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.