Friday, January 17, 2014

CA-25: Top Two

Ever since the CA-31 Top Two primary resulted in Democrats getting shut out, people have speculated whether it could happen again in a competitive district and, if so, where. We'll be able to tell better after the filing deadline, but CA-25 could be the place. Are we looking at a Knight vs. Strickland general election?

Republicans racked up the votes in the 2012 primary. Buck McKeon got 50.5% and Republicans got 70.2% overall. Lee Rogers, the lone Democrat, got 29.7%. Rogers did a lot better in the general election, but Democrats typically do a lot worse in primaries than they do in general elections. This wasn't an anomaly. The Democratic vote could be less than 2012's 29.7% if the year skews Republican. Even if it's better, it might not exceed 35%. Rogers will have to compete with two other Democrats.

There were seven 2012 congressional primaries in competitive or semi-competitive districts where there was no Democratic incumbent and more than one Democrat in the race. In five of the races, the lead Democrat got between 40% and 55% of the non-Republican vote. In the other two, the lead Democrat got 69% and 81%. So Rogers' maximum is probably 28%.

There are two prominent Republicans in the race, state senator Steve Knight and former state senator Tony Strickland. Both should be prolific fundraisers and garner a lot of votes. There were a number of primaries where two well known candidates from the same party got a similar number of votes. In CA-31, Gary Miller beat Bob Dutton by 1.9%. In CA-52 Gary Peters beat Lori Saldana by only 0.5%. If Strickland and Knight are splitting 65% of the vote, it's not hard to see both getting at least 29%.

People are speculating that the district could be competitive. That's unlikely. It could happen that no Democrat will even be in the November election.

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