Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Cook PVI calculations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

California Presidential election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

House 2014 – Democratic held seats

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

There are only 9 Democratic seats that Romney won.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Congressional Vote Retention

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Districts Obama and Romney won

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

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

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

The 2012 Presidential Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

California Counting Done

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

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

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

The CA GOP has been down for 40 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the statewide offices the GOP has won:

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

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

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

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

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

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