Tuesday, January 21, 2014

California Top Two: Shutouts Could Happen

Now that we've looked at CA-25 and the Secretary of State race as possibilities where Democrats could get shut out of Top Two, the next question is "where else could this happen?" The good news for Republicans and bad for Democrats is that it won't happen for Democrats in Republican or swing districts. There are two reasons for this. First, the June primary leans heavily Republican. For example, AD-40 went 58.2%-41.8% Republican in the primary but was 50.4%-49.6% in the general election. This is good news for Republicans because they can possibly steal an election in the primary, as they did in CA-31 in 2012, but also bad news because it means that winning big in a primary doesn't make a district safe. Second, there are no districts currently where there are two Democrats running and three or more Republicans running. Those districts with three or more Republicans currently have only one or zero Democratic candidates. Obviously, this can change up until the March 7 filing deadline.

I've identified three districts that could result in two Republicans making Top Two and they should all be disturbing for Democrats. The first is AD-40, the San Bernardino county seat open because Republican Mike Morrell is running for the State Senate. There are currently two Republicans and three Democrats running. As I mentioned above, the district went 58.2%-41.8% Republican in the primary. We don't know if we should expect similar results this year. While the November 2014 election will likely be more Republican than November 2012 that may not be the case for the June primaries. At the very least it shouldn't be more Democratic. None of the five candidates holds a major elected office in the district. If it ends up being two Republicans vs. three Democrats, it's likely both Republicans will get at least 25% of the vote. Unless a Democrat catches fire, 25% might be too high a hurdle if Democrats get 41.8% of the vote.

The Ventura County based AD-44 is very similar to AD-40. President Barack Obama won AD-40 with 54.3% of the vote and AD-44 with 53.5%. Barbara Boxer got 47.0% and 47.1%. Like AD-40, AD-44 is open because Assemblyman Jeff Gorell is running for higher office. The June 2012 primary results were almost the same as AD-40, 58.1%-41.9%. This district currently has three Democrats and three Republicans. The Democrats are a Port Commissioner, councilmember, and community college trustee. There might not be a lot distinguishing them. None of the Republicans are high profile, however. This 'll likely mean that no Republican will run away with the Republican vote and all three could split the vote. With three Republicans splitting their vote and three Democrats splitting theirs a two Republican Top Two is less likely than AD-40.

The last district that could result in two Republicans in Top Two is a real surprise. It's the Gateway Cities based SD-32. This State Senate district wasn't up for election in 2012, but SD-17, which pulled in similar Obama-Romney numbers, was. SD-17 went 59.4%-40.6% Democratic in the June primary. That would normally mean it wouldn't be a candidate for two Republicans to finish Top Two, but there are a whopping seven Democrats running here. That includes two former State Assembly members, a Councilman, and several school board officials. I don't know how they'll divide up the roughly 60% of the Democratic vote, but it's not hard to see no candidate exceed 15-17%. If the Republicans divide up the remaining 40% fairly equally, they could finish first and second. While the other two districts are toss-ups, this is a solidly Democratic district that the Democrats could lose.

It's still early enough that more candidates could file in these districts or several could drop out. We don't know if a candidate could separate him/herself from the pack and take enough to finish Top Two.

No comments:

Post a Comment