Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tony Quinn's California Gubernatorial Race Prediction

Long-time Republican political consultant Tony Quinn has a scathing commentary about Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly and the Republican party’s chances in the fall. Quinn is like a lot of the political consultants from the George Deukmejian/Pete Wilson eras. They seem bitter about the way the California Republican party is today and are always in the paper criticizing it. Liberal newspapers like The LA Times are always quick to quote any Republican criticizing the Republican party.

I’m going to skip Quinn’s mischaracterization of Donnelly’s crimes. Donnelly didn’t bring a loaded gun on an airplane. He had a gun in his bag when he went through airport security. According to news reports, however, no charges were ever filed. His characterization of the Minutemen, a group Donnelly was in briefly, as “a band of vigilantes who ride around the border threatening immigrants.” A bit of hyperbole there.

Quinn explains that Republican voters are now elderly whites living in gated communities and far out rural counties. Were that the entirety of the Republican vote, the GOP would be lucky to get 15% of the vote. But it sure sounds good to make Quinn’s point. He claims they’ll look for Anglo Saxon names on the ballot, ignoring the Republican candidates in important legislative races are non-Anglo Saxon names like Cannella, Vidak, Garcia, Nguyen, Martinez, de la Piedra, and Kim.

Quinn’s belief is that if Donnelly is nominated, Republicans won’t show up at the polls in November and that “Latino turnout will be massive” due to Donnelly’s anti-illegal immigrant stance. That Republicans won’t show up is contrary to all current polling, which shows that Republicans are heavily motivated right now, while Democrats are unmotivated. Quinn’s reasoning for the reverse being true is that Donnelly is unpopular with Republicans, even though polling suggests otherwise.

Latino turnout is never massive. Latinos turned out more in 2012 than they had in the past, but that had more to do with there just being more Latinos than there have been. Their voting rate still remains very low. And they don’t turn out for mid-terms. Despite Quinn’s fanning the flames, Donnelly is largely unknown with everyone in California. I imagine Latinos have no idea who he is, let alone his involvement with the Minutemen. Even if they did, they aren’t going to show up at the polls.

Quinn takes these faulty conclusions and jumps to an even odder one, that Jerry Brown will get 75-80% of the vote in November. The Democratic record in a vote when facing a Republican was March Fong Eu in 1986. In her umpeenth re-election campaign of Secretary of State, she beat her Republican opponent 68.8% to 26.4%. So 70% would be unprecedented, let alone 75-80%. Of course that was a different era. Since then the highest percentage in any election since was Dianne Feinstein in 2012, with 62.5%. Feinstein in 2012 was a perfect storm for Democrats. She was the most popular Democratic politician in this generation with a substantial war chest running against an unknown Republican who had no money. And the election was in a Presidential year where the President was a Democrat who was also enormously popular in California. The reason why she didn’t get more was because right leaning voters in this state will vote Republican, regardless of whether they know the candidate or how popular the Democrat is. This year there’ll be a more favorable electorate for Republicans with neither Obama nor Feinstein on the ballot. Obama is unpopular nationally and with non-Democrats in California. That’s supposed to increase Republican turn-out. And we’ve seen Republicans of all stripes doing very well in California elections in the last year. The environment, electorate, and candidates suggest that the Republican gubernatorial candidate will beat 2012 senate candidate Elizabeth Emken’s meager 37.5%, regardless of who he is.

Quinn further states that “ticket splitters are as rare as Dodo birds.” This is current conventional wisdom, even though in California the average Democrat in a competitive district did about 3.4% worse than Obama did. That’s why Republicans won a number of districts Obama won, but Democrats won 0 districts that Romney won. As I showed in my comparison of the 2006 and 2010 California congressional results, the top of the ticket doesn’t drag down everyone underneath.

Quinn predicts that if Donnelly wins Republicans will not only lose districts where they are challenging incumbent Democrats, but also incumbents like Anthony Cannella and David Valadao, who don’t face serious competition. Quinn then goes so far to state that Republicans who are unopposed will lose because “smart Democats will mount write-in efforts in the primary to make the November ballot.” He concludes that Republicans will lose any district where Romney got less than 70% in 2012. Romney didn’t get 70% in any district in 2012. So it appears that Quinn believes Democrats will win all 80 assembly, 20 state senate, and 53 congressional districts, regardless of whether they have a candidate on the ballot now or not.

I’ll let that sink in while I remind you that Republicans have been winning elections where Romney got about 35% of the vote.

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