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?