Friday, February 21, 2014

California Registration Report

The California 154 day registration report is out, the first report in nearly a year. This is the first of five registration reports. The first report of the year usually shows a drop in registration. During odd numbered years parties aren't out registering people and registrars are deleting registrations of those who've moved, died, or have become inactive. This year's registration report shows a drop of 395,000 registered voters. Democrats lost 236,000, Republicans lost 152,000 and NPP/other parties lost 7,000 voters. That sounds good for the GOP, but there's no way to know how many of these people were active voters who moved or died and how many new voters are among them. It's likely that few of these people voted in 2012. So losing them isn't a loss for either party.

I'll give you the biggest changes, even if they don't mean much.

CA-36 goes from D+0.4% to R+2.1%. This is a big change. They dropped 8,730 Democrats and only 1,629 Republicans. This might not help the GOP but it surely means that Democrats aren't gaining ground.

CA-10 goes from D+0.8% to R+1.0%. The second district where registration goes from a Democratic advantage to a Republican one. Democrats lost 11% of their registered voters. Jeff Denham won in 2012 when Democrats had a registration advantage. I don't think anyone should doubt that he's safe and this district should move off competitive lists.

CA-16 goes from D+15.9% to D+15.1%. This district has a lot of Democratic non-voters and many who vote Republican. I'm not sure eliminating a bunch of Democrats changes the competitiveness.

CA-21 goes from D+14.8% to D+14.1%. This is David Valadao's district. I don't see Democrats mounting much of a challenge in 2014.

CA-26 goes from D+5.4% to D+5.9%. That certainly doesn't help if Republicans want to retake the district.

CA-9 goes from D+12.4% to D+12.8%. Democrats had a big jump in registration before the 2012 election, so it's surprising to see a bigger Republican purge than Democratic purge.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

CA-LG: Ron Nehring Announces Bid

The Republican party is unlikely to win any statewide office in 2014 and may not have any candidate come within 10 points of winning. That has probably discouraged a lot of potential candidates. While the GOP doesn't need to win any of these offices to show viability they do need to compete for them. While several Republicans have lined up for the governor's race and there are decent candidates for Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner. The GOP is lacking candidates for Treasurer, Controller, and Attorney General. Ron Nehring, the former state party chairman last seen advising Abel Maldonado's doomed gubernatorial campaign, has decided to run for Lieutenant Governor. A source tells me Cudahay mayor Jack Guerrero may be running for Controller. That'd provide candidates for those two positions. Attorney General would still be an issue. As of now, the only Republican is birther Orly Taitz. Her candidacy would be a disaster for Republicans.

CA-31 and 35: Gloria Negrete McLeod will run for county supervisor

Blogger Scott Lay is reporting that CA-35 congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod has made the decision to run for San Bernardino County supervisor instead of running for re-election to congress. IE Politics confirms this. Negrete McLeod was a state senator when she decided to run for this newly drawn seat. Incumbent congressman Joe Baca also decided to do so. They had a bitter campaign, with Negrete McLeod coming out on top. She's been in congress for a year and, apparently, has already decided to move on. This'll pit her against Republican assemblyman Curt Hagman. I don't know the dynamics of the district but Dianne Feinstein won it 58%-42% in 2012. Feinstein won the state 62.5%-37.5%, so the district probably will be competitive.

This may change the candidates for CA-31. While Joe Baca lives in CA-31 he chose to run in CA-35 last time because it contained more of his old district than CA-31 and because it was a much heavier Democratic district. With Negrete McLeod retiring he may seek to run in CA-35. That'd alleviate the logjam and make it less likely two Republicans would finish top two. Speculation is that state senator Norma Torres would run if Negrete McLeod retired. Torres ran for Negrete McLeod's senate seat when she vacated it last year.

Edit: Joe Baca will stay in the CA-31 race. Thus, the Democratic vote may be spread out enough that the two Republicans finish Top Two.

California Congressional Polls in CA-21 and CA-33

The National Republican Congressional Committee, NRCC, is out with a primary poll for CA-21. The poll shows Republican congressman David Valadao leading with 45%, Fresno businessman John Hernandez with 25%, and former congressional staffer Amanda Renteria with 13%. While I'm always skeptical of candidate and party polls I'm okay with these numbers for two reasons. Valadao got 57% in the 2012 primary and his Democratic opponents got 43%. So the total Republican vote here is only 7% higher than the Democratic vote, half what it was in 2012. Secondly, the interesting thing about the poll isn't Valadao's lead, but who is in second. While the NRCC might manipulate the numbers to make Valadao stronger, they are less likely to do so to make one Democrat look weaker than the other. And the most interesting thing about the poll is that David Hernandez, who has raised no money, has an almost 2 to 1 lead over Renteria.

Renteria's spokesman dismisses her trailing Hernandez by noting he's been on the ballot before, but a weak candidate who's done little to push his candidacy shouldn't be beating the DCCC endorsed candidate who has raised $338k. If this poll is accurate it's likely because of the characteristics of the Central Valley. Candidates need to have long ties to the area. Valadao is a farmer and Hernandez is the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Renteria graduated from a high school that's a few miles outside the district 20+ years ago. So her flimsy connection is actually outside the district.

There are two examples of Central Valley Democrats having similar problems. In 2012, DCCC recruit Blong Xiong raised a lot more money than Hernandez, but he too was from outside the district. Hernandez beat him in the primary. Then last year Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez ran for a state senate district where Barack Obama got 63% of the vote. She lost, likely due to her being from outside the district and her political inexperience.

This shows the problem Democrats have in the Central Valley. Despite their overwhelming registration advantage, you need the right candidate to win in the Central Valley. And the Democratic bench is clearly thin.

Former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel has put out an internal poll for CA-33 that has her leading with 29%, state Sen. Ted Lieu with 21%, Republican Elan S. Carr with 19%, independent author Marianne Williamson with 7% and documentary producer Brent Roske with 1%. As with the NRCC poll, Greuel put out this poll for one reason, to show her strength. So it should be taken with a grain of salt. The first issue is how much of the vote is going to Democrats. Even if we don't include Williamson as a Democrat, Democrats get 50% in the poll to Republicans getting 19%. In 2012, left leaning candidates got 56% to 44% for right leaning candidates. Williamson is running to the left of even the Democrats. If her votes are regarded as left leaning that'd mean that every left leaning voter has made a decision, but the right leaning voters are heavily undecided. That doesn't happen in an election, especially when there are plenty of choices on the left but only one on the right. What decision are the right leaning voters trying to make? It seems likely that Greuel loaded the poll heavily with Democrats to inflate her numbers. If there's only one Republican in the race, not only will Carr make Top Two, he'll be the leading vote getter.

The second issue is that they included only two Democrats, even though there are now five of them in the field. Matt Miller, who could be a serious contender, only entered the field on Friday. So it's understandable that they might not include him. The other two candidates are "some dude" unknowns. While they won't get a lot of votes "some dude" Democrats and Greens got 10.4% of the vote in 2012. Zein Obagi was one of them and got 1.8% of the vote. He's running again. So these candidates should get at least 1-2% of the vote, further eroding Greuel and other Democrats.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

CA-33: Matt Miller to run for Waxman seat

Matt Miller host of KCRW-FM "Left, Right & Center" and a former Clinton aide, announced he's running for CA-33. Miller has a tough slog here because Wendy Greuel and Ted Lieu are well-known, prolific fundraisers who've racked up endorsements. On the other hand, Miller has literally created a brand for himself as a centrist. Miller is the 5th Democrat, and third well known one, to get in.

As I've mentioned before, this district isn't as Democratic as people think it is. A large Democratic field like this will result in the Democratic vote being spread out among each. Right now Elan Carr is the only Republican running. If we get a 2nd Republican, and only two Republicans, it's possible both will get around 20% of the vote. A replay of CA-31 2012 here is a real possibility.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

SD-Mayor: The Faulconer Win

[Disclosure: I worked GOTV for the Faulconer campaign]

The city of San Diego went to President Obama in 2012 with 62.7% of the two party vote. Yet Republican Kevin Faulconer not only won the mayoral race on Tuesday, he won it by 9 points. Republicans are touting this as a major GOP triumph and possible comeback, while Democrats are dismissing it as low turnout and an office Republicans have held for most of the last 20 years. Some on both sides are stressing that Faulconer won because he wasn't a fire breathing hardcore conservative. There may be some truth in all of this, but there's a lot more to the win.

Yes, the Republican party has won the San Diego mayoral race for most of the last 20 years. So this isn't new territory. But a lot has changed in San Diego since then. There are a lot more Democrats in San Diego than there used to be an the Democrats have a big registration advantage. Yes, there was low turnout but absentee ballots, those that favored Faulconer the most, were more Democratic than Republican. People have heaped dirt on the California GOP, but this election shows that Republicans in California can win where Barack Obama got 62.7% of the Federal vote. This marks the second time in a year that Republicans have won an area Barack Obama won with 62%+ of the vote. The GOP nearly won a 65% Obama assembly district in the fall. You simply can't judge a district's competitiveness based on Obama-Romney Presidential numbers.

The Democrats outspent the GOP here and had more ground troops getting out the vote. But this is traditionally Republican turf. It's where Republicans win because they know how to win here. Winning an election on what used to be red turf isn't a sign of a big Republican comeback, only that the Republican party still has life in it and won't be rolled by the Democrats. Democrats will do better in high turnout November elections, with a Presidential year being the best. But every election isn't in November and Democrats will have to get votes in the June primary to avoid Top Two disasters like CA-31 in 2012. If this election tells me one thing it's that despite heavy spending and a strong ground operation Democrats can't turn out voters in elections they traditionally don't vote in. If that's their plan for June, they will be surprised again.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CA-31: Gary Miller Retires

Congressman Gary Miller (R, CA-31) announced his retirement today. Miller was already regarded as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent and this won't push the district any more towards the GOP. That said, I'm surprised so many people think this makes it a Safe Democratic seat. Yesterday the GOP won a 63% Obama 2012 seat by 9 points. More on that later. The GOP also won a 63% Obama 2012 seat in the Central Valley last year. This was a 58.5% Obama 2012 seat, one that incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer won by only 46%-44% and Republican attorney general candidate Steve Cooley won 46%-39%.

The Democrats' lead candidate is the same guy who couldn't beat Bob Dutton even though he spent about 3 times the money. With the mediocre Democrats running my district rating won't change from the Lean Democratic it is now. To toot my own horn, I called that result. Note: If you click that link, ignore all the ones I got wrong.

Gary Miller had two advantages. He did have the power of incumbency and a big bank account but this is San Bernardino County. There's a deep Republican bench and, obviously, no Democratic one. Assemblyman Curt Hagman has announced he's not running for the seat and will continue running for San Bernardino County Supervisor.

Former State Senator Bill Emmerson would seem unlikely because he resigned from that office two months ago. California Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte would also seem unlikely given his current job.

Bob Dutton would seem a natural if he still wants it, however, and former assemblyman/state senator/BoE member Bill Leonard would also make a good candidate. Before anyone says he's too old remember that freshman congressman Paul Cook in the neighboring CA-8 is 4 years older. San Bernardino County DA Mike Ramos would be another possibility. I don't know the city governments of Rancho Cucamonga and Upland but both are Republican cities. So there may some candidates from there.

The 2012 Top Two Republican finish was no fluke. If it was I couldn't have called it. What it was was a perfect storm. The Republicans got 51.5% of the primary vote. There were only two, neither with an upper hand to get more votes. There were four Democrats. While three of them were "some dude," they represented different constituencies. Thus, we got the result we did. Circumstances are very similar now. So this district is by no means Safe Democratic.

Friday, February 7, 2014

No California Same Day Voter Registration

In 2009, the off year California voter registration report had Democrats at 44.5% of registered voters and Republicans at 31.1%. Every subsequent report for the next three years through the September 7, 2012 report had Democrats and Republicans losing voters at similar clips. On September 7, 2012, the numbers were 43.3% Democrats/30.1% Republicans. In 3.5 years the Democrats had dropped 1.2% and the Republicans dropped 1.0%. After the September 7 report, California implemented online voter registration. While both parties added voters, Democrats added them at a much faster pace and the October 22 report had Democrats at 43.7% to Republicans 29.4%. There were a lot of people who wanted to be Democrats who Democrats had been unable to register. Online registration provided a big boost to Democrats in November 2012, as these new voters voted at a higher rate than those registered before. The extra Democratic voters may have made a difference in several races, helping Democrats win more than people thought.

Will online registration be enough to help Democrats keep making bigger gains? No one knows for sure, although the next registration report, which should come out any day, should be enlightening. Democrats were hoping that same day voter registration would provide a similar boost. Currently a citizen must register to vote several weeks before an election in order to be eligible to vote. Same day registration would allow a voter to show up at the polls, show some form of proof of residency and then vote provisionally. The state would subsequently check to see if they were actually eligible to vote at the address they gave. Democratic thinking is that their voters would be more likely to do this than Republican voters. Other states have same day registration, but I'm not aware of any evidence showing who it helps.

There were some legal requirements the state had to achieve in order for same day voter registration to be implemented. The state hasn't met them, so there won't be same day voter registration in 2014. I don't know if Republicans should be relieved but they likely are.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

CA-33: A Trap for Democrats

Attorney Barbara Mulvaney has become the third Democrat to join the CA-33 race that also includes to left leaning independents author Marianne Williamson and TV produce Brent Roske. Because there are so many Westside Los Angeles Democrats who've been waiting so long for a House seat to open up, you can expect even more Democratic candidates to enter. This has all the makings of a Top Two trap. As I mentioned earlier, this is a district that Republicans/right leaning independents will get around 45% of the June vote. In 2012 NPP Bill Bloomfield got 25% to Republican Chris David's 15%. Libertarian Steve Collett also got 4%. If Bloomfield and a Republican, any Republican, are in the race, you can expect similar results. If too many Democrats get in the race their vote could be splintered allowing Bloomfield and a Republican to finish top two. Candidates may come in or drop out before the March 12 filing deadline but this race should be watched for how many come in on each side.

CA-26: Will the GOP get behind Jeff Gorell?

The NRCC has used Harper polling to poll 4 districts, including CA-26. CA-26 was the only one they used a head-to head horserace question, the only real way to poll, and they had Jeff Gorell leading Julia Brownley 44%-42%. This is significant for two reasons. First, CA-26 is regarded as a second tier opportunity. The assumption has been that Republicans would go hard after Ami Bera in CA-7, Raul Ruiz in CA-36, and Scott Peters in CA-52. So maybe the race will be closer than some think. Secondly, This may indicate that national Republicans are taking this race seriously and may put money and resources behind Gorell.

Because June primaries have elevated Republican turnout, Gorell is almost certain to beat Brownley then if they are the only two candidates. That may lead people to believe Gorell is stronger than he actually is. And that may lead to a lot of outside investment supporting him.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CA SD-26: Fluke's in and the District is Open for a Moderate

The CA SD-26 race figured to be a quiet affair. It was similar to the pre-redistricting 28th district, one won in 2011 by Democrat Ted Lieu. Lieu didn't have an opponent That all changed when Lieu decided last week to run for congress. So far only Lieu and Wendy Greuel have committed to running for Henry Waxman's 33rd district. The 26th state senate district is distinctly more popular.

Contraception activist Sandra Fluke decided against running for congress and instead will run for the state senate. Her path to congress was going to be difficult, as she would've run against two well-funded, well-known, well-connected, popular candidates who know how to run campaigns. The state senate race won't have heavy hitters like them. What it will have are, currently, four Democrats Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District member Ben Allen, former Assemblywoman Betsy Butler and LGBT advocate Vito Imbasciani. Butler is a progressive who managed to lose a Santa Monica based assembly district to the more moderate mayor of Santa Monica. I've never heard of the other two, but it seems they are likely all staking out Fluke's territory on the progressive left and the Westside.

The district was won by Jerry Brown 2010 with 62% of the two party vote. In CA-33, by comparison, he took 58% of the two party vote. So while it's a safe Democratic district, it's not as heavily a Democratic district as others in L.A. With four candidates on the far left and Westside, there's plenty of room for one additional candidate. Any Republican would get the most votes in the June primary. In the absence of one, a moderate South bay Democrat would finish with the top spot.

And there'a a candidate that fits that description to a "T." That's assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, who is both from the South Bay and more moderate. Without a Republican in the race, Muratsuchi would not only finish first in the primary but he'd beat the second place finisher in a one-on-one match-up. Wait a second, I hear you saying. Wouldn't the most liberal Democrat win in this district? Not in Top Two, he or she wouldn't. A Top Two match-up between two Democrats would probably net Muratsuchi 80-90% of the not insignificant vote that'd normally go to a Republican. He'd only need about a third of the left leaning vote to win. That wouldn't be a problem for an incumbent Democratic Assemblyman.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Condoleezza Rice to speak at CRP Convention

I just got an email that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will speak at the spring CRP convention. Some people think no Republican can win statewide in California, but Rice transcends the GOP. She'd have an uphill battle to unseat an incumbent but she'd be at least even money to win any statewide open seat. If the opponent isn't well known statewide, she'd likely be favored. Too bad for the Republican party she has no interest in holding elected office.