Monday, December 30, 2013

Artur Davis is not running for Congress

Artur Davis was a Democratic member of congress from 2003-2011. His moderate voting record was at odds with many progressive Democrats and unusual for a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. When he lost the 2010 Alabama Democratic gubernatorial nomination, he moved to Virginia and became a Republican. He was welcomed with open arms. Part of that has to do with party switchers often celebrated because it shows our party is better than yours. Part certainly is due to Davis being black. Republicans are so afraid of being called racist that they celebrate any Black Republicans. Certainly part of it has to do with Davis articulating Republican positions. Davis stated he wanted to run for elected office again as a Republican.

The Virginia 10th congressional district seat recently came open and Davis decided not to run for it. The article is saying to me that Davis' political comeback is being derailed because Virginia convention and primary voters pick people more conservative than he is. This smacks of whining. He chose to be switch parties. He even chose the congressional district he's living in. He certainly could've moved to Northern New York where it was easier for someone who has taken liberal positions to win a nomination. Or he could've come out here, where top two opens the door to someone perceived in the center.

If that's the criteria for winning a Republican nomination there, then so be it. If he's not willing to try, then he has nothing to complain about.

Monday, December 16, 2013

CA-17: Ro Khanna gives an Interview to Calbuzz

The biggest inter party congressional challenge in California is Ro Khanna's challenge to Congressman Mike Honda in the CA-17 Silicon Valley seat. Khanna has done an interview with Calbuzz, one that shows his path to victory and a potential misstep.

“one of the strongest progressives we have in Congress . . . facing a corporate-backed challenger whose big money donors are intent on buying Mike’s congressional seat.”

Honda appears ready to run on his progressive bonafides. And that's the way to beat him. So far there's no Republican in the race. If there's 0 or 2, Khanna should have no problem getting enough of the vote to make top two. And getting past the primary could be a big stumbling block. It's no coincidence that the two Democrats who knocked off sitting congressmen, Gloria Negrete-McLoud and Eric Swalwell, didn't have a Republican in the primary field. They finished behind their opponents but sailed to the general anyway. And then they were able to use Top Two to win.

If there is a Republican, even a weak one, making top two becomes more of a challenge. Republican Evelyn Li got 28% of the primary vote and she didn't have any money to spend. Republicans, and right leaning independents, will vote for anyone with an R next to their name instead of a Democrat. So it may be a challenge to keep a Republican low enough to finish second in a primary. It's certainly not impossible. CA-30 has more Republicans than CA-17 and both Brad Sherman and Howard Berman easily beat the combined Republican vote.

If Khanna gets through the primary, then he needs to paint Honda as an old out of touch progressive who isn't business friendly and capture the moderate Democratic/independent vote as well as the Republican vote. That's how Eric Swalwell did it last year. He won't want to slam progressives and Swalwell certainly didn't take positions that'd turn Democrats against him. There are plenty of people in the district who are green on the environment but would like to see someone who won't vilify them for being wealthy.

Khanna isn't helping himself, however, in the interview with language like, "I would put the blame on the Tea Party." If you're Khanna you want to publicly be bland on conservatives, Republicans, and the Tea Party, through the primary and then for the general assure them that while you're a good Democrat, but that they'll be better off with you than Honda.

Will Khanna get that?

Friday, December 13, 2013

USA Today/Pew Poll Shows a Democratic Bounce Back... Or Does It?

A new USA Today/Pew Research poll is out with a generic ballot question. It has the Democrats leading by 4 points, in what appears to be a major reversal from other polls showing a big Republican lead. So is this a bounce back for Democrats and a showing that the big Republican wave won't happen?

No, it isn't. A Republican wave is hardly inevitable, but this doesn't tell us much. First, this poll was also taken at the same time as Rasmussen, McClatchy/Marist, and Quinnipiac, all of which are E to R+5. So there's no indication that Democrats are ahead with other pollsters.

Every pollster has their own methodology and their own sample. The Pew poll's methodology might favor Democrats or their sample could be more Democratic than others. A better way to look at a pollster's data is to look at their trend line and see how this survey compares to previous ones.

Unfortunately, this is only the second time this year Pew/USA Today has done the generic ballot. They did it in October, at the height of the government shutdown. Democrats were D+6 then and D+4 now. That's not unexpected because that was a good period for Democratic candidates. A November poll, during the Obamacare meltdown, would provide us with more information, but we don't have that.

So this is a good poll for Democrats, but we shouldn't read much into it. The election is still 11 months away. A lot will change between now and then.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Democrat Rep. John Garamendi: GOP 'Will Run Away' From Effective ObamaCare

Is Congressman Garamendi really this out of touch? Let's talk California, because Obamacare is supposed to be working better here. I shopped Covered California. Only 3 of the 15 plans included any of my doctors. You read that right. Twelve of them included 0 of them. Zero. None of the 4 doctors I use regularly. The other 3 plans didn't have any reimbursement for one of my doctors. Obviously, I didn't buy my insurance on the exchange. There are a lot of Californians who are like me and have lost their insurance. The LA Times keeps writing about them.

Of course, there are many land mines when the new plans start. Will people have coverage or will the insurance companies not have received accurate forms? What happens when they discover their doctors aren't covered? Due to the lack of healthy people signing up, it's likely that the premiums will skyrocket for 2015. And next fall the business exchange will be open. A lot of companies will lose their insurance because it doesn't comply. And there are a lot more people who get their insurance from their company. Looking at how the government screwed up on the individual market, which has 15-20 million people, how will they do on the business market, which has 10 times as many?

Republicans will be running on Obamacare, congressman.

Monday, December 9, 2013

CA-24: Lois Capps has Challengers

CA-24, made up largely of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, was on the GOP's target list in 2012. Former Lieutenant Governor and Santa Maria mayor Abel Maldonado was regarded as an "A" list opponent. CA-24 is a D+3.7 district, within 0.4 of CA-3, 21, and 26. Maldonado did worse than the other three Republicans, ending up with a 10 point loss. Two of the districts were open. Was it Lois Capps' strength/incumbency or Abel Maldonado's weakness? Normally a district that's D+3.7 isn't on the GOP's radar, as Republicans only control two districts that Democratic and those were different circumstances.

I've maintained for some time, however, that Obama PVI inflates Democratic strength, as the average Democrat did about 3.4 points worse than Obama. That fits the 2010 results. Carly Fiorina won the district and Meg Whitman lost it by less than 1%. While it wasn't a significant move, only 12 out of the 53 California districts had a more Republican PVI in 2012. So there's reason to believe that the district could be competitive in a mid-term.

The field is shaking out. Actor Chris Mitchum is returning for another go. Mitchum did get 21.5% in the primary last year, which is a testament to the power of the Tea Party more than anything else. (I was all set to pun one of his father's films here, but nothing fit) Mitchum's fundraising was poor.

Santa Barbara City Council member Dale Francisco and former congressional aide Justin Fareed are also running as Republicans. Paul Coyne is running as a Democrat, although his positions sound more Republican than Democratic.

None are serious challengers and Capps will easily dispatch who ever emerges. What would be interesting to see is if a young progressive a la Eric Swalwell decided to run. Someone like that might finish top two and beat the soon to be 76 year old Capps.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

California Gubernatorial PPIC Poll Out

No sooner do we have the first 2014 California Gubernatorial poll out than we have the second one. PPIC is out with a poll and they have Brown at 46%, Donnelly at 16%, and Maldonado at 7%. Kashkari wasn't included in the poll. Brown takes only 12% of Republicans in this poll, compared to 17% in the Field poll. This poll is 43%D/29%R, similar to the Field Poll. While that's a reasonable breakdown for the November 2014 election, it's too big a spread for a primary.

One positive with such a Democratic electorate is that the generic ballot test can be reflective of the actual November 2014 results. Democrats lead 49%-39%. The 2012 House vote was 62.0%-38.0% in favor of the Democrats. This was partially skewed because there were 56 Democrats and only 46 Republicans on the ballot. Democrats won 4 congressional seats by 6% or less, so even losing the congressional vote 58%-42% would probably swing a few seats to the GOP. There were 3 other seats that were decided by 8-11%. A 10% loss would put those in play also. Of course I'm skeptical of any poll taken at a time when Democratic popularity is at such a low point.

Some believe that Donnelly finishing top two would be a disaster for the GOP. His favorability numbers in both polls don't indicate that. He's 12% favorable/8% unfavorable in the Field poll and 7% favorable/8% unfavorable in the PPIC poll. The PPIC poll has favorability broken down by party. Donnelly has a 7%/8% spread with Democrats and 7%/9% spread with independents. He's been a fairly controversial assemblyman and yet that hasn't had a huge negative impact on his favorability ratings. He is largely unknown. So it's possible that Jerry Brown could paint him negatively, but Brown will do that whoever he's running against. I'm not certain he can make Donnelly look so bad that he's a drag on the rest of the ticket.

California Gubernatorial Field Poll Out

A new Field poll for next June's California gubernatorial primary has some curious results. Democratic governor Jerry Brown leads the field with 52% of the vote. His Republican challengers, Abel Maldonado, Tim Donnelly, and Neel Kashkari have 11%, 9%, and 3% respectively.

This poll overrates how Brown will do in June for several reasons. June primaries in California are tough for Democrats. Dianne Feinstein managed only 49.3% of the vote in her 2012 senate primary. While Feinstein did have some minor Democrats on the ballot, she also faced very weak competition from Republicans. None of them spent money statewide. Maldonado and Donnelly have their bases and figure to raise some money as both have bases to draw from. Kashkari has a ton of his own money and big money donors he can call on to help him.

Brown is popular but he's no Feinstein when it comes to popularity. No one in California is.

The June 2014 election also figures to be tough for Democrats given the national mood. It's almost certain to be more toxic than the June 2012 environment. And we've seen Democrats underperforming in special elections this year.

When you drill down with the numbers you see that Brown gets 17% of the Republicans, nearly topping Maldonado and Donnelly and actually wins the Tea Party vote with 26%. Yes, they have Jerry Brown winning the Tea Party vote. Seriously. The electorate is 44.5%D/28.5%R. While I think the November 2014 electorate could be close to that, the June electorate definitely won't be. It'll likely be something like 44%D/35%R.

If there are no other Democrats in the race, I can see Brown topping out around 49-50%, although I'd be far more shocked if he were at 52% than at 46%. That's not to say Brown won't win big in November 2014. I think even under the worst circumstances he wins 55%-45% an under the best it's 60%-40%.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CA-25: Another Republican (not exactly) In

Republican state senator Steve Knight sort of announced a bid for congress. Well, he did announce a bid, but like Tony Strickland's bid, it's contingent on Buck McKeon retiring. Which he's given indications he won't. The GOP has to be disappointed that they are getting good candidates for an election that may not happen, but have failed to recruit well in districts like CA-16 and CA-24.

So if Knight will only run if McKeon retires, why announce a bid for a seat that isn't open? Why not wait? Strickland has been raising money prodigiously and would start a primary with a huge money lead. The longer Knight waits, the more that gap widens. And this is a seat that won't produce two Republicans in the top two. So he needs to get in now. Of course if Knight waits for 2016, he can't run for re-election in his state senate seat. 2014 is a free pass. He'd have to make a choice in 2016.

Monday, December 2, 2013

CA-25/26: Strickland Switches Races to McKeon’s District

Tony Strickland filed paperwork with the FEC to switch the district he's running for from the Ventura County CA-26 to the Antelope Valley/Simi Valley seat CA-25. Some people will view this as a big story, that Strickland will take on fellow Republican Buck McKeon. I doubt it. Strickland's spokesperson said that Strickland filed in the 25th District “to make his intentions clear should Chairman McKeon retire, he will run in that district.”

When he decided not to run in CA-26, it was logical that CA-25 was his goal. He'd raised a lot of money and wouldn't have gone through all that work if he didn't intend to run for congress in some district. He couldn't keep his campaign fund designated for CA-26, as that'd undercut Jeff Gorell. Changing the designation doesn't indicate he's running for CA-25 this cycle. It's more likely that he's planning on running when Buck McKeon retires, whether that's this cycle, next, or down the road. Now he can continue fundraising for that goal.

Edit: It appears that I'm right and Strickland is waiting for McKeon to retire.

Monday, November 25, 2013

CA-26: Jeff Gorell to Challenge Julia Brownley

For months Republican congressman Buck McKeon has been rumored to be retiring. Tony Stickland, who had said he was running in neighboring CA-26, was rumored to be running for McKeon's seat if McKeon retired. McKeon hasn't retired and Strickland hadn't switched races.

As of today, neither of those events has happened either. What has happened is that Republican Assemblyman Gorell announced he was taking on Julia Brownley in CA-26. Strickland won't be a candidate and has endorsed Gorell. Assumably, Strickland will now wait for McKeon to retire this cycle or next. Gorell should give the GOP a strong candidate to take on Brownley. Dianne Feinstein had over 56% of the vote in 2012, but Republicans Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman narrowly won the district in 2010. A big question is whether Republicans can still win a district that leans this Democratic. If they're going to do it, however, it'll be in a mid-term, not a Presidential year. A 2014 loss would likely mean that 2016 is out of the question. So if Gorell was going to make an attempt to beat Brownley, 2014 would be the year.

Gorell is one of the three Republicans in assembly seats that Barack Obama won in 2012. The other two are occupied by Eric Linder and Mike Morrell. Because Linder was elected in 2012, he can serve through 2024. Gorell, like Morrell, would be termed out in 2016. As with that assembly seat, it's better to have an open seat now, rather than then in 2016 because this should be a better election for Republicans. No word yet on who'd run.

Friday, November 22, 2013

CA AD-45 Results May Be Final

They've counted an additional 3,343 ballots in the CA AD-45 special election, even though it was reported that only 2,841 ballots remained to be counted. Democrat Matt Dababneh added another 109 votes to his 220 vote spread, giving him a 1.2% margin win. I doubt there are many, if any, ballots to be counted. Winning the seat wouldn't have been that meaningful for the GOP, since Democrats would still have a narrow super majority and would be certain to take the seat back next November.

CA AD-45 Result Wasn't Due to Low Turn-Out

When Democrat Bob Blumenfield resigned to become a Los Angeles city councilman, his state assembly district became vacant. The district has a nearly 2 to 1 Democratic registration advantage. So it was deemed as a non-competitive race and mostly ignored. Sure enough, in the September primary Democratic candidates outpolled Republicans 62%-36%. Turn-out was 9.8% of registered voters. People were surprised at Tuesday's run-off results, which currently have Democrat Matt Dababneh leading Republican Susan Shelley 50.3% to 49.7%. California has a lot of VBM and provisional ballots that need to be counted. So the final results won't be known for some time. Regardless of what the final result will be, it was far closer than anyone would expect in a district with such a wide Democratic registration advantage.

Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee speculates, "A key factor in the potential upset is an extremely low voter turnout." The problem with that theory is that turn-out in the run-off is already higher at 10.5%. Since even lower turn-out in the primary didn't produce skewed results, it's unlikely that low turn-out is solely responsible for these results.

President Obama's approval levels are at their lowest they've ever been. The botched roll out of Obamacare has likely led to depressed Democrats not showing up for the run-off and heavily motivated people voting against a Democrat, similar to what happened in 2010. I'm not going to predict that Obamacare is going to lead to a disastrous 2014 election for the Democrats, but it appears right now it's an anvil weighing them down.

Friday, November 15, 2013

CA SD-23: The Morrell Conundrum

Jon Fleischman takes a look at the SD-23 special election. Fleischman is a good read on the subject. Fleischman speculates that a primary would be in April and a run-off in June. This complicates things for Mike Morrell and Republicans' desire to retain his assembly seat. The filing deadline for the June primary is March 7, which is likely before the primary. Even if it isn't, the election will almost certainly produce a run-off. So the filing deadline will hit while Morrell is not only still in the assembly but at a time when he won't know if he'll win the senate seat.

Morrell could file for re-election for the assembly. This'd be the safe route and would likely put him on the ballot twice in June. He'd need to campaign for both seats, but this might backfire on him as his opponents can present him as not being fully committed to either. The following things could happen:

Morrell fails to finish top two - The result here could be two Democrats finishing top two, giving the seat to the Democrats in the fall.

Morrell finishes top two but wins the senate seat - I'm not sure what happens, but I assume he'd drop out of the assembly race and the third place finisher would be top two. Considering Morrell's popularity it's likely that a second Republican would finish no better than fourth and two Democrats might finish in the top three. Again this'd mean two Democrats going to the November run-off.

With both of these scenarios possible, the best decision for the Republican Party is for Morrell to not run for re-election. Morrell, however, might want to have a fall back. So which way will he go?

Edit: Scott Lay pointed out to me that Section 8803 of the California election code seems clear that Morrell couldn't drop out after placing in the top two. So Morrell winning a spot in the top two and winning the state senate campaign would hand the election to Democrats.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Where's The Party? Indiegogo

I'm going to take a brief break from giving election analysis to pump my film. I've working on it for several years and the big stumbling block has been funding. So I'm launching an Indiegogo campaign. Help make it happen.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mike Morrell in for Bill Emmerson's seat

Assemblyman Mike Morrell has decided to run for Bill Emmerson's state senate seat. As I mentioned in my previous post, Morrell is a great choice for the seat. He'll win a special election easily and should be the best candidate to defend the seat in 2016, a Presidential year when the seat could be competitive.

The assembly seat will be a bigger issue for the GOP. It's the GOP's most vulnerable seat and it should be competitive. Republicans do better in non-November elections and they should be able to win the special. It'll be a very competitive campaign in November.

Friday, November 8, 2013

CA SD-23 Republican Bill Emmerson resigning

Bill Emmerson, the Republican state senator representing parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, has abruptly resigned effective December 1. This is a shocker as there's no health or scandal issues going on.

Emmerson was re-elected last year, 56%-44%, and his term runs through 2016. President Obama got 47% of the two party vote. Dianne Feinstein got 48%. It's the sort of district that, if California moves more to the left, that Democrats might contend in for the 2016 election or possibly 2020. Not only hasn't the district moved leftward enough for a Democrat to win it now, but Democrats historically underperform in any non-November election in California. So it's a district that'll be safe in any special.

There are three Republican assemblymen with districts that are in SD-23, Tim Donnelly, Brian Nestande, and Mike Morrell. The state senate would be a natural move up. The problem there is that Donnelly is running for governor and Nestande for congress. Donnelly is a long long shot for governor and Nestande figures to be in a tight battle for the CA-36 seat. While it's possible either could drop down I don't see it as likely. Donnelly is running for governor to have a big platform for his stances and Nestande's congressional opportunity is going to be better this year than it will be in 2016.

That leaves Morrell. On the surface, people will think that Morrell running will be bad for the GOP. His assembly district is D+2, the most Obama assembly district currently held by a Republican. Morrell clearly has the best chance of winning it in 2014. If you look deeper, however, Morrell clearing out of the assembly seat may be a better choice long term. If Morrell were to win re-election in 2014 he'd be termed out of the seat in 2016. So Republicans would have an open seat in a Presidential year. With how the area has been trending, they'd be clear underdogs to retain it.

As I mentioned in my previous post, however, an open seat in 2014 should have a better Republican environment than one in 2016. A special election in the spring would favor the GOP even more. Due to the new term limit rules an assemblyman elected in 2014 can serve 12 years and wouldn't be term limited out.

That is, of course, assuming a Republican wins the seat in the 2014 election. A Republican loss could cost make the GOP fall short of the 27 assemblymen they need to prevent Democrats from raising taxes unilaterally. Of course the Democrats didn't really touch taxes this term and Republicans only had 25 assemblymen. So the short-term downside isn't nearly as bad as people might think.

Republican Congressman Should Retire Now

Parties reflexively try to get their members to run for re-election, with the reasoning that an incumbent will have a better chance of being elected than an open seat challenger. This is true often enough that there's definite wisdom in it. Congressman do retire, however, and some, like Bill Young, die in office. Parties are better off having their members retire in a year where they are best equipped to win an open seat.

There are two major factors that impact which way an election leans, who is in the White House and whether it's a Presidential year or a mid-term.

In a Presidential year, the party that wins almost always increases their share from the previous mid-term. This didn't happen three times, 1976, 1992, and 2000. There are reasons for these exceptions. Democrats in 1976 got the second highest share of the two party vote that any part has gotten since World War II. The highest share was in 1974. So this decline wasn't a big deal. Democrats did worse in 1992 when Bill Clinton won the White House. There are two possible explanations for this. 1) Clinton won the White House with only 43.0% of the vote. 2) The electorate was re-aligning dramatically and would lead to a Republican landslide in 1994. The last time this happened was in 2000. George W. Bush won the Presidency with only 47.9% of the vote, less than Al Gore. So it's understandable that the Republican vote share dropped.

Mid-terms almost always favor the out party. The party in the White House has only increased their vote share from the previous election once since World War II.

The way the electorate has been voting a Presidential year favors Democrats by 2-3 points compared to a mid-term electorate.

Here's who the next three elections should favor:

2014 - Electorate favors Republicans. With a Democrat in the White House, environment favors Republicans.
2016 - Electorate favors Democrats. If a Democrat wins the White House, environment will favor Democrats. If a Republican wins, environment will favor Republicans.
2018 - Electorate favors Republicans. If a Democrat wins the White House in 2016, environment will favor Republicans. If a Republican wins, environment will favor Democrats.

So the 2014 election should be the best for Republicans, while the 2016 election should be the best for Democrats. If a Republican is going to retire, the 2014 election will definitely be the best time to do it. While Jon Runyan's retirement, makes that seat more competitive now, it's far better for Republicans to compete in an open seat in NJ-3 in 2014 than in 2016.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The October, 2014 Obamacare Disaster

Up until now the Obama administration and their liberal allies have treated the health insurance cancellations this way:

1. There are very few of these people.
2. They all had crappy awful plans. If they liked their plan they were too stupid to know how awful it was.
3. They all will get better, cheaper plans.
4. President Obama never promised you could keep these plans.

Apparently they now realize that a patronizing dismissive attitude is a stupid one and the President has apologized. This should disappoint the GOP, as Democrats treating the American public in a dismissive patronizing way results in great Republican results at the ballot box.

But wait. The administration has been harping on the 80% of people who get their health insurance through work or the government. Well, next year the employer mandate will be in effect. Some of those business plans will be deemed insufficient and the company will have to make changes. Some companies will drop health insurance, while others will offer new, different health insurance. In those cases, the employee out-of-pocket contribution could be larger and their plan might not cover the same doctors or have the same co-pays. Will the administration blame our employers the way they're blaming insurance companies now?

Swing voters won't buy that.

Of course next year's individual market could be more expensive or have insurers pull out if this year's market doesn't produce the desired results. These people will go through this again. This is a disaster that's waiting to happen and it'll be an amazing gift for Republicans a month before the election. That's when voters make up their minds.

Will Republicans realize this and mess it up by shutting down the government or some other stupid thing at the same time?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CA-52: How Olin Hyde endorsed, unendorsed, and endorsed Carl DeMaio

Olin Hyde, CEO of Englue, a corporation that's in CA-52, has endorsed Carl DeMaio after rescinding his prior endorsement. While I don't agree with Hyde's characterization of Republicans and the Tea Party, I do find it refreshing that DeMaio decided to respond in a thoughtful manner that didn't use elevated language when talking about either Democrats or Republicans. Democrats in DC are calculating which Republican districts they'll need to take to regain the majority, with the assumption they won't lose any. If DeMaio runs like this for the next year, I think he wins.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Total Congressional Votes by Victory Margin

One of the arguments going around the web is that Democrats would've won the House if not for Republican gerrymandering. I addressed this in January. Democrats would've likely gained around 8-9 seats. That's something but not enough to win a majority. The reason is Democratic clustering in urban areas. A good way to show this is to show the difference in Republican and Democratic winning margins in similar districts.

The first line in the chart below shows the total votes for each party in the 50 districts congressional Republicans won by the largest margins and Democrats won by the largest margins. Democrats won their 50 districts by 1,321,153 more votes than Republicans won their districts. Overall, Democrats had 1,365,441 more votes than Republicans. So it's almost all from the 50 most Republican and 50 most Democratic congressional districts. What makes this more remarkable is that 24 of the Republican districts had no Democrat running, while only 13 of the Democratic districts had no Republican running. Of the 100 districts, 87 had Republicans, while only 76 had Democrats.

The next 100 districts produces similar results, with Democrats having a 1,343,245 vote edge. While a Democrat ran in all 100 of these districts, there were only 95 Republicans. That's because there are many Democratic dominated districts where turn-out is low. That means that Democrats are at a disadvantage since they can have a smaller vote margin of victory in districts where they get a higher percentage of the vote than a Republican does in a district he wins.

You have to go down to the last 50 districts Democrats won and districts 151-200 that Republicans won for you to get to a better GOP margin. Republicans also won 33 additional district. [Note: There are only 433 districts accounted for because Florida doesn't count votes in unopposed districts. There were one Democratic and one Republican district that didn't have votes counted.]

There are some districts gerrymandered by Republicans in the Democrats top 50 and top 100 victory margins, but this also districts in New York and California, which were independently drawn, and districts in Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois, which were drawn by Democrats. You know Democratic voters are highly clustered if they overflow even in districts Democrats draw.

If Democrats want a majority in the House they'll either have to find a way to appeal to non-urban voters better or get their voters to move.

Friday, October 18, 2013

CA-31: Joe Baca's Poll

Joe Baca has done a poll for the CA-31 primary, surveying 2,559 high propensity voters. Baca makes top two easily, besting Pete Aguilar 19.6% to 9.4%. There's no back-up showing the question or questions asked or the demographics of those surveyed. It is unusual to interview so many people but I don't see anything wrong with it.

Obviously it's done to make Baca look good but the results seem very fishy to me. While it's very possible, some would say likely, that a Democrat will win the district in November 2014, that almost certainly won't happen in June 2014.Primary electorates in California tend to be a lot more Republican than general election electorates. Linda Sanchez, running in a D+14 district, beat two unknown unfunded opponents by 12.0% in the primary. Republicans got 51.5% of the primary votes here in 2012. That should be better in a mid-term. Democrats here lead Miller 41.6%-27.8%. That's 13.8%. I really question the sample.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

NJ-Sen: Where's the GOP blowback?

Sean Trende
n=1, weird circumstances, but yesterday's NJ-Sen results weren't particularly consistent w massive electoral blowback against the GOP.
The New Jersey senate race was the first Federal election since the shutdown. It was the ideal election for GOP blowback.

1) It occurred when blowback should've been the worst, right at the longest point of the shutdown.

2) The Republican candidate was running as an unapologetic Ted Cruz Republican, complete with a Sarah Palin campaign stop.

3) The Democrat was African-American, running when Chris Mathews and MSNBC are saying every night that the shutdown was due to Republican racism.

Yet Steve Lonegan did better than any Republican in a Senate race since 2000, when a sitting Republican congressman ran. One election isn't an indicator of anything, but this should've been an election to show something.

Some of Trende's replies agree that there wouldn't be blowback next year. Others decide to dismiss this result and point to the Virginia gubernatorial race:

Steven Morton ‏@smorton101368 11m
@SeanTrende Cuccinelli is the real test, IMO.
Cucinelli isn't running in a Federal race and is running in a state with the highest percentage of Federal workers. So he's not in a typical race. The polling, before the shutdown, had Cucinelli down 6. If he loses by 6, I'm guessing Democrats will see this as blowback. Real blowback would be if he loses by 11, although Cucinelli has run such a bad campaign it's difficult to point to blowback as the only reason for a nose dive.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Democratic Argument

Ezra Klein is on Hugh Hewitt making the Democratic argument that they should get their way in the spending debate.

1. What if Democrats decided they wouldn't open the government unless Republicans passed the public option?

There are two problems here.
a) Republicans aren't attaching a policy rider here. They are appropriating money in an appropriations bill and choosing not to appropriate it to ACA. That's within bounds.

b) Democrats attached a policy rider of when the troops had to come home to Iraq War funding in 2007. George Bush vetoed it.

2. Democrats won the popular vote by 1.5 million votes. (It was actually 1.365 million)

This is just stupid. The winners of House seats have never been determined by who wins a national House popular vote. Nothing ever has. The Constitution provides no power to whoever wins the House popular vote any more than they gave Al Gore anything for winning the Presidential popular vote.

The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27 in the 1960 World Series. The Pirates got the rings.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Republican Plans for California Assembly

I was at the California Republican convention over the weekend. Connie Conway, the Republican minority leader in the state assembly, talked about winning AD-36 in Palmdale, and AD-65 in Fullerton. She did add AD-66 in Torrance as a target when someone pointed out that candidate David Hadley was in the room. Since I heard Connie speak twice, I heard the same bad joke of how the GOP would defend the seats belonging to “what I like to call the law firm of Morrell, Gorrell, and Linder.” None of them are lawyers. I guess because Morrell and Gorrell rhyme, she thinks it sounds like a law firm.

Jeff Gorrell has been rumored to be interested in running for congress in CA-26 if Tony Strickland switches to CA-25. If true, Conway isn’t getting her law firm. Morrell and Gorrell are termed out in 2016, a year that figures to be more difficult for Republicans than 2014. Republicans need to take 2 seats to get 1/3 of the assembly, preventing Democrats from being able to raise taxes. Gorrell’s seat being open in 2014 would certainly make that more difficult for the next session, but the GOP’s goal is get at least 1/3 of the seats permanently, not just for two years. It may be better to have the seat open in 2014 than 2016.

Linder, on the other hand, was elected under Prop. 28 and won’t be term limited until 2024. So defending his seat should be priority.

There’s nothing surprising about Conway’s list. AD-36, 65, and 66 are the only districts held by Democrats that Meg Whitman won. Carly Fiorina won AD-8, 21, and 32. These districts are tougher targets but certainly possible. As of now, there are no declared Republican candidates in any of them. So it’s not surprising that Conway didn’t mention them.

SF Chronicle columnist Joe Garofoli chose to write about Catharine Baker, the Republican candidate in AD-16.

I don't see this district as a first or second tier opportunity because Barbara Boxer won it. Democrats think they have a stranglehold on every seat they have and that others will keep falling because California demographics are trending their way. I disagree but think that until there's evidence otherwise winning a Boxer seat is a bridge too far. Boxer didn't win big here, but Joan Buchanan won 59%-41% in 2012. The seat will be open and fellow blogger Scott Lay thinks it'll be competitive. I just don't see it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Shutdown and the 2014 Elections in the Media

Yesterday I wrote about the impact of the government shutdown in 1995-96 and its impact on the that election. Sean Trende has his take today, pretty much agreeing with me. Chris Cillizza pushes back saying it'll be worse. Trende's article is full of detailed analysis. Cillizza's video contains some comparisons, without any data that provides any conclusions. I prefer Trende's work.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Did the Democrats gain in 1996 due to the government shutdown?

The conventional wisdom is that the government shutdown in 1995-96 led to a Republicans defeat in 1996. Republican Presidential candidate Bob Dole did lose by 8.5 points. It was an improvement over Clinton’s 1992 margin. It’s possible that the shutdown did help Bill Clinton. Of course the 1996 Presidential results hinge on these two candidates and there are a great many things they did that could lead to those results.

The House and Senate elections had a lot more candidates. So any individual decision by any one candidate would have little impact on the actual results. This shutdown occurred about 10 months before a sitting President would stand for re-election. This shutdown, if it happens, will occur more than 3 years before two candidates who might have no involvement with this shutdown match up. It’s unlikely to have any impact.

The bigger question is what impact would this have on the 2014 House and Senate elections. Did the 1995-96 shutdown lead to disaster for the Republicans in 1996?


The Senate is easy. The GOP had 19 seats up for re-election, while the Democrats had 15. Republicans won 21 seats to the Democrats 13. This is a bit unusual, since the party with more seats at risk loses seats. Especially when that party loses the White House. So clearly Republicans weren’t hurt there.

Nineteen ninety four was a historic wave. Republicans picked up 54 seats in the election and then another 5 when Democratic congressmen switched parties. They netted a 60th seat when Tom Campbell won a Northern California Democratic district in a special election.

When a party picks up a big number of seats in one election, then next election is almost always a correcting election where many of the seats bounce back to the other party. This is especially true when the out party wins seats in a mid-term but doesn’t win the Presidential election two years later. With Clinton winning re-election Democrats might’ve expected to take back at least 30-40 seats.

In 1992, Democrats beat Republicans in the House vote 48.5 million to 44.0 million. The margin was similar to the 44.9 million to 39.1 million one that Bill Clinton enjoyed over George H.W. Bush.

In 1996, Bill Clinton’s win increased from 5.6 million to 8.2 million, 47.4 million to 39.2 million. Instead of increasing their 1992 margin or vote total congressional Democrats won the vote narrowly 43.4 million to 43.1 million.

Overall, Democrats picked up 19 Republican seats and the GOP picked up 10 Democratic seats. Democratic pick-ups included 3 seats in California, 2 in Massachusetts, and seats in Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, and New York. All told 17 of the 19 seats were in states Bill Clinton won. There were a lot of left leaning seats. They ended up with 207 seats. Democrats did win a majority of the House popular and didn’t win a majority. On the other hand, Bill Clinton’s coat tails should’ve resulted in them winning more votes, perhaps enough to win a majority.

Especially if they benefitted from Republicans shutting down government.

Friday, September 27, 2013

CA-GOP Chairman Jim Brulte is Brilliant

California Republican chairman had a recent meetings with several big California unions. I'm sure Brulte had some union members get in touch with leadership to point out how much of their membership is Republican. Each union donated a small amount to the California Republican Party .How come no one ever pointed this out to unions before?

Here's a simple message to unions: "We're not out to get you and if you feel we are, you might want to keep open lines of communication."

CA-7: Battleground for Moderates v. Conservatives

There is a debate within the Republican party. There's a group that defines themselves as conservatives and that they stand for Republican party policies. Anyone that disagrees with them is a RINO, Republican In Name Only. Once you call your opponent a RINO, you are the conservative and win the argument. Some conservatives argue that a conservative can win any district, as long as he or she clearly states what he stands for and can make the best conservative argument. Others argue that a conservative can't win a swing district.

Whenever a moderate loses a swing district, as Abel Maldonado did last year in CA-24, conservatives argue that voters don't want mushy centrists who vote for tax increases. When a conservative loses, moderates argue the conservative was too extreme. Conservatives will often dismiss such arguments, saying that the conservative didn't get proper party support or that Republicans were working against the conservative. "If we lose the primary, we support the Republican who wins. The RINOs don't do the same." Thus, a race like the 2010 Delaware senate race confirms both arguments.

Christine O'Donnell was too conservative to win!
She didn't get Republican party support and Mike Castle wouldn't endorse her!

This battle is once again on in CA-7. Democrats have one candidate, congressman Ami Bera. Former Tom McClintock (R-CA) staffer Igor Birman is taking up the conservative mantle, while former congressman Doug Ose has been cast as the RINO moderate. The 2012 Senate challenger Elizabeth Emken has been forgotten in this argument. There's no polling yet, although it seems likely that Birman starts with a huge deficit against better known opponents. Birman has secured the endorsement of Tea Party grassroots FreedomWorks. That could help him in the jungle primary if he can take advantage.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CA-31: Why Pete Aguilar's Endorsement Makes Me Yawn

Extra! Extra! Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar has received the endorsement of the Redlands Area Democratic Club. Yes, the Democratic Redlands mayor managed to snag the endorsement of the Redlands Democratic club. [Yawn] Not only is this unremarkable and expected, but it shouldn't be discounted that Redlands is a city with only 68,747 people, per the 2010 census. San Bernardino has 209,924. Rancho Cucamonga has 165,269. Rialto has 99,171. Upland has 73,732. Aguilar has piled up plenty of endorsements. As he did in 2012. It didn't help. Democrats like to pretend that if the establishment rallies around a candidate, he'll win. Voters on the left don't like to be told who to vote for any more than those on the right. [Yawn]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SD-Mayor: First Poll Out

The Los Angeles Times has a big scoop on the recent meeting of top California Republicans on who they'd support for San Diego mayor. You could read it or you could've read what I wrote two weeks ago. Or maybe that's where they got their idea for their story.

SurveyUSA has the first mayoral election poll out Republican independent Democrat showing Nathan Fletcher with 30% of the vote, Republican Kevin Faulconer with 22%, Democrat David Alvarez with 17%, and others/undecided with 30%. I'm not sure how good this is for Fletcher. It'd put him top two and that's certainly the goal. Faulconer and Alvarez aren't well known. Faulconer may be able to chip away at the 21% of Republicans who might not know that Fletcher is now a Democrat. Alvarez needs to boost his total with self-identified liberals way above the 30% he's at now, while also appealing to some moderates. Will Fletcher withstand the attacks from both the left and right?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

SD-Mayor: U-T San Diego Trashes Nathan Fletcher

San Diego "Democrat" Nathan Fletcher achieved some popularity last year when he got 24% of the vote in the mayoral primary. Polling done early this year showed him strong. Fletcher has a problem, one wide enough to drive a truck through. U-T San Diego, the city's largest newspaper, wrote a scathing editorial about Fletcher and his stances on issues. It's really pretty simple.

A year ago, when seeking the Republican party endorsement, Fletcher was a party line Republican. When it became apparent that Fletcher wasn't going to win enough Republican votes to finish top two and advance to the general election, he jumped ship from the Republican party and became an independent, saying he no longer fit in with either party. While this was clearly an opportunistic decision, he could make the credible argument that he hadn't changed. The parties were the problem. It was a move that didn't work in 2012, but could've set him up for the future, especially if he was going to seek a non-partisan office again.

And then Fletcher did something which, in hindsight, may appear monumentally stupid. He switched to the Democratic party, a party he criticized as a Republican and as an independent. He completely changed his positions on almost everything. This would've been a canny move if Fletcher was going to try to run for partisan office like the state senate or congress. It's difficult to win such an office without party help.

But mayor is non-partisan and independents are well liked, especially when they criticize both parties. Fletcher, of course, couldn't foresee the mayor resigning and the strong poll indicating he might win.

Of course that's before a campaign, the first shot of which has been taken by the UT San Diego editorial board. They clearly lay out the lines of attack that Fletcher will face in ads, at debates, and, pretty much, at every public event. Almost every position he'll take will completely contradict the positions he took less than two years ago.

He also probably didn't count on a San Diego progressive like councilman David Alvarez getting in the race and drawing support from Democrats. Even people he is counting on are wavering.

Fletcher may start out strong but he's in trouble and it's not hard to see the bottom falling out for him.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CA-21: Renteria to Challenge Valadao

Based on the 2012 Presidential results, CA-21 is the second most Democratic district currently held by a Republican congressman. This is David Valadao's district. Last year the Democrats went through some very difficult times before settling on Fresno city councilman Blong Xiong as their candidate. Xiong wasn't from the district and his core constituents were fellow Hmong, who also weren't in the district. Xiong managed to finish third in the top two, losing to David Hernandez, a candidate who spent no money. Hernandez bombed.

You'd think that a district that is D+4 Obama 2012 would be easy for Democrats to recruit in. Yet the Democrats once again couldn't find a candidate. Complicating matters was that they had trouble finding a candidate for SD-16, a district that heavily overlapped with CA-21. They eventually found Kern County supervisor Leticia Perez, who represented an area that was outside the district. Perez had a dramatic loss in a district Barack Obama got 63% in 2012. Perez was considered the DCCC's top recruit before her loss. No word on how they feel about her running in a district the President got 55% in.

The DCCC has decided on a candidate and it's not Perez. It's Amanda Renteria. Renteria is originally from Woodlake, California. After high school she went to Stanford, worked for Goldman Sachs, got a Harvard MBA, worked for the city of San Jose before and then moved to Washington to work for Senator Dianne Feinstein and then Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Woodlake isn't in CA-21. It's in the neighboring CA-22. That should send up an alarm bell, considering the Democrats' lack of success with candidates from outside the area. But Renteria hasn't lived in Woodlake in 20 years, when she was an 18 year old high school student. In fact, her Linkedin profile still lists her home as Washington DC.

The Central Valley isn't somewhere you can just drop a candidate in, especially one that hasn't campaigned before. The district has a Democratic lean and that could be enough for her to win. But her candidacy, and the candidacy of beekeeper Michael Eggman in CA-10, lead me to believe Democrats aren't serious about going on offense in a year that figures to have a Republican lean. Henry Perea will be termed out in the assembly in 2016, a Presidential year that should be better for Democrats. I think the Democrats will mount a serious challenge then.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

California Election Night to the Final Vote

Last year people noticed that California Democrats had a higher percentage of the votes after election night than the final election night numbers. It wasn't a big deal until the SD-16 race this summer. Andy Vidak had nearly 52.0% on election night, but dropped under 50.0% when the final tally was in. Falling under 50.0% forced a run-off, which Vidak eventually won.

I've been asked what percentage does a Republican have to have on election night to win. Well, I'm happy to tell you. I tracked the competitive 2012 races by recording the margin election night and then the final vote. Of the 40 races I tracked, Democrats gained 3.3% or less in 33 of those races. So a Republican at 51.7% was safe in all of those. There were 4 races where Democrats gained 5-6%, with the highest the 5.8% Jim Costa gained. So a Republican with 53.0% on election night wouldn't have lost.

The GOP lost two races they led on election night, SD-5 and AD-36, both of which they led by 2.0%.

Friday, September 13, 2013

CA-Gov: Rob Schneider fundraises for Tim Donnelly

In what has to go in the weird endorsement file, liberal Democratic actor Rob Schneider is doing a fundraiser for Tea Party assemblyman/gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly. Doing a fundraiser rises beyond the level of a simple endorsement. This is a curious move for a liberal Democrat like Schneider. Just yesterday I heard an interview with him on a local radio show where he expressed disgust about the NRA and guns relating to the Colorado recall elections. Not exactly a Tea Party type.

Schneider and Donnelly came together last year over an immunization bill last year. I guess they struck up a friendship. Or something.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Abel Maldonado's Campaign Shake-up

Abel Maldonado, the leading Republican candidate for California governor,has parted ways with his high priced DC consultants. Some people are wondering what Maldonado is doing. He's a Republican and sees his party 1) way down with no future 2) lurching far to the right 3) failing to reach Hispanics. I'm not saying I agree with him on all of this, but that's where he's coming from.

He, along with other Republican Hispanics, is part of a group called GROW Elect, which is doing outreach to the Hispanic community and attempting to elect Hispanic Republicans to any elected position. When I say "any" I mean "any." They were pushing for candidates on the Cudahy and Chino Hills City Councils in the March 5 election.

Maldonado and Grow Elect realize that a Hispanic gubernatorial candidate would go a long way toward that goal. I wouldn't be surprised if instead of spending time with the San Fernando Valley Republican Club he goes to a Mexican restaurant in the city of San Fernando. Maldonado likely wants his legacy to be a party that's a lot more Hispanic than it is today. That might not lead to as many votes as campaigning with swing voters, but they're in it for the long term, not just one election.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Another Story on a Tired Narrative

The New York Times is the latest pushing the narrative that Republican problems in California are as a result of Prop. 187 and that if Republicans were just nicer to immigrants they'd win elections.

The idea that 1994 and Prop. 187 are the start of Republican problems is a fallacy that's so often repeated that people believe it's true. That ignores that from 1974 to 1992 Democrats won 27 of 37 statewide races, with 6 of the 10 Republican wins by 2 candidates. Prop. 187, occurring after the GOP slide, won by 59%-41%. So it's hard to believe that this proposition is the source of Republican problems in the state. There are a number of reasons that the Republican party started a California slide in the 1970s, but probably the biggest reason was that the Democratic party had a registration advantage of over 22% in the 1970s, higher than today's 15%. That Republicans ever won elections in California is the anomaly, not that they stopped winning them.

Likewise passing immigration bills might help the Republican party, but it's certainly not a cure-all with Latinos or other elections and it won't make a difference here in California.

SD Mayor/CA-52 Congressional Candidates

I spoke with my San Diego Republican source about the San Diego Mayor and CA-52 Congressional elections. Initially, the Republican insiders and business interests were neutral about the race. They spoke with Ron Roberts, Carl DeMaio, and Kevin Faulconer, asking each if they'd leave the race if the Republican party decided to get behind a single candidate. Roberts and Faulconer said yes. DeMaio said no.

As they discussed the candidates, the insiders felt that DeMaio was the wrong candidate for mayor. His style can be abrasive and alienating. He's pissed people off. The feeling was that such a style wasn't the best temperament for mayor, especially coming on the heels of Bob Filner.

[Aside: They knew Filner was a jerk, but had no idea he harassed all these women. Most were Democrats. If they had, they would've used it.]

Faulconer is well liked and the type to get people rally behind him. Thus, there was a sigh of relief when DeMaio decided not to run. He didn't feel Faulconer's lack of name ID would hurt him in a low turn-out special, which would be more concentrated with core party bases. I disagree and think he was putting on a good front for Faulconer being unknown.

He felt DeMaio was the only candidate who could win CA-52 and dismissed Kirk Jorgensen as an outsider businessman, pointing out that candidates like him hadn't been able to get votes in the past. DeMaio's style would fit much better with being a congressman and that San Diego Republicans would be firmly behind him.

Republicans have the candidates they want for both offices.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

CA-17 Poll: Mike Honda Leads

Rep. Mike Honda has a serious challenge from former Obama official Ro Khanna. The wins by Gloria Negrete-McLeod and Eric Swalwell showed that a serious challenge can be fatal for a long time Democratic incumbent.Honda is taking it seriously and released a poll months ago. Now, a few months later, Honda allies have released another poll.

Releasing the poll makes total sense for Honda. Show Khanna, and everyone associated with him, that he still has no shot. I haven't seen the actual poll results, so I have some questions.

What is the partisan breakdown? The district is 43% Democratic/19% Republican, but it figures to be more Republican in the primary. There's no Republican candidate right now, so one of these two will get those votes and a good Democratic challenger can capture Republican votes. All things being equal, Republicans like the idea of knocking off a long time Democrat. Honda is seen as overly liberal and Silicon Valley business interests, both Republican and Democratic, could see a new rep as more favorable to them.

What hurts Honda is that California has Top Two and not partisan primaries. So not only will Khanna have a shot at the Republican votes, but will get two shots at Honda. Swalwell and Negrete-McLeod lost in June and won in November. So they had a lot of extra time to build name recognition and get votes before victories in November. Honda, and his allies, can release all the one-sided polls they want, but no one should discount Khanna's shot.

Friday, August 23, 2013

This'd be better if you weren't wearing panties

Okay, I don't know if that's an exact Bob Filner quote, but 18 women have come out and given various stories of harassment. Well, Bob Filner is officially out as San Diego mayor. Filner, apparently, remains defiant, claiming "Not one allegation has ever been independently verified or proven in court," he said. "I have never sexually harassed anyone." Well, that remains to be seen and will be decided later. People are already turning their attention to the election for Filner's successor. Former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher has already filed. Apparently, even before an election has been called. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is out. Former Councilman and current congressional candidate Carl DeMaio has yet to state his intention. He's welcome to wait until at least there is an election called.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

CA SD-26 Ballot Out

I usually limit my blog posts to elections that you'll care about, but I got a ballot in the mail yesterday for an upcoming election. I couldn't figure out what it was for. That shows how important I feel when choosing my elected officials. My state senator, Curren Price, is now on the LA City Council. So my assemblywoman, Holly Mitchell, is running for state senate, SD-26, against perennial candidate, Democrat Mervin Evans. She'll clean his clock and they won't need a run-off.

Once she's certified, she'll resign from the assembly and there'll be another special to vote in.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Carl DeMaio Working For The Recall

There are a bunch of pictures of CA-52 congressional candidate Carl DeMaio helping solicit signatures for the Bob Filner recall posted on Twitter. Carl DeMaio has retweeted several of them for you, just in case you follow him, but not everyone else in San Diego.

There's no mystery where DeMaio stands on the recall, but participating publicly brings on two questions: 1) Is he doing the recall drive himself because he'd rather run for mayor than congress 2) Does he look like he's doing it because he'd rather run for mayor? That puts the focus on him and not Filner.

Actually, I have a third question. What did he tell Greg Walden and Kevin McCarthy when asked what his plans were?

Edit: It occurred to me that recalling Bob Filner is very popular. In this recent poll, 73% of voters support it. It can't hurt to be on the side of 73% of voters. In addition, while Scott Peters has called on Mayor Filner to resign, it'd be difficult for a Democrat to support a recall of another Democrat. It could provide a contrast for DeMaio and supporting the recall publicly could become a good campaign ad.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Democrats Have Zero Chance of Flipping House in 2014

I've said this before but I'll be unequivocal about it. There's zero chance Democrats will flip the House in 2014. It can't and won't happen. Here's why:

1. The Presidents' party have won House seats in only three mid-term elections since 1818. While it seems unlikely those conditions can be replicated, let's assume that the President's approval rating jumps up in the 60%+ range. The President's party won 8, 4, and 9 seats in those elections. The edge, when it did exist, was small, not big enough to flip the 17 seats they'll need in 2014. People are unhappy with the President in mid-terms.

2. Republicans have a more pronounced advantage in the mid-term electorate than they have in the past. That structural shift may be part of the reason Republicans gained House seats in 2002.

3. We've never had congressional district maps that favor the Republicans like we do now.

So, if any party was going to defy point one, it'd be the GOP, per points two and three. It won't happen with a Democratic President.

Democratic 2014 Strategy

Obama's 2014 election strategy will be "If you benefit from Obamacare, it's because of Democrats. If you don't, it's because Republicans screwed it up for you."

That's pretty much been the Democratic narrative on the economy since 2009. "The economy is doing better thanks to Democrats, but if it's not doing that well for you, it's because Republicans stopped us from doing more."

In 2010, that Democratic strategy blew up and resulted in big Republican wins. What Democrats forget is that Republicans had very low approval ratings when they won that year. So high approval ratings aren't necessary.

In 2012, Democrats stuck with it, but Obama framed his re-election on how awful Mitt Romney would be as President and how he was a better alternative. Thus, Obama finished 2 points better than Democrats.

American elections have always been a referendum on the President. If they like the job he's doing, they're with him. If they don't, they aren't. Democrats are ignoring this and have decided that this election will be judged differently. Good luck changing the way the electorate votes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ok, Carl DeMaio Is Gay. Get Over It.

If you're the DeMaio campaign, you want them writing about you. I get that. Does every story have to be about the gay candidate? I know I touched on it, but my post wasn't about him being a gay candidate. It was more the impact of gay candidates on the gay vote. Analyzing how and why people are voting is what this blog is about.

Republicans hate identity politics. They're not supposed to care if you're LGBT or Black or Latino. They're supposed to care who's best for the job, regardless of anything else. Of course, Republicans do care, because every LGBT or Black or Latino elected official is proof that the party isn't homophobic or racist or xenophobic and that anyone can vote for us. DeMaio, to his credit, isn't running as "Hey, I'm a gay Republican. Vote for me." He's making this about fiscal issues. So maybe, eventually, the media will get tired of "Hey, I'm a gay Republican." stories and recognize that DeMaio is just a strong Republican challenger.

I do have a quibble with the article. Libertarians aren't socially liberal. They are socially libertarian. They may have the same basic stance of some issues, but the difference is that libertarians believe gay marriage is okay because hey don't want government meddling with marriage, while liberals believe government should be enforcing "marriage equality."

Monday, August 12, 2013

CA-33: Waxman's Next Challenge

CA-33 is D+16 in registration, making it more Democratic than Judy Chu's CA-27 or Susan Davis' CA-53. While those reps won by 28 and 23 points in 2012, Henry Waxman won his seat by only 8%. As I noted in September 2011, however, Waxman is uniquely vulnerable, while those two aren't. The southern part of the district overall leans Republican. Waxman is not only perceived as a very liberal Democrat, but he's also universally disliked by right leaning Republicans and independents. He'd never represented any part of this area.

Bill Bloomfield was his 2012 challenger. Bloomfield was a former Republican turned independent who had deep pockets. Bloomfield won the southern portion of the district 59%-41%. Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in these cities 51%-49%. Waxman won because he won the northern part of the district, containing ultra liberal Santa Monica, as well as West LA, Beverly Hills, and Malibu, 62%-38%. While going from Republican to independent, NPP in California, improved Bloomfield's totals, even being an independent here wasn't enough to get Democrats to vote for him. A moderate Democratic candidate like former Congresswoman Jane Harman would diminish Waxman's totals in the north and would likely win the anti-Waxman vote in the south. Waxman could go down a la Pete Stark, but only with the right Democrat.

Producer Brent Roske is challenging Waxman. Roske is producer of the web series “Chasing the Hill.” Per the LA Times:
He is running as an independent, placing emphasis on entertainment industry issues like runaway production, and his first campaign spot “will show the intersection between Hollywood and Washington and why voting for someone from the entertainment industry just makes sense to represent this district.”
Roske's candidacy sounds like a publicity stunt, since the article says that he plans to spend $5,000 on the campaign. In fact, his run as an independent may siphon off enough Republican and moderate votes to prevent a moderate Democrat from winning. Waxman remains vulnerable but for him to lose the district will need the right moderate Democrat and either weak or diffuse Republicans that'll make sure the moderate makes Top Two. The right moderate would then beat Waxman in a general election. That might not happen in 2014, but there will be three more elections between now and redistricting in 2022. Waxman will be 75 on election day 2014. Either he retires or gets beat some time before that redistricting.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The GOP and Obamacare

Republicans have ridden a long way being opposed to Obamacare. They need to put the breaks on that because they can't stop it at this point. It's law. Like it or not, the individual market, and in many cases the small group market, will be Obamacare in 2014.

Some voters will continue to be insured through their work or through Medicare and will experience little or no change. Perhaps they'll have a negative change in rates or coverage. Those of these that are part of the Republican base will keep yelling to repeal Obamacare and defund it.

There are those of us who will be a part of Obamacare, whether we like it or not. Some people will add their 25 year old to their insurance policy or see their child with pre-existing conditions insured.

Then there are individuals and small businesses that'll get their insurance through exchanges. This will, assumably, happen everywhere, whether your exchange is administered by the Federal government or state government. Those of us that do this will want our experience to be as easy as possible. Republicans throwing up road blocks to this process will only hurt the GOP with those voters.

The Republican Party has jumped all over rate announcements that predict higher rates. The problem there is that these are very general predictions, using the average rate paid now and the average rate on the exchange. No one knows how much the individuals who will use the exchange are paying now and which plan they'll choose.

I'm one of those people. I've been with Blue Cross for 15 years. Why? There are two reasons. First, I had two health plans tell me they couldn't tell me my rate until after I joined. Second, I have two minor pre-existing conditions. One of them from before I was with Blue Cross and one while with Blue Cross. Blue Cross only counts the one before I joined against me, but other insurance companies would count both.

I was told the new exchanges will solve these problems. First, rates will be easy to get and you won't have to make a bunch of phone calls and hope someone will tell you a rate. Second, the insurance companies are only allowed to factor in age, gender, and whether the person is a smoker into the rate. So not only can't they refuse people with pre-existing conditions, they also can't give them higher rates.

Given this, my rate is almost certain to come down. And it'll probably go down for many other people, if for no other reason that they'll be presented all the options and prices easily.

Now my vote won't be won or lost based on the positive experience with Obamacare I think I'll end up having. But others may be swayed. Before the GOP yells about how awful Obamacare is, they need to let people experience it and see if it is indeed awful. If most people have a positive experience, then yelling about how awful Obamacare is won't win you votes. It may lose them.

The Republican party needs to hold their breath and see what happens. It may be an election weapon for them or it may be one for the Democrats. And whatever the GOP does, they need to make sure that any problems with Obamacare aren't blamed on them.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lessons from Surprise California Senate win?

The Republican Party is attempting to spin Andy Vidak's "surprise" win in a CA SD-16 special election. They're estimating "he won about 25 percent of the Hispanic vote — double what Republicans usually win in the district." There are a few problems here. If Vidak won 25% of the Hispanic vote, that's actually less than Mitt Romney won nationally. He won 27%. And he certainly didn't win the national vote. Thus, 25% sounds low and questionable in such a Hispanic district. I'd think he'd have to win more. If that's the total, it shows how low Hispanic turn-out is usually. That's possible, since this is a very low turn-out district. In fact the corresponding congressional district was 434 out of 435 in turn-out in 2012.

We also should keep in mind that turn-out here was low, even for this district. Turn-out was 69% of the 2010 turn-out. So 25% is only about 5,000 voters more than the 12.5% they usually get in the district. That's not doing a great job. It's just making sure your voters vote.

This is a district with rural Hispanics, who vote differently than urban Hispanics. Whatever lessons we can take from this district can't be applied there.

Monday, August 5, 2013

House Vote Change 2008 to 2012

There’s been a lot of focus on the Presidential vote/demographics and what Republicans will need to do if they’re going to win the Presidency.

There hasn’t been as much focus on the House vote, which I think is more important. Why? The Presidential vote is heavily dependent on two people, their popularity and campaign operations. Neither of those people will be running in any House district or running for anything else again for that matter.

Mitt Romney cut Barack Obama’s margin from the 7.3% he beat John McCain in 2008 to 3.8%. That’s a gain, but still not a win. Democrats can argue that Obama had mediocre approval ratings in a mediocre economy and still managed to win comfortably.

The House vote, on the other hand, went from a 10.6% Democratic win in 2008 to a narrow 1.1% win in 2012. No matter how mediocre Obama’s approval ratings were or how mediocre the economy was, that’s a really bad direction to be headed. Yes, they won more votes, but not by much.

I’m looking at the congressional vote state-by-state because redistricting meant that the 2008 and 2012 districts were different, in some cases very different.

The good news was that it wasn’t as bad a drop as it looks. Republicans knew 2008 was going to be a tough year and failed to field candidates in some states, while Democrats fielded candidates almost everywhere. In 2012, the GOP increased their candidates in these states, while in some cases Democrats decreased theirs.

As a result, the Democrats had big drops in the vote in states where there was a big variation in the number of candidates between 2008 and 2012. In 2008, there were 10 Democratic candidates and 4 Republicans in Massachusetts. Republican share went from 12% to 24%, but it’s tough to say the GOP was a lot better. Because almost every district on the list had. The lone state moving in the Democratic direction was California, where Democrats had a bigger advantage in 2012 than 2008.

The remaining states have been divided into three groups, blue, red, and competitive states. For the most part, Republicans don’t compete for districts in the blue states listed, while Democrats don’t compete for those in the red states listed. In fact, Republicans only have seats in one state, New York, while Democrats have almost entirely minority majority districts in the red states listed.

Democrats dropped by 2.1%, a 4.2% margin, in the blue states and 3.7%, a 7.4% margin, in the red states. This is bad news for them. They’d like their biggest drops to come in non-competitive states. Who cares if Republicans are making gains in seats which won’t change hands?

The last group contains competitive states. While some of these states might not be that competitive on a Presidential level, they are more competitive on a congressional level. Democrats lost an average of 3.9% off their vote, a 7.8% margin. Their 2008 win was 8.6% and their 2012 win was 1.0%. That’s a big drop, just not as big as their overall drop.

The good news for Democrats is that the states where they had their smallest drops have a good share of competitive districts, while some at the top of the list have fewer.

Overall, the 2008 to 2012 change in the House vote, 9.5%, was much larger than the Presidential drop off, 3.5%. The drop in competitive states, 7.8%, is smaller, but it should still be a big concern for Democrats going into the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CA-17: Endorsements

In the battle for the CA-17 congressional seat, congressman Mike Honda has racked up endorsements from many congressional Democrats and other politicians like President Barack Obama. That's great. Ro Khanna has released a list of 100 Silicon Valley execs. Which is better? Khanna might argue that Honda is the candidate of Washington, a place everyone hates. Honda might argue that Khanna is the candidate of the rich, although I'm not sure how knocking the local liberal entrepreneurs will go over.

Georgia isn't Montana or North Dakota

Michelle Nunn, daughter of the late Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, has decided to enter the Georgia Senate race on the Democratic side. The media is acting like her entering the race changes things. Cook Political has moved the race to Lean Republican.

We should remember two things:

1. For all the Democratic red state victories and Republican failures, they've all occurred in states that have elected Democrats statewide in recent elections, mostly when there are several statewide Democrats still serving. The lone exception I can think of is Alaska, where Ted Stevens was convicted of a crime on the eve of the election.

2. Every Democrat elected in a red state has been either a current or former statewide officeholder or a sitting congressman. Nunn is neither. Yes, a better candidate would've won Missouri, but we shouldn't discount Claire McCaskill's role in winning.

Even though we all hear about Georgia turning blue, Republicans won all 9 statewide races in 2010 by at least 9 points. They haven't won a senate seat since 1996. Nunn certainly carries a famous name, but that's all she has.

Republican "problems" with women and young voters

Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report has jumped on the Republican "problems" bandwagon.
Will Republican problems from 2012 simply persist into 2014? Is it possible that the Republican brand remains damaged among minority, women, and self-described moderate voters, and that the strongest GOP contenders decline to run in key races (or if they do choose to run, that they still won’t win their primaries)?
If Charlie was reading this blog, maybe he wouldn't have written that. Romney won White 18-29 year olds 51%-44%. He won White women 56%-42%. House Republicans did 3.5% better than Romney, so the GOP won both of these groups by at least 10%. And this was in a year the GOP lost. 2010 was even better. The only reason Republicans appear to have a problem with these women and the youth vote is that they didn't win them by enough to counteract minority women and youth.

Republicans do have a problem with minority voters, but not with women or the youth vote.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Carl DeMaio for San Diego Mayor?

The ugly sexual harassment escapades of Bob Filner have, of course, led to speculation that he'll resign and what'd happen in a special election subsequently. Roll Call speculates Carl DeMaio, currently running for congress, could run. Coincidentally, Kevin McCarthy is in San Diego today for a fundraising luncheon for Carl DeMaio. What do you think they're talking about?

DeMaio could be faced with a choice, albeit an enticing one. He could quit his run for congress and run for mayor. SurveyUSA has him slaughtering all opponents except Nathan Fletcher, who he's running even with. Fletcher seems almost certain to run. So this could be a 50-50 thing. If he were to lose, then he could go back to the congressional race. The optics on doing that are awful and likely would lead to a loss.

Or he could remain in the congressional race, where previous polling has shown DeMaio will give Scott Peters a difficult race.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

California State Senate 2014 Updated

In January I took an early look at the California State Senate 2014 elections. As then, it appears that there are 26 Safe Democratic and 11 Safe Republican districts. The three important swing districts remain SD-12, 14, and 34. Republican incumbent Anthony Cannella will run for re-election, likely Yosemite Community College District Trustee Tom Hallinan. The district clearly favors a Democrat, although Carly Fiorina did edge Barbara Boxer here in 2010. Cannella's incumbency and Hallinan's political inexperience should even things out. The Central Valley favors the GOP down ballot, especially if they have strong experienced candidates and the Democrats do not.

In January it looked like Democrats would run incumbent Michael Rubio in SD-14. Now, Republican Andy Vidak will be the incumbent and the Democrats will be searching for a challenger. It could be Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez in a rematch. It's hardly unusual for a candidate to lose a special election and run again in the next general election. Sometimes they do, in fact, win. Perez was considered the #1 DCCC recruit for CA-21 against Republican David Valadao. She may decide on that race.

The other view is that Perez lost a district where Barack Obama got 63% of the two party vote and the luster may be off the rose and both the California Democratic Party and DCCC may decide to go with other candidates. Democrats don't have an especially deep bench in the Central Valley. That's evident in their inability to field a quality opponent against Valadao in 2012 and no candidate committed to challenge him in 2014. Before Democrats convinced Perez to enter the race their best candidate was Fran Florez, who lost by 21% in 2010 in an assembly district Jerry Brown was winning.

Assemblyman Henry T. Perea would be a strong candidate, but he's said he'll run for re-election in his assembly district. He'll be turned out in 2016 and will then, assumably, challenge Valadao in CA-21 then. Another alternative could be first term Democratic assemblyman Rudy Salas, although Salas underperformed Barack Obama in 2012 by roughly 4%.

The other district which could swing is the one where Democrats would appear to be weakest, but also one where there's no Republican incumbent. Assemblyman Jim Silva, Former Assemblyman Van Tran, OC Board of Education member Long Pham, and Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen are all Republicans circling SD-34. Rancho Santiago CCD Trustee Jose Solorio and Garden Grove Planning Commissioner Joe DoVinh are the Democrats. As the 2012 CA-31 race should remind us, having four candidates from one party and two from the other can lead to the party with two candidates both making top two. I'd guess the GOP will do anything they can to discourage two of their candidates from remaining in the race.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

CA SD-16 Leticia Perez concedes

Leticia Perez conceded to Andy Vidak tonight. There were 1,522 Kern County ballots counted today and Leticia Perez took roughly two-thirds of them. While that sounds good, this was her best county, and she needed to take about 90% of the ballots here to have a shot. Maybe 95%. Heck, maybe all of them. She's behind by 5,352 votes and there are 6,523 ballots left in the two counties she won and roughly 1,200 left in the two she lost. So she'd have to get virtually every remaining vote in Kern and Fresno counties. Of course conceding was her most successful move last time. So maybe that's why she did it.

Andy Vidak will win CA SD-16 Election

Republican farmer Andy Vidak leads by 5,833 votes over Democrat Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez in California's 16th Senate District special election. The lead is 54.0%-46.0%. Vidak had just under 52% of the vote after election night in the May primary and managed to lose 2% to finish with 49.8%. Since a candidate needs to get 50%+1 to avoid a run-off in a special election primary, Vidak fell just short.

Based on press reports, there are 2,345 remaining ballots in Kern County and 185 in Kings as well as 5,700 in Fresno county. I don't know how many remain in Tulare County, but it could be around 600. Perez would need to take 83% of the remaining ballots to win if this is the case and that's virtually impossible unless she's filling them out herself. My analysis of the voting shows that her best case is a 51.9%-48.1% loss.

Some might hold up this win as meaning that Republicans can appeal to Hispanics. While there are some Hispanics voting GOP in this district, they largely stay home and don't vote. And these Hispanics are rural farmworkers. Hispanic are much more likely to live in urban areas and have little in common with the Central Valley.

Winning this race makes Vidak the incumbent for the 2014 SD-14 race under the new lines. That district is 3.3% more Republican. So Vidak would expect to do 6.6% better with the same electorate. Of course, the electorate should be more favorable to the Democrats. But they'll need a good candidate to beat Vidak and they haven't recruited that well in the Central Valley.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

CA SD-16 Election Today

Today is the run-off special election for California's 16th Senate district.

Democratic State Senator Michael Rubio retired earlier this year to work for Chevron and left this Central Valley seat open. On the surface it should be an easy seat for Democrats to hold. They have a 20% registration advantage in the district. That's similar to the advantage Democrats have in Congresswoman Anna Eschoo's district and Republicans don't bother there. The Central Valley is different. It's loaded with low turn-out migrant workers registered as Democrats. Some vote Republican down ballot, but most don't show up. Especially for a special election.

Hence, that's why Andy Vidak took 49.8% of the vote in the primary, almost winning the seat outright.

Today is the general election for the seat. Well, that's not exactly true. Seventy-six percent of the ballots in the primary were mail-in. If this election follows a similar pattern, then it's pretty much already decided. The Fresno Bee has the total VBM as of yesterday.

VBM compared to the primary is down in Fresno County, but up in Kern, Kings, and Tulare counties. Overall, this appears to mean the election could end up similar to the primary. If we take Vidak's overall percentage of the votes and apply it to the VBM in the primary we get 50.8% of the vote. Vidak got 1% less than that because the counties he did worst in, Kern and Fresno, had lower VBM than the two counties he did better in, Kings and Tulare.

If we assume Vidak gets the same percentage of the vote in each county in the general election, we get that he'll have 50.7% of the vote.

 photo Vidak_zps2cd3fbba.png

That's so close that Vidak projects to again get roughly 50% of the vote again today. This was a low turn-out election in May and is again. It may be decided based on who shows up at the polls today. Edit: I should also add is that this assumes that Vidak only gets Vidak voters and Perez gets all other voters. If some of the voters who voted for other candidates vote Vidak, he wins.