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.