Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gerrymandering Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The National Picture

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The misleading party ID #s in exit polls

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The House in 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Palm Beach County

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

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

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

2006: D+12
2010: D+6

2006: D+15
2010: D+10

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

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

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

And now with 2012

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Republicans took down Stark, Baca, and nearly Waxman

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What Happened in California

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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Counting the California Ballots

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

California Uncounted Ballots

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

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

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

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

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

Post-Election Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California Competitive First Glance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Night Before The Election

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

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

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

Friday, November 2, 2012

California Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now onto the state senate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California Registration and Absentee Report

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 1, 2012

California Absentee Analysis 11/1

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

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

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

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

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