California absentee numbers are coming in and they can tell us how the general election will go. It’s just a question of knowing how to interpret them. Since nearly half of the ballots in California are absentees these days.
Let’s start with the primary. The absentee electorate was 43.9% Democratic/38.4% Republican. The actual electorate was 42.7% Democratic/37.4% Republican. So the relationship between the absentee and actual electorate is very strong. Registration in the state is D+13.2%. Since the electorate was D+5.3%, Republicans did very well in the election.
While Republicans did better than expected, most observers expected the electorate to be closer to registration in November. So far that hasn’t happened. In fact, it’s 42.8% Democratic/37.2% Republican, about the same as June. The good news for Democrats is that this is probably only about 10% of the people who will vote.
While the electorate is expected to be more Democratic, there’s no reason that the electorate that’s sent in their votes so far won’t be the same as it is now. We know these people have voted and don’t know about others. So, from here to the election I’m going to speculate how the people who’ve sent in their ballots actually voted.
The first column gives the partisan advantage in the primary. There were 5% more Democrats in the CA-3 primary. The next column gives the result. John Garamendi beat the Republicans in the election by 2.9%. Republicans did 2.1% better than the party difference. Currently there is also a 3% Democratic turn-out advantage. If the same principle holds up, Garamendi should be leading by 0.9%.
To do so, I’m going to assume a similar relationship between the electorate and the vote in the general election as there was in the primary. Since the overall electorate looks strong for the GOP statewide, so do the congressional districts. Republicans got more votes in 10 of 12 competitive districts in June and calculate to be ahead in 11 right now.
The Senate districts are fairly on track with what you’d expect since turn-out looks similar. SD-27 and 31 figure to be close. Republican Todd Zink looks good in SD-27 with the current R+5 turn-out, but fellow Republican Jeff Miller may need more of an advantage in SD-31. If the GOP wins SD-5 and 27, while the Democrats win SD-31 and 39, the Democrats will have a 27-13 advantage, enough for a 2/3 vote.
Strong Republican turn-out in assembly districts translates to Republicans winning 11 of the 15 districts that are considered potentially competitive. That looks better than it probably is, since the June results indicate less of these districts will be competitive than people think. If these are the results, Democrats will have 48 of the 80 seats, far short of the 2/3 they need to pass new taxes. They need 54.
I want to reiterate that this analysis makes a number of correlative assumptions which might not actually happen and that 9% of the electorate might not reflect the final electorate.
That said, a party ID advantage of 5-6%, like we're seeing now and saw in the primary, is extremely bad news for the Democratic candidates. They need electorates that are much closer to party registration to pull out wins. If this holds up expect more Republican victories than are being predicted.