Monday, December 15, 2014

California Primary Results vs. General Election Results

In 2012, Democrats had a dramatic improvement between the primary election and the general election. This certainly gave Democrats a lot of confidence they’d have a similar improvement in 2014.

Statewide Races
We have no Top Two baseline to compare these races to since the last statewide races were in 2010 before Top Two. For purposes of comparison I included Secretary of State primary votes for Dan Schnur, a Republican turned NPP, in the Republican total. Not doing so would’ve resulted in a very low primary percentage for the GOP and the most dramatic increase for them as a result. The average primary margin was 11.4% and the average general election margin was 13.9%. So Democrats did a little bit better across the board, with their biggest gain coming in the Controller’s race.

District races
I broke down the comparisons into 8 groups. The first division was to separate legislative and congressional races to see if they had different results. Then I divided the races into 4 groups based on June results. These were races Republicans won by 20%+, Republicans won by 0-19%, Democrats won by 0-19%, and Democrats won by 20%+. You can see all the individual races that fell into each category here.

Races Republicans won by 20%+ in June were all won by Republicans, showing that the one race a Democrat took in 2012 was a fluke. Democrats did gain in these districts in 2014, but the gains were a lot smaller than 2012. Worth noting that while Republicans gained in none of these districts in 2012, they did gain in 24% of the legislative districts in 2014.

Districts where Republicans won by 19% or less were still very good bets for Democrats in 2014. They gained in almost all of them once again, although the rate was lower than in 2012 in legislative races. Like the previous group the amount they gained was much smaller. Because Democrats only gained an average of 6.9% in legislative races, they only won 50% in 2014, compared to 83% in 2012. The percentage of these races Democrats won congressionally actually ticked up slightly.

While it would appear that Republicans are good bets to win any general election they win the primary by 20% or more and to lose any that they win by less than that, it’s not as clear cut. Legislatively the two parties split the six races Republicans won by 20% or less, with the three the Republicans won coming after winning primary margins of 9.4%, 7.8%, and 1.0%. On a Congressional level the Democratic gains were more modest. Republicans lost these seats but in only one instance did a Democrat gain more 10%. For 2016, I’d say that a Republican winning by 20% or more is safe, by 10-20% is in good shape, and by 6-10% is in trouble, and by less than 6% the Democrat will win.

Districts Democrats won by 19% or less had dramatic increases in 2012 and again in 2014. Republicans gained in 63% of the congressional races. Democrats won all of these races in both years and figure to do so again in 2016.

Races that Democrats won 20%+ in the primary aren’t that important because a Democrat will win the general. Yet, for some unknown reason, Republicans did better in the general election than they did in the primary in most of them.

Democrats did have an improvement in 2014, just not as dramatic as 2012. The chief reason 2014 wasn’t as good as 2012 is probably because 2012 had a huge influx of Democrats between the primary and general while 2014 didn’t. That influx had a lot to do with online registration being added in September 2012. If there are no rules changes between the primary and general in 2016 I’d expect the relationship to be similar to 2014. Democrats win any race they win in the primary and any race that Republicans win by 5% or less. Republicans will win any race they win by 20% or more in the primary. Races that are between 5%-20% should be competitive.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

California Senate 2016

Speculation is running rampant that Senator Barbara Boxer will retire in 2016 rather than run for re-election. California statewide elections lately have been rather boring, so the interest is understandable. It'd also be the first California senate seat to open since 1992. There probably are a bunch of Democratic politicians that might've run for the office in 1998 or 2000 but who are too old now. Who would run? Who'd win?

Who'll run for Democrats?
No one has thrown their hat into the ring and there isn't anyone who is known to be circling. There are three relatively young Democrats who hold statewide office right now, Attorney General Kamala Harris, LG Gavin Newsom, and Treasurer John Chiang. Each has the advantage that they won't be up for re-election in 2016. So they'll have a free shot at the seat and be able to retain their current post. A lot of people are speculating at a Harris v. Newsom match-up, but John Chiang did better than either in the recent election and polls have shown him with better favorables than they have. Do these candidates want to be in the senate or are they interested in the governor's mansion? They surely won't all get in. Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is another possibility.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has been mentioned as a possibility, but I doubt he'll run. Garrett has been in office less than two years and isn't that well known. He'd be an underdog agains those giants. The problem that comes in is what happens if he runs and loses. Carmen Trutanich is a cautionary tale. Trutanich pledged to serve two full terms as Los Angeles City Attorney if elected in 2009. In 2012 he decided to run for Los Angeles County District Attorney. His pledge was brought up. He lost the District Attorney race and then in 2013 lost re-election for City Attorney. The Los Angeles mayoral election will be in March 2017. So Garcetti would be asking people to vote for him for U.S. Senate at the same time that he'd have to start running for a second term as mayor. That wouldn't go over well with the public.

In a lot of states the natural transition is from the House of Representatives to the Senate. But no sitting congressman has run for statewide office since 2000 and no Democrat since 1998. The reason is that if a candidate wants to run statewide they have to give up their congressional seat. When you only represent 1/53 of the state you don't have high name recognition and probably don't have the network to raise enough money. I doubt we'll see any of them run.

Who'll run for Republicans? Will it matter?
The GOP didn't run strong candidates for senate in 2012 or for most statewide offices this year. Even those who had some strength, Pete Peterson and Ashley Swearengin, didn't raise a lot of money. So Republicans aren't likely to run a strong candidate in 2016. Even if they do, that candidate will lose. Unless it's former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She has a chance to garner votes outside of the people who usually vote Republican.

Could we see Top Two with two Democrats? Two Republicans?
Possibly on either. It depends on the field. We can probably expect something like 53% Democrats 42% Republicans in the primary. If there are a lot of Democrats but only two Republicans it's conceivable we could see two Republicans finish Top Two. That almost happened in the California Controller's race this year. On the other hand, a bunch of Republican candidates could spread the vote over enough candidates to see two Democrats get in.

We're waiting on Senator Barbara Boxer now.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

California SD-7 special election

There'll be a special election in Contra Costa county centered SD-7 to replace Mark DeSaulnier, who won the CA-11 congressional seat. It's a D+10 district and one that a Democrat is almost certain to win in 2016. But specials are a different story here. Just last year Susan Shelley came within a point of winning a D+13 San Fernando Valley assembly district in a special election. This district covers some of the same area as AD-16, which is D+7. Republican Catherine Baker just won that. And specials are more low turnout than mid-terms. If Republican Mark Meuser wins that election other people will be surprised, but you won't.

California SD-25 special election

Because Republican Steve Knight will be in congress, there'll be a special election for his senate seat. Here are the candidates the Sac Bee lists as possible for the special:

Republican Dante Acosta, Santa Clarita councilman
Republican Sal Chavez, businessman
Republican Marvin Crist, Lancaster vice mayor
Republican Tim Donnelly, former assemblyman/businessman
Republican Sandra Johnson, Lancaster councilwoman
Republican John Kunak, former Castaic Area Town councilman
Republican Jim Ledford, Palmdale mayor
Republican R. Rex Parris, Lancaster mayor
Republican Sharon Runner, former assemblywoman and senator
Republican Eric Schmidt, Hesperia mayor pro tem
Republican Scott Wilk, assemblyman

Democrat Star Moffatt, legal office manager
Democrat Johnathon Ervin, senior engineer

This candidate list shows how deep a bench Republicans have, with a long list of elected officials. Democrats have an office manager and an engineer. SD-21 and CA-25 have virtually identical Brown 2010/Feinstein 2012 numbers. CA-25 has Simi Valley while SD-21 has some of San Bernardino county. The thin Democratic bench shows why Democrats will have a hard time finding a Knight challenger unless they carpetbag someone from Los Angeles over to the Antelope Valley.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

California Assembly and Senate Results

The story of the California congressional election was one of Republicans falling short or Democrats valiantly defending everywhere, depending on your perspective. The assembly and senate elections were a different story. In order to retain their supermajority Democrats couldn’t afford to lose more than one assembly and one senate seat. This threshold is mostly symbolic. A two thirds vote is only necessary to raise taxes or get referendums on the ballot. Jerry Brown has indicated he’d veto most tax increases and the Democratic caucus had too many moderates to go whole hog in on taxes. Whatever happened Democrats would still have big majorities.

The question is whether you’re moving forward or backward and parties want to be moving forward. Democrats had picked up 4 senate seats and 3 assembly seats in 2012 and wanted to protect those gains. One of those senate seats was gained because the redistricting commission had put an extra Democratic seat into the 2012 election. That came back at them in 2014 when an expiring San Francisco based seat was replaced with a Republican seat in Riverside county. That seat had two Republicans finish Top Two and was already lost.

While the California Republican party ignored the congressional and statewide races they went all in on the assembly races. The positive results showed. There were 48 assembly races that had a Republican taking on a Democrat in both 2012 and 2014. The average Republican gained 4.3% and the gap between Republicans and Democrats was closed by 8.6% overall.

Republicans gained most in safe Republican districts. Eight of the top 16 biggest gain were made in safe Republican districts. Three of the remaining 9 flipped from Democrats to the GOP.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+7
2014 margin: Republican +21.0%

This district covers a lot of the same area as Jim Costa’s CA-16 and shows you how difficult it is for Democrats down ballot in the Central Valley. We don’t have the final numbers in but Jerry Brown probably won the district by 15 points. In most places in America Republicans don’t even contend in a D+7 district, let alone win the district by 21 points. Democrats didn’t have anyone to run and didn’t invest any money in the race. The good news for Democrats is that Anthony Cannella is term limited in 2018, but if they don’t have anyone to run then either they won’t win the seat.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+7
2014 margin: Republican +8.2%

This district is just south of SD-12, also in the Central Valley, roughly in the same area as CA-21. Here the Democrats spent over $2.5 million and outside groups spent more. If you look at who was making the contributions to Luis Chavez’ campaign you can see one reason he did so poorly. He didn’t fundraise himself. Democrats just kept pouring money in to prop him up. Andy Vidak can run for re-election in 2018. I don’t know if the Democrats will have a credible candidate then either.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+14
2014 margin: Democrat +4.6%

If you want to see an example of Republican success you need to look no further than SD-32. Yes, the GOP lost this seat, but it was D+14! Democrats won similar seats this year by 18-20%. So what happened? The seat was open and Republicans were running Mario Guerra, the popular Latino mayor of Downey. Guera only spent about $300k of his own money but a Republican SuperPAC spent a little over $1 million. That doesn’t come close to matching what Democrats spent in SD-14, but it’s significantly more than usually gets spent by Republicans in the Gateway cities of Los Angeles county. If a good candidate and a little spending can get a Republican within 5% in a D+14 LA county district there is life in the Republican party.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+3
2014 margin: Republican +16.2%

This was a Democratic held seat, albeit one made more Republican friendly by redistricting. Democrats had a former assemblyman and poured a lot of money into this race. Republicans did too and the results showed.

Democrats certainly don’t need to make gains in California. They already dominate. That said, Orange County and the Central Valley are two places they are trying to make gains in. Barack Obama won there and Jerry Brown probably did too. This year’s results shouldn’t make them too optimistic.

Half of the state senate seats are up every two years. Democrats won only 11 of these 20. That the seats are so favorable to the GOP in the mid-term should make any Republican feel good. Democrats have 15 of the 20 districts up in 2016. In 2012 there were 5 races decided by 12% or less and Democrats have 4 of these districts. I don’t want to go into a preview so early but Republicans could make further gains then.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+1
2012 margin: Democrat +8.6%
2014 margin: Democrat +9.4%

It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows for the California GOP. Republicans should be able to contest this suburban Sacramento district, mostly in CA-7, but have been beaten down both in 2012 and 2014. Ken Cooley looks fairly unbeatable.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+7
2012 margin: Democrat +18.4%
2014 margin: Republican +3.8%

If you want the best Republican story of the year it’s in this East Bay district. This isn’t the Central Valley. Here a D+7 district is supposed to produce a result like the one in 2012. Catherine Baker did poorly in the primary. Democrat Tim Sbranti, a good progressive, massively outspent Baker. Baker clearly ran a great campaign and it’s pretty clear that the moderates who supported Democrat Steve Glazer were turned off by Sbranti. I fully expect Baker to lose this district in 2016, but for now kudos on the triumph.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+5
2012 margin: Democrat +16.1%
2014 margin: Democrat +4.8%

Republicans did fail in this Central Valley seat, largely in SD-12 and CA-16, but there are some qualifications to make. Republican Jack Mobley got beat badly in 2012 and didn’t want to run again. The GOP failed to get a challenger for Democrat Adam Gray and had to coax Mobley to run as a write-in in the primary. Mobley’s heart clearly wasn’t in it and he was outspent by around $940k to $45k. Still, Gray would be a strong Democratic recruit should Jim Costa retire from congress or for the open SD-12 in 2018. The problem is that term limits were changed and Gray can be in the legislature until 2024. So he might not be so quick to leave.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+5
2012 margin: Democrat +5.6%
2014 margin: Democrat +6.2%

This seat, largely in CA-21 and SD-14, was one Republicans made a big push for and came up with a worse loss than in 2012. All this while David Valadao and Andy Vidak were winning up ballot. Rudy Salas certainly seems like a strong recruit to run against Valadao in 2016 or Vidak in 2018, but he also can serve in the assembly until 2024. I think you’ll see a lot less chamber hopping now that a legislator can serve all his years in a single chamber but congress will be attractive at some point for Salas. With a thin Democratic bench, I’m guessing he’s at the top of the DCCC’s list if Henry Perea doesn’t run.

2012 Presidential PVI: R+3
2012 margin: Democrat +0.1%
2014 margin: Republican +20.4%

This was the most unusual 2012 result. It was the only R+ PVI district Democrats won in 2012. They ran a former Republican because they had no bench. He managed to get a huge number of votes on the last day of counting to win. If the GOP didn’t retake this seat in 2014, they should’ve just folded up the tents. The landslide here is no surprise and I wouldn’t expect the district to be contended by Democrats in the future.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+2
2012 margin: Republican +0.8%
2014 margin: Republican +12.8%

The GOP made a big gain here and that’s certainly a positive considering an incumbent ran in 2012 and this was an open seat race. But Democrats never seriously contested the district. So Marc Steinorth actually did better in the general election than the primary. I don’t know if Democrats will go after the district in 2016, but they should.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+2
2012 margin: Republican +4.8%
2014 margin: Democrat +2.2%

Ventura county was loaded with disappointment for the GOP. Jeff Gorell abandoned this seat and he could’ve run for one more term. Not only did Gorell lose his congressional race, but the GOP nominated a polarizing candidate that cost them this seat. Republicans will look for a new candidate in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+13
2012 margin: Democrat +27.0%
2014 margin: Democrat +2.8%

It’d be nice to think that this LA county district could be competitive but this result is simply because the incumbent Ian Calderon has politician family members under indictment. Some who heard about those indictments probably assumed Calderon was too. Democrats may want a new candidate in 2016, but it’s possible there won’t be another scare for Calderon.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+1
2012 margin: Republican +3.6%
2014 margin: Republican +23.4%

This Corona based district should’ve been an opportunity for Democrats but the Democratic party’s candidate didn’t submit enough qualified signatures on his nomination forms and didn’t make the primary ballot. They did get him enough signatures to run as a write-in, but he lost to another Democratic write in who didn’t run a campaign. Democrats should try harder in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+1
2012 margin: Democrat +4.0%
2014 margin: Republican +9.2%

Democrats had never won any Orange County election in a district that wasn’t majority Hispanic, so the 2012 result was a shocker. Democrats were unlikely to hold the district, but they were so hungry to retain it that they funneled $3.4 million into Sharon Quirk-Silva’s campaign account. Yes, in an assembly race. Republican Young Kim was outspent 2 to 1, but still managed to recapture the district. Democrats have better opportunities for 2016, but I doubt they’ll give up after spending this much this year.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+4
2012 margin: Democrat +9.6%
2014 margin: Republican +0.6%

This didn’t look like a win for the GOP. Barack Obama and Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi did better than expected in 2012. Republican David Hadley was underwhelming in winning the primary by 1% and he was outspent more than 2 to 1. It didn’t look like a district Republicans would get. Yet Hadley made Muratsuchi the third Democratic incumbent to lose. (Note: Republicans hadn’t beaten one since 1994.) This is a major opportunity for Democrats in 2016.

While Republicans did better in congressional races those results were full of disappointment. The GOP made strong gains in the assembly and senate races. They did leave a few districts on the table, something you don't want to happen in a strong Republican year, but the question going in was whether the Republican party was dead. That's clearly not the case.

Monday, December 1, 2014

California Congressional Recap

By now you’re certainly aware that there were 8 congressional races in California decided by 5% or less and that Democrats won all 8. They also won all 9 that were 8% or less. Overall, the GOP averaged gaining 3.2% in all races, cutting the margin by an average of 6.4%. Only 3 of those 9 had the 2012 margins cut by 3.2% or more. Had the drop been uniform, the GOP would’ve won more seats.

Republicans were most hurt because they ran mediocre candidates and didn’t spend much money. The CAGOP was no help in the Federal races. They concentrated on assembly and senate races and left the congressional elections to Kevin McCarthy and the NRCC. The NRCC paid attention ton four races, CA-7, 26, 36, and 52, although they quickly lost interest in CA-36. CA-7, 26, and 52 were three of the four closest. We’re left to wonder what would’ve happened in CA-3, 9, 16, 24, and 31 if they’d bothered to recruit and/or put money in.

All margins are linked here. Here are the biggest margin gains from 2012 to 2014:

CA-39: +21.4% (Republican win goes from 15.6% to 37.0%)
CA-22: +20.4% (Republican win goes from 23.8% to 44.2%)
CA-16: +13.4% (Democratic win goes from 14.8% to 1.4%)
CA-45: +13.4% (Republican win goes from 17.0% to 30.2%)
CA-32: +12.0% (Democratic win goes from 31.4% to 19.4%)
CA-42: +10.2% (Republican win goes from 21.2% to 31.4%)
CA-27: +9.2% (Democratic win goes from 28.0% to 18.6%)
CA-46: +8.4% (Democratic win goes from 27.8% to 19.4%)

Here are the ones that were most competitive in 2014 and a couple that are expected to be competitive in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+4
2012 margin: Democrat +8.4%
2014 margin: Democrat +5.2%

The NRCC and outside Republican groups didn’t do anything to help Dan Logue. Logue put $785k of his own money into the race and ended up outspending incumbent Democrat John Garamendi, who is a weak fundraiser. The improvement was about average for a Republican nationwide. It’s possible a better Republican effort might’ve put this district in the GOP column but it’s not a good opportunity for 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: Even
2012 margin: Democrat +3.4%
2014 margin: Democrat +0.8%

There was a ton of spending in this district by both candidates and outside groups. Doug Ose improved on Dan Lungren, but not enough to win. If he’d done what the average Republican improved nationwide, the race would’ve been even. This is a district the GOP may try again with in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+7
2012 margin: Democrat +11.2%
2014 margin: Democrat +4.8%

Tony Amador got no outside help and he was outspent through October 15, 16 to 1. Considering that Jerry McNerney had cash on hand at that time and Amador had little that ratio was likely greater. It’s unusual for a Republican to finish this close in a D+7 district, especially when he’s unknown and spends no money. If a race can dispel the myth that spending decides elections, this is it. You have to wonder what might’ve happened here if the GOP made any effort, but I doubt we’ll find out in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: Even
2012 margin: Republican +5.4%
2014 margin: Republican +12.2%

While Democratic outside groups didn’t spend here, the Democratic challenger actually spent about the same amount of money that incumbents John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney spent in their races. So it’s not like Republican spending in CA-9. Jeff Denham acquitted himself well here, but if Democrats get a serious candidate here in 2016 they could make the district competitive.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+8
2012 margin: Democrat +14.8%
2014 margin: Democrat +1.4%

Republicans don’t usually challenge in D+8 districts and the 2012 margin should’ve been enough to convince anyone this district wouldn’t be competitive. I can toot my own horn because I predicted it would be. Johnny Tacherra didn’t raise a lot of money, although I can say I gave him a little bit. He was outspent more than 3 to 1 through October 15, but that was likely larger since Tacherra was out of money and Democrat Jim Costa had quite a bit of cash on hand left. We could see district be competitive in 2016 if Republicans recruit someone like State Senator Anthony Cannella. Cannella won the state senate district covering this congressional district by by 21%.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+4
2012 margin: Republican +15.6%
2014 margin: Republican +15.6%

This was the only congressional district in America where both parties ran a candidate and the result was exactly the same in 2014. David Valadao didn’t improve his 2012 performance, but his 2012 opponent was an unfunded nobody and his 2014 opponent actually spent more than $1.3 million. Democrats may target the district in 2016, although they’ll need a good candidate to make it competitive and Democrats have no bench here.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+4
2012 margin: Democrat +10.2%
2014 margin: Democrat +3.8%

This is another district that people didn’t think would be competitive and the Republican party didn’t bother with as a result. Republican Chris Mitchum was mostly tapped out by the primary. So while the FEC shows he was outspent 6 to 1, it was likely dramatically more than that in the general election. Lois Capps will be 78 in 2016 and may retire. If she does, the NRCC might actually pay attention after missing the opportunity this year.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+3
2012 margin: Democrat +5.4%
2014 margin: Democrat +2.6%

The Republican party had an inkling this district could be competitive but outside Democratic groups greatly outspent outside Republican groups. The GOP ran their best two candidates in 2012 and 2014 but they may try again in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+7
2012 margin: No Democrat was in Top Two
2014 margin: Democrat +3.4%

This district had two Republicans running against each other in 2012. Considering how well President Obama did in 2012, Republicans ignored it in 2014. Democratic outside groups didn’t and invested heavily. You have to wonder what would’ve happened if Republicans showed any interest. I doubt they will in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: Even
2012 margin: Democrat +5.8%
2014 margin: Democrat +8.4%

On paper this district looked attractive for the GOP. They soured on Brian Nestande early and put little money behind him. Democratic outside groups still spent, as did prolific fundraiser Raul Ruiz. The effort showed in the Democratic improvement over 2012. While Nestande certainly disappointed, there were 50 other congressional districts nationwide Democrats also did better in this year. I doubt Republicans will bother in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+1
2012 margin: Democrat +2.4%
2014 margin: Democrat +3.2%

Republicans went hard after this district. The party’s failure has been laid at challenger Carl DeMaio’s feet and DeMaio likely shares some of the blame for the loss. We don’t know how much the Tea Party and Focus on the Family getting behind Peters hurt DeMaio, however. I doubt Republicans will put nearly the effort in here in 2016 after failing with their star recruit.

Republicans had some surprisingly strong performances in California, especially when you consider they were massively outspent in many of the districts. Despite the closeness of those races, I doubt the GOP will work hard to recruit or invest much money in challengers in 2016. They’ll have a lot of districts to play defense in and will probably think that any district they couldn’t win this year will be one they won’t win in a Presidential year.

There’s likely to be no shortage of Republican challengers in Sacramento for CA-7 or San Diego for CA-52, even if Bera and Peters look battle tested. And the Riverside county Republican bench is pretty deep for CA-36, with former assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia losing a state senate race to a fellow Republican. The Republican bench in Ventura county is thinner since Tony Strickland and Jeff Gorell lost in 2012 and 2014, but there’s likely to be a challenger. Since the GOP ignored the rest of the districts in 2014, I doubt they’ll try in 2016.

The Democrats, on the other hand, didn’t bother to challenge Republicans in any district except CA-31. Look for them to go hard after CA-10, 21, and 25. The problem for them is they have little to no bench in Modesto, Fresno, and the Antelope Valley. They are likely carpetbag candidates if they need to. They have several possibilities from nearby Stockton who could challenge Denham. The list to go after Valadao is pretty thin. They’ll want Assemblyman Henry Perea but I think he runs for mayor of Fresno.

Look for Democrats to run Fran Pavley against Steve Knight in CA-25. Pavley was mayor of Agoura Hills, which is in CA-33. She’ll be a termed out state senator. While she’s from outside the district, her state senate seat does cover the Ventura county part of the district and a little of LA county too. Of course asking a Democrat to try to run up the score in very Republican Simi Valley is counter-intuitive. But the Democrats don’t really have Antelope Valley candidates where more of their voters are.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Post-election night counting in California

In California around 70-75% of all the votes are counted on election night. The remaining votes are VBM ballots returned on election day, provisional ballots, and damaged ballots that need to be examined to see if they are valid. In 2012, Democrats in California improved their results in the post election day counting. It was across the board and the gains were often substantial. Republicans lost several districts in post-election day counting. It wasn’t the same in the 2014 primary, however, and Republicans gained in most post-election day counting.

I tracked the post-election day count in 31 races that people thought might be competitive. Those included 14 congressional, 13 assembly, and 4 state senate races. Democrats did better in 30 of them in the post-election day ballot count. The lone exception was CA-3. There is still one California county which hasn’t finished counting and that county is partially in CA-3. It’s a Democratic leaning county which is divided between CA-3 and CA-5. So it’s possible that Democrats might do better in every competitive contest.

How much Democrats did better varied widely. In AD-57, the Democrat got 51.8% of the post-election vote after getting 51.4% on election day. At the other end was AD-32. The Democrat had 53.1% on election night, but got 64.9% in post-election day ballots. Democrats had the biggest post-election day improvement in CA-7, 16, 21, 26, 41, and 52. Coincidentally, they trailed in 4 of those districts and led by a small amount in a fifth. As with 2012, Democrats post-election day never changed the lead more than 4.0%. So the rule of thumb that a Republican who has 52.0% or better on election night wins held. There were 3 congressional districts and 2 assembly districts where the Republican led, but had less than 52.0% on election night. The GOP lost all 3 congressional districts, but won both of the assembly districts.

People have theorized that Democrats do better post-election day because they are far more likely to turn in their VBM ballot on election day than Republicans. I’m not entirely sure why this would be the case, but it’s as good a theory as any. What we should keep in mind for 2016 is that any Republican under 52.0% on election night is in danger of losing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Did the Republican wave miss California?

Republicans didn’t win any statewide offices in California and actually lost a congressional seat. So it appears the Republican wave didn’t hit California. That’s not quite the case. But wait, Republicans won the governor’s mansion in blue states Maine, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Maryland.

Why not California?
There are some differences. Maine had a sitting Republican governor. Massachusetts, and Maryland were open seats. Illinois had an unpopular incumbent. California, on the other hand, had an incumbent Democratic governor who was very popular. In the four states Republicans won the Republicans had a lot of money to run a statewide campaign. The Republican in California, Neel Kashkari, had very little money. A lot of voters had never heard of Neel Kashkari before they got their ballot.

In 2010, Democrats beat Republicans 57.0%-43.0% in the seven statewide offices. This year the vote is 56.9%-43.1% Democrats. That's not much of an improvement. Money, incumbency, and the candidates played a big part in Republican failure. In 2010, Democrats ran only 3 sitting statewide office holders. This year they ran 5. The Democrats were more well known and spent more money in 2014 than 2010. California is such an expensive state that you can’t expect to win unless you do a major advertising campaign. In 2010, Meg Whitman did just that. Steve Cooley and Abel Maldonado did that to a lesser extent and Maldonado was actually the incumbent Lieutenant Governor. He wasn’t elected, but in California ballot designation can be huge and his ballot designation was Lieutenant Governor. Even the lesser candidates in 2010 were sitting state senators.

There was no Meg Whitman spending $100 million this year. Some of the Republicans were just names on the ballot running non-serious campaigns. The ones that did, Ashley Swearingen and Pete Peterson, didn’t spend enough to mount a good campaign. Still, those two finished with 46.1% and 46.5% respectively. The Board of Equalization may be a good way to tell how the two parties did statewide. The state is divided into four districts for the Board of Equalization. None of the districts had a competitive election. Two of them were safe for Republicans and two safe for the Democrats. The statewide offices had well known incumbents and unknown challengers. Even incumbents on the Board of Equalization are unknown. So it’s the best way to judge a pure party vote. Democrats won the Board of Equalization vote 53.5%-46.5%.

Wait a second. Didn’t Republicans lose a congressional seat?
Yes, they did, but while winning and losing seats is the goal of elections it isn’t the ultimate sign that the party did better in elections. As you can see on the linked chart if you compare 2012 to 2014 the GOP candidate improved by an average of 3.2% in congressional races and 4.3% in assembly races. That’s the improvement of the Republican candidate. You double that if you want to get margin reduction. What’s unfortunate for Republicans is that the districts they improved least in or lost ground include those that were closest in 2012, CA-3, 7, 26, 36, and 52. They improved by more in CA-9, 16, and 24, but not enough to win the districts. Democrats seemed to get just enough votes to win them. On the other hand, Republicans took 4 Democratic assembly districts that they improved by the most in.

How does that compare to other states?
It’s pretty much average. If you look at congressional seats where both parties had candidates in 2012 and 2014 the average two party Republican gain was 3.5%, 7.0% margin increase. Republicans increasing 3.2% in California looks pretty good when you consider that the seats include 8 safe Republican seats, 13 safe Democratic seats, and 12 competitive seats where Republicans were outspent in most of them.

So why didn’t Republicans do better in California?
The state is too blue for Republicans to improve statewide and the GOP was mostly running pro forma candidates with no money against well-funded Democratic incumbents. On a congressional level, Republicans were massively outspent in competitive seats and the party was snakebit going 0 for 5 in districts decided by 3 points or less, and 0 for 8 in ones decided by 5 points or less. Republicans did win 2 of the 3 assembly races decided by 3 points or less, however.

2014 v. 2012 congressional vote

Most of the votes have been counted and those that haven't been won't impact the final percentages in all but a few races. I took the 328 races that had one Republican and one Democrat in 2012 and 2014 and compared them to figure out the change. By eliminating the districts where one party didn't have a candidate in either year, it'll be an apples to apples comparison. Here's the spreadsheet.

Republicans improved by 3.5% in the two party vote or a 7% better margin. The GOP lost 2012 by 1.4% and won 2014 by 5.6%. I sorted it by margin change so you can easily pick out the biggest under and overachievers compared to 2012. I haven't done a deep dive, but the easiest thing to notice is that 5 of the 6 biggest gainers were in New York. What's interesting is that Republicans were only 4-1 in those 5 districts and they only include 2 of the 3 districts the GOP flipped. It's unsurprising that some of the biggest gains were made by either candidates who were defending seats they won for the first time in 2012 and ones that were open in 2014.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

CA Senate Special Elections

Five California state senators were elected to congress. Two of these, Democrats Norma Torres and Ted Lieu, elected not to run for re-election in order to run for congress. Three of them, however, Republicans Steve Knight and Mimi Walters, as well as Democrat Mark DeSaulnier have terms that run through 2016. Each will resign sometime before they are inaugurated into congress in January. So there's no election year. But why wait? Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla is in, even before she takes the oath of office for another term in the assembly. Outgoing Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, who represents an assembly district neighboring Bonilla's, hasn't announced but is running. Republican Mark Meuser, an attorney, who lost this seat in 2012 61.5%-38.5%, is also running.

Yesterday Republican assemblyman Don Wagner, who also awaits being sworn in for another term, announced his run for the 37th State Senate District. Assemblyman Scott Will has announced he won't run for Steve Knight's senate seat. Woah! What's the deal here? Well, Wagner and Bonilla both were elected the first time in 2010 and operate under the old rules that allowed legislators to serve 6 years in the assembly and 8 in the senate. So each will be in their final terms. Will was elected in 2012 and can serve in the assembly through 2024. A businessman named Sal Chavez has announced his bid. We should expect more candidates when these state senators actually do resign.

Monday, November 24, 2014

LA county finishes counting and we have winners

Los Angeles county finished counting ballots today, confirming a stunning result. Democratic Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, thought to be next in line to be Speaker, was beaten by unknown Democrat Patty Lopez. Bocanegra won the June 3 primary in a landslide and took the run-off for granted. Lopez may not have spent any money. In the final count Patty Lopez increased her lead. She ended up winning by 1%. Raul Bocanegra conceded and won't pursue a recount. This has to be one of the most stunning assembly upsets in years and shows Top Two can produce crazy results.

Republican David Hadley beat incumbent Democrat Al Muratsuchi in Torrance based AD-66, 50.3%-49.7%. Hadley's victory was a surprise because he wasn't considered a strong candidate, he won the primary by only 1%, and he was outspent by at least 2 to 1. Also, he was up 51.4%-48.6% on election night, the same as Doug Ose. Congressman Ami Bera defeated Ose and it was expected that there'd be enough Democratic votes to beat Hadley. This means Republicans took four Democratic assembly seats, netting three, including beating three incumbents. The Democrats now have a 52-28 assembly seat advantage and a 26-14 senate seat edge. So the GOP did well in legislative elections this year. Can they keep these seats in 2016?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

If it looks like it's a Republican year, it is

The biggest lesson is if you know something to be true, then it is. We knew what the climate would be. None of us predicted a Republican wave this big, but we knew that you based on electorate a mid-term race will improve by 2-3 points from a Presidential year. A Republican who loses by 1 in a Presidential year will win by 1-2 in a mid-term. We knew that the second fundamental, a Democratic President with a low approval rating, would also push the races further right. A President with a high approval rating might be able to overcome it, but even then it's tough. Presidents do poorly in mid-terms except in extraordinary circumstances.

If you've been reading this blog for a while then you know that I've been yelling the pollsters were using too high a turnout and doing so was skewing the electorate Democratic. All evidence suggested low turnout, but the problem was that pollsters screwed up in 2012 and underestimated Democratic turn out. So they overcompensated. That wasn't smart. Those lessons are better for the next Presidential election, not a mid-term.

Democrats told us that the polls were skewed against them in 2012. Their turnout machine would change the electorate to Presidential year demographics. Some people were swayed instead of realizing that pollsters change their model each cycle, especially after a bad year. The Democrats' Bannock Street project wasn't really going to change things. I'm sure they got some people to vote that might not have and they may have made some races closer. As anyone who has ever done GOTV knows, you can get people who want to vote to go to the polls, but there's nothing you can say or do to get people who don't want to vote to go. GOTV works a lot better in high turnout Presidential elections, as people want to vote. GOTV can make sure they don't forget.

Since we knew that this was going to be a GOP year, we shouldn't have been fooled by Georgia and Kentucky senate polls showing those races close. As Nate Cohn told us over a year ago and six months ago, a sitting Republican senator in a red state isn't going to lose in a Republican year. The GOP wasn't going to lose an open seat in a red state either. So Michelle Nunn in Georgia may have been a frog who could turn into a princess but this was a Republican year. There was going to be no prince.

I predicted the three House seats Republicans would lose. The GOP lost CA-31 because it was too Democratic and Sutherland (Fl-2) and Terry (NE-2) ran terrible campaigns. Right now Republicans have won 10 districts by 6% or less. Nine of those were held by Democrats. The 10th was WV-2, an open seat. The smallest margin by a Republican incumbent who didn't screw up his campaign was Dan Benishek's 6.9% win in MI-1. Democrats weren't going to win AR-2 no matter what the polls said.

Friday, November 14, 2014

CA-16: Costa takes insurmountable lead

Republicans will got 0-8 in congressional races decide by 6% or less. Until today Jim Costa was getting 63.6% of the vote in Fresno and CA-16 was 23.6% of the votes. Today Costa took 72.1% of the votes and CA-16 was 66.9% of the votes. I've been watching post-election day votes for several cycles and I've never seen it where a district that's so small has most of the votes in a post-election day count. I can't fathom how CA-22, which is about 60% of Fresno county only had 11% of the ballots today. At this rate, Costa will win by about 5,000 votes. In California you can determine how many votes Democrats need and sure enough they get that many and more.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2016 Election

To determine what’ll happen in the 2016 election it makes sense to view previous elections. The sample size isn’t big, so we can’t say anything definitively. Still, it’s likely to produce a similar situation that it has in the past. Let’s look at the previous post-World War II elections where a President has served two terms.

Harry Truman was pretty unpopular and it showed up in the election results. Ike had a big win. Now Eisenhower was popular and might’ve gotten elected as a Democrat but Truman’s popularity likely had a big impact. The GOP got 50.1% of the House vote, their highest percentage between 1946 and 1994. Considering that most Democrats in the South ran unopposed, and those that did get a Republican sometimes won 94%-6%, the GOP getting a majority of the House vote is pretty amazing. They won 22 additional seats. Republicans actually lost two seats in the Senate, but that’s because they had 20 seats up compared to the Democrats’ 14.

While Eisenhower had some rocky times as President he left office reasonably popular. Democrat John Kennedy got barely a majority of the vote. Because it was so close Kennedy had no coat tails. Democrats lost 20 seats in the House, but were able to only lose 1 in the senate. Considering they had 10 more senate seats up that’s pretty good.

Lyndon Johnson was very unpopular, but Hubert Humphrey managed to lose narrowly. This result was a big remarkable considering that George Wallace got a lot of previously Democratic votes. Republicans improved on their 1966 wave House percentage, but they only gained 5 seats after such a big gain two years earlier. Democrats had a lot more Senators up and the GOP also picked up 5 senate seats.

Ronald Reagan had a rocky second term, but was popular when he left office. As a result, George H.W. Bush got a big win in the Presidential election. Despite his big win, Republicans got their lowest post World War II House vote percentage when a Republican won the White House. They lost 2 House seats and 1 senate seat.

Like Reagan Clinton had a rocky second term, but left office popular. Al Gore did get the majority of the popular vote, but Democrats didn’t take the majority of the House vote and gained only 1 House seat. They did pick up 4 senate seats because Republicans had made big gains in 1994.

George W. Bush was unpopular and Barack Obama won in a landslide as a result. Democrats had their highest percentage of the House vote since 1982 and won a lot of seats. The Democrats also won 9 senate seats.

If history is a guide, Obama’s popularity will have a big impact on the election. If Obama is popular, Clinton will get anywhere from Al Gore’s small majority to a big win like George H.W. Bush. If he’s unpopular, however, she could lose in a landslide or be able to overcome that and keep the vote close. There’s no doubt she’d benefit from a popular Barack Obama and really be hurt if he’s this unpopular in 2 years.

The House is a different matter, however. Even when George H.W. Bush had a big win, Republicans didn’t do that well. It seems unlikely Republicans will get the 53%+ they got this year, but we won’t be seeing a big Democratic win. At best, they’ll probably take a small majority of the House vote and pick up 15 seats. If a Republican wins, the GOP may lose a few seats but also could pick up a few seats. Waves happen when the out party retakes the White House.

The election always occurs six years after the previous President’s first mid-term. As a result, the out party usually had more seats up. As such, the President’s party are likely to suffer anywhere from small gains, like in 1988, to losses, like in 1968. Republicans have being the out party working for them and a more seats being up working against them. The best result for the President’s party was when Democrats picked up 4 seats in 2000. A 4 seat loss for Republicans would put the senate at 50-50. On the flip side, the out party gained senate seats in 1952 even though they had 6 more seats in the election.

If Democrats are hoping for a landslide in the House and Senate vote it’d defy any historical precedent. Republicans, on the other hand, could pick up House seats. It’s not unusual for the out party to gain seats in a mid-term and then again in a Presidential election. I doubt we’ll see much in the way of gains in the 2016 election. In the House we could see a range of Republicans gaining 10 seats or Democrats picking up 15. In the senate we could see a range from Republicans picking up 1-2 or Democrats winning 4.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vote Tracking

I'm keeping track of the 2014 vote in two spreadsheets. Here is the 2014 v. 2012 California Assembly vote. While there are 80 assembly districts, only 48 are included here. That's because the other 32 didn't have one Republican and one Democrat running in either 2012 or 2014. So there's nothing to compare year to year.

Here is the 2014 House of Representatives vote. I'm attempting to keep the numbers as up to date as possible. I don't include write-in votes if the name of the candidate isn't included on the Secretary of State website. For all we know, that write-in could be Mickey Mouse. If we include unknown write-ins, we might as well include blank ballots as votes.

California Congressional 2014 v. 2012 is here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ventura county, California

Ventura is a swing county here in California. Obama won it 52%-45% in 2012, so it had a slight Democratic skew. We had a bunch of statewide races last Tuesday in which Democrats won by anywhere from 6% to 19%. Since the Democrats were pretty much assured of victory, they spent little money and none in Ventura. Some of the Republicans ran just to have names on the ballot. While Ventura county was a tight race in CA-26 and AD-44, I'm sure none of the statewide candidates bothered to do anything there. Democrats Governor Jerry Brown, Insurance Commisioner Dave Jones, AG Kamala Harris, and Controller John Chiang, who was running for Treasurer, all won Ventura. Republican challengers Ron Nehring, Lt Governor, Ashley Swearengin, Controller, and Pete Peterson, Secretary of State, won it as Republicans.

We have something out here called the Board of Equalization that collects our taxes. The state is divided into four tax collecting districts. One district consists of Los Angeles and Ventura counties with a tiny slice of San Bernardino. Because it has LA county, the GOP didn't bother to run a candidate in the primary against incumbent Democrat Jerome Horton. Four candidates qualified as write-ins and some dude Republican G. Rick Marshall got 1,847 votes to qualify for the November ballot. He beat Horton in Ventura county 81,584 votes to 73,124 (53%-47%).

You have to love California. In some places just having a name on the ballot gets you enough votes to "win" a county.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Where I was wrong and where I was right

I predicted Republican Carl DeMaio would win the CA-52 race and he lost. I was wrong. I missed on a few others too. I didn't think Republican Catherine Baker had a shot in AD-16, but she's likely to win. I predicted Tony Strickland was going to win and he lost. In fairness to me, and I like being fair to me, I got more districts right. I called CA-16 as possibly going to Johnny Tacherra back in August. No one, I mean no one, even thought this district was in play. Every congressional district except one fell into my range. It appears that I may have almost exactly hit the final results in my high turnout number, even though they happened in a low turn-out election. When the dust settles I may end up hitting the margins on party on party contests in CA-4 and CA-17 exactly. I got every state senate contest right. I 3 of the 4 assembly districts flipping to the GOP right and got the 1 that flipped to the Democrats right.

But I'll let you pat me on the back for the ones I called correctly and I'll focus on two ones I got pretty wrong. I'd been touting Carl DeMaio for CA-52 as far back as March 2013, citing DeMaio winning the district in the San Diego mayoral race. He was unable to translate that. It's possible that Democrats concentrated on the areas of San Diego outside CA-52 in that race and that resulted in DeMaio doing better.

DeMaio and the Republicans romped in the primary, giving the GOP their largest margin in a competitive district. It was much larger than in 2012 and if Peters only closed the gap by how much he did in 2012, he would've lost. The margin was so big, it was unlikely Democrats would gain that much ground. I think when the final numbers are in you'll see that Democrats didn't gain 18% in any other district from the primary to the general.

There were the VBM numbers, which showed more Republicans this time than last. Most other districts correlated fairly well between VBM numbers and the final vote. When the VBMs were better in 2014, Republicans did better. When they were worse, as they were in CA-36, Republicans did worse. Yet Republicans improved in a number of districts where the VBM numbers weren't nearly as positive as CA-52.

Finally, there was that last CA-52 SurveyUSA poll. It had DeMaio leading by 12% with those already voted. Had he led by 12%, he would've won. When the votes came in, he led by 2%. I assumed that one thing SurveyUSA couldn't get wrong would be those who already voted telling people who they voted for.

Every ounce of data I had told me DeMaio would win. And that data proved to be correct in almost every other race. It was just wrong here.

It was also wrong in AD-16, a match-up between Republican Catherine Baker and Democrat Tim Sbranti. Joan Buchanan won the district by nearly 20% in 2012 and that would appear to be too large a margin to close. In fact, no Democrats had more than 55% in 2012 in any of the other districts Republicans flipped in 2014. The district was also one that Jerry Brown won in 2010. Republicans don't hold any assembly district he won then.

The primary numbers were eye popping for the Democrats. They finished with 63% of the vote. From 2008-2012 Republicans did improve in a small percentage of the districts, but never enough to close a 26% gap. I did know that one party's primary total can be inflated if that party has two competitive candidates and other has a candidate or candidates who don't invest heavily in the primary. It just usually isn't this much. When the financial numbers showed that Sbranti was outspending Baker significantly, Baker's fate seemed sealed. One thing I didn't count on was the value of Democrat Steve Glazer's endorsement of the Republican Baker. I think the primary's bitterness caused a number of Democrats to cross over for her.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Democrats gain in key congressional races

The post-election counting started today and there were a bunch of positives for Democrats, indicating that the post-election count may go their way after all. Ami Bera gained in CA-7 to cut Doug Ose's lead from 2.8% to 1.8%. Pete Aguilar's lead went from 2.0% to 2.4% in CA-31, causing Republican Paul Chabot to concede. Finally, CA-52 ballots were so favorable for Democrat Scott Peters that he turned a 0.6% deficit into a 0.6% lead. Republicans did gain in several races, but not enough to make any election close enough to think they'll take the district. Right now, Republicans lead in Democratic controlled CA-7 and 16, while Democrats appear to have taken CA-31 from the GOP.

There are 33 California congressional districts that had one Republican and one Democrat running in both 2012 and 2014. If you take the current Republican share and average it, Republicans have improved by 4.1%. So they cut the margin by 8.2%. If the shift were uniform, Republicans would win CA-7, 26, 36, and 52 and be even in CA-3. It's not uniform. Republican improvement is below that in all these districts, as well as CA-24, 41, and 47. It matches that in CA-9 and exceeds it in CA-16.

The districts Republicans showed big improvement in wee a mix of safe Republican and safe Democratic districts. I made light of Democratic GOTV efforts, but it's possible that they did have superior GOTV despite it being harder to get their people to the polls. So while Republicans were improving in Grace Napolitano's CA-38 by 8.9% and Ed Royce's CA-39 by 11.0%, Democrats kept that down in the competitive districts.

The tide clearly reached California, but the Republican party might not have taken advantage of it.

Edit: It clearly helped Democrats that they outspent Republicans by anywhere from 3 to 1 to 20 to 1 in some of these districts. Imagine how well Republicans might've done if they had enough money to do advertising or even hire a staff.

2014 House of Representatives vote

I'm once again tracking the House vote here.

Right now the two party vote is 54.3%-45.7% Republican. In 2012, the vote was 50.6%-49.4% Democratic. Based on who usually votes in a mid-term election, the GOP should've gotten around 50.5% of the vote. In 2010, Republicans got 53.4% of the vote. So, yes, this was a wave, a big wave. The final vote may move toward one party or the other.

I got the election information from state websites, if they had it. You'd be surprised how many states don't have election results on their site. Some direct you to the counties. Yuck. In those cases, I got the vote totals from CNN. If you have any suggestions on easy places to get the votes, I'd welcome them and if you see anything inaccurate, let me know.

If there was a clear winner, I put that candidate in the winner column. If it's still up in the air, I left the incumbent, even if he or she is trailing.

There are 15 races where I don't have vote totals because the candidate was unopposed and the states don't list those totals. I eventually got every candidate's totals votes in 2012, except those in Florida. So I'm hopeful there. These races are split 8-7 between the parties, so they likely don't impact the totals much. Republicans didn't have a candidate in 36 races, the Democrats 31. So the Democrats benefitted a little in this area.

California Post-Election Day

California has a methodical, some would say slow, way of counting VBMs turned in on election day as well as provisional and damaged ballots. That'll take much of the next 28 days. They do always finish on time and count every ballot. Before 2014, Republicans always did very well in the first ballots, which are most of the VBMs that come in before election day. Then Republicans would lose ground on election day in 90-95% of the races. And then lose more ground post-election day in 90-95% of the races.

This changed in the primary, as Democrats started to emphasize VBM. Republicans did better on election day than VBM in around 3/4 of the races and improved post-election day in about 3/4. This year, in the general, Republicans improved on VBM in around 40% of all the races. That's a drop from the primary, but not the universal drop you saw before. Since VBM/election day followed a pattern closer to the primary, post-election day may follow the same. Here are the current margins and how much the district changed post-election day. So Doug Ose is winning by 2.8%. If the primary pattern is the same, this is how much the margin will increase or decrease.

CA-7 R+2.8%; R+0.6%
CA-9: D+3.0%; R+2.1%
CA-16: R+1.0%; D+1.1%
CA-24: D+3.2%; R+0.9%
CA-26: D+0.4%; R+1.2%
CA-31: D+2.0%; R+0.3%
CA-52: R+0.6%; D+0.2%

The biggest improvement was a Republican margin increase of 3.2% in CA-10 from 14.7% to 17.9%. In 2012, however, Democrats gained as much as 5.8% after election day. That swing was much larger because ballots were more mixed in the primary than in the 2012 election. CA-7, 9, and 24 are unlikely to change, but still could. CA-16, 26, 31, and 52 are far more likely to flip.

Most California counties will begin counting today and have a report by the end of the day tomorrow. How long it takes them depends on the number of ballots they have. Some counties are pretty fast and provide updates daily, while others are less frequent. You can find out who has updated their counts each day here. Once the counties report how many unprocessed ballots they have, there'll be a PDF here.

Orange county is very good and they actually counted a bunch of ballots yesterday. I’m tracking a bunch of competitive congressional, state senate, and assembly districts. Of those, the only one that I have that’s entirely within Orange county is AD-65. The Republican had 56.0% of the vote at the end of election day. The 1,745 new ballots gave her 57.8% of the vote. It's only one district on one day but it could be a sign that post-election day counting will be more like the primary.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

California Post-Script #1

Well, that sure was an interesting election, wasn’t it? I’ll spend some time looking at it from a number of angles over the coming weeks, although I will probably wait on some things. California has a methodical process for counting ballots that some call slow. So we have some time before the results are final.

So far there’s only been 5,325,299 ballots counted in California, a 29.9% turnout. I was right that turnout was going to be low, but even I didn’t think it’d be this low. There were 10,300,392 ballots cast in 2010. So much for the vaunted Democratic turnout machine. I said that low turnout would help Republicans. And it did. Perhaps not as much as I thought. All of the congressional except one came within the range that I gave in my predictions and many of them are closer to the top Republican number I gave. But right now Republicans aren’t winning CA-3, 24, 26, 31, and 36, as I expected. Only being off a point or two can be the difference between winning and losing.

There were four districts where Democratic spending dwarfed Republican spending but the current margin is 3% or less. That shows that how money isn’t everything in a campaign.

The GOP is currently ahead in 4 Democratic assembly seats, with 2 secure. So Republicans will definitely have 26 assembly seats, 1 short of denying Democrats a super majority. If the GOP finishes ahead in either of the 2 races they’re winning now or 1 of the 2 they trail by a bit, they’ll have their 27 seats.

Republicans had already flipped SD-28, as it replaced Leland Yee’s old district, moving to Riverside county. Janet Nguyen overwhelming flipped SD-34 and Republicans held on in SD-12 and 14. The Republican effort in SD-32 seems to have paid off, with the Democratic lead a little over 1,000 votes. Even if Republicans don’t flip that district they’ll have 14 to deny Democrats their supermajority.

Republicans were very upset at the senate redistricting in 2011, so much so that they got an initiative on the ballot to overturn them in hopes that the California Supreme Court would reinstitute the old maps until after the election. The biggest reason was that Republicans had a district that should’ve been up in 2012, but was actually up in 2014. So the GOP would lose that district for two years. The Supreme Court left the maps in place.

That adverse ruling worked out great for the GOP. They won 2 districts in 2014 where Barack Obama got 59% of the vote in 2012 and may have won one where got 66% of the vote. In 2012, Democrats won 5 districts where Barack Obama got between 55% and 60%. A different set of maps could’ve put more swing districts into 2012 and the GOP might have less seats than they do now.

Three state senators will be resigning shortly. Democrat Mark DeSaulnier and Republicans Mimi Walters and Steve Knight won congressional seats.

The first set of ballots are exclusively VBM and they tracked well, but not entirely with the VBM party breakdown. The election day did follow the primary much more than 2012 in that Republicans gained in some races and Democrats gained in others. Since that was the case I don’t expect Republicans to lose ground everywhere in after election day counting the way they did in 2012.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Final California VBM update and predictions

The final pre-election day VBM numbers are in and they came in with the same whimper they had all along. There have been 2,961,385 ballots returned, which is just a little more than the 2,926,861 in 2010. That was 51% of all VBM then. This is only 33%. That’s a dramatic drop. There will be VBM ballots dropped off at precincts today. A lot of them. There were just over 2 million dropped off in 2010 and 2.6 million in 2012. In those years the final VBM total was 86% and 87% of all VBM ballots. Since the total number of VBM ballots mailed in this year was almost the same as 2010, a similar number of election day drop-offs would put the number at 57%. Based on the low VBM turnout I’m projecting anywhere from 7.7 to 9.1 million total ballots a drop off of 1.2 to 2.6 million from 2010.

If the low turnout is a negative for Democrats, there is a silver lining in yesterday’s returns. They were 45%D/33%R. That’s the best day for Democrats in VBM, although it isn’t even close to their registration advantage. Part of that is that Orange County, the second biggest Republican leaning county, didn’t report receiving VBM yesterday. Since they consistently reported every day, I’m guessing that’s a reporting error. Overall, Republican leaning counties had a VBM rate of 35.8% and Democratic ones had a rate of 31.0%. The ratio of 115.5% was larger than the 8.5% in 2012 and 5.1% in 2010.

As I mentioned earlier, Democrats started to emphasize VBM. In the primary, this resulted in VBM gains for them and Republicans did better on election day in 80% of all contests. The big question is whether Democrats will have a big advantage on election day like they had in 2012 or if Republicans will have one like they did in the primary. Republicans did better in VBM than they did in 2012, the opposite of what you’d expect if Democrats were trying to get out the vote in the primary. Democrats have been responsible for a lot of the increase in people who have VBM ballots, but those people didn’t turn them in. I’ll present you with predictions based on the two turnouts, a high one and a low one.

CA-3: 2012 VBM: 42.1%D/37.5%R; 2014 VBM: 42.1%D/38.6%R; Republicans 1.1% gain
High turnout: Garamendi 55%-45%, Low turnout: Logue 51%-49%

CA-7: 2012 VBM: 41.1%D/39.5%R; 2014 VBM: 40.6%D/41.0%R; Republicans 2.1% gain
High turnout: Ose 51%-49%, Low turnout: Ose 55%-45%

CA-9: 2012 VBM: 46.3%D/37.1%R; 2014 VBM: 45.4%D/38.5%R; Republicans 2.3% gain
High turnout: McNerney 55%-45%, Low turnout: McNerney 51%-49%

CA-10: 2012 VBM: 40.3%D/42.7%R; 2014 VBM: 39.3%D/44.2%R; Republicans 2.5% gain
High turnout: Denham 55%-45%, Low turnout: Denham 60%-40%

CA-16: 2012 VBM: 47.5%D/36.6%R; 2014 VBM: 47.5%D/36.8%R; ; Republicans 0.2% gain
High turnout: Costa 55%-44%, Low turnout: Tacherra 51%-49%

CA-21: VBM: 45.7%D/40.7%R; 2014 VBM: 47.5%D/39.1%R; Democrats 3.3% gain
High turnout: Valadao 53%-47%, Low turnout: Valadao 61%-39%

CA-24: VBM: 38.8%D/40.4%R; 2014 VBM: 38.7%D/40.9%R; Republicans 0.6% gain
High turnout: Capps 53%-47%, Low turnout: Mitchum 52%-48%

CA-26: VBM: 39.4%D/40.6%R; 2014 VBM: 41.6%D/39.6%R; Democrats 3.2% gain
High turnout: Brownley 54%-46%, Low turnout: Gorell 51%-49%

CA-31: VBM: 41.7%D/40.0%R; 2014 VBM: 42.5%D/40.5%R; Democrats 0.3% gain
High turnout: Aguilar 55%-45%, Low turnout: Chabot 51%-49%

CA-33: VBM: 44.7%D/33.8%R; 2014 VBM: 44.1%D/36.2%R; Republicans 3.1% gain
High turnout: Lieu 62%-38%, Low turnout: Lieu 53%-47%

CA-36: VBM: 38.6%D/43.1%R; 2014 VBM: 39.5%D/42.7%R; Democrats 1.3% gain
High turnout: Ruiz 53%-47%, Low turnout: Nestande 53%-47%

CA-41: VBM: 46.1%D/37.6%R; 2014 VBM: 44.0%D/39.8%R; Republicans 4.3% gain
High turnout: Takano 57%-43%, Low turnout: Takano 51%-49%

CA-47: VBM: 40.8%D/38.5%R; 2014 VBM: 39.1%D/40.3%R; Republicans 3.5% gain
High turnout: Lowenthal 56%-44%, Low turnout: Lowenthal 51%-49%

CA-52: VBM: 33.6%D/39.6%R; 2014 VBM: 33.4%D/41.9%R; Republicans 2.5% gain
High turnout: DeMaio 52%-48%, Low turnout: DeMaio 59%-41%

Yeah, I know I have the GOP losing three seats 51%-49% in my low turnout model. I have them picking up 7 seats. Even I couldn’t predict higher than that. In my high turnout model, they net 1.

Same party
CA-4: McClintock 60%-40%
CA-17: Honda 53%-47%
CA-25: Strickland 57%-43%

California state senate
Democrats have 15 seats (including the vacant SD-35) not up and Republicans have 5. The GOP needs to win 9 seats to prevent a supermajority. Democrats have 10 safe seats up, while Republicans have 6. This includes SD-28 which moved from San Francisco to Riverside county. That’s Leland “what you do with your M-16 is your business” Yee’s seat. Two Republicans are running there and I’m picking Jeff Stone in that one. The GOP powers that be will be disappointed that they don’t get the Hispanic state senator. There’s also a Democrat on Democrat competition for the coastal SD-26. I think Ben Allen will win but I’m rooting for Sandra Fluke. She’ll be good for entertainment purposes.

SD-12 – VBM: 47.0%D/37.3%R; 2014 VBM: 44.3%D/39.8%R; Republicans 5.1% gain
This is a Central Valley district centered around Merced. Democrats have a big registration advantage and Barack Obama won big here. Democrats will show up more heavily than Republicans, but that’s not a problem in the Central Valley. Democrats have poured millions into races but nothing here. Republican incumbent Anthony Cannella will cruise to victory.

SD-14 – VBM: 47.7%D/38.4%R; 2014 VBM: 49.4%D/37.1%R; Democrats 3.0% gain
Republican Andy Vidak is running in a Bakersfield centered lower Central Valley district he won in a special last year. Barack Obama won it by nearly 20 points, but Vidak still won by over 20 in the primary. Initially Democrats had a big advantage in VBMs, but that’s gotten a lot smaller. Despite a ton of Democratic money, Vidak should win easily.

SD-32 – VBM: 46.5%D/34.3%R; 2014 VBM: 44.6%D/36.7%R; Republicans 4.3% gain
Barack Obama won even bigger in this Whittier based district. Democrats won the primary by enough that it should be safely Democratic. Charlie Munger decided to pour money into the race for unknown reasons. He may want to see if he can move the needle in a race without outside spending. The VBM margin is much smaller than in 2012. I don’t see Republican Mario Guerra winning, however.

SD-34 – VBM: 37.1%D/43.1%R; 2014 VBM: 37.0%D/43.3%R; Republicans 0.4% gain
In the primary the Republicans beat the Democrats by 34%, larger than several non-competitive districts. Ballot returns look good for the GOP. Despite huge Democratic spending, Republican Janet Nguyen should win easily.

That’s a 26-14 Democratic advantage, denying them their supermajority.

AD-8 – VBM: 43.1%D/38.5%R; 2014 VBM: 42.4%D/39.9%R; Republicans 2.1% gain
This suburban Sacramento one was expected to be more competitive in 2012, but Democrat Ken Cooley won by 8%. He’s likely to win again but if turnout is low it could be Republican Doug Haaland.

AD-16 – VBM: 41.2%D/36.2%R; 2014 VBM: 41.3%D/37.6%R; Republicans 1.2% gain
Democrats had a contentious primary with a lot of spending in this Tri-Valley district. I expect Democrat Tim Sbranti to win, but it’s another district that could go Republican if it’s a GOP night.

AD-21 – VBM: 45.1%D/38.8%R; 2014 VBM: 43.5%D/40.5%R; Republicans 3.3% gain
Republican Jack Mobley needed to be coaxed into running as a write-in in the primary. So I’m hesitant to go with him. My pick is Democrat Adam Gray to retain his seat, but this one will flip in a good Republican night.

AD-32 – VBM: 48.5%D/37.7%R; 2014 VBM: 50.7%D/36.0%R; Democrats 3.9% gain
I know this is one of the few districts Democrats got better VBM returns than 2012, but this is the Central Valley where some Democrats vote Republican. So I will pick a Republican win with Pedro Rios ousting Democratic incumbent Rudy Salas.

AD-36 – VBM: 33.3%D/48.4%R; 2014 VBM: 36.6D/47.3%R; Democrats 4.5% gain
It probably seems backwards that I’m picking Democrats in districts Republicans have made gains and Republicans in districts Democrats did better. Democrat Steve Fox won in a fluke in 2012, with a ridiculous influx of Democratic ballots on election day. He won’t be so lucky this time. Republican Tom Lackey takes the seat.

AD-40 – VBM: 38.6%D/42.7%R; 2014 VBM: 38.6%D/44.9%R; Republicans 1.3% gain
Democrats were expected to contend for this open San Bernardino county seat, but they didn’t put up much of a fight. Marc Steinorth wins it for the GOP.

AD-41 – VBM: 41.8%D/39.0%R; 2014 VBM: 41.1%D/40.8%R; Republicans 2.6% gain
This LA county district, covering Pasadena and the Foothills, has a 12% Democratic registration advantage. Incumbent Democrat Chris Holden should win easily but with Republican ballots nearly matching Democratic ones it’s worth mentioning.

AD-44 – VBM: 37.2%D/43.0%R; 2014 VBM: 40.0%D/41.4%R; Democrats 4.4% gain
This Ventura county seat is pretty much the only place outside the Central Valley Democrats got better VBM. That may help Julia Brownley to win and Democrat Jacqui Irwin is an even better bet here.

AD-57 – VBM: 45.6%D/35.9%R; 2014 VBM: 43.4%D/38.5%R; Republicans 4.9% gain
The primary produced the crazy result where Republican Rita Topalian got more votes probably because Ian Calderon has that Calderon name and there are too many other members of his family under indictment. It appears Republicans are even more motivated to send in VBM ballots, as it was a Democratic 8.5% return lead in the primary. I think voters send Calderon home and go with Topalian. She shouldn’t buy anything permanent in Sacramento. She’ll lose in 2016.

AD-65 – VBM: 36.7%D/43.0%R; 2014 VBM: 36.7%D/44.2%R; Republicans 1.1% gain
Sharon Quirk-Silva also won in a fluke upset in 2012. Democrats have tried hard to retain the district, but Quirk-Silva will fall to Republican Young Kim.

AD-66 – VBM: 39.4%D/40.5%R; 2014 VBM: 39.8%D/41.6%R; Republicans 2.7% gain
This one’s a bit shaky and I’m probably letting my desire to win a South Bay seat color my judgment, but I’m picking Republican David Hadley to knock off Democratic incumbent Al Muratsuchi.

Republicans pick up 4 assembly seats and the Democratic majority is 51-29.

This is the only state where statewide offices are last. I predict a Democratic sweep, although if the low turnout model is right Republicans Pete Peterson and Ashley Swearingen will win Secretary of State and controller.

Thank you to PDI for compiling this data.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

CA-52: DeMaio leads by 1 in poll but will win

A friend asked me what kind of VBM number Scott Peters needed to win the CA-52 election. I replied that I don't think there is one that can get him there. This poll has DeMaio by 1 and we'd assume that puts Peters a decent bet to win.

If we look closer, however, we see that DeMaio leads by 12% with those already voted. People who've already voted are 42%R/33%D. That's a very positive sign for DeMaio, because it shows that he's getting the Republican support that some people thought he might lose due to NOM endorsing his opponent and the allegations.

Peters leads by 6% with those who haven't voted and that the final turnout will be 35%D/31%R. I don't see how that's possible. In 2012, the VBM was R+6% and the final vote was R+4%. Here the VBM is more Republican and the final vote skews Democratic. To get that, we'd need a turnout of around 217,000 votes. Based on VBM returns being so low, I'm anticipating !70-200,000 votes. Then we'd need those votes to be 36%D/24%R. Even when Democrats were turning out massively on election day you couldn't get that kind of Republican turnout here. As I've noted, the Democrats started pushing VBM this year and we didn't see the vast difference in VBM/election day voting in either the San Diego mayoral election or in the primary. Republicans got 57.7% of the VBM vote and 57.8% of the election day vote in the CA-52 primary. So the idea that election day would be this Democratic is absurd.

Even with all that, this poll has him losing by 1%. Peters' ceiling, if things break in a way that I don't see possible, is a draw. Based on the VBM, low turnout, and how this poll says that the early vote has gone I don't see how Carl DeMaio loses. I'm going to make predictions in the races but this one is my only take it to the bank certain one.

California Turnout

There’s only one more day of VBM returns we’ll see. While it should be a big one, I doubt it’ll change things that much. So I’ll make my prediction now.

Republicans in California have emphasized VBM for years. It has its inherent advantages. First and foremost, it’s a vote in you pocket rather than one you might get later. It also means you have to send out one less mailer, make one less phone call, and one less door knock. Or more because you’ll hit that one voter repeatedly until election day. As I’ll show below VBM voters show up in greater numbers.

This meant that Republicans would do very well in vote by mail, but crash and burn on election day. In 2010, VBM was 43%D/39%R, but the final vote was 45%D/34%R. In 2012, VBM was 43%D/36%R and the final vote was 45%D/31%R.

In 2010, there were 5.7 voters VBM and 11.5 precinct. In the final vote, 87% of VBM voters sent in their ballot, but only 46% of precinct voters showed up. In 2012, VBM voters had increased to 7.8 million. This time 86% of VBM voters sent in their ballots and 62% of precinct voters showed up. Since there were more VBM voters in 2012, the total VBM voters rose from 5 million to 6.7 million.

Democrats were winning elections but it was harder for them than it needed to be. They decided to encourage their voters to VBM and were going to emphasize getting those votes in early. They started with the 2014 primary. And it worked. Democrats got 96% of their 2012 pre-election day VBM voters and Republicans only got 91% of theirs. So while Democratic VBMs were 5.5% greater than Republicans in 2012, they were 7.6% greater in 2014.

Win for the Democrats? Well, sort of. While I don’t have overall turn out for either primary I do have the 2014 results. They were a mixed bag. Democrats did better in the final vote than 2012 in some races and worse in others. They generally did better in races where there was a Democratic incumbent in 2014 but none in 2012 and those where Democratic candidates dramatically outspent Republican candidates. Overall, Democrats didn’t do better and they did lose out on top two in a possible competitive district, CA-25. But it was a win because they achieved their objective of getting the votes in early. Of course the other objective of doing better in the primary was elusive. The Democratic emphasis on early VBM voting changed the ballot dynamic. Whereas before, Republicans did better in VBM than election day 90% of the time, they only did better on election in 20% of races both parties were competing in. It was a remarkable change. Was it a fluke? Perhaps. But it may have been Democrats moving their precinct voters to VBM. And really who cares when you get the vote as long as you get the vote?

That brings us to the 2014 general election. The total VBM ballots are, at this point, 1% lower than they were in 2010. This wouldn’t be a big deal, but there are 3.4 million more VBM ballots out. So while this was 42.9% of all VBM ballots then, it’s 27.5% this year. That’s a dramatic drop. Some VBM ballots will arrive on Monday and a huge amount will be dropped off at the precincts on election day. I’m making an assumption here, but if VBMs are 1% lower than 2010, the total final number should be similar. That’d mean there’d be roughly 5 million total VBM ballots, the same as 2010. The problem is that while that was 87% of all VBM ballots, this year it’d only be 56%.

There were 11.5 million precinct voters in 2010 and they showed up at a 46% rate. This year there are 8.9 million precinct voters. If they show up at a 46% rate, we’ll have 4.1 million precinct voters. So overall we’ll have 9.1 million voters, a 12% drop from 2012.

Here’s assumption #2. If VBM is 36% lower than 2010, it makes sense that precinct voters will be 36% lower too. It may be more. Pre-election day VBM voters were only off 4% from 2012 to 2014. Election day VBM drop-offs were 23% lower and precinct voting was 26% lower. If election day drops off 36%, the rate precinct voters will show up will be 29.5% instead of 46% in 2010. That’d mean only 2.6 million precinct voters and a total of 7.6 million ballots. Or even lower if there’s a steeper drop off.

In 2014, Democrats have a 4% advantage in early VBM ballots, roughly the same as they had in 2010. In 2012, it was 8%. In 2010, Democrats had the election day voters to bail them out. Roughly 72% of all ballots were precinct voters and VBM drop offs on election day. In 2012, 68% of all ballots were precinct voters and VBM drops offs. If there is the same turnout on election day and VBMs on election day, those will account for 73% of all ballots. If there’s a drop off, they’ll account for 61% or less. That’d mean there’d be less ballots coming in to offset the current mediocre Democratic VBM performance and they wouldn’t change the results as much as either 2010 or 2012.

Of course that assumes that election day will be a lot more Democratic than VBMs, just as it was in 2010 and 2012. If it’s like the primary, it’ll be less Democratic. That means that like the primary, the current Republican advantage will grow.

I’m making a few assumptions here based on previous voting patterns. The first is that a lower percentage turnout in pre-election VBMs means a lower overall turnout, something that’ll hurt Democrats. The second is that election day might not be the panacea for Democrats it was in 2010 and 2012. It could be like the primary.

(We should note that one big election day boost Democrats got in 2012 was a slew of new registrants courtesy of online registration. That didn’t happen this year.)

So I’m left with two possibilities here. The first is to ignore the primary election/assume precinct turnout won’t drop and Democrats improve similar to 2012. The second is that this is that turnout will drop significantly and that Democrats won’t be saved by precinct voting. The first scenario should produce similar or slightly more Republican results as 2012. The second scenario should produce much more Republican results than 2012. I’ve shown here that the second scenario is more likely, but I’m also a Republican and I have a bias toward the theory Republicans will do better with.

So I’ll present you with predictions based on the two turnouts, a high one and a low one. If you think I’m hedging my bets, I understand. But if my low turnout theory is right, I’ll have predictions here no one else has.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

2014 VBM returns through 10/31

We had an additional 260,786 ballots, bringing the total to roughly 2.5 million. That's actually lower than 2010. Of course there are over 3.1 million more VBM ballots out there. I'm going to predict really awful turnout. We had 60% turnout in 2010. I'm thinking turnout will be 43-51%. Right now I'll choose a number in the middle, 8.4 million ballots, 47%. Democrats really need good election day turnout and it to be overwhelmingly Democratic as it usually is. They can't afford to have the low primary turnout where they didn't gain in many races.

CA-3: Inches more Democratic to D+3.0%. Still more Republican than 2012 and the primary.

CA-7: No new ballots so we don't know if the big movement to Republicans is real.

CA-9: Rut-roh. The first ballots were D+15, far better than Jerry McNerney needed to win again. It'd be difficult to see him losing to some dude, but we're now at D+6.9%, down from D+7.7% yesterday.

CA-10: No change, which serves Jeff Denham well.

CA-16: Yesterday the VBMs moved Democratic due to only Fresno coming in. Today the more Republican parts of the district did and the VBMs dropped from D+12.4% to D+11.3%, roughly what it was in 2012.

CA-21: Every county here reported except Kings, David Valadao's stronghold. VBMs moved back toward the Democrats from 9.1% to 10.4%. That should move back toward the GOP with the next returns.

CA-24: Some movement toward Democrats, from R+2.7% to R+2.2%.

CA-26: Still moving toward the GOP, now at D+2.5 down from D+3.0%.

CA-31: Inches slightly toward Republicans at D+0.9%.

CA-33: The possibilities for the GOP here might be gone, as VBMs are now at D+6.5%.

CA-36: Like CA-9, 26, and 31, this district keeps moving more Republican. It's gone from R+2.9% to R+3.3%.

CA-47: Today there were LA county returns. Yet the district moved toward Republicans from R+1.2% to R+1.9%. Republican Andy Whallon is some dude, but he might have a long shot chance.

CA-52: Democrats keep getting micro moves toward them. The district is now at R+8.7%. Can Peters win with such a Republican electorate? That remains the question.

State Senate
SD-12: District is now at D+4.9%, after being D+9.7% in 2012 and D+5.6% in the primary. It looks like a blowout for Republican incumbent Anthony Cannella.

SD-14: As with CA-21, there was some movement toward the Democrats due to the lack of Kings county ballots. It's now D+13.6%.

SD-32: I haven't talked much about this one since it shouldn't be competitive, but returns are now D+7.6% after being D+12.2% in 2012 and D+12.5% in the primary. Democrat Tony Mendoza should get an easy win, but Republicans are spending here for some reason.

SD-34: Virtually no change at R+6.6%.

AD-32: As with the other Central Valley districts where the same ballots are counted, the district moved toward the Democrats at D+17.3%.

AD-36: Strong move toward the Republicans from R+9.8% to R+11.2%.

AD-41: This is an blue LA county district that should go Democratic easily but there are now a few more Republican ballots in than Democratic ones. It's at R+0.1% after being D+5.6% in the primary. Probably doesn't mean anything.

AD-44: Like CA-26, the returns are more Democratic than 2012, but there has been movement toward the GOP. Moves from R+0.1% to R+0.7%.

AD-57: Another LA county district moving toward the GOP. Moves from D+5.5% to D+4.7%. Republicans won the primary when VBMs were D+8.5%.

AD-66: Moves back toward the GOP from R+2.0% to R+2.7%.

As it's the weekend there'll probably be no ballot updates in the next two days. That means that Monday night's ballot update is the final one before election day. A huge number of people will turn in their VBM ballots on election day. By the time those are turned in, they'll be included with all the other ballots and we'll get a final result. At least an election day result.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The one where National Journal shows they don't understand California

National Journal must've thought they discovered something when they noticed a hard fought Sacramento state senate race between two Democrats. Assemblymen Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan are going to drive people to the polls! On the other hand, Republicans might stay home since they don't even have a candidate in the race. All this would help Democrat Ami Bera in his difficult CA-7 congressional race.

Let's set aside that state senate races don't usually influence races up ballot. It's the other way around. The big problem is that most of the state senate district is in Doris Matsui's Sacramento based CA-6. I don't have the exact numbers but I'm thinking that maybe 20% of the state senate district is in CA-7. The Democratic dominated city of Sacramento is in CA-6, but cities like Elk Grove and Carmichael are mixed with Republicans and Democrats and in CA-7. So most of those motivated voters will be going to the polls to vote for Doris Matsui.

Ok, but what about the $2.5 million in advertising the two candidates are running? That might drive people to the polls, but it's dwarfed by an expected $10 spent on the CA-7 race. There's no shortage of Republican money supporting Doug Ose. He'll get people to the polls.

This theory also assumes that the candidates only want Democrats at the polls. The VBMs in SD-6 so far are 30% Republican and people who've run these inter-party races know that one candidate can win by appealing to a large number of opposite party voters. It's how Eric Swalwell and Gloria Negrete-McLeod got to congress. Pan is going hard after Republicans and probably thinks he stands to get a higher percentage of the vote with them than he'll get with Democrats. I'm sure he's working to figure out which Republicans will vote for him and turn them out.

As we know from the VBM returns, Democratic turnout isn't quite matching 2012 in CA-7. Maybe this is because much of the district is in the 4th state senate district and that's one where Republican Jim Nelson is sailing to re-election over a some dude Democrat who hasn't filed a campaign finance report because he hasn't raised money.

Try again, National Journal.

2014 VBM returns through 10/30

Another 187,453 ballots were added to the count and 2.2 million ballots have now come in. The problem is that this number is less than 25% of all the VBM ballots mailed out. On the same day in 2010 37% of VBM ballots had been returned. We had 10.3 million votes in 2010. I'm estimating that we'll be below 9 million this year, but even that could be high. If both the rest of the VBM and election day balloting show up at the same low rate we could see less than 8 million votes.

This is probably bad news for Democrats. They were hoping to reverse their Presidential-midterm drop but it looks like the opposite will happen. Instead of an increase, we're seeing a drop.

CA-3: No real change at D+2.7%.

CA-7: There was a dramatic change here, one that doesn't seem believable at this late stage. There was a larger than normal reported VBMs and they were heavily Republican. Instead of the D+0.2% advantage in returns, we now have an R+1.4%. This could be a reporting error, but if it isn't it's good news for Republican Doug Ose.

CA-9: No real change at D+7.7%.

CA-10: More Republican returns puts the district at R+4.6%. Even safer for Jeff Denham.

CA-16: Moved a little more Democratic at D+12.4%, but only the Democratic leaning Fresno county portion reported new returns.

CA-21: The good news for Republican David Valadao is that returns keep getting better for him, down from D+10.3% to D+9.1%. Valadao only got below 50% in one county, Kern, and that county didn't report. So his gain probably isn't as high.

CA-24: It doesn't seem like the Lois Capps/DCCC strategy has worked yet, as returns went from R+2.1% to R+2.7%.

CA-26: No real change. At D+3.0%. That remains good news for Julia Brownley.

CA-31 and 33: San Bernardino and LA counties didn't report new VBMs.

CA-36: VBMs dropped from R+3.2% to R+2.9%. Better for incumbent Raul Ruiz but not too significant.

CA-47: Republican Andy Whallon benefits from Orange county reporting new VBMs while Los Angeles county hasn't. Returns are now R+1.2%, up from R+0.3%.

CA-52: VBM returns continue to inch ahead for Democrat Scott Peters. Now at R+8.9% from R+9.3%. Carl DeMaio should still be favored.

State Senate
SD-14: Changed from D+14.4% to D+13.0%. As with CA-21 missing Kern county means less Democrats.

AD-8: Covers the same ground as CA-7 and thus saw a change from D+3.1% to D+1.5%.

AD-32: Mostly within SD-14. Changed from D+17.0% to D+15.5%.

AD-65: Continues to inche toward the Democrats, now at R+8.1%.

Thank you to PDI for compiling this data.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 VBM returns through 10/29 (updated)

Ask and ye shall receive. PDI has updated their charts to include an additional 100k ballots from yesterday. Based on the county VBM return rates it now looks like most counties are probably up to date. Those that aren’t are smaller. Republican leaning counties have returned ballots at a rate that’s 22% higher than Democratic counties. That’s believable, as it was 9% higher in 2012. The difference comes largely from low returns in LA county, which had very low returns in the primary.

The first batch which I reported earlier were more from Republican leaning counties. Los Angeles was among them, however, and those races had a definite Democratic push. These returns are much more from Democratic leaning counties, but there’s a Republican lean to the results. Overall, VBMs are 42.2%D/37.6%R. That’s 3% more Republican than 2012, but slightly less Republican than 2010. It’d be tough to expect a more Republican electorate in 2014 than 2010. Voter registration statewide is D+15 and it was D+13 then. We also had competitive statewide races where Republicans, mostly Meg Whitman, spent a lot of money to drive turnout. This year, the majority of Republican statewide candidates are just so the party has names on the ballot.

CA-3: Remember those VBM gains Democrats made due to Solano county? They’ve been wiped out. VBM remains at D+2.8%, the same as it was Tuesday.

CA-7: A bunch of new ballots came in but the VBM didn’t move. Democrats still have a 0.2% advantage, 41.0%-40.8%.

CA-9 and 10: VBM made a small move toward the GOP in both districts.

CA-16: There was a point where the Democratic returns were D+18. They are now down to D+12, only 1 point more Democratic than 2012. That’s certainly encouraging for Republican Johnny Tacherra, but probably not enough to make the district competitive.

CA-21: Remember that big jump when Democrats had a 17% advantage in ballot returns? Well, it dropped again from D+11.7% to D+10.3%. That scare David Valadao had seems to have brought a Republican response.

CA-24: There was a small move R+2.5% to R+2.1%, but Santa Barbara county reported VBM ballots while San Luis Obispo county did not. So that may not be much of a change.

CA-31: The Democratic return advantage shrunk slightly and the difference is smaller than 2012. Considering that there was no Democrat on the ballot in 2012, that’s a little surprising and may provide a ray of hope for Republican Paul Chabot.

State Senate
SD-14: As with CA-21, the GOP has wiped out much of a big margin for Democrats. The Democratic VBM advantage has dropped from D+18.9% to D+14.4%. There should be a slight sigh of relief as the GOP hopes to hold this district. Assembly
AD-8: Virtually unchanged.

AD-16: Movement towards the Democrats from D+2.9% to D+3.5%.

AD-21: The Republican surge in Central Valley VBMs shows here as the Democratic advantage drops from D+4.8% to D+4.1%.

AD-32: And it shows here in the drop from D+18.6% to D+17.0%.

AD-40: Movement towards the Republicans from R+6.4% R+6.9%.

Thank you to PDI for compiling this data.