Thursday, March 28, 2013

Garcetti Leads Gruel in LA Mayoral Race

SurveyUSA has an Los Angeles mayoral poll out, with Eric Garcetti enjoying a 7 point lead over Wendy Gruel. Despite the low number of undecideds I think the lead is volatile. The primary was only 3 weeks ago. So many voters chose someone else and voted against these two candidates very recently. That's awfully fresh. The candidates also don't have a lot to differentiate themselves from each other. So it's possible that any new factor could sway people. Personally, I can't see anything attractive about either of them. I suppose I could be swayed.

Mike Feuer looks goo for city attorney, unseating incumbent Carmen Trutanich. Trutanich destroyed his popularity last year. He ran for city attorney saying that he'd complete two terms before running for another office. He ran for district attorney, attorney for all of LA county, last year. That broke his pledge and he didn't even finish top two. Now he'll lose re-election, freeing him to run for any office he chooses.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What if House seats were awarded proportionally?

Democrats have made a big deal about how their party received the most House votes but don't have a House majority. What if House seats were awarded this on a proportional basis, similar to a parliamentary system in other countries. Of course, if this were the case, the two parties would field better candidates, or in some cases a candidate, and spend more behind each candidate. Frequently, in districts that one candidate gets more than 60% of the vote that candidate doesn't work hard and the opposition spends virtually nothing. The vote would certainly change.

That said, how would things have gone if we translate the 2012 election? I've grouped right and left leaning groups together, assuming that a coalition would be formed.I put Bill Bloomfield in the right coalition since he was a long time Republican and major fundraiser for the party who ran against Democrat Henry Waxman. He also got 3-4 times the number of votes as the next highest independent candidates. I separated out the remaining independents and minor party candidates, not knowing where they lean. In New Jersey, candidates can run on any line they make up. I grouped "Change, Change, Change" and "Truth Vision Hope" with independents.

One thing that people touting the Democratic vote ignore is that the Libertarian party gets a good share of the remaining vote, far more than Greens get. When we pool all the right and left votes, we end up with is the left having 215-216 seats and the right having 215. It's pretty much even, depending on rounding. The left might have a majority but hardly anything like the dominant "America prefers us" that is out there in the media. We may have to wait a little longer before the country starts trending Democratic.

Friday, March 22, 2013

California's Blank Ballots

The LA mayoral run-off will be between two Democrats, controller Wendy Gruel and city councilman Eric Garcetti. Garcetti, always fairly well supported by labor, has blasted Gruel with charges of being in labor's back pocket. Needless to say, Republicans don't find much that's attractive withe either candidate. So what will they do? Is it possible they won't vote.


There were six congressional races with 2 Democrats and two with 2 Republicans in the November 2012 top two elections. In addition, there were three races with a Democrat and an NPP and one race with a Republican and an NPP.

All of the races with at least 10% drop-off didn't have a Republican and a Democrat running. While some in the opposing party will decide between the "lesser of two evils," others will leave the choice blank. That makes it very difficult for candidates. How do you know which voters in the other party are going to vote and which will leave your race blank? You have to sell the first group on you, but don't need to bother with the latter group. Is it best not to bother at all?

If there's a top of ticket race that'll draw people to the polls, the candidates will need to pay some attention to the other party's voters. The LA mayoral race will be the top of the ticket draw, however. The drop-off in November indicates Republicans won't show up to vote for either Democrat.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

CA-17: Honda's internal poll shows a big lead

Congressman Mike Honda has released an internal poll showing him with a massive lead of 57% to 13% for Republican Evelyn Li and 5% for young up and coming Democrat Ro Khanna. The district is Democratic enough that Honda doesn't need to fear Li or any other Republican. He beat Li 73.5%-26.5% last November. What Honda needs to fear is a strong Democratic challenger of the sort that beat Congressmen Joe Baca and Pete Stark. So Honda released the poll because he clearly would like to discourage Khanna from challenging him.

I have no idea what a similar poll between Pete Stark and Eric Swalwell would've shown in March 2011, but Swalwell was likely equally unknown. Swalwell didn't get into that race until late 2011. He managed to get 36.2% in the June 2012 primary, trailing Stark's 42.1%, but beating Chris Pareja, an NPP who got 21.7%. Swalwell didn't spend a lot of money to get that result, but likely did do a lot of campaigning.

Due to the Top Two primary system, that put Swalwell in a general election with Stark and no Republican on the ballot. Swalwell did spend some money overall, but benefitted because he was nearly 50 years younger and because the right and the middle disliked Stark. Honda isn't similarly disliked,so he won't have a similar advantage as Swalwell. Still, if Khanna is gearing up for a run this poll shouldn't discourage him.

Li spent $65,000 on both the primary and general election combined. So she's only going to attract the hardcore Republican voters. Any that want to beat Honda, with a more moderate Democrat, might vote for Khanna. Eric Swalwell and Gloria Negrete McLeod showed it can be done.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

GOP California Bench

As they did with the Democrats last week, Roll Call has published an article on the California GOP farm team. The Democratic article mostly focused on Democratic held seats, most of which won't come open any time soon. I didn't comment because congressman Juan Vargas, who was just elected to congress, isn't retiring any time soon. Vargas just had his 52nd birthday. With how long California congressmen serve, I fully expect his seat to come open in 2040. Do we really need a blog post analyzing that?

Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar will likely be challenging congressman Gary Miller, which I looked at previously. The Republican list does contain some of those seats. Congressmen Ed Royce, Ken Calvert, and Darrell Issa aren't retiring any time soon, although it's possible Buck McKeon or Dana Rohrabacher could retire. It shouldn't be news that the Republican bench is deep in heavily Republican districts. Since I don't know if the seats will come open, I'll leave that to them.
They did talk more about challengers to Democratic congressmen:

CA-3 - Kim Vann wasn't a terrible candidate, but wasn't that good of one. The district was D+4, which should be out of reach, although Carly Fiorina won it. It's a conceivable win. in a perfect world, the GOP would have a better candidate, but they could do far worse.

CA-07 - Former Rep. Doug Ose and state Sen. Ted Gaines are mentioned. They've been mentioned before. Neither lives in the district now, but they'd both be good recruits.

CA-16 - This is D+8, but a Central Valley D+8. Fiorina won here too. Supervisor Andreas Borgeas wouldn't be bad, but Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin or one of the other former Fresno mayors, Alan Autry or Jim Patterson, would be better.

CA-26 - Tony Strickland is a possibility for another try, but they also mention baseball pitcher Jeff Suppan. Athletes can make good candidates because voters like them and they have name ID. Suppan isn't exactly well known and has never pitched locally. He's from Encino and has a restaurant in Woodland Hills. I don't know where he lives, but both of those cities are in CA-30, not CA-26. Of course, congresswoman Julia Brownley didn't live in CA-26 until she decided to run.

CA-36 - While the bench is deep here, Assemblymember Brian Nestande is the only name that I've heard mentioned. He should be a good recruit.

CA-52 - As I mentioned previously, DeMaio would be a formidable candidate. There are other good recruits, but he's number one.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

California Voting by Ethnic Group

There's been a lot of discussion over the Hispanic vote, especially since Latinos voted strongly for Barack Obama. According to exit polls, Hispanics were 10% of the vote nationwide and 22% of the vote in California. That doesn't mean that Hispanics showed up at the polls. The chart below shows the California CVAP (citizens voting age population) and estimates the 2012 turn-out based on the exit poll.

I needed to reallocate the "other" category to the other groups, since the U.S. census lists far fewer people in "other" than the exit poll takers did.

This calculation includes only citizens. Even excluding non-citizens, Hispanics had a very low participation rate of 36%. Asians, at 40%, weren't much higher. Blacks, a very loyal voting block for President Obama, had the highest turn-out, at 66%. Hispanics do matter because there are so many of them in California, but they are still voting at low rates.

Monday, March 18, 2013

CA-31: Pete Aguilar trying again?

Redlands mayor Pete Aguilar's 2012 CA-31 candidacy ended up being the Democratic most embarrassing moment of last year's campaign. He was the DCCC handpicked candidate in a district that favored Democrats. He was the favorite to win the seat. Under California's new primary system, the top two finishers make the general election and the top two were both Republicans. Aguilar finished third and Democrats didn't get to compete for the seat.

Aguilar certainly failed in 2012 and became a joke punchline. It wasn't all his fault. He's correct that one of his problems was getting into the race so late. Two of his opponents had a six month jump on him and had already secured a base of votes when he got in. Justin Kim got in the race late, but he managed to rally Asians around his candidacy. Aguilar failed to work hard enough to take voters away from the other three candidates. If there aren't other Democrats, or even if there's only one, he'll make top two without putting in any more effort than he did in 2012. He'll make the general election and then we'll see if the district is one a Republican can win one-on-one. The district went 57.2% Barack Obama in 2012 and no Republican in the country won a district where President Obama got more than 54.6%. That'd seem to make the district a slam dunk for Democrats. There are two factors to keep in mind.

1) This'll be a mid-term year, with an electorate closer to 2010 than 2012. Republican congressional candidates narrowly won the district in 2010 if you sum the votes of all the district's voters by party. Steve Cooley won fairly comfortably in the Attorney General race and Carly Fiorina narrowly lost the senate race.

2) Republican Gary Miller is an incumbent.

Starting early should help Aguilar.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Obama Changing His Tune

President Obama has done a 180 degree turn and is now praising Republicans. If he's seen as a reasonable guy who works well with Republicans, it's harder to run against him and draw a contrast. While this could result in accomplishments for congress, and the President, and raise congressional approval ratings, I think it makes the GOP's job harder in the 2014 elections.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

CA-52: Why Scott Peters should fear Carl DeMaio

Democrat Scott Peters managed to knock off incumbent Republican congressman Brian Bilbray last November to capture the CA-52 congressional seat. It was a nail biter that Peters wrapped up on provisional ballots. This seat is especially vulnerable for the Democrats. Governor Jerry Brown got 45.8% of the two party vote in 2010, his lowest percentage of all the seats currently held by Democratic congressmen.

Roll Call has a story today that former San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is eyeing the seat. He'd make a formidable candidate. Below are the vote totals for the San Diego mayoral race and the CA-52 race broken down to show the overlap. The CA-52 in the mayoral race and the SD in the congressional race are the same area.

In DeMaio's match-up with Bob Filner, CA-52 was his strong area. He lost the race because Filner cleaned up elsewhere. On the other hand, Brian Bilbray won the small area outside the city by 22% but lost the city. For DeMaio to beat Peters he'll just need to keep the race fairly even in an area he beat Bob Filner by 13%.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

DCCC Frontline Program

The Democrats have rolled out their first batch of sitting congressmen who they think will be in competitive races in 2014. The Democrats only talk about offense, so I'm surprised they actually are talking publicly about this program, let alone 26 seats so quickly.
“While the 2014 campaign will be dominated by a strong offense taking on the Tea Party Republican Congress, our success begins with our Members,” added Israel, a Democrat from New York. “These battle-tested men and women have proven time and again that they can win because no one better reflects the values of their districts.”
Nineteen of the 26 were just elected in November and 3 of those 19 were congressmen who lost in 2010. So how exactly did they prove "time and again" that they can win?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Districts becoming more Republican and Democratic

Republican districts moved right in 2012 and Democratic districts moved left.

When the state legislatures were doing redistricting, they were counting on making safer districts. They appear to have done their job too well. Districts that were R+20 or greater in 2008 moved on average 1.6 PVI points to the right. Overall, 74% of the 2008 R+20 or greater districts moved more Republican and 26% moved more Democratic.

For the most part the movement left in Democratic leaning districts and right in Republican leaning districts lessened as the districts moved closer to the middle. This is the exact opposite of what the legislatures would want. If you're Democrats you want D+2 districts moving 3 points left and don't care what happens in D+20 districts.

The popular meme is that the country is becoming more polarized and this seems to confirm that. Either voters are conforming more to their neighbors or Republicans are moving to Republican areas and vice-versa.