, read me, moved out. Yet he didn't move the needle. Democrats are counting on this group voting Democratic as they get older.

Obama showed his biggest drop in the 18-29 group. I don't know the breakdown by age, so I don't know if 18-21 was far less pro-Obama or if he lost across the board.

The Democrats will have to hold together their strong performance with young people and minorities in future elections. Who is the candidate who'll do that?

California Competitive First Glance

Don't assume the California is over. There have been roughly 9 million ballots counted. There were 13.6 million ballots in 2008. That'd be 66% of the votes. I expect that there will be more ballots this time. These ballots are across everywhere, although my calculations are that 86% of the vote is in for CA-24, while only 39% is in for CA-41.

It isn't unusual for elections to change by several points after election night. I know the knee jerk reaction is to declare races over and be done with them. Elections have moved 3-4 points in the weeks after they were done.

That said, last night looked pretty awful for the GOP and I look pretty wrong. At the top of the ticket, Barack Obama has had only a few points of drop off and the polls may have all underestimated him. Dianne Feinstein appears to be at the upper limit of what a Democrat can do in the state.

John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Jim Costa, and Lois Capps all won. None of those are a surprise. Right now they're all ahead by an at least 7.6%, but none is ahead more than 9.6%. Republicans were certainly disappointing, but I wouldn't say any of these candidates have safe seats through 2020.

As expected, Jeff Denham an David Valadao should win. While Valadao was clearly the stronger candidate a 20 point win in a district that has a 15 point Democratic registration edge, in a good Democratic year, is shocking.

I expected Mark Takano to win in CA-41, thus proving my statement that Democrats will have never won in Riverside County until they finally do. There are less than 100,000 ballots counted here. I expect the race will tighten once the bulk of the ballots are counted, but that Takano will still win comfortably.

I predicted Gary DeLong would win in CA-47, privately admitted that was wishful thinking since I'd volunteered for DeLong. This was a very tough district for the GOP. While I expect Republicans to challenge the 4 Democratic incumbents listed above, I think Lowenthal will cruise to victories in the future.

I'm shocked that the late returns in CA-26 have broken for Julia Brownley, but again this was another campaign I volunteered on. This one isn't over, but Brownley has a good lead.

CA-36 is also too close to call, but Raul Ruiz looks good. Another one for me to be wrong on.

CA-7 and 52. Don't draw any conclusions here. A few hundred ballots separate the two candidates and there are a lot left to go. I expected CA-52 to be close, although I expressed optimism that the GOP would win such a Republican district. I expected Lungren to win comfortably. He may still win, but this was way closer than I thought.

The state senate went worse than I expected. I thought we'd see a narrow win for Jeff Miller in Riverside county, but he disappointed. Todd Zink saw a lead evaporate late at night. He probably won't come back. If this holds the GOP is down 28-12 in the state senate, enough for the Democrats to have a super majority. Republicans should gain at least 1 seat in 2014, but I'm not going to predict the 2 they'd need to wipe that out just yet.

The assembly results were also disappointing. I expected a 50-30 split, being cautiously optimistic that the GOP would get 32 seats. Right now it's 52D-26R. Democrats need the two remaining seats for a super majority here.

The surprises to me were AD-08 in East Sacramento and AD-66 in the South Bay of Los Angeles. Both went heavily Republican in the primary and went against us last night. I can't imagine what happened in AD-66, a district I know well.

AD-32 and AD-65 are districts where the Republican trails in elections that'll change once all the ballots are counted. AD-32 is the Central Valley, the same location as Valadao. So there's a big disconnect there. AD-65 is Orange County, in an area where Republicans always win. I believe Chris Norby will win when all the ballots are counted, but at this point I wouldn't trust me on too much.

Democrats got their big tax increase that'll produce way less revenue than they think it will and will make rich people antsy. The biggest problem California has isn't spending, that's second, it's too big a reliance on the top 1%. Their volatile incomes have resulted in a huge drop in revenue. The smart wasn't to rely on them even more.

Now that the Democrats have their big tax increase and may be able to increase taxes at will in the legislature I'm not sure how they'll still blame the Republicans for all the state's problems. They will though.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Night Before The Election

There was no California VBM report, so I don't have an update. Right now, the electorate is only D+6.4%. Democrats need to have a D+12.5% with the remaining electorate to get to D+11%. That's certainly doable, but I don't have any reason to suspect that'll happen. Of course, I also can't say it won't.

I wouldn't be surprised if Mitt Romney wins the Presidency, but I suspect that President Obama will be re-elected. I see Romney winning North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia, but the President winning 281-257. I also think Republicans will gain two seats in the House and two in the senate. That'd still give the Democrats the majority in the upper house.

The election awaits and likely a lot of blogging in the next few weeks looking at the numbers.

Friday, November 2, 2012

California Preview

There’s a misperception that California is a blue state like New York or Vermont. The closest comparison is Illinois, a state with very blue metro areas and very red areas elsewhere. Since 1990 there have been 51 statewide elections and no Republicans has gotten less than 35.2% of the two party vote. All of the Republican senate and gubernatorial candidates were below 37%.

Senate – Elizabeth Emken is unknown and unfunded. In some states she’d struggle to get 30%. In California she’ll get 38-41%. Just because her name is on the ballot.

In the last ten years we haven’t had competitive districts in California, leaving people unable to gauge the relative strengths of the parties in the state in congressional and legislative races.

When you don’t have competitive races, you don’t need quality ground games. You don’t need battle tested candidates who can run good campaigns. How good are these parties at winning seats? Just because the Democrats have a massive statewide registration advantage. There have been areas that they’ve never won but appeared to be getting bluer. Can Democrats win in the Inland Empire? The Central Valley? Orange County?

Thus we don’t know how the two parties will do in a D+3 or an R+3 district. Republicans have traditionally outperformed their registration and California was unique in that Barack Obama won 8 Republican districts in 2008 and his party won none of those seats. It was a lot easier when the districts weren’t expected to be competitive. Do the Republicans have a strength that goes beyond some of their numbers?

The latest VBM shows a 6.3% return advantage for Democrats, very low considering their 13% registration advantage. VBM ballots will make up nearly half the ballots cast. The way things look right now Democrats will creep close to 7.0% when all the absentees are in. This poor performance is counter to the Democratic philosophy nationwide that encourages absentee and early voting. Campaigns love it, as each vote it gives them one less person to get out to the polls. So ballots cast so far indicate a good day for the GOP.

Mittmentum could be a possible factor. Obama’s margin figures to be around 10 points less across the board. It’ll be more in majority White districts, maybe as high as 15-20%. I don’t know if this’ll help Republican candidates since Obama’s lofty 2008 didn’t hurt them then.

CA-3 – Sophomore rep John Garamendi has had underwhelming elections in 2009 and 2010 and that isn’t exactly the sort of candidate you want to put in a district that goes from D+13 to D+3. Republican challenger Kim Vann has shown surprisingly strong fundraising numbers and is a favorite of the NRCC. Garamendi did break the 50% barrier in June and there isn’t much outside interest here. It’d be a surprise, but not a complete shock, if Vann won. Pick: Garamendi

CA-7 – Is Dan Lungren a battle tested incumbent who can withstand a challenge or a vulnerable congressman ripe for picking? Lungren’s surprisingly strong June win would suggest the former but this district has been barraged with ads from outside groups. At last count 8 different groups have run ads opposing Lungren. Larry Sabato just picked Bera and David Wasserman of Cook Political told me that he expects Bera to win. Mitt Romney will win the district and it’s likely too Republican for Bera. I like Lungren’s decisive win without elevated turn-out in June. Pick: Lungren

CA-8 – There’s been no polling in this district making it hard to judge but Gregg Imus seems to be a great story in that he’s raised little money and gotten this far and seems destined to lose in a landslide. Imus is a great example of how Top Two has changed California. He was expected to finish way down the pack in June but an enormous field and a strong grassroots effort propelled him into November. A grassroots effort may be enough to get him 15% in the primary, but it won’t be enough to get him 50% in the general election. To win Imus will have to appeal to people who aren’t anti-illegal immigration movement conservatives and he can’t do that. Pick: Paul Cook

CA-9 - Jerry McNerney is another Democratic incumbent who has been underwhelming in the past. The district appeared to be trending Republican, but the Democrats did a massive registration effort and reversed Republican gains. His challenger, Republican Ricky Gill, raised a boatload of cash, and it seems unlikely that McNerney will be able to separate himself from Gill by much. Expect this race to be very very close. Pick: McNerney

CA-10 – Conventional wisdom, Democratic pollsters, and Larry Sabato say this race will be close, but I fail to see it. Congressman Jeff Denham is battle tested from his time in the assembly, he won in June by 16 points, and this district is moving rightward more than any other in the state. My projections say that VBM is already 37% of total votes and the returns are actually more Republican than June.

Mitt Romney is going to win here too, possibly by double digits. I’d be surprised if it’s close, let alone Democrat Jose Hernandez winning. Pick: Denham

CA-15 – This is a Democrat v. Democrat race to see who can vote more in line with Nancy Pelosi, so it might not be a natural for Republican interest. It’s the most interesting race in the state to me. Congressman Pete Stark is a lunatic whose bizarre behavior this cycle has made headline after headline. Democratic challenger Eric Swalwell is running a David v. Goliath campaign but he should be able to appeal to the Republicans and independents in the district that make up half the voters. They despise Stark and that should be enough for them to vote for Swalwell. Pick: Swalwell

CA-16 – The Central Valley can be a graveyard for Democrats. They have a 15 point registration edge here and that’d be enough for a safe seat almost anywhere else in the country. Jim Costa seriously underperformed in 2010 and this district was more McCain in 2008. Republicans failed to get a top grade challenger and Democrats actually got more votes in June. Game over. Pick: Costa

CA-21 – John Hernandez has raised less than $100k for the entire cycle and finished September with $17k in the bank. He’s had no outside help. Democrats do have a huge registration advantage but that wasn’t a problem for David Valadao to getting 57% in the primary. Early mail in ballots had a 16 point Democratic advantage. That’s dropping like a brick and is now 7 points. Pick: Valadao

CA-24 – Democrats Lois Capps and Republican challenger Abel Maldonado look dead even. Tie goes to the incumbent. Pick: Capps

CA-26 – I thought the Democrats’ failure to recruit a Ventura County candidate would doom them here. Julia Brownley is from Santa Monica and people live in Ventura County because they want to avoid anything to do with Santa Monica. Brownley has downplayed her liberalism and has been well received in the district. Republican Tony Strickland is from here and has represented the area in the state senate. This is another one that’s tough to gauge, but Republicans have a VBM advantage. Pick: Strickland

CA-30 – Is there more to pile on this one? Howard Berman has racked up endorsements from both sides of the aisle, but Brad Sherman is the better retail politician. He’s led by 10 points or more in ever poll and has been ahead with almost every demographic. Berman was hoping for magic with Republicans and independents but when you have to choose between Democrats a Republican is going to choose the one more attentive to his district. Pick: Sherman

CA-31 – There hasn’t been any polling here, but Republican state senator Bob Dutton has always seemed to be running an underdog campaign against Republican rep Gary Miller. Pick: Miller

CA-35 – Gloria Negrete McLeod wanted this district badly. And then Rep. Joe Baca moved in. Baca has gotten Republican support from fellow House colleague Gary Miller and has outspent Negrete McLeod dramatically. Michael Bloomberg is reportedly coming in with outside spending but it seems silly to do it after so many people have already voted. Pick: Baca

CA-36 – Democrats don’t win in Riverside County, particularly against a battle tested vet like Mary Bono Mack. The district is more Republican than her old one, it’ll go Romney, and Bono Mack won in June by 16 points. Ruiz has trotted out a poll that shows him ahead by 3, but Bono Mack countered with one that had her leaning by 17. The mid-point of that looks good for Bono Mack. Pick: Bono Mack

CA-41 – Republicans wiped out a lot of the Democratic registration advantage with a controversial registration campaign that may have registered some Democrats as Republicans. That makes the district harder to read. This is Riverside County, and Democrats have never won a House seat where the majority of the district is in Riverside. I’m hesitant to think they can reverse that but I have to pick a Democrat at some point. Pick: Democrat Mark Takano

CA-47 – In full disclosure I’ve volunteered for Gary DeLong, so take this preview with that in mind. Democrats have a 12 point registration advantage, yet the GOP got more votes in the primary. VBM is only D+2 right now. DeLong is a good fit for this district and is popular in the heavily Democratic Los Angeles county portion of the district. Pick: DeLong

CA-52 – This district had a difficult to read primary result. It was R+10, but Republicans only won by 2.5 %. Republicans usually do better than turn-out, not worse. Polling has been crazy. Both candidates produced polls showing them leading but an independent poll had Bilbray leading by more than Bilbray’s poll did. SurveyUSA then came out with a poll of the two even. The VBM so far is more Republican than any competitive district in the state and Mitt Romney will win here. Pick: Bilbray

I have Democrats finishing with 33 seats and Republicans with 20, a 1 seat gain for the GOP. I’m going completely against conventional wisdom here, but that’s the way I like it. After all, if I’m wrong no one will care, but if I’m right, I’ll be in exclusive company.

Now onto the state senate.

SD-5 – People are way too caught up looking at voter registration. Democrats do have a 3 point advantage here, but that was the same as the primary when Republicans wiped the floor with Democrat Cathleen Galgiani. I see nothing to suggest a different result this time. Pick: Republican Bill Berryhill.

SD-27 – Todd Zink is a political neophyte and Fran Pavley is veteran politician. Zink won in June and right now more Republican ballots are in. The buzz is negative about his chances, however. I’ve done some volunteering for Todd Zink. So I’m not making a pick. Read into that what you will.

SD-31 – Republican Assemblyman Jeff Miller is facing off against Democrat Richard Roth. This is Riverside County and will test whether the GOP is still the undisputed leader here. The district’s fundamentals favor the GOP, but I’ll stick with the way I saw it in my congressional pick. Pick: Roth

SD-39 – On paper this looks like a district Republicans should be competitive in. In reality, Democratic Assemblyman Marty Block is way too formidable. Pick: Block

Republicans need to win three of these contests to prevent Democrats from getting a 2/3 margin in the state senate. That’s not out of the question, but I favor the Democrats.

The assembly looks slightly better for the GOP. There are a lot of competitive districts with people you’ve never heard of, and I can’t say I know a lot about all of them.

Democrats have 44 safe seats and will win AD-9, 16, 21, 48, 49, and 61. That’ll give them 50.

Republicans have 21 safe seats and will win AD-8, 12, 32, 35, 40, 44, 60, 65, and 66. That’ll give 30. That’s exactly the make-up of the assembly now.

The swingiest district is probably the 49th and I could see the 9th, 48th, and 61st going the GOP’s way. The 8th and 32nd are districts where Democrats have registration advantages, but the 8th isn’t that significant and the 32nd is in the Central Valley where Democratic turn-out is weak.

California Registration and Absentee Report

The new California registration numbers are out. California started allowing online registration in September. As has been widely reported that a lot more Democrats registered than Republicans. There were 487k Democrats, 160k Republicans, and 339k others. That's a lot of Democrats and they've gained 1% in registration statewide. So it's now D+14.3%, not D+13.3%.

Most competitive districts showed a 1-1.5% Democratic increase, with three of the biggest being CA-9, CA-41, and CA-47, three competitive districts that already favored Democrats. Most of the other competitive districts had smaller, but not insignificant increases. The districts showing no real increase are from the Central Valley, CA-10, 16, and 21. Do you guys have computers there?

This could be a huge negative for Republicans. There are no two ways about it. Are these people real voters? They didn't register until registering meant they could do so at home in their pajamas. Will they show up on election day when they haven't before?

What we do know is that 3.5 million ballots have been mailed in and Democrats have a 6.4% lead in ballots returned. When you have a 14.3% registration lead that's awful. In all other states Democrats are the ones emphasizing early/absentee voting, not the GOP. Republicans are ridiculed for thinking they'll catch up on election day. Well, they have to do things backwards here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

California Absentee Analysis 11/1

There are now 3 million absentee ballots in, roughly 22% of the overall vote. Absentees should top 6 million, but many of those will be dropped off at the ballot box on Tuesday. We've had a fascinating week when it comes to party ID distribution of absentee ballots. Below is the spread between Democratic and Republican ballots by day.

October 25: Democratic +8.7%
October 26: Democratic +5.9%
October 29: Democratic +8.2%
October 30: Democratic +5.4%
October 31: Democratic +8.9%
November 1: Democratic +5.4%

This is too uniform to be coincidence. I have to think that some heavily Democratic leaning counties are reporting their VBM ballots every other day. So the spread dropped from Democratic +6.4% to Democratic +6.3%. At the current rate, the absentee ballot spread will end up close to Democratic +7.0%. Democrats would like to get the electorate above Democratic +11.0%. To get there, they'll need to be +15.0% on election day. Republicans would like to keep the spread under 9.0%. So they'll need Democratic +11.0% or better on election day.

I don't have data to back-up whether that could happen. It didn't happen in the primary, as the election day electorate mirrored the VBM.

Because the VBM ballots returned were favorable to the Republicans there wasn't much movement in the districts. Due to a flurry of ballots in the Central Valley, there was good movement for the GOP in CD-21 and AD-32. Democrats got improvement in Ventura County based SD-27.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

California Absentee Analysis 10/31

There are now 2.8 million California VBM ballots in, around 20% of the total votes. Right now the ballot distribution is 43.3%D/36.8%R/19.9%I. That's a 6.4% Democratic advantage, 1.2% above the 5.2% last Wednesday. In the last week, the Democrats have had a 7.5% ballot advantage. None of these numbers should scare Republicans. The 2008 exit polls had Democrats with a 12% advantage. So Republicans would like to keep it below 8% and Democrats would like to get it above 11%. Right now it looks like Democrats will have to hope for a big advantage in election day turn-out. It's possible, but there's no way to know.

Simpler Math

There's a national-state poll discrepancy. Mitt Romney leads by 0.75 points in the national average and trails by 1.11 points in the state averages. That's nearly 2 points. Right now there 6 states where Mitt Romney trails by 2-3 points in the RCP state averages. So a 2 point bias could be the difference between winning and losing. I've weighed in on it. Now Sean Trende and Nate Silver have.

The national total votes are the sum of the state total votes. It seems silly to remind people of that but some people ignore that when looking at the numbers. I think they do that because they only see the poll numbers, not the raw number of votes. So people grasp for explanations.

Romney is Doing Extraordinarily Well in States That Aren't Being Polled
The explanation for this is that Obama has an amazing campaign and ground game and that Romney will gain more where Obama isn't contesting. There are a few problems with this. First, it's anecdotal. No one knows if Obama's campaign is superior or how much that'd impact the numbers.

There are holes in this argument. As my chart shows, Romney has improved more in state polls for swing states than in other ones. There could be good reasons for this. As I noted, McCain maxed out the White vote in the South, limiting Romney's potential increases. Yes, Obama isn't competing in these states, but then neither is Romney. Romney needs to sell people he's a better alternative. There's only so much you can do without delivering a message. The big red and blue states (Texas, Georgia, California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey) are getting polled and those results are included. Delaware and Wyoming aren't swinging the election that much.

Exceptional Turn-out in Red States
The problems with this is that the pollsters aren't weighing red states heavier and no one is talking about red state turn-out being higher. It's likely to lag since evangelicals that have never warmed to Romney can leave their Presidential vote blank because they know Romney will win their state. Even increasing turn-out by 10% only in red states only moves the totals to Obama +0.82, a small percentage of the discrepancy.

The National Polls Are Wrong
The explanation for that is that state polls did better in 1996 and 2000. Yet in 2004 and 2004 the national polls were far more accurate, indicating that they changed methodology due to that weakness. The national pollsters tend to stay more stable. There are plenty of new state pollsters with unknown track records entering and leaving each cycle. The national polls could be wrong but no one has given an explanation as to a methodological flaw that doesn't exist in state polls.

That doesn't mean that the national polls can't be wrong, but there's just as much of a chance the state polls are wrong, or we meet in the middle. Remember that they all contain a margin of error, so the state polls and national polls can probably meet anywhere within Obama +2 to Romney +2 and there wouldn't be anything wrong with the polling.

What is wrong, however, is assuming Romney wins by roughly a point and the state polls being right. That's even simpler math.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mittmentum in California

In 2008, Barack Obama won California 61%-37%, a remarkable performance above what any California Democrat could do statewide. If we use the same 98% the Presidential race got in 2008 the average statewide race is 54% Democratic 44% Republican. The typical Democrat would win by around 10 points. Barack Obama's 13.75% lead in the average of the last four polls tells us that Mittmentum isn't nearly as strong here as it'd appears to be and that Obama is still doing very well.

One piece of conventional wisdom is that because the President will win California he'll dominate the congressional districts. While he will dominate very Democratic districts, he won't dominate the swing districts.

Using the 2010 senate race as a guide the percentages below would be about what you'd expect in a race where the Democrat wins by 13.75%.

I project Mitt Romney will win 5 competitive districts, Barack Obama 3, and 4 will be roughly even. The President will win CA-9, 41, and 47, Jerry McNerney's district and two open Southern California districts. Barack Obama's coat tails might be enough to bring those home.

Mitt Romney may have coat tails too. Four of the five congressional districts I project him to win are occupied by Republican incumbents. Democrats failed to win any of the 8 Republican congressional districts that Barack Obama won in 2008. If they couldn't unseat Republican incumbents when Barack Obama won the district their chances should be less when he loses it.

The four districts that project to be roughly even have three Democratic incumbents. Since incumbents usually beat their Presidential candidate, John Garamendi, Lois Capps, and Jim Costa should be favored to win. The last district, CA-26, is an open district contested by Republican Tony Strickland and Democrat Julia Brownley. There appears to be no favorite there.


Democrat Raul Ruiz is out with an internal poll that shows him winning by 6 points. This is difficult to believe for the following reasons:

1. Ruiz concedes Bono Mack is winning by 6 points with those who've already voted. That makes sense because Republican VBM returns are currently R+5. My estimate is that 25% of the electorate has voted.

2. So Ruiz has to be winning the rest of the voters by 10 points to be up 6. Considering that 33% of voters have no impression of him, I have to wonder where his votes are coming from.

3. In 2008 Obama won the old district by 5. Bono Mack won by 17, a 22 point difference.

4. Obama won the state by 24 in 2008, but four consecutive polls taken this month by reputable independent pollsters put the margin between 12 and 15 points.

5. If Mitt Romney is doing 10 points better statewide, he's averaging doing 10 points better in each congressional district. President Obama has lost the most with White voters, so he's probably lost more than 10 points in Whiter districts. They have Obama leading by 7. That means Obama would've gained 4 points here, 14 points away from what's actually happening. It's a statistical impossibility for Mitt Romney to cut the lead by 10 points and lose 4 points in a congressional district.

Barack Obama isn't up 7 points in this district. Even if he were, Mary Bono Mack is unlikely to get less of the vote than Romney. Did I mention that Democrats have never won a seat where the majority of the district was in Riverside County?

Monday, October 29, 2012

California Absentee Analysis 10/29

With another 370k VBM ballots in we've cleared 2.1 million. This is now 14.6% of the total anticipated ballots. Since Whites are more likely to be VBM, the total ballots in CA-10, 24, 36, and 52 is at or above 25%. The good news for Democrats is that their electorate advantage went from 5.9% to kkkkkn

CA-16 continues to move leftward, while CA-21 moves further to the right. The only other congressional districts with movement are CA-41 and 47, both moving slightly more Democratic.

Howard Berman is a Democrat!

Ladies and gentlemen I bring you Top Two, where candidates with seriously partisan voting records need to pander to the other side. This Brad Sherman flyer takes the cake.

It's interesting how Sherman trots out the local Valley politicians while Berman's endorsement are heavily Republicans from Capitol Hill. It reinforces the image of Sherman is local and Berman is Washington. Next thing you know we'll be hearing that a vote for Howard Berman is a vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

The Southern White Vote

One theory floated around about the swing state-national discrepancy is that Mitt Romney is doing a lot better in under polled red states. Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics pointed out on Twitter why this is unlikely.

John McCain maxed out White support in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, getting at least 85% of the vote. While Romney can improve his share of the White vote in other states, that's unlikely here. He probably came close to maxing his support in South Carolina, Texas, and Georgia. The only way for Romney to improve in these states is to grab support from Blacks, something he's unlikely to do. As our Democratic friends constantly remind us, the south is becoming less White each year. So it's unlikely we'll see much of an increase in the White electorate.

If you're looking for states for the President to improve in, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana are probably good bets.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Simple Math

It's simple math. When you add up all the votes in the states, you get the national vote. Well, I've done that, with the average October poll. When there was none, I made up a number that was in line with how much a state should move based on the national polls.

The result is Barack Obama leads by 0.81%. Wait, you say. The RCP average says that Mitt Romney is leading by 0.90%. How can they both be right? They can't. If the RCP state averages are right, then the national average is wrong. If the national average is right, then the state averages are off by an average of 1.71%. That means that Romney should be leading in any state where the RCP average is below Obama +1.5% and should be in at least some of the states where Obama leads by 2.5%. And there are four of those.

If you believe the national polls are close to accurate and they were within 0.3% of the 2008 margin, then the race in swing states is much closer than it appears.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

California Absentee Analysis 10/26

Here are the latest absentee numbers. The vote is now around 12% of the expected total vote, up from 10%. Democrats bump up from a 5.8% ballot lead to a 5.9%. That's positive movement on their part but a far cry from the 8-9% they need to break even and the 12-13% they need to pick up seats.

The biggest changes were in the Central Valley where CA-16 went from a D+2% to D+5% turn-out advantage but CA-21 went from D+16% to D+11%. Democrat Jim Costa and Republican David Valadao are considered pretty much shoe-ins, so these shifts aren't surprising. The absentee numbers here have been low so far. Hence the ability to have a big one day shift.

Based on my calculations, CA-10 already has over 25% of the total overall ballots for the whole election. The spread is even, 42%D/42%R, just as it was when Jeff Denham had his big primary victory. CA-24, CA-36, and CA-52 are also over 20%.

CA-52 had a big Republican turn-out advantage in the primary, similar to CA-36. While Rep. Mary Bono Mack turned that into a 16.2 point win, Rep. Brian Bilbray eked out a 2.5 point win. Even though Bilbray has another big turn-out advantage, the model isn't kind to him. This is contrary to almost every other district in the state where Republicans exceeded any turn-out advantage, either by picking up Democratic votes or winning a good share of independents. Bilbray retains the biggest Republican edge in competitive seats in the state. So I'm not sure how he can do better.

Politico has an article today about how well Democrats are doing here. This surprised me because it's contrary to what I'm hearing. Now Republicans might be blowing smoke up my butt, although I can't think of why they'd tell a reporter we're doing badly and tell me we're very competitive. What I do know is this:

1. Despite cries of Republicans getting beat in June, the opposite happened. Republicans got more votes in almost every competitive district.

2. Absentee turn-out in June was D+5.5%. The final vote was D+5.3%. It's currently D+5.9%. That doesn't sound good for Democrats.

3. Twelve of the 16 internal polls released have been released by Democrats. Releasing internal polls is usually a sign the candidate is losing and trying to convince people otherwise.

4. Those internal polls have mostly been lackluster. They've shown Democrats with big leads is some, but haven't shown a lead in either CA-7 or CA-10.

5. The one independent poll out there showed Rep. Brian Bilbray with a comfortable lead.

The truth? I suppose we'll see November 6.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

California Absentee Analysis 10/25

Absentee counts jumped another 300k and we are over 10% of all the California votes for the first time. It was a good day for the Democrats saw the absentee spread go from 5.2% (42.7%D/37.5%R) to 5.8% (43.0%D/37.2%R). This is still nowhere near where the Democrats need it to be to have a good election. I've been unable to confirm that Republicans will be a lot closer with VBM than on election day, although I got a tip that VBM so far has skewed older than it should. Unless I can figure out another way to adjust the numbers I'll continue to report the results absentees only would produce.

f CA-16 remains as the lowest number of absentees turned in, but a big Democratic jump isn't unexpected. The other changes were relatively minor, but CA-24 and 36 moved 2 points to the right.

Democrats gained ground in the two swinish distress, SD-27 and 31.

Most of the assembly districts were unchanged.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

California Absentee Analysis 10/24

Ballots in California are counted by the counties and then submitted to the state. The counties don't submit to the state on a uniform basis, so one county might submit one day but not the next. Districts that are in more than one county could have a Republican county submit but the Democratic county does not. So the absentees will move more Republican that day. Keep that in mind when looking at day to day shifts. Overall, the Democratic absentee advantage declined from 5.6% to 5.2%. Considering that 5.6% was a bad number for Democrats, this is the wrong direction to move in.

Even though overall absentees moved to the Republicans, more swing districts moved Democratic. The most significant shift is in CA-3, which moved 4 points more Democratic since yesterday. CA=10, 16, and 47 moved one point more Republican, while CA-21, 24, 26, 36, and 52 moved one point more Democratic. Republicans are still projected ahead in 11 of 12 districts, but CA-24 and 52 are razor thin leads.

The only change is SD-27 moves 1 point toward the Republicans. Newcomer Todd Zink had to be considered a big underdog in this swing district, but there have been nearly 1,700 more Republican ballots submitted thus far.

Few moves here, although AD-9 is looking increasingly competitive.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

California Absentee Analysis 10/23

California absentee numbers are coming in and they can tell us how the general election will go. It’s just a question of knowing how to interpret them. Since nearly half of the ballots in California are absentees these days.

Let’s start with the primary. The absentee electorate was 43.9% Democratic/38.4% Republican. The actual electorate was 42.7% Democratic/37.4% Republican. So the relationship between the absentee and actual electorate is very strong. Registration in the state is D+13.2%. Since the electorate was D+5.3%, Republicans did very well in the election.

While Republicans did better than expected, most observers expected the electorate to be closer to registration in November. So far that hasn’t happened. In fact, it’s 42.8% Democratic/37.2% Republican, about the same as June. The good news for Democrats is that this is probably only about 10% of the people who will vote.

While the electorate is expected to be more Democratic, there’s no reason that the electorate that’s sent in their votes so far won’t be the same as it is now. We know these people have voted and don’t know about others. So, from here to the election I’m going to speculate how the people who’ve sent in their ballots actually voted.

The first column gives the partisan advantage in the primary. There were 5% more Democrats in the CA-3 primary. The next column gives the result. John Garamendi beat the Republicans in the election by 2.9%. Republicans did 2.1% better than the party difference. Currently there is also a 3% Democratic turn-out advantage. If the same principle holds up, Garamendi should be leading by 0.9%.

To do so, I’m going to assume a similar relationship between the electorate and the vote in the general election as there was in the primary. Since the overall electorate looks strong for the GOP statewide, so do the congressional districts. Republicans got more votes in 10 of 12 competitive districts in June and calculate to be ahead in 11 right now.

The Senate districts are fairly on track with what you’d expect since turn-out looks similar. SD-27 and 31 figure to be close. Republican Todd Zink looks good in SD-27 with the current R+5 turn-out, but fellow Republican Jeff Miller may need more of an advantage in SD-31. If the GOP wins SD-5 and 27, while the Democrats win SD-31 and 39, the Democrats will have a 27-13 advantage, enough for a 2/3 vote.

Strong Republican turn-out in assembly districts translates to Republicans winning 11 of the 15 districts that are considered potentially competitive. That looks better than it probably is, since the June results indicate less of these districts will be competitive than people think. If these are the results, Democrats will have 48 of the 80 seats, far short of the 2/3 they need to pass new taxes. They need 54.

I want to reiterate that this analysis makes a number of correlative assumptions which might not actually happen and that 9% of the electorate might not reflect the final electorate.

That said, a party ID advantage of 5-6%, like we're seeing now and saw in the primary, is extremely bad news for the Democratic candidates. They need electorates that are much closer to party registration to pull out wins. If this holds up expect more Republican victories than are being predicted.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

California online registration

There have been over 540k online registrations since they started it. That's a 3% registration increase. Registration had only increased by 300k in the first 9 months of the year prior to that.

1. Many of the applications are registration updates, so they aren't all new voters.

2. It's likely that a higher percentage are invalid than normal, as registering fraudulently is easier.

3. In the last 45 days, registration went up around 300k in 2010 and by 1.1 million in 2008. So a registration jump is normal.

This has the potential to be painful to one party or the other. Word is that Democrats are benefitting heavily, but the SoS has yet to confirm that. These reports frequently don't go up for several weeks after the deadline date, so accurate counts might not be available before the election.

Monday, October 15, 2012

CA-9 and 36: Democratic Polls Look Good For Them

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put out two polls showing their party winning CA-9 and CA-36. Let's take a look.

Barack Obama won California by 24 in 2008. SurveyUSA polled the state in September and showed Barack Obama with a 22 point lead. They polled again after the debate. Barack Obama had a 14 point lead. While one poll shouldn't be considered definitive, Romney's gain is consistent with his gains throughout the country. If the President's lead has indeed dropped 10 points then California congressional districts will also drop by an average of 10 points. After all, the statewide vote is the sum of the 53 congressional districts' vote.

The President isn't expected to drop much with minorities so he'll likely drop by a lot more with white voters. Neither of these districts is majority minority, so it's pretty safe to assume that these districts will drop more than the majority minority districts to get to the result.

2008:Obama +15%
Expected 2012: Obama +5%
Democratic poll: Obama +11%

2008: Obama +3%
Expected 2012: Romney +7%
Democratic poll: Obama +5%

Obama winning CA-9 by 11% is possible, although it's probably high. It should be close here, especially since this is a majority White district.

If Barack Obama wins California by 14 points, he isn't winning CA-36, let alone by 5 points, even if Riverside County is trending Democratic. So let's adjust the polls based on how much the Presidential number is off.

Democratic poll: McNerney +9%
Adjusted poll: McNerney +3%

Democratic poll: Ruiz +3%
Adjusted poll: Bono Mack +9%

I'm not one to approve of polls just because the results look like what I think they should, but you tell me which looks right.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

ABC-WaPo: D+9 Electorate

I'm not one to buy conspiracy theories, but ABC News-Washington Post has a poll that has a D+9 sample, their biggest Democratic edge of the cycle and bigger than 2008. So while they are showing more Democrats and fewer Republicans going to the polls, they're also showing the enthusiasm gap swinging toward the GOP. Thus, even though Republicans are more enthusiastic they've decided to sit the election out and stay home. It's like the pollsters want to convince Reps their candidates can't win so they won't go to polls.

How Swingy are Swing States

Mitt Romney is winning. At least that's what the national polls say. There hasn't been a poll taken entirely after the October 3 debate that has had Barack Obama leading. Yet Mitt Romney doesn't appear to be winning the swing states and getting the majority of the electoral votes. Why not?

I looked at Mitt Romney's swing state v. national performance two weeks ago, before the debate, finding that Romney actually improved by more in the average swing state than in the national poll. At the time, President Obama led by 3.7 points. Now the election has moved more than 5 points toward Mitt Romney, with the former Massachusetts governor leading by 1.4 points in the RCP average.

Mitt Romney led in no swing states on October 1. He leads in North Carolina, Florida, and Colorado now. Yet that'd still give a 294-244 electoral college loss. What gives?

As the above chart shows, Romney has gained dramatically in swing states, although not by as much as he has nationally. Now, he's running 8.7% ahead of McCain nationally and 7.9% in swing states. Of course, all swings won't be the same. If he was getting an 8.7% swing in all swing states, he would add Virginia and Ohio, but not Colorado. He'd still lose 272-266. Still, the average gain isn't too dissimilar to the national gain. He won't necessarily gain the same in swing states as he does nationally.

The above chart projects out state by state vote based on margins and projected turn-out. Barack Obama leads by 1.8% if we look at all the state polls. That's incongruous with a Mitt Romney lead of 1.4%. This makes more sense when we realize that the numbers used for the above chart include 15 red states and 8 blue states which haven't been polled since the debate. If those states were adjusted based on expected post debate swing Romney would lead by 0.4%. That's still 1.0% behind his national number but such a variance could easily be explained by different pollsters, different days, and even that a poll that has Romney ahead by 2 points is actually 1.7.

Romney's average move of 7.9% in the swing states is below his aggregate move of 7.2%, because his move is larger with small states than bigger ones like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Even so, he's around 50%-50% in swing states. Because they haven't been polled lately, or as often, Mitt Romney isn't gaining as much in the red and blue states as he is in the swing states. Again, however, that probably wouldn't be the case if there were more recent polling data for many of them.

Thus, we can't assume that Mitt Romney winning the popular vote will mean an electoral college win. It's likely it will, but wouldn't be inconsistent if he didn't.