Monday, April 30, 2012

Betty White for Howard Berman

Well, if Betty is for Howard, how can we go wrong? This is amusing for Republicans. Knockdown drag out and we are actually being courted.

Friday, April 27, 2012

CA-8: A crowded field

This is a district that takes up most of San Bernardino county north to Mammoth Mountain ski resort. There’s also the San Bernardino National Forest, Joshua Tree National Park, and Death Valley. The district is unusual because it has no big city, just smaller ones like Victorville and Yucaipa.

When Rep. Jerry Lewis retired CA-8 had no incumbent. Since this is a safe Republican district, Republican candidates have come out of the wood work to run here. You’ve got a state assemblyman, a county supervisor, mayors, a city councilwoman, and even a deep pocketed business man from outside the district. There’s only one Democrat, Jackie Conaway. Even though she’s raised only $10,819, she doesn’t have anything to worry about. The district is 32% registered Democrats. They’ll be voting for her. She’ll get 30-35% of the vote.

No one else will get half of that. The favorite is San Bernardino Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. He’s raised some money, is well known in the district, and has a Super Pac behind him, with the wonderful name Jobs, Opportunity, & Freedom. Who is against that?

Mitzelfelt’s two chief rivals figure to be State Assemblyman Paul Cook and Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron. All three have raised a similar amount of money and have good name recognition. Each candidate can concentrate on his base, as none might not even get 15%.

Rich dude Phil Libatore showed up in the district at the last moment. No one should dismiss a deep pocketed candidate’s ability to get at least some votes, but Libatore hasn’t put in the amount he did in a 2010 run and he’s from pretty far outside the district. I don’t see him getting traction.

Former GOP Assemblyman Anthony Adams has sparked a lot of interest because he’s running under the No Party Preference banner. Yay! Yay! Was that insincere? The going thought is that because he’s NPP, he’ll get a lot of independent votes and add them to his Republican votes. After he voted for the 2009 tax increase, Republicans attempted to recall him. With 10 Republicans in the field, it’s tough to see Adams getting a lot of GOP votes.

Okay, but what about independent votes? The district is 26% independent/minor parties. There’s a misperception that independents are moderates who are just looking for a great independent moderate. They aren’t. Certainly some are and maybe a majority are. You’re a Republican or Democrat because you identify with the party or their candidates. That’s why, in this age of polarization, the parties get such a high percentage of votes from their members. They are inclined to vote for a member of their party, who they want to support, even if they like an independent better. Surely, not all of them, but most.

Independents, however, have no loyalty to a party and being independent isn’t one. They might be very conservative, libertarian, very liberal, or even socialist. Maybe they don’t like getting the party mail and phone calls. Maybe they don’t like identifying themselves with a party. Maybe they don’t want to feel obligated to vote for that party. There are many reasons why they’re independents.

That’s why I think Adams, who has no clear constituency, gets 5% of the vote. His only hope is to go hard after Democrats and hope he can appeal to them as a candidate who can win in November. I’m skeptical.

There are several other Republicans in the race, but I don’t think any of them are threats to pull more than 10%. I know Angela Valles put out a poll showing her above that, but she’s raised $175 from donations and the only cash on hand she has is her own.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

CA-31: Red to Blue

Democrats have added several districts to their Red to Blue program, Republican districts they want to take in November. Actually it includes open seats currently occupied by Democrats, as these candidates are also challengers. I suppose Blue to Blue wouldn't be nearly as sexy. The Democrats have added Raul Ruiz (CA-36) and Pete Aguilar (CA-31) to their list that already included Jose Hernandez in CA-10, Mark Takano in CA-41, and Blong Xiong in CA-21. I have no idea why Ami Bera (CA-7), Julia Brownley (CA-26), and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) are not yet on the list. They've indicated they are targeting these districts and there's only one serious Democratic candidate in each one.

Aguilar has long been known to be the establishment pick for CA-31. The party had chosen not to add him to the Red to Blue list before now, even though most of the others were already there. I assumed they didn't want to take sides in the primary. I don't know how much this means, as I doubt the DCCC will be marshaling their resources to push one Democrat over another. Still, any recognition of this kind has to be a disappointment to Justin Kim. The battle in CA-31 is going to be difficult and this could help Aguilar.

The Republican establishment has been in Rep. Gary Miller's corner since he declared. State sen. Bob Dutton hardly seems to be positioned to be the outsider in the race. He was minority leader, which put him as one of the people who decide who is inside. He even received a legislative award today. He too has an uphill challenge.

Another CA-2 Poll

We have another CA-2 poll, this time from Democrat Norman Solomon. The last one had 45% of the vote gong to Democrats, but only 10% going to Republicans. This one tops it. Before I get to that, I want to recap previous elections. CA-2 is mostly Thompson and Woolsey's districts combined. Here's how the old districts voted in 2010.

Pretty Democratic, but there were some Republican votes there. There were also a bunch of third party votes in each election, so we know people will vote for who they want regardless if the candidate has a chance to win. Some Whitman/Fiorina voters crossed over for Thompson, but that wasn't the case with Woolsey.

Here is the new district:

It became more Republican, so we'd expect a share of the votes to go to the Republican candidates. Here are the poll results, compared to the 2010 vote.

So either Republicans are disproportionally undecided, they're all voting Democratic, or they under polled Republicans because Solomon wanted to show supporters and donors he was doing well, but still needed support. I'm not saying for sure a Republican will finish 1 or 2, but with so many quality Democrats I think it'll happen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CA-2: Who is Stacey Lawson

I called Stacey Lawson unknown last week. Apparently someone is noticing. There's now a website up to slam Stacey Lawson. I have no idea who is behind it, but this is what happens when a relative unknown shows strength in a race.

Monday, April 23, 2012

CA-3: An Opening for the GOP

There were a few districts that were gifts to Republicans and this is one of them. It went from a district that Obama got 65% of the vote to 55%. The commission paired 4 conservative Northern California counties with Yolo and Solano counties. These areas don’t have a lot in common and shouldn’t be together.

But it is. And John Garamendi may have a race. It’s a D+3 Presidential, D+3 Gubernatorial, and D+2 Congressional district. At least it was. In the last year Democratic registration has dropped almost by a full point, but Republican registration has remained constant. There’s still a Democratic registration edge, but Democratic registration is padded with low turn-out voters.

Garamendi’s performance was less than stellar in his initial 2009 election and similarly lackluster in 2010. Both years leaned Republican and 2012 doesn’t figure to.

He has four Republican challengers, three of whom are just some guy. While both Rick Tubbs and Eugene Ray are out there stumping for votes, nothing says that you have votes more than people donating to you. Neither has gotten much in donations. Rick Tubbs has a few endorsements, while Ray and Sutter Deputy DA Tony Carlos don’t show anything.

The real challenger, the only one with a chance to win is Colusa County supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann. She’s got fundraising dollars and a lot of endorsements. She’s a supervisor in Colusa County. While I like county supervisors, Colusa is a small county. A positive for Dolbow Vann is that she has endorsements in the other counties in the district.

I don’t know if she’s a good campaigner, but she should finish a strong second on June 5. Watch Republican and Democratic share of the vote to see if she has a shot.

California Top Two Still Still Misunderstood

Perhaps I'm just being redundant, but all these "experts" are in for a surprise on June 5. Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the respected California Target Book, thinks the following races may end up being party v. party in November.

CD2: A Democrat vs. Democrat contest is very likely.
A Democrat vs. Democrat contest is very unlikely. I see this district going around 69% Democratic/30% Republican in June. Great. Two Democrats could easily exceed any Republican. Two Democrats could, but there are more than 2 in this race. There are 8, 4 of whom are serious candidates. That's a lot of voters to divide up. I don't anticipate any Democrat exceeding 25%.

There are two Republican candidates, one of whom has raised nearly $200,000 and the other who hasn't submitted a fundraising report. Dan Roberts has the state party endorsement. This is golden, because if people don't know the candidates the state party endorsement mailer is extremely important. I know I've voted for people on it when I didn't know them. Roberts is very likely to romp all over Mike Halliwell. I'd guess that Roberts takes in a minimum of 22%, but may get up to 26-27%. It's probably 50-50 whether Roberts wins the primary, but it's almost certain that he'll exceed the #2 Democrat. There are simply too many quality candidates for two even get 20%, let alone 23%.
CD8: we may see a runoff between a Republican and a former Republican.
There is an independent fantasy that's been going on since the top two was created. Some people have the belief that independent centrists will grab votes on both sides of the aisle. That'd take a special independent. Maybe Linda Parks will do it in CA-26. Anthony Adams isn't that independent.

Republicans will vote Republican and Democrats will vote Democratic. Why? Because they wouldn't have joined the party if that wasn't how they voted. Sure, some can be peeled off, but not many. Most people in the parties are mainstream on the left or right, not moderates.

Decline to State voters aren't all centrists looking for a great independent. Many of them vote Republican or Democratic in elections because those parties are closer to them. Their choice to register independent isn't necessarily because they are moderates looking for an independent. And who's to say they are looking for this independent? While a Republican candidate will often mirror Republican views, independents have no party ideology to adhere to. One person might be looking for a fiscal conservative/social moderate while another may want a social conservative/fiscal liberal.

Adams has two other problems. 1) He's raised no money. It takes money to build an organization and win votes. But that isn't the only reason his fundraising is alarming. If you have support, you can raise money. If you don't, you won't. 2) He's reviled by Republicans. Linda Parks should pull Republican votes, but Adams will have a tough time getting many. Adams won't break 10%, let alone finish top two. One of the two spots goes to Democrat Jackie Conaway. The other is up in the air.

CD51: Former Asm./Sen. Denise Morino Ducheny will battle former Asm. Juan Vargas. There are two other Democrats and three Republicans on the ballot. But they appear to be running little more than token campaigns.
This one has a chance of happening. There are three Republican candidates to divide the vote. None of them has raised any money. They could easily split the Republican vote three ways. Xanthi Gionis has the state party endorsement and that might be enough to get her 25-30% of the vote. There are four Democrats, but two will garner few votes. If Vargas and Ducheny are close, they both could top Gionis. I put this as even money.
CD30: Howard Berman vs. Brad Sherman... A Berman/Sherman November runoff is possible, but not guaranteed.
This one might be even money to happen. Republican Mark Reed has the county, but not state party endorsement. Neither he nor fellow Republican Susan Shelley have raised much money. They could split the Republican vote. But how will the Democrats go? Howard Berman hasn't answered Brad Sherman's polls showing a one-sided Sherman win. The race could go Sherman 42% Berman 20% or it could be closer at Sherman 33% Berman 29%.

Here's where it gets interesting. Berman is unlikely to win with Democratic voters, but could draw enough Republicans, if there were no Republican in the race. So Berman won't win in June, but if he makes November he could. So here's my advice to Howard Berman supporters. Work hard to get every vote, but your best chance is if Reed and Shelley divide the Republican vote. Go out there and support Susan Shelley. Every vote she takes away from Mark Reed helps Howard Berman make November. Open your wallet and write Susan Shelley a check. Howard Berman doesn't need more money and you've already maxed out with him. Volunteer on Shelley's campaign. Berman will have enough volunteers. Shelley needs your help.

Capitol Weekly on Registration

It's amazing how people can look at the same registration numbers and still decide they see what they want. Capitol Weekly weighs in:

The voter-registration figures from the secretary of state’s office contain little comfort for Democrats and even less for Republicans: Democratic registration remains stalled at 43.5 percent, where it has been stuck for the past four years, while Republicans have dropped to 30.3 percent, reflecting a steady and inexorable slide over the past 16 years.

Democratic registration hasn't been stalled at 43.5% for four years. Four years ago it was 44.4%. Last year it was 44.0%. Republican registration hasn't been on a steady slide for 16 years. It was 34.9% in 2000, 35.1% in 2002, and 35.1% in 2004.

Both parties have lost registrants – in 1996, Democrats approached nearly half the electorate and Republicans stood at nearly 37 percent. But as the numbers of both wither, Democrats have topped the GOP by 10 percent or more since the 1990s with the exception of 2004.

Actually the registration gap was less than 10% from 2002-2007. This was the only time since the 1930s it was under 10%. In the 1970s the gap was over 20%.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Media's Take on Registration

The AP is getting into the act too.

The figures show a continued decline in registered Republicans. Republicans now make up 30.3 percent of registered voters, down from nearly 33 percent before the last presidential primary.
This is a weird quote. What is the 'last presidential primary?' I'm assuming it isn't the one three weeks ago in Maryland. Is it the 2008 California primary? Republicans had 31.4% of registration before that vote. That's not "nearly 33 percent." They did have it at 34.1% in 2007, but that's not "nearly 33 percent" either.

The percentage of those registered as Democrats remained unchanged at 43.5 percent.

This is perplexing too. Democrats were 43.63% of the voters in January and are now 43.49%. Republicans dropped from 30.36% to 30.31%.

Am I wrong here? is a 0.14% drop much smaller than a .05% drop? What am I missing?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

California Political Party Registration

The state of California has released voter registration for 60 days before the election. I’m sure you will see lots of articles that talk about “The GOP's fade to irrelevance in California,” talking about how California has recently become impossible for Republicans, even though it’s been that way since 1970.

Rather than just read the nonsense that the idiots brilliant analysts give us, let’s look at the numbers.

The Republican party registration has dropped by 7,051 since January. While there’s nothing good about a drop, taken over a year that’d be a drop of 28,200 for the year. In the last four years, they’ve dropped 43,000, 32,000, 48,000 and 140,000. So while it doesn’t reverse a trend it’s not all that alarming.

It doesn’t appear that people are registering Republican for the Presidential primary. This could be because they don’t like the Republican party or they just assumed the California primary wouldn’t matter. Which it won’t.

As we all know California is trending fast to the left. And to show how that’s happening we can see that Democrats lost 20,800 registered voters since January, 3 times what the GOP lost. That’s 0.28% of their voters, double Republicans loss of 0.14% of theirs. The gap between the parties has gone from 13.3% to 13.2%. So there you go. Nothing says a party is gaining popularity better than losing registrants at a fast pace, because we all know that they’re leaving the Democratic party because they love it and intend to vote Democratic the rest of their lives.

Of course this isn’t shocking, because it reflects what’s been happening since 2009 and what’s happened since 1976. Since 1976, Democratic registration has fallen from 57.4% to 43.6% in the state.

When we look at competitive districts, we get an interesting story.

While the competitive districts were a mixed bag from February 2011-January 2012, the competitive districts, for the most part, moved decidedly rightward from January 2012-April 2012. Some of them substantially so.

CA-9 showed a Democratic drop of 0.7% and a Republican increase of 0.8%. Democratic registration advantage has dropped from 9.5% to 7.5% in the last year. Democrats had a 0.8% registration advantage in CA-7 last year, but now have less registered Democrats than registered Republicans. Four of the top five districts trending Republican are the four most northern competitive districts. This could be positive in a number of districts Republicans were concerned about.

The registration changes don’t bode well for the GOP in CA-31, 41, and 47, all of which are big concerns. The changes in CA-21 and 36 should worry Republicans less due to their relative strength there.

Democrats need to hope that this massive rightward shift in some of the biggest battleground districts is a fluke. Losing roughly 1% in some of these in only 3 months would be a bad trend with 7 more months to go before the election.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is Pete worried?

He's going after challenger Eric Swalwell in a very ugly way. It's one thing to lie enhance about an opponent's record, but accusing him of criminal acts is pretty far. Of course this one goes all the way to November.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CA-52: It's a jungle out there

"You've got a tea party challenger."

Those are words no Republican incumbent wants to hear. No one wants a challenger and a tea party challenger means that the incumbent 1) probably doesn't have a lot of grassroots support 2) he has a challenger that will be able to count on motivated volunteers that a normal challenger couldn't afford. Usually the tea party guys are underfunded and will struggle to pick up 40% of the primary vote.

Brian Bilbray is in the unfortunate situation of having: 1) Two Tea Party challengers 2) Both are using their own money in their campaigns 3) He's in a jungle primary.

Usually the more challengers a congressman has, the more likely he is to win. While a second challenger will siphon off some of his votes, he'll take more of the anti-congressman vote. On the other hand, if you don't like Brian Bilbray you have two alternatives, instead of one. These two challengers will not only be able to rely on grassroots support, the way tea party candidates can, but they'll also be able to spend money on advertising, consultants, and infrastructure.

The worst part of it is that it's a jungle primary, with Republicans, Democrats, and a couple "No Party Preference" candidates. While Democrats are unlikely to take any Bilbray voters, former Santee mayor Jack Doyle, an NPP, could. But what's worse is that the Democrats have the worst combination for the Republicans, 2 quality candidates. San Diego Port Chairman Scott Peters is popular and has raised good money, the things that make him a good candidate. Former assemblywoman Lori Saldaña hasn't raised as much money, but she has voters who've voted for her before and she's Hispanic. While this isn't a heavily Hispanic district, there are enough Hispanics that their votes could give Saldaña enough votes to beat Bilbray. Two good Democrats and three good Republicans is the perfect storm that could lead to Democrats ending up with two candidates in November.

Some might dismiss this idea. It's not like Bilbray is unpopular or underfunded. He's a good candidate who has been through tough campaigns before. But the tea party is unpredictable and the Democrats could easily split their vote just right to put them 1-2.

This is my #1 race for June 5. It's a competitive district that could go to either party, yet neither party's nominee is set. There are other exciting districts, but any district where whichever Democrat/Republican is a lock to win the seat has to be secondary.

Monday, April 16, 2012

CA-31: Who is Justin Kim and what is he doing with $100,000?

The FEC numbers are trickling in, but CA-31, a new Inland Empire seat, is pretty much completed.

Congressman Gary Miller had a decent quarter, but fundraising isn't an issue for him. While his overall numbers aren't gaudy, he finished March with $1,169,688 cash on hand. That's plenty to do whatever advertising he needs to do. Miller in nominally the incumbent in this seat. While none of his old constituents are here, he is an incumbent congressman and his district was adjacent to it. His name recognition is strong and many people probably think he already represents them. Miller isn't regarded as a stellar campaigner, but he hasn't really been tested.

Miller's chief Republican rival is state senator and former minority leader Bob Dutton. Dutton's haul was $107,566 and he likely also has high name recognition. He represents many of these people. But he also hasn't run for congress before and he'll need to lay some serious bucks to beat Miller. That total has to be considered a disappointment and should make anyone pessimistic about Dutton's chances.

The leading Democrat is expected to be Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar. Redlands isn't exactly a big city and it's on the southeastern edge of the district. Still Aguilar has much of the Democratic party behind him. So, a total of more than $200,000 is pretty good. It should be easily enough to lead the Democrats.

Three other Democrats, Renea Wickman, Rita Ramirez-Dean and Justin Kim, are also running in the 31st. None of them was expecting to raise much money and each would likely take less than 10% of the overall vote. So imagine my surprise when Justin Kim reports $106,942 in Q1 fundraising, almost all of it from individual contributions. He has a decent resume, but nothing where you'd expect him to garner votes. While his fundraising is similar to Dutton's, Dutton is trying to beat a sitting congressman with huge C-O-H. Kim is trying to beat a small town mayor. I wouldn't favor him over Aguilar, but Kim could clear 15% in the race. He's clearly the sleeper candidate and bears watching.

Kim will not be at The Redlands Area Democratic Club Candidate forum this weekend, while Aguilar and Wickman will. I don't know if it's a sign that his candidacy isn't taken seriously or Redlands, Aguilar's hometown, doesn't want him to gain support.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

CA-2: It doesn't get more liberal than this

While there are districts that are more Democratic than CA-2, none of them has a citizens' voting age population (CVAP) that's nearly 90% White. Democrats have struggled with White voters nationwide for decades. The last time a Democratic Presidential candidate got the majority of the White vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. In California, a district will likely be Republican if more than 65% of it is White. So these voters are a group of their own. The district hugs the coast from the Oregon border to the Golden Gate bridge, taking in every hippie, wine drinker, and progressive it can devour.

Of course no district that is this White will be devoid of Republicans. Jerry Brown won here 64%-30%. The district voted for the Democrat in 2010 congressional races 69%-31%. The June 5 race is devoid of any 3rd party (e.g. Green, Libertarian) candidates, but it does have two minor independent candidates who shouldn't get more than 2% each. If that. So it's likely Democrats will get somewhere in the mid to high 60's in votes and Republicans will get in the high 20's or low 30's.

First, let's look at the Republicans. As I noted earlier, Jared Huffman has a poll that puts the race as 45% of the votes going to Democrats and 10% going to Republicans. People who usually vote Republican will continue to do so. They voted for John McCain, Mimi Walters for Treasurer, and for all the Republicans that ran against Lynn Woolsey and Mike Thompson. They won't stop now.

Republican Dan Roberts has two enormous advantages over Mike Halliwell. He has money and the backing of the Republican Party. While Halliwell won't be able to get his name out there, Roberts certainly will. He'll likely make a lot of phone calls and knock on a lot of doors. And when the Republicans in the district are getting ready to vote there'll be a mailer from the California Republican Party in every mailbox. Dan Roberts' name and picture will be right at the top. The first time they'll see "Mike Halliwell" is when they look at their ballot.

Roberts will get a minimum of 25% of the vote, if not 30%. Like Democrat Jim Reed in CA-1, not only will he finish top two, but he has a decent chance to finish first.

There are 8 Democrats in this race, four of whom are significant. State assemblyman Jared Huffman is selling himself as the leader and I see no reason to contradict that. He's racked up a lot of endorsements and had $444,000 cash on hand on December 31. It's likely higher. Most of this district is in the expensive San Francisco TV market, although the northern part is in the cheap Eureka market. I'd expect Eureka to be drowned with ads, not just because of its size, but because none of the candidates hail from the area. And you will hear plenty of radio too.

Stacey Lawson is a largely unknown businesswoman. She's raised a formidable amount of money and was second in Huffman's poll.

Norman Solomon is a liberal activist who describes himself as the Occupy candidate has a ton of progressive support. If progressives can't get Solomon elected here, I don't know where they will win a contested primary.

Susan Adams is a Marin County supervisor, which likely makes her familiar to many voters and should make her a contender.

While this should be an interesting race to watch, I think both Huffman and Adams will finish with 25-30% of the vote each, outpacing Solomon easily. Huffman just has too much firepower and support, while Roberts benefits simply by having an R next to his name.

Friday, April 13, 2012

California Notes

CA-30: The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has weighed in and they like... Republican Susan Shelley. Shelley is the potential Republican spoiler. If she gets enough votes, both Howard Berman and Brad Sherman may finish top two. This would be a disappointment and embarrassment for the GOP, even though no Republican will win the race. This would also be beneficial for Howard Berman. Since he hasn't replied to Brad Sherman's polls, he likely is running behind. A top two without a Republican could be his only way to beat Sherman.

Republican D.A. Steve Cooley has endorsed Berman. Berman has lined up an impressive list of Republican endorsements. The question is whether that turns into Republican votes. You could get all the Republicans in the world to endorse a Democrat, but you won't get many Republicans to vote for a Democrat.

CA-39: Democrat Jay Chen is up against Republican congressman Ed Royce. The district is far too Republican for a Democrat to win and Royce is one of the hardest working campaigners in the Republican caucus. It's nice to see a fight.

CA-2: Unsurprisingly Assemblyman Jared Huffman is out in front in his internal poll. Huffman is the favorite, so this isn't a surprise. It's interesting how once again a Democrat comes out with an internal poll that has Republicans getting a low percentage of the vote. This time it's only 10% of the vote. Republican congressional candidates got 31.2% of the vote in this district in 2010. It's hard to imagine all the Republicans here voting Democratic. It's never happened in Washington and it won't happen here.

CA-26: State Sen. Tony Strickland raised over $700,000 in the first quarter. This is an enormous amount of money for any candidate and Strickland isn't an incumbent. Anyone who thinks the Democrats will win this easily is in for a rude awakening.

CA-15: As I predicted, this race promises to be interesting. Swalwell could beat Stark, although that too would have to wait for November.

CA-28: Democratic congressman Adam Schiff is up against weak competition and will get re-elected easily.

CA-7: Congressman Dan Lungren outraised challenger Ami Bera for the first time in Q1. Both candidates have enough money to mount good campaigns and neither will spend money for the June election.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

California Congressional Districts by 2010 congressional numbers

Yesterday I was provided with how the new 2012 California congressional districts voted in congressional races in 2010. There are pros and cons to using any other race's numbers when analyzing a congressional race. I like congressional numbers the best, because I'm using them for a congressional race. This is how people vote on a congressional level.

How a Presidential candidate does may correlate with how a congressional race will go, but there are so many other factors that I don't think they're the best numbers. Barack Obama isn't running for congress.

Congressional numbers have the added advantage of the incumbent running again. CA-7 consists of 81% Republican districts. While that might give the Republicans the advantage of having stronger candidates in 2010, they will have the same incumbent in 2012. Of course the opponent may be better this year and open seats, e.g. CA-26 and CA-41 have an incumbent bump without an incumbent.

I used 35% as the Democratic share in the Nunes and McCarthy races. It's a little less than Brown got, but it's actually 3.4% higher than any of Nunes or McCarthy's opponents have ever gotten.

The numbers below are Whitman's two party percentage, McCain's two party percentage, the Republican congressional race share in 2010, how the congressional race compares to Whitman and how it compares to McCain. The numbers on the right indicate what percentage of the new district comes from a district a Republican won in 2010 and what percentage from a Democratic district.

I've included all districts where Whitman got between 43% and 57% as well as all that McCain 38% and 49%. This does exclude two districts Barack Obama won, CA-25 and CA-49, but both were well over 60% on a congressional race level. The Democrats have inferior challengers in both districts and no one expects them to be competitive in 2012.

CA-41: I've been saying for a while that Democrats don't win congressional races in Riverside County and John Takano is a bad candidate. All that is likely irrelevant. Republican congressmen got 45.4% of the vote in this district, even though it consists of entirely Republican districts. This district really took all the Democratic areas in Riverside county. This is probably a Safe Democratic district, but it is an open seat and June 5 could bring surprises. Likely Democratic.

CA-53: This district is barely on the list and Susan Davis is in no trouble. I included it, however, to show how Democratic CA-41 is. It has a very similar percentage.

CA-46: I was surprised to find Republicans ran so strong here, considering that 69% of the district was won by Democrats. Loretta Sanchez is a tough incumbent and the Republicans have weak challengers. This district should be considered safe, but it is worth watching on June 5.

CA-9: This is another district where I wasn't excited about the Democrats. Jerry McNerney is the weakest Democratic incumbent and would be out of a job if a third party didn't screw it up for the GOP in 2010. Democrats here got a safe share. Go Likely Democratic pending the primary.

CA-16: Republicans blew this one big time. This'd be a winnable district with a good candidate. The GOP doesn't have one. I'd go with Likely Democratic pending the primary.

CA-47: This is a shocker. More than half of this district was won by Democrats in 2010. Yet Republican candidates actually won this district. Alan Lowenthal figures to be a good candidate, but the Republicans have two good candidates. This one is in play. Lean Democratic.

CA-31: This district is trending away from Republicans but it went almost 50-50 in 2010. Gary Miller is an incumbent with a big war chest and Pete Aguilar is a small town mayor. I like him as a candidate, however, so it's Lean Democratic.

CA-3: Republicans didn't win this district and it's one of the worst ones vs. McCain. This still figures to be close. Lean Democratic.

CA-7: Whitman ran even with McCain, the only time she did that. This district has a lot of state government workers and Whitman ran on state government pension reforms. It's possible that cost her 3-4 points. Republicans weren't that strong here, but I still like Dan Lungren for Lean Republican. Yet I'll call it a toss-up, because the Republican percentage was only 50.8% in a district that was 81% Republican territory.

CA-21: Finally good news for Republicans. This district is mostly Jim Costa's old district. Yet Republican congressional candidates won it with 56.5% of the vote. Republicans have a good candidate and Democrats have a weak one. Democrats can't win with a weak candidate in the Central Valley. Likely Republican pending the primary.

CA-24: I'm not excited about Abel Maldonado, but the Republican bump over McCain is huge. I'll go with Lean Democratic for now.

CA-26: The national media has been certain that Elton Gallegly would've lost this race, but the district did far better than McCain and they like to look at McCain-Obama numbers. And this has a decent amount of Lois Capps territory. I like Tony Strickland here and question Julia Brownley's appeal here. Yet I'll leave it as a toss-up, especially since Linda Parks is going to get a good share of votes.

CA-10: Comparitvely Republicans didn't do a lot better than Whitman/McCain here, but it was a decent district for both that I think Jeff Denham is a good bet. I think it's Likely Republican, as Denham is a proven winner in tough races and Hernandez is... an astronaut. Many non-politicians have won seats in the past, but it's difficult to know which are good candidates and which aren't.

CA-36: Good luck beating Mary Bono Mack. She's overachieved in every election and that's reflected in the congressional number. Democrats should win one Riverside district and be happy with that. I think it's safe, but you could call it Likely Republican pending June 5.

CA-52: This is the only battleground district where Republican congressional candidates were below Meg Whitman. That could be a red flag, since both Duncan Hunter and Brian Bilbray, the two Republicans who represent parts of this district, won their races. Yet the congressional vote's spread over McCain is nearly as high as any district. Still, Republicans got 53.9% here and that's enough for a Lean Republican.

We have 28 Safe Democratic seats, 3 Likely Democratic, 4 Lean Democratic, 2 toss-ups, 2 Lean Republican, 2 Likely Republican, and 12 Safe Republican seats. Republican congressional candidates won 8 of these seats. Democrats won 4. The last one CA-31, was too close to call. Republicans only need to win 7 of the seats to break even.

I still put this at D+1 but wouldn't be surprised if Republicans gained seats.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CA-15 debate

Tonight marked a debate for the 15th district congressional seat. This is an interesting race and I'll try to find out how it went.

CA-2: Poll

One of the next districts I'll address is CA-2. Democrat Jared Huffman is out with a new poll. I'm not going to disagree that Huffman is likely leading the Democrats. What I have a problem is that the poll shows 45% of the vote going to Democrats and 10% to Republicans. This district is heavily Democratic, certainly, but Jerry Brown won the district 63%-30%. You'd think it'd be 45%D/21%R or 37%D/18%R if it's 55% of the vote. Either Republicans are disproportionally undecided or they didn't bother to poll many Republicans. Just as with CA-30, I'm sure Democrats will claim that Republicans are voting strategically and going for Huffman. People haven't done this in Washington state and it's difficult to believe that Californians will do it here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Swalwell going after Stark

As I mentioned last week, CA-15 is a very intriguing match-up in the state's new top two format. This is a 59%-35% Brown-Whitman district, Democratic enough where it's Safe Democratic, but Republican enough that a Republican candidate would rack up a lot of votes. Yet there's no Republican. That makes sense in the 84%-11% Brown district next door, but it's a little odd here. Besides incumbent Democrat Pete Stark, Dublin city councilman Eric Swalwell, and independent Chris Pareja are in the race. If Pareja were a Republican he'd be guaranteed to advance. There are enough Republican votes for that. Pareja, who is underfunded, might not be going after Republicans. Even if he is, he might not be able to convince them he's the candidate for them. If Swalwell can sell himself as a better alternative to Republicans, he'll advance with Stark.

That'll make it interesting in the fall. Because it'd just be Swalwell and Stark, Swalwell wouldn't have to get more than a third of the Democratic vote if he can lock up Republicans. Well, Swalwell is going hard after Stark. There's no indication he's going after Republicans, but he should be able to sell himself as a better alternative for them. Republicans would be happy with him gone.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Top Two: Washington Style

I've contended for a while that people who vote Republican in a general election will vote Republican in the primary, even if their party is unlikely to win. The first factor that should show us this is that in the past minor party candidates have gotten 2-7% in elections, often exceeding that party's registration.

One 2010 race stands out.

This race was supposed to be a nail biter and it turned out to be very close. In addition to the Republican and Democrat, there was an American Independent party candidate. This party is affiliated with the Constitution Party nationally. Many people join it when they find the Republican party not sufficiently conservative. Had David Harmer gotten a quarter of those votes, he would've won. If there was no AI candidate, he would've needed to win those voters 63%-37%. Considering where AI stands on the issues, it's safe to say he would've gotten at least that.

These people likely knew that 1) their candidate had no shot 2) by voting for him, the Republican might lose. They did it anyway. Because people will vote for the candidate they like regardless.

Washington state has had top two in the 2008 and 2010 legislative and congressional elections. Below is how the general election vote compares to the primary vote.

The column on the left covers races where there were only Republicans and Democrats in the primary. The one on the right is for races with Republicans, Democrats, and one or more third party/independent candidate(s). When there's only the two parties, the general election spread is within two points of the primary 87.5% of the time in congressional races and 59.3% in legislative races.

The chart above shows the cumulative primary and general election percentages of the Democrats and Republicans in WA-1-4 in 2008. The numbers closely mirror each other, even though none of these districts was competitive. If you're someone who votes Republican in a general election, you're going to vote Republican in the primary. This happened even though the eventual winner in the general election had challenges from their own in the primary.

If people were voting strategically, you'd see an elevated Democratic total for the challenger in 2nd or 3rd district or the Republican in 4th. Then they could've unseated the incumbent, always attractive to do, in the general election.

When there are 3rd parties involved it gets slightly more complicated. In some cases the 3rd party vote went fairly equally to each candidate in the general, while others had one party taking most of that vote.

This data shows us that people who will vote Republican in the general election are likely to have done so in the primary. It also tells us that a candidate whose party loses the primary 55%-45% isn't going to make that up in the general election.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The California Primaries to Watch June 5

I've started with updates on some of the districts. Before I go further I'll break them down into categories, so you know which ones to watch. The one that most people are interested in, CA-30, isn't in my top category, because it won't be competitive in November. So throw out your preconceptions, print this out, and watch the districts on primary night.

High Impact Races

These districts will be competitive in November and could go to either party. We can enjoy Berman v. Sherman all we want, but in November that race will have a Democrat winning and won't change the balance in the House. While some candidates are very likely to finish top two, no one in these districts should be considered a lock.

CA- 26 - To me, this is the race to watch. Tony Strickland is the only Republican in the race and he's almost certainly going to finish top two. There's one Democrat, assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who is considered the cream of the crop. What elevates this to #1 is the presence of Republican No Party Preference candidate Linda Parks. Parks' popularity means that it's possible no Democrat will finish top two, which would mean the Democrats wouldn't pick-up a district that many people feel they should be favored to grab. Parks will straddle the Republican-Democratic line. She won't give up her caucus plans, because if she commits to one party, it'll hurt her chances to get votes from people registered with another party and DTS voters will question her independence.

CA-52 - This race is below the radar but is loaded with fun fun fun. This is congressman Brian Bilbray's district. Unlike his other endangered colleagues, e.g. Dan Lungren, he's in danger in the primary. He's got four Republicans challenging him, including two, John Stahl and Wayne Iverson, who are tea party affiliated and will attack Bilbray from the right. Such a crowded field should benefit Bilbray, diluting the voters who oppose him.

The Democratic field is led San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters, who is very highly thought of in San Diego. He's opposed by two Democrats, one of whom, Lori Saldaña, could upset him on election night. There's also a chance that both Peters and Saldaña could advance if the Republican vote is split enough.

Did I mention there are two independents and one of them Jack Doyle is the former two-term Mayor of Santee? Doyle is highly unlikely to make top two, but he could take 10% of the vote. That has to come from somewhere.

CA-31 - This should be low impact on the Democratic side. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar should beat three unknown challengers. But Redlands isn't a big city and he got in the race late. Open seat favorites get upset by grassroots candidates in every election. If Aguilar loses, Democrats likely won't take this seat.

The real competition should be on the Republican side. State Senator Bob Dutton and Congressman Gary Miller are both heavy hitters. Miller has incumbency, money, and endorsements on his side. But he's also been dogged by ethics questions and Dutton was Republican minority leader in Sacramento.

CA-47 - There's a slew of candidates on both sides of the aisle, but State Senator Alan Lowenthal is clearly the Democratic heavy hitter. Like Aguilar in CA-31, he should cruise to victory, but a loss would make this a tough district for the Democrats.

There are also two significant Republicans here. Long Beach city councilman Gary DeLong has raised substantial money and has the state party endorsement. Steve Kuykendall, however, is a former congressman who defeated current rep Janice Hahn in a Democratic leaning district. So he clearly knows how to win.

For Partisans Only

The party that'll win in November is set and these races won't matter in November. There is, however, a lot of drama. Political junkies and party partisans will likely pay more attention to these races than the ones above.

CA-30 - I've written enough about this race that I don't need to explain why it's here.

CA-2 - This race is fun and I'll go more indepth on it next week. There are a lot of strong Democratic candidates, both establishment and grassroots. Republicans may yawn, but the Netroots certainly won't.

CA-8 - This is another district I'd like to hit next week. The district is unusual, not only because it doesn't have any significant cities, but because the cities are separated by mountains and deserts, yes, deserts, and are really separate from each other. There lots of Republican office holders, but there may not be any heavy favorite.

CA-1 - Covered this week. A bit of inter-party drama.

Wake me in November

These districts promise to be competitive in November and the primary outcome will almost certainly impact that. All the districts except one have an incumbent and there should only be drama on one side of the aisle.

CA-24 - Will the Republican challenger to Rep. Lois Capps be well-funded and well-connected RINO Abel Maldonado or underfunded tea party challenger Chris Mitchum. Yes, Mitchum's father is who you think it is.

CA-21 - There's only one Republican, GOP rising star David Valadao, but there are two Democrats. Fresno city councilman Blong Xiong is the establishment favorite, but he has a number of issues that make businessman John Hernandez a threat.

CA-3 - Is Congressman John Garamendi vulnerable? I think so, but the field of challengers has no definite favorite.

CA-9 - 24 year-old Ricky Gill is definitely the favorite to take on Congressman Jerry McNerney, but don't be shocked if high tech exec John McDonald makes a race of it.

CA-10 - It's possible this race could move higher. Congressman Jeff Denham is expected to be challenged Astronaut/Scientist/Engineer Jose Hernandez, a prize Democratic recruit. Yes, he's the one who was on the space shuttle. Lawyer Mike Barkley was in the race fist and independent Chad Condit could steal votes away from Hernandez. You see, Condit is the son of former Democratic rep. Gary Condit. While Gary Condit didn't leave under the best circumstances, he did give Chad a very recognizable name.

CA-16 - Congressman Jim Costa is being challenged by three unknown Republicans. I think Costa will sail to re-election, but I'll want to look at the numbers on election night. So should you.

CA-41 - Democrat Mark Takano and Republican John Tavaglione should take 80-90% of the vote between them. There won't be much of a race here, but we should watch to see the Republican and Democratic totals.

CA-7 - Congressman Dan Lungren and challenger Ami Bera will also top 90% between them. Because there is a Libertarian and an NPP in the race, it'll be tough predict how it'll go in November.

CA-36 - Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and challenger Raul Ruiz are the only two candidates here. So both go to November regardless of their vote totals. If Ruiz isn't close in June, he won't be in November.

In the weeds

CA-15 - I've already indicated why I'm watching this race, but the top two is known. The vote totals should tell us about November.

CA-44 - Only two candidates here, but they are Janice Hahn and Laura Richardson. Both advance, but the vote totals should be telling.

CA-35 - Like CA-15, the top two are known and the vote totals are a mystery.

CA-46 - There is an outside shot this district could be competitive in November. I'm probably more interested in the vote totals than I should be.

CA-33 - Congressman Henry Waxman should face off against the lone Republican Chris David. There is a candidate from every column in this race, however, and that could shake things up.

CA-29 - City councilman Tony Cardenas should win in a landslide. But he has a Democratic challenger and independent David Hernandez who may have left the Republican party because he thought that label would hurt him here.

CA-51 - This district is very Democratic and could produce a race between two Democrats in the fall. That should make the race more interesting, but I have a hard time getting pumped up for it.

There are 19 other districts where June will give us an opponent who'll lose in November. There are 6 districts where there are only 2 candidates, but the primary outcome will be one sided for the incumbent. Karen Bass is the only person unopposed.

So there's your cheat sheet. With more than 8 weeks to go, I reserve the right to change it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

CA-1: It'll get ugly

But then doesn't it always in politics? This district consists mostly of retiring congressman Wally Herger's current district. A number of candidates have swarmed into the race, which will be won by a Republican in November. Still, there are plenty enough Democrats in the district for Democrat Jim Reed to advance to November. He'll likely get the most votes in the June primary.

So the real mystery of the primary is who Reed will lose to face in November. Former State Senator Sam Aanestad is running against current State Senator Doug LaMalfa. There are other candidates in the race, but none is expected to take enough votes to matter. The Redding Searchlight is the best source on this race. He's called Anestad out on his statement on the oil available in the U.S.

LaMalfa is setting himself up very well to get elected. He's a fierce critic of the bullet train. That's a great issue to champion, since Republicans greatly oppose the train project. Of course, electing him to congress will make him less involved with the train project, since it's a state matter. It's not like he'll need to stop John Boehner from putting federal funds in.

LaMalfa, however, has come under fire for his family receiving federal farm subsidies. And not a small amount either. He's received $4.7 million over the last 15 years. His opponents want him to give the money back to the Federal government. He declined. You won't find many Republicans who'll support that stance. He gives some excuses, but those won't go over with small government advocates. I don't care if it is government regulations that are hurting you. Subsidies are subsidies. No one is guaranteed a business. This issue won't go away. Conservative blogger Aaron Park has gone on the attack against LaMalfa over ties to people who aren't conservative enough.

LaMalfa has racked up a lot of endorsements. Sam Aanestad is supported by conservative congressman Tom McClintock, who represents a nearby district. McClintock is certainly known for his conservative stances, but that's just one endorsement.

Look for the other candidates to keep taking shots at LaMalfa. I still see him as the likely primary runner up and a congressman next January.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Issa Endorsement

I'm pretty sure CA-30 isn't the only election out there, but things are happening and the media is reporting on it. As I expected, the Darrell Issa endorsement of Howard Berman is creating quite a stir. I'm surprised that Brad Sherman's consultant didn't try to tie Issa around Berman's neck with a "This guy is doing everything he can to destroy the President, trying to create scandal where there is none. That's who Howard Berman is with now." I think Democrats would include Issa in their five most despised Republican congressmen. What's next? An endorsement from Michelle Bachmann? Howard Berman is clearly leery:
Berman said in an interview after the forum that while he disagrees with Issa on many issues the endorsement showed he is able to work across the political aisle on important matters.
I'd think everyone would know that he's still a Democrat and doesn't support Issa's agenda. Did he need to remind them?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Issa endorses Berman?

I'm not sure I believe it either but he did just that on Sunday at the annual American Spirit Awards from the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors.

This is perplexing. There is a Republican in the race. There are, in fact, three. While it's unlikely any will win in November, I can't think of a time when a Republican endorsed a Democrat, especially when sticking it to a fellow Republican.

Does this help or hurt Berman? I don't know how many Republicans will be swayed by this endorsement. You don't score points endorsing a Democrat. Democrats dislike Issa. I'd guess that Berman will lose a few votes if they hear Issa saying he's a guy the Republicans can work with.

Will Howard Berman use this endorsement to go hard after Republican votes? Will Brad Sherman use it against him?

CA-15 and CA-35 Where do the Republicans go?

This is the first in a multi-part series looking at the California June 5 primary.

There are several districts (CA-13, 15, 29, 35, 37, 40, 43, 44) where no Republican is running. I'm going to focus on two of them, CA-15 and CA-35, since these are the most Republican of the districts. Jerry Brown won CA-15 59.3%-35.4% and CA-35 57.5%-32.7%. If a Republican were in the race, the Democrat would cruise to victory.

CA-15 has Democratic incumbent Pete Stark, Democratic Dublin City councilman Eric Swalwell, and independent Chris Pareja. Swalwell isn't regarded as a top level challenger, but he raised $140,666 through December 31, 2011 and that sum means he should be taken as a serious challenger. Pareja raised less than $1,000. He isn't expected to get much of the vote.

CA-35 matches Democratic congressman Joe Baca against a top tier challenger, Democratic state senator Gloria Negrete McLeod. McLeod declared for this district as soon as it was drawn, since no incumbent lived in the district. Months later Baca decided to run here. Negrete McLeod refused to step aside. Here, the third candidate is Green Party member Anthony Vieyra. Vieyra, like Pareja, should be eliminated in June.

The June primary will be a trial run in these two districts, as Stark, Swalwell, Baca, and Negrete McLeod will advance easily. What'll be important to watch, however, is how many votes they get.

How will Democrats vote? It wouldn't be unusual for an incumbent to win the Democratic vote 70%-30%, even to a challenger who didn't spend a lot of money. There are Democrats who will want a new congressman and vote against the incumbent. Republicans, on the other hand, have no allegiance. If asked to choose, I'd guess they'd vote against the incumbent, especially Stark, who many dislike. What if Swalwell got 90% of the Republican vote? That'd give Stark 46% of the vote but give Swalwell 50%. Losing in June might mean curtains for Stark in November. He can try to pick off the Democratic vote Swalwell gets, but the Republican vote will be difficult no matter how much money he has. Yet it's possible that one of these liberal Democrats could sell Republicans that they'll be a better vote. If they do that, however, they may sink themselves with their own party.

In CA-25 Buck McKeon is being challenged by 2 Republicans and a Democrat. McKeon will get the lion's share of the Republican vote. Democratic challenger Lee Rogers will get the Democratic vote. McKeon will win a one sided November election. The presence of a Democrat makes the district safe for McKeon. The lack of a Republican in CA-15 and CA-35 make these districts very different from CA-25.

While June won't determine anything in either of these districts, it'll be important to watch.I'm sure the candidates will do exit polls to see how they do with each party and determine their potential. After all, a 50%-46% result could be because all the Republicans swarm to one candidate or both Democrats and Republicans split their vote. I think that while Democrats are likely to stick with their candidate, Republicans will be up for grabs. They could go heavily for one candidate but then be convinced to go the other way in November.

Top two is going to make it difficult for these congressmen, who are used to easy races. To me, this June race is more interesting than the one in CA-10, which will see which Democrat takes on Republican Jeff Denham.

CA-30 poll Tweets

CA-30 poll

Lauren Whittington ‏ @l_whittington

Diane Feldman poll for Brad Sherman in #CA30: Sherman 40% Berman 17%. Sherman camp says he's saving $ for Nov

Kyle Trygstad Kyle Trygstad ‏ @KyleTrygstad

New Brad Sherman internal poll: Sherman 40, Berman 17, Reed (R) 12. Sherman 52, Berman 25 head2head. #CA30

It defies credibility that in a district that the worst performance was Mimi Walters losing 58%-29% and Obama won 66%-31% that Democrats could be ahead 57%-12%. This poll either assumes that Republicans won't vote June 5, even though there is a Republican Presidential primary and no Democratic one, or they'll vote Brad Sherman. I know San Fernando Valley Republicans. I've been to meetings at Galpin Ford. I've walked precincts with them. They won't be casting their votes for Brad Sherman or Howard Berman, even if Reed isn't going to win. These are the sort of numbers Barbara Lee might get. They won't happen in CA-30.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Prognosticators' Forecasts

Now that the Hill has revealed their ratings, we have five prognosticators out there. They are Rothenberg, Sabato, Cook, Roll Call, and The Hill.

So how do they see things coming out?

I used my standard system

Safe - 1
Like - .8
Lean - .6
Toss - .5

The left has how my ratings shook out and the middle has how the average of the five prognosticators ended up. To make it easier, I rounded to the nearest half congressional seat. Cook reports in halves. So that seemed okay. 3.5 seats isn't a big difference, so I'm comfortable with my picks.

Then I decided to move every rated, non-safe, seat one rating to the left. e.g. Toss to Lean Democrat. Since a toss-up would be +0.5 and a Lean Democrat would be rounded to +0.5, the numbers sometimes didn't change. Moving everything one tick left would mean Democrats would pick up 23.5 seats. Still not enough.

There are, however, 15 half seats in there. No one can win half a seat. So if you award 9 of those half seats to the Democrats, you'll have their net 25.

Right now I don't see the House in play. If the environment gives the Democrats a noticeable advantage, it definitely is. We're not talking about 2008 55.6% or even 2006 54.1%. I think the Democrats would need to corral around 52% of the vote for this to happen.