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.