Friday, June 29, 2012

Democracy Corps Poll

I don't think I've had one post in three months that wasn't on California. So I'll take a break and highlight this Democracy Corps poll. Democracy Corps is a Democratic polling firm where James Carville and Stanley Greenberg are the principles.You'd expect Democratic bias. That's not the case.

The poll is of likely voters, not the registered voters that most polls do. So this should be a better predictor of the actual electorate. Obama leads Romney 49%-46%, while Republicans lead by 1 point on the generic ballot. That sound pretty good for Obama. It isn't.

The poll is 37%D/31%R/32%I. Democrats only had a lead of 4+ points advantage once, in 2008. Every Presidential year from 1984 to 2000 had D+2-4 and 2004 was even. So not only would it be the second most Democratic electorate, but it'd be the lowest percentage Republican turnout, as Republicans were 32% of the electorate in 2008. This'd imply that Republicans are dispirited and disinterested and about as likely to vote as they were in 2008.

I don't think anyone paying attention would think this year will be anything like 2008 for Republicans. It's likely going to be closer to 2010. Democrats will likely be closer to 2008 than 2010, so I'd expect something like 38%D/36%R/26% I.

They don't have in tabs, but these would work.

Obama 89%/8%/43%
Romney 8%/89%/48%

Generic D 83%/8%/37%
Generic R 11%/87%/47%

That's an awfully big lead with independents, far bigger than anything suggests. If we change the poll to the breakdown above we come up with a 48%-48% Obama-Romney tie and a 48%-44% Republican lead on the generic ballot. That isn't a big shift, but if Obama wins the popular vote by 3 points he wins the Presidency. If he gets a similar number of votes to Romney, then he might not.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


As I mentioned in my last post, the forecasters and the media don't care how the congressional races actually went on June 5. They've accepted the idea that all Democrats will do better and make their races competitive. That idea is ludicrous. No matter how strong past evidence, there has always been some that go the other way or the change is very small.

In the 2010 CA-3 primary race Ami Bera "lost" by 18.6 points. He only lost by 6.9 in the general. So he closed by 11.7 points, exactly what he'd need this time. In 2008 Lungren won by 15 points in the primary and 5.5 in the general. In 2006, however, Lungren actually went from a 14.9 point primary win to 21.6 in the general.

So 11.7 is possible and it's likely that some Democrats will do better than 11.7 points. I do, however, see around a 6 point average change. That's less than 2010, but more than 2006 or 2008. In each year the exit polls were around 1 point more Republican than registration. On a normal bell shaped statistical curve an 11.7 point improvement would be at the high end and won't happen in more than a handful of races.

This district is entirely in Sacramento county. Sacramento county is 43%D/33%R. It was 46%D/38%R in the primary. If the county is 43%D/33%R in the general, it's not guaranteed Bera will even do better. He'll be relying more heavily on independents than he did then.

The district is 39%D/39%R. I'm still waiting final numbers, but it was probably around 42%D/44%R in the primary. If a 2% participation advantage produces a 12 point win for Lungren then Bera will need an 8-10% participation advantage to win in November. He'd have to count heavily depressed turn-out that'd make 2008 look like a good Republican year. That's 2008 in Illinois, not 2008 in California, which wasn't nearly as bad for Republicans as it was elsewhere.

Republicans have been nearly as energized as they were in 2010. So I don't know what's going to keep them home. Bera would have to hope that independents, who appear to have voted heavily Lungren in the primary, flip to him. Again, not likely.

Of course the participation numbers I've seen could be wrong. Maybe Republican turn-out was more elevated than it looks. Chances are, however, it isn't. Those big shifts are likely to come in Southern California districts where there was a large disparity between registration and turn-out. Right now I see Lungren coasting to a 55%-45% win.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

California Primary Turn-Out

The California primary is over and Republicans did better than expected. The media meme has been that this happened through elevated Republican turn-out, Democrats will show up in greater numbers in the general election, and the Democrats will be competitive or win in all the districts they were supposed to.

I don't think anyone wants to see if this is true.

But let's see what we can figure out anyway, since almost every vote has been counted. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State hasn't put out a full ballot report with partisan turn-out by congressional district or county. Each county does have an elections report. Unfortunately, some counties have a ballot count by party and others don't.

The attached chart has the counties divided up with those that have provided partisan numbers on top, those where I've estimated it, and those that aren't part of competitive congressional districts at the bottom.

The counties vary widely. Some had significantly higher Republican turn-out. Kern, Colusa, Tulare, Los Angeles, and Orange counties fit into that category. Other counties, however, (e.g. Lake, Sacramento, Solano) had a turn-out margin that was pretty much the same as the registration margin. Republican turn-out wasn't elevated.

Because the Secretary of State doesn't put out a partisan turn-out report for general elections it's difficult to estimate what November turn-out would be. If these numbers prove to be final it seems likely that Sacramento county turn-out will be similar to the primary but Los Angeles county turn-out will see a serious uptick in Democrats.

Thus, CA-7, which is entirely in Sacramento county, probably won't see much of a Democratic improvement in the general but CA-36, 41, and 47 in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties will. Conclusions will be easier when the data becomes final.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Berman Picks Up Another Republican Endorsement

I've been filming for the last week, so I'm a little behind. Retiring Republican congressman Elton Gallegly has joined congressman Darrell Issa in endorsing Howard Berman.

The CA-30 race turn-out will likely have 30% Republicans. If one candidate dominates Republicans, he can get less than 40% of everybody else and still win. If he splits independents he can lose Democrats 2 to 1. I was expecting Republicans to get 35% of the vote in the primary. Yet they only got 23%. That means someone picked off roughly 1/3 of people who normally vote Republican. It's unlikely all that went to Hoard Berman, because, if it did he'd have gotten slaughtered with Democrats. My guess, however, is that he took 65-70% of the Republican vote that defected.

If he did siphon off that many votes he certainly doesn't need me to tell him how to get Republican votes. I imagine, however, that Democrats picked off the low hanging fruit, moderate Republicans who'll vote for a Democrat and people thinking that voting for Berman or Sherman will give them a voice into who their rep is.

That said, the remainder might need a lot more work. And if Berman has a deficit of Democrats, as I suspect, he can't afford Republicans leaving the oval blank. I wonder how much the endorsements help. I'm wouldn't be excited Darrell Issa endorsed Howard Berman, unless he did so for a compelling reason that will benefit Republicans. And Berman's low low ACU score suggests he has no interest in that. My cynical view is that Berman is a Washington insider who is as chummy with Republicans in the California delegation as he is with the state's Democrats. I wouldn't vote Howard Berman because Elton Gallegly likes to share a drink with him now and again.

Or course Darrell Issa just held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. If I were a Democrat I'd vote for the guy Issa doesn't endorse.

Friday, June 15, 2012

CA-31: My Advice to Bob Dutton

And all the other candidates who are in a same party run-off.

Do you remember how they said that an open primary that included independents was going to mean moderates got through to the general election? Remember how I said they were wrong and they were? Of course you do. Well, they were right. Just about the wrong election. The November run-off may just produce more moderates. Even when the conventional wisdom gets it right, they can't get it right.

Contrary to what they told you, the Top Two was similar to your traditional primary. There were Republicans and Democrats on the ballot. Republicans voted for their chosen Republican, often the most conservative candidate. Democrats voted for the most liberal Democrats. Independents are a diverse group and there's no candidate who represents that many of them. So they didn't have a major impact.

Most races will feature a Republican vs. a Democrat in November. It doesn't matter how conservative Doug LaMalfa is. He's going to win the election in CA-1. It's the same thing for Democrat Jared Huffman in CA-2. But it's the member v. member races where things get murky. Because not only are you conservative, but your opponent is as well. In a primary, where the electorate is overwhelmingly conservative you run to the right to win. If your district is competitive in the fall you run to the center and hopefully pick off more of the center than your opponent. If it isn't, you cruise to a win.

Running to the center when your opponent is your ideological opposite is familiar territory. But what happens when your opponent is also conservative but most of the electorate isn't? The electorates are below:

So how do you handle this?

Don't change your positions or run to the center. Any time a politician "finds religion" and changes their position in the middle of a campaign the electorate smells a rat. They don't believe it and they may turn on the candidate. Thus, the flip-flop works against them. But there's more to it than that. In a normal election you can run to the center and not worry about pissing off your base. No matter how far you go, you're going to be better than the other guy. Now, they can choose the other guy.

And they will. Just ask Linda Parks. People thought it was canny when the Republican turned NPP to run in CA-26. The theory was that she couldn't out Republican Tony Strickland, but if she became an independent she'd add independents and Democrats as her supporters. That was very wrong.

I anticipated she'd do that and Tony Strickland would max out around 33-35%. Strickland got 44.2% of the vote. He could only get that kind of vote if he took around 87% of all Republicans, conservatives and moderates. Even then he'd have to pick almost all of the American Independent, Libertarian, and conservative independent vote, and even some moderate independents. Parks likely did very well with moderate independents and Democrats, but when she lost all her Republican support, she didn't have enough voters to get her into Top Two.

Parks didn't change her positions, but she forgot that Republicans want to vote for Republicans who'll elect John Boehner House speaker. That's why they didn't become independents. They likely felt betrayed by Parks.

She found out what any candidate would, 1) your base will remain loyal to you if you remain loyal to them. 2) People who aren't your base are going to be far less reliable. You know how to get the people you've gotten. You don't know how to get the ones you don't. So why alienate the former in a vain attempt to get the latter?

In CA-30, right leaning voters will look at the ballot and scoff. Their choices are Howard Berman and his 5.00 lifetime ACU score and Brad Sherman and his 4.65 score. It's tough to make the case there'll be anything in their positions to appeal to conservatives. When the opposing party voters vote they won't vote for the person who is ideologically closest to them. They'll vote for the less of two evils.

So they're voting for someone they won't like. And they'll be none too happy about it. That vote will be easy in two districts. In CA-15 Eric Swalwell needs to sell the 20-25% of the electorate that's Republican (and some independents) that he's not Pete Stark. Stark is reviled by many Republicans. You can be for government run healthcare and get Republicans if you're facing Pete Stark. If Swalwell gets 25% of the Democrats, he should win.

The candidates in CA-8 are Assemblyman Paul Cook and Gregg Imus. Imus is a member of the tea party and a Minuteman who has patrolled the border to stop immigrants from crossing the border. Nearly a quarter of November's voters will be Latino and over 30% will be Democrats. Good luck getting them if you're a Minuteman. If Cook takes 75% of non-Republicans he can win with 20% Republicans. And he'll certainly do better than that.

The answer to appealing to Democrats in CA-31, or the other party in any district, isn't changing your ideology. It's convincing them that you'll be there for constituent services, that you're reasonable with your door open to them, and that your opponent is way too extreme. Just don't lose your base while doing it.

I didn't say it'd be easy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Having never bought for national congressional races I find it interesting looking at the reasoning behind the NRCC buy. If I were planning, I'd concentrate on the Lean/Toss-up districts. Your ROI on Likely districts is pretty low. You should keep yours and theirs are too tough.

I'd recommend districts with the most vulnerable congressmen, but I wonder if a generic Republican or shared ad is effective. You may need to talk about to talk about an individual candidate. Still, brand image has a halo effect, even if it's not specifically about the candidate.

I'd then look at the cost for running a schedule, say 500 TRPs, to support each candidate and recommend running in the most efficient ones. Why spend $100,000 to win a district when you can win another one spending $50,000. Of course there are other factors, including a candidate's strength/bank account and his or her opponent's. There may be political reasons for supporting one candidate over another, especially incumbents.

I'd buy Duluth and La Crosse-Eau Claire for Duffy. Maybe they'll add those later. I'd also buy Duluth for Chip Cravaack. Most of his population is in this district and it's a cheap market. It'd be bad planning to buy Minneapolis for him. The cost would be enormous for who you're reaching. I'd stick with cable for them.

The NRCC has to know this. I'd assume that this buy would support Paulsen, Bachmann, or Kline. None are considered to be in serious danger, however.

If they're supporting Johnson, Wheeling-Stuebenville would be a better buy than Youngstown.

I can't see buying Raleigh to target McIntyre. Wilmington makes a lot of sense.

Champaign/Springfield makes more sense for IL-13. St. Louis has to be for IL-12.

What's not on there:
Fresno-Visalia - They see CA-16 and 21 as low priorities.
San Diego - Hello? Brian Bilbray on line 2.
Santa Barbara - Isn't Maldonado a Young Gun?
Tallahassee - FL-2
Orlando - Stop Allen Grayson and support Dan Webster.
Des Moines - Tom Latham has a lot of money.
Albany, Buffalo, Plattsburg, Rochester, Syracuse - A lot of New York opportunity. Maybe they won't evaluate it until after the primary.
South Bend - Small market. Big return. This one isn't wrapped up.
Savannah and Augusta - John Barrow won't go quietly.

Overall it's a decent target list, but I'd adjust it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Did Props 14 and 20 Fail?

After last week's results there's been a lot of talk about the California electoral reforms.

California Redistricting Commission
Some people thought that the California Redistricting Commission would bring competitive races to California. While there could be 12 competitive congressional races, there might only be two state senate and five assembly races that are in doubt. This isn't much of an increase. The new lines, however, weren't designed to produce more competitive districts. The law doesn't use that as commission criteria and the commission never stated as a goal. If they were looking to create more competition, they would've had to gerrymander some districts into unusual shapes. They were asked to create districts that were more compact and reflected communities of interest. In some cases this'd lead to more competitive districts, but there was no guarantee.

Top Two
The prop. 14 designers felt that Top Two would produce more moderate legislators and allow independents to get through. There's no indication that there was any change in who got nominated. While a handful of independents did finish second, none will seriously have a shot in November. The designers forgot that Democrats and Republicans would still be voting heavily in the primary and they'd go for the more liberal and conservative candidates respectively.

While each party has moderates the only way a moderate would get through is if the moderates in both parties coalesced around one candidate. This was unlikely, as moderate Republicans are unlikely to vote for any Democrat over a Republican and vice-versa. In fact, Republican Tony Strickland's high voter percentage in he CA-26 congressional race indicates that Linda Parks' lost almost all of her Republican support when she left the party. She was able to pick up some Democrats and independents but she couldn't advance without Republican moderates.

Independents don't turn out in heavy numbers for primaries and didn't do so in this one either. They also aren't all moderates, as some share the same space as the more extreme elements on both sides.

All that said, Top Two could produce more moderate legislators, just not in the primary. Races involving two candidates from the same party will leave people from the opposing party with no one to vote for. They will, at least in theory, vote for the more moderate candidate, with views closer to theirs. Thus a candidate like Eric Swalwell in CA-15 needs only to prove he's a legit challenger to win most Republican votes. If he can get a quarter of the votes in his own party, which seems likely, he'll advance. If this is correct, no amount of money will save Pete Stark because he doesn't appeal to Republicans. Top Two will go to the more moderate candidate.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Member v. Member races

It appears there'll be eight member v. member congressional races in California. In two of them, CA-40 and CA-43, the incumbent isn't facing serious competition and there aren't a lot of Republicans. CA-44 is the Hahn-Richardson match-up, but Democrats outnumber Republicans there 5 to 1. So they likely won't matter much.

There are five districts where The other party matters.

CA-15 - Pete Stark v. Eric Swalwell. Tea Party member Chris Pareja ran as an NPP. That may have cost him advancing. Republican turn-out was high and they may have been as much as 30% of the electorate. By running NPP, however, Pareja didn't give Republicans any reason to think his ideology was similar to theirs. The district is 48%D/23%R/29%I. If Swalwell runs a good campaign Stark is done. If he takes 20% of Democrats, which he should do easily, he'll get enough Republicans and independents to win. Stark has doubled down on his far left positions, although it's not like Republicans didn't oppose him before this. All Swalwell needs to do is to tell Republicans he doesn't hate business, his door is open to them, and that he's sane unlike Stark. I could easily see Stark remaining in the low 40's.

CA-35 - Joe Baca v. Gloria Negrete McLeod. Green Party member Anthony Vieyra got 19%. He should be to the left of those two. This district is 27% Republican.

CA-30 - Howard Berman v. Brad Sherman. There's a good share of Republicans here too, but they totaled only 22% of the vote when the electorate was over 30% Republican. I assume Berman got many of those Republicans, as he has more Republican endorsements. So he should keep doing what he's doing. I can't wait for Howard Berman and Brad Sherman talking to the San Fernando Valley Republican Club.

CA-8 - The final two are unknown, but it appears to be Greg Imus and State Assemblyman Paul Cook. The district is 32% Democratic. Imus may have trouble appealing to this group, as he's known for his hardline stance on immigration. He may not even try to appeal to Democrats, thinking the district is Republican. That'll be a big mistake. Paul Cook will make him look like he's fringe and will win easily.

CA-31 - Since this district is 41% Democratic, Republicans Gary Miller and Bob Dutton are in an odd position of having more other party voters to appeal to.

All of these candidates should avoid trying to pander to the other party by changing their positions. They'd appear to be a flip-flopper who'll say anything to win an election. They'll lose the votes they have from their own party while chasing people who don't want to vote for you and who won't trust you. They could just as easily leave the ballot blank rather than vote for someone they don't want to see elected. They should emphasize positions that might get them other party votes, but they should sell themselves and not their positions. It doesn't hurt if your opponent can be perceived as extreme and hostile. That strategy will likely work for Swalwell and probably also for Cook.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

CA-31: The Perfect Storm

Two Republicans finished Top Two in CA-31, even though the district is Democratic leaning. It has become exhibit A for Top Two. I called the result over the weekend. What did I see that no one else saw?

This was the perfect storm, something I mentioned as long ago as August 2011. Here's why it happened.

1. Republicans only had two candidates and they were both established elected officials who were evenly matched. Had there been a disparity between the two, this wouldn't have happened. Likewise a third Republican could have taken enough votes away from these two to put Aguilar into second.

2. There were four Democrats. While the Republicans were splitting up 52% of the vote 2 ways, the Democrats were splitting up 48% four ways. This probably wouldn't have happened had there even only been 3 Democrats.

3. The two Democrats who were thought of as just names on the ballot weren't. Renea Wickman has been a community activist and Rita Ramirez-Dean has been an educator for the past 38 years. Both got into the race early and had a big head start in getting support. It's tough to know when someone who raises little money is working hard, but these two clearly were. They got a combined 25% of the Democratic vote.

4. Democrat Justin Kim was largely unknown but he wasn't running a vanity campaign. Kim is a lawyer and a former congressional staffer who had strong enough connections in the district to raise over $100k

5. The Democrats waited on Congressman Joe Baca. Baca lives in the district and indicated that he'd run here after the first drafts came out. In September he switched to CA-35, a district where state senator Gloria Negrete McLeod was already running in. Assemblywoman Norma Torres was considering CA-35 until that point. None switched to CA-31. Russ Warner, who'd run for congress before, was thought to be the leading contender but he decided on the state senate instead.

6. At this point it looked like either Republican congressman Jerry Lewis would run here, as the district contained portions of his district. Democrats must've written off the district, because no new candidate emerged.

7. Lewis surprisingly retired in January. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar jumped in. Redlands is a small town and he was getting in late. It's a jump to go from small town mayor to congress and one that candidates usually prepare for for a long time. Aguilar was already running behind.

8. The county party didn't make an endorsement. Such an endorsement is big when the candidates are unknown. Jerry Hayden and Jeff Taylor got Republican nominations in CA-46 and CA-20 likely because of this. Now, voters had no guide to go by. The candidates didn't have a lot to distinguish themselves from each other. Aguilar failed to take half the Democratic vote.

What I saw was the perfect storm of two well known evenly matched Republicans against four unknown Democrats. If it was going to happen, it'd happen here. And it did.

CA-30: Berman v. Sherman Results

I was wrong and kind of wrong. I was wrong in my assumption that no amount of money could get Republicans to vote for a Democrat. Clearly there is an amount and it’s somewhere in the multi-millions. I thought Howard Berman had a 50-50 shot at advancing. I just thought he would if the Republicans split the vote. Which they did. I just didn’t think Howard Berman would be splitting it with them. From a Republican point-of-view, it’s a good thing when two Democrats going at each other through November.

Republicans should be at least 30% of the electorate in the fall. And this time there’s no Republican to take their vote. Both Sherman and Berman will need to go after them. I’m excited to hear the words “The special guest speaker tonight at the San Fernando Valley Republican Club is… Howard Berman.” I can’t imagine that appeal.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

California Primary Analysis

I'm sure some of my readers are waiting for me to sautee up the crow on the CA-30 race. I'll save that one for later and just look at the races which are supposed to be competitive. I'm going to enjoy the moment for calling the CA-31 results. Anyone else have Miller-Dutton in a Democratic district? I predicted the top two correctly in 45 congressional districts, 42 in the correct order. I got the winner in 7 others. I only missed both in CA-8. Recount!

Let's start with the legislature

Senate - The people who said this redistricting will lead to more competitive races were wrong wrong wrong. The senate will be 27 Democrats and 12 Republicans. The 27th district will be the only competitive race. The Democrats get their 2/3.

Assembly - Democrats didn't do as well here. I see 48 Democrats 28 Republicans and 4 competitive. Three of those districts were ones I thought were Safe Democratic. So I reserve judgment that they'll actually be competitive.

AD-8 is likely to be competitive. Republicans won 52.8%-42.7%. I'm assuming elevated Republican turn-out makes it competitive. This might be Safe Republican.

The Republicans fell short of what people thought they'd do in the state senate. And expectations were low. They did better in the assembly than expected and Democrats will only get 2/3 in the senate. And the GOP will pick up at least one senate seat in 2014.

The ratings I'm comparing to are the consensus from the forecasters.

CA-3 – Garamendi got 52.8% of the vote. If Republican turn-out is as elevated as the absentees were, he’s got this one. Right now I’ll stick with Likely Democratic. (was Lean Democratic)

CA-7 – Dan Lungren exceeded expectations and won by 12 points. This district could be safe, but for now I’m going with Likely Republican. (was toss-up)

CA-9 – I predicted a number of incumbents in the 40’s who didn’t finish that way. Jerry McNerney only got 48.4%. This is more competitive than people thought. Toss-up. (was Lean Democratic)

CA-10 – Jeff Denham only got 47.7%, so you can’t put this one in the vault. He beat Democrats 47.7%-34.0% with the rest going to NPP. It’s tough to see Hernandez getting that many votes. Likely Republican. (was Toss-up)

CA-16 – The Democrats won this district 51%-49%. That’s way more competitive than Democrats thought it’d be and will still be so with better Democratic turn-out. Lean Democratic (was Likely Democratic)

CA-21 – If there’s a theme here, it’s how disappointing this day was for Democrats. They didn’t get their preferred candidate and he wasn’t much anyway. David Valadao got too many votes to overcome. Safe Republican (was Lean Republican)

CA-24 – Lois Capps’ total ended up dropping as the night wore on. The Republicans beat her here 51.2%-46.5%. That sounds better than it is, because absentees indicate Republicans turned out en masse. Still it’s a toss-up. (was Lean Democratic)

CA-26 – I expressed disappointment last night, even though Tony Strickland exceed my expectations dramatically. I thought Linda Parks wouldn’t get that many Republicans, but I think they all abandoned her. Strickland did beat the Democrats by 7 points, but I’m hesitant to put it in the Republican column. Toss-up (was Toss-up)

CA-31 – If the results hold, Republicans picked up a district they wouldn’t be favored in and is trending so far left that it’s bound to go Democratic eventually. If Democrats can actually come up with a candidate who can finish Top Two. Safe Republican (was Toss-up)

CA-36 – Yes, Mary Bono Mack won 58%-42%. I thought the turn-out would put her at 64%. Pending the turn-out numbers I have to put it as Likely Republican. (was Likely Republican)

CA-41 – Another district where Republicans exceeded my expectations. I saw this as going 50%-50% or 51%-49% Republicans. Instead the GOP got 54.8% of the vote. Lean Republican (was Lean Democratic)

CA-47 - Steve Kuykendall cratered. I’m not going to go too indepth here, but I wrote up a series of recommendations for him. He said he gave them to his people. I never heard from them after that. I don’t think he listened to any of my recommendations. I didn’t expect him to get Top Two, but I didn’t think he’d do this bad. Democrats won the district by a little less than a point. Absentees were 42%D-41%R. The district is 42%D-31%R. I think it’s safe, but I’m going to make it Likely Democratic until I see turn-out. (was Likely Democratic)

CA-52 – I know Brian Bilbray exceeded my prediction, but Republicans overall fell 6.5% below what I expected. What’s more Democrats exceeded my expectations by 9.6%. The difference was disappointing NPPs. It isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, but I think it’s Lean Democratic pending turn-out (was toss-up)

Overall a great night for the GOP. I think 8 districts moved right, 2 went left, and 3 were as expected.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Where to get your info

California results
Live blog from people who I actually respect.

I may update during the evening. So check back.

CA-10 Prediction

I'm leaving to vote in a few minutes, but I'll share my thoughts first.

The Auburn Journal makes the ballsy pick of Chad Condit finishing first. Condit has raised only $45k, which is tiny compared to Democrat Jose Hernandez and Republican incumbent Jeff Denham. Others are more optimistic about NPP candidates than I am. Republicans and Democrats have returned 87% of the ballots thus far. There aren't enough independents voting to get Condit into Top Two. I'm assuming that since Condit's father was a Democrat, he likely has a share of Democrats who'll be sympathetic to him. For Condit to advance he'll have to take a good share of the Democratic vote. I don't see him stealing Republicans from Congressman Jeff Denham.

People vote party. I don't see it differently today. The Auburn Journal does.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Things we [should] know going into the California primary

The California primary is tomorrow and the first thing we know is that a lot of people are going to get it wrong. I may be among them. Of course they base it on what "they know"and I base it on what I can research.

There will be elevated Republican turn-out
We've seen it in past primaries and we're seeing it in the absentee voting. The chart below shows it a little simpler.

So far 11.2% of Democrats have voted, and overall 11.1% of the state has voted. That indicates that, comparatively, Democrats aren't experiencing low turn-out. Republicans have had high turn-out so far, while independents and third party members have had low turn-out. I'd guess that as more independents learn about Top Two the turn-out will be higher. Just not this year.

Republicans vote Republican
Exit polls in California show that regardless of turn-out or independent vote, 85%+ of each party will vote for their own party. We've had a mass exodus from both parties, so those that are left must like their party. In 2010 5.1% of the votes were for the American Independent candidate in CA-11.He had no realistic shot at winning and had they voted for the Republican or the Democrat they could've swayed the election.

This isn't to say that some people won't defect in a race where the other party is sure to win. It should just be a small number. No matter how hard you try most Republicans won't vote for a Democrat.

Independents aren't monolithic like Republicans and Democrats
OCPolitical has a link where they speculate which NPP candidates will advance. They say this:

Democrats make up 47.3% of CD-19′s registered voters, Republicans 22.6%, and NPPs are 26.3%. With the Republican vote split two ways and NPP voters already outnumbering Republicans, it’s likely that Cabrera advances to November, where he’ll be stomped by incumbent Lofgren.
There are a few things they're missing. While the breakdown in the district is 47%D/23%R/30%Other, ballot returns are 50%D/27%R/23%other. So right away there are less independents and third party voters than he's assuming. Even more important is that independent doesn't necessarily equal moderate. Independents range in ideology from far right to far left and they can have party loyalty. Being an independent doesn't mean you aren't going to vote Democratic or Republican each time. It just means you don't want to affiliated with a party for whatever reason.

Likewise an NPP candidate isn't necessarily moderate. He or she, like the voter, decided there was good reason to go NPP, even if they're solidly on the right or left.

There are independents that are swing voters. That doesn't mean they're looking to swing to an independent, however. While some independents like third parties, others feel it's a wasted vote. Since independent doesn't mean a fixed ideology, who's to say they agree with the independent more than the Democrat or Republican?

There are some NPP candidates who do have a shot, but how a good a shot depends on the candidate. For NPP candidates having a certain party affiliation doesn't automatically get them votes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ballot Returns and CA-30

Republicans show up disproportionately in California primaries. This has occurred when there were big Republican primary battles on the ballot and when they're weren't. It's occurred in Republican years and Democratic years. Statewide the registration is 43%D/30%R/27%other. This year ballots have been returned via mail at 44%D/38%R/18%other. The low turn-out from independents and minor parties is normal. They often don't have anything to vote for in June as they've been excluded from party primaries. The high Republican turn-out fits with the past. In CA-30 the turn-out so far is 52%D/33%R/15%other. This is 4 points above the district's Democratic registration, but 7 points above Republican registration.

This poll has the vote going 57.5%D/16%R/3.5G. The remaining 23% are undecided. The Democratic number looks fairly close, but the Republican number is way off.

Either one of three things is happening:

1. The pollster is using a sample that's around 65D/20R/15I

2. Most of the undecideds are usually Republican voters.

3. Republicans are voting for Democrats.

I suspect that it's mostly the 1st, a bit of the second and third. It makes sense for Republicans to be more undecided since their candidates are largely unknown. It doesn't make sense for almost all the undecideds being Republicans, especially since they are turning in ballots at a good rate. Some Republicans will vote Democratic. I think that's between 10% and 25%. No more. We're in a state where people are leaving the Republican Party. If you're staying in, there's nothing anyone can do to convince most Republicans to vote for a Democrat. It's my suspicion that pollsters think this is a Democratic district. Thus, most of the votes will be from Democrats.

Maybe I'm wrong. We'll see Tuesday.

California Primary Preview Part IV

CA-21 – This should be a no brainer. The Democrats have a mediocre candidate who doesn’t live in or currently represent the district. The Republicans have a rising star. Democrats have gone hard after registration here, but Hispanics are notoriously unreliable voters. Prediction: Valadao (R) 57% Xlong (D) 30%, Hernandez (D) 13%

CA-16 – If I’m right and Democratic turn-out means lower Democratic vote totals Jim Costa’s vote total could also cause panic. Prediction: Costa (D) 41%, Whelan (R) 25%, Tacherra (R) 14%

CA-3 – I think John Garamendi is ripe to be beaten but Democratic absentee ballots are actually coming in here. I think he’ll clear 50% and not cause great panic. Prediction: Garamendi (D) 52%, Vann (R) 34%, Tubbs (R) 9%

CA-24 – Honestly I’m having a tough time with the tea leaves here. Maldonado has actually spent much of the money that kept bouncing to and from his pocket. But is it enough to overcome the conservative resistance to him? Prediction: Capps (D) 43%, Maldonado (R) 26%, Mitchum (R) 24%

CA-41 – Like CA-31 this is a district that looks good for the GOP this year but is likely to flip this decade. I think it’ll be close on Tuesday, but the real election is in November. Prediction: Takano (D) 41%, Tavaglione (R) 40%, Nevenic (D) 9%

CA-9 – As much as I’d like to think the GOP will do well here, my model tells me otherwise. If this happens, write off the district. Prediction: McNerney (D) 57%, Gill (R) 34%, McDonald (D) 9%

CA-7 – Like CA-41 I don’t think who wins Tuesday will mean that much in November. Prediction: Lungren (R) 48%, Bera (D) 45%, Tuma (L) 4%

CA-10 – Chad Condit is one of those NPP wildcard candidates that the centrist/independent lovers have been touting on the Internet. I don’t think that much of them, but don’t want to dismiss them either. Prediction: Denham (R) 50%, Hernandez (D) 30%, Condit (N) 11%

CA-15 – With no Republican this is a shot in the dark. So far Republicans have returned 29% of the ballot, even though they only have 23.5% of the party registration. Pareja is a Tea Party guy, but will Republicans flock to someone who is NPP and hasn’t spent money? I could see a lot of votes against Stark. If that’s the case, Swalwell will do better than this. Prediction: Stark (D) 43%, Swalwell (D) 39%, Pareja (N) 18%

CA-35 – There’s been little press here compared to the CA-15 match-up. There’s also no NPP Republicans could think is a good alternative for them. Prediction: Baca (D) 45%, McLeod (D) 44%, Vieyra (G) 11%

CA-44 - I see Janice Hahn doing a Kaptur here. Prediction: Hahn (D) 57%, Richardson (D) 43%

CA-20 – Will there be concern about Sam Farr? Doubtful. Prediction: Farr (D) 46%, Taylor (R) 21%, LeBarre (R) 13%

CA-25 – Buck McKeon should be on auto pilot Prediction: McKeon (R) 57%, Rogers (D) 25%, Wright (R) 14%

CA-29 – They are getting a lot more Republican ballots back than you’d expect in a district with no GOP candidate. Prediction: Cardenas (D) 54%, Hernandez (N) 32%, Valdez (D) 14%

CA-51 – Another district with an overabundance of Republican ballots returned. The three GOP candidates have raised $354 between them. Prediction: Vargas (D) 27%, Ducheny (D) 24%, Gionis (R) 23%

CA-45 – I’m not bothering with safe Republican districts, but I’m including this one because they have a prized Democratic recruit. Ballot returns make this one ugly. Prediction: Campbell (R) 55%, Kang (D) 27%, Webb (R) 18%

CA-39 – This one has a prized Democratic recruit also. Where has the money gone? Republicans have an 8 point registration edge but a 23 point ballot return edge. Prediction: Royce (R) 68%, Chen (D) 24%, Mulattieri (N) 8%

California Primary Preview: CA-33

I spent the day in the southern half of the district and you wouldn’t know Henry Waxman was running. Maybe there are Waxman signs in Santa Monica, which is Waxman country, but I’ve been in Santa Monica three times in the last two weeks and I haven’t seen one. I’m certain there aren’t any south of the airport. While Waxman expressed a desire to meet “his new constituents” I’m skeptical that he has. There’s no map of the new district on his website, although he does mention the cities if you look hard enough.

Bill Bloomfield has blanketed the district with signs. He used to be very involved in the Republican party but left the party, co-founded No Labels, as in now an NPP. He’s left some ruffled feathers in the GOP and his ability to get Republicans votes is unknown. Steve Collett is the Libertarian in the race. He too has spent his own money.

The sole Republican is Paulista Chris David. I met him and he seems to have a good head on his shoulders, but he is only 25 years old and has raised barely enough to pay for parking on the Promenade. I have a rule of thumb that a Republican will advance in any district where Republican congressional candidates got 30% or more in 2010. I’m making an exception here. Prediction: Waxman (D) 40%, Bloomfield (N) 22%, David (R) 16%

Saturday, June 2, 2012

California Primary Preview Part II

Yesterday I presented the races that'll be shockingly close and cause people to panic. [Unless I'm entirely wrong. Then never mind.] Today I'm doing the most exciting races. Here are the three big ones, because it's possible that in one of them no Democrat makes Top Two.

CA-26 – Democrats have a 4 point registration edge. Republicans have a 4 point ballot return edge. I don’t think that’s going to be enough to cost Julia Brownley Top Two, but it might. Prediction: Strickland (R) 33% Brownley (D) 29% Parks (I) 25%

CA-52 – The GOP has a 3 point registration advantage, but that’s 9 points based on mail-ins. Brian Bilbray will cruise to first. If John Stahl knew how to spend his money the way Craig Huey spent his, he’d challenge for 2nd. It’s possible. Prediction: Bilbray (R) 35% Peters (D) 19% Saldana (D) 17%

CA-31 – Democrats have a 5 point registration edge here. Yet there are more Republican mail-ins than Democratic ones. This district could be the perfect storm against Democrats. Republicans only have two candidates and they’re both strong. Yes, Bob Dutton’s fundraising has been anemic, but he has Superpac money behind him. There are four Democrats. It’s possible that Pete Aguilar takes 80% of the Democratic vote, but Justin Kim is the kind of unknown candidate who surprises. Wickman and Ramirez-Dean could take 4-6% combined from Aguilar. This is probably really far off, but if it happens, you read it here. Prediction: Miller (R) 30% Dutton (R) 26% Aguilar (D) 23%

Maybe I'm crazy, but I had to predict the Democrats getting shut out of one district, didn't I? Just to show how much fun Top Two will be.

There's one district which will get the most attention, but is ho-hum for me. It'll be either a balding liberal Jewish Democrat or a a balding liberal Jewish Democrat.

CA-30 – Republican mail-ins are higher but not nearly as high as in some of the others. The question is whether more Republicans is good for Howard Berman and if a very liberal Democrat can really get Republicans to vote for him. I’m skeptical. Prediction: Sherman (D) 35% Reed (R) 26% Berman (D) 24%

These have lots of drama, lots of intrigue. While these are all safe districts they are unique in that they don’t have incumbents and they don’t have a clear front runner.

CA-1 – This is a rare district where Democrats are mailing in their ballots in greater numbers. That should put Jim Reed comfortably in first. I’d think Doug LaMalfa would finish second but Sam Aanestad just got Redstate’s endorsement. Prediction: Reed (D) 32% LaMalfa (R) 27% Aanestad (R) 25%

CA-2 – Also has elevated Democratic turn-out. Maybe there’s something about the Redwoods. Even with that, Republican Dan Roberts should finish first. He’s been spending money, while Republican rival Mike Halliwell has yet to report any fundraising to the FEC. The Democrats are kind of a “throw a dart and pick one” group. Jared Huffman would appear to be the favorite. He’s raised a lot of money, has a strong background, and has a ton of support. But Stacey Lawson has raised a similar amount. Democrats don’t usually respond to business people, but you never know. Norman Solomon is so far left that even the Netroots money won’t get him top two. Prediction: Roberts (R) 24% Huffman (D) 23% Solomon (D) 17%

CA-8 – This is CA-2 without a money leader. Honestly, I have no idea who finishes 2nd. My 2nd and 3rd place finishers could finish 5th and 6th and I wouldn’t be surprised. What I do know is that Jackie Conaway didn’t even need to spend the $13,237 she spent to advance. Prediction: Conaway (D) 27% Mitzelfelt (R) 16% Cook (R) 14%

There are 8 other districts which will be competitive in November. There won't be much drama in them, so I'll go with them later if there's interest.

In addition, there are 6 districts Democrats are certain to win, but which Democrat is up in the air. I may look at them too.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Another Registration Report

The California Secretary of State put out her registration report from 15 days prior to the primary. This follows on the heels of her 60 Days Prior to Close of Registration and 154 Days Prior to Close of Registration reports.

In the last 45 days both the Republicans and Democrats have gained registration. While that's unusual for the way things have been going in California, both parties likely had voter registration drives and the Secretary of State was probably done purging the rolls of people whose registration is no longer valid. The Democrats went up 34k voters, the Republicans 22k, and other parties/DTS went up by 60k.

That sounds like good news for the Democrats. It is, except Democrats added 29% of new registrants to Republicans 19%. This 10 point differential is lower than the previous 13.18% differential. As a result, Democrats now have a 13.15% lead over the GOP. That's not a lot but it was over a small period of time and it continues the trend where the two parties get closer. Since the 2009 registration report Democrats have lost 271k party members while Republicans have lost 204k. Others have gained 295k.

The difference is relatively small and Republicans have narrowed the gap by a whopping 0.25%. The only reason it's worth mentioning is that every story is all about how Republicans are declining in membership due to extremist positions, with no thought given that the Democrats are losing a similar but slightly higher number.

CA primary: Shockingly Close

Get ready for primary results that are going to be so shocking that people will go ballistic. Republicans are going to roll in Tuesday’s California primary. I hear what you’re saying. Republicans are in free fall in California. You’re just saying this because you’re Republican.

Au contraire. Let’s take a step back to 2010, 2008, and 2006 California primaries. Republicans had elevated turn out in each of them. In 2010 Democrats had a 13 point registration edge. The difference in primary turn out was 2 points. In 2008 Democrats had that same 13 point edge. The difference between the parties was 8 points. In 2006 the Democrats had an 8 point registration edge. Only 1.5 points separated them in the primary.

What we have here is that even in a big Democratic year with no Republican primary race on the ballot, Republicans had elevated turn-out. The good news for Democrats is that this turn-out advantage disappeared in the general election every year. I can’t stress this enough. Republicans are going to look really good on Tuesday and people will think they’ll do better than they’ll actually do in the general election. Democrats will panic and they shouldn’t.

Right now Democrats have nearly a 13 point registration advantage. It’s actually a little smaller than 2006 and 2008. Early voting shows Democrats with only a 6 point advantage in ballot return. There’s every reason to believe that it’s happening again.

There are two safe Republican seats, CA-25, (McKeon), and CA-39 (Royce) with the biggest disparity of registered vs. returned. No one will notice those. They will notice these:

CA-46 – Democrats hold a 13 point registration edge, 44%-31%. Yet, 43% of the ballots returned have been Democratic and 40% have been Republican. Loretta Sanchez won’t do well on Tuesday and panic will ensue. It shouldn’t. She’s going to win easily in November. Prediction: Sanchez (D) 45%, Hayden (R) 29%, Cullum (R) 14%

CA-32 – No one expects Grace Napolitano to be in any danger. She isn’t. But if she “loses” Tuesday’s primary people will think she is. With 2 Democrats and only one Republican in the race, I see her “losing.” I put losing in quotes because there’s no penalty to finishing second. The top two advance. Prediction: Miller 48% (R) Napolitano (D) 43% Gonzalez (D) 9%

CA-27 – We will see Judy Chu sweat. It’s not because she won’t advance. It’s because she might not get as many votes as the two Republican candidates. Chu isn’t in danger. But it’ll look like she is. Prediction: Chu (D) 50% Orswell (R) 32% Duran (R) 18%

CA-38 – Another Sanchez sister, another result that could cause panic. Linda isn’t in any danger either. Prediction: Sanchez (D) 56% Robles (R) 24% Campos (R) 20%

CA-53 - This is a district that with a little better line drawing a Republican would have a shot. Rep. Susan Davis has only one opponent, an underfunded Republican. So she has no need to get out the vote or spend money before the general election. Prediction: Davis (D) 51% Popaditch (R) 49%

There are two other districts where it’ll look like Democratic prospects are far worse than they are:

CA-36 - The numbers are similar here. Republicans hold a 2 point registration edge, but an 11 point advantage in ballots returned. Ruiz will have a shot in November, but I imagine Democrats will abandon him after this result: Prediction: Bono Mack (R) 64%, Ruiz (D) 36%.

CA-47 – Alan Lowenthal is win easily since he has a bunch of some guy Democrats. At this point the difference between the two parties is that 400 more Democratic ballots have come in. It’d be nice if national Democrats abandoned Lowenthal, but I don’t see that happening. Prediction: DeLong (R) 32% Lowenthal (D) 31% Kuykendall (R) 25%.

I'll save the predictions for the more competitive districts for the next couple of posts.