Saturday, May 31, 2014

California Primary: Congressional Races

California’s Top Two primary adds excitement, even to races where the parties only have one candidate. Why? Since everyone can vote for anyone, the primary is a subset of the general election. So not only do we need to watch who finishes in the Top Two, but also the two parties vote share.

In 2006, Republicans actually did better than their primary share more than Democrats did, but in the three elections since, Democrats have done better than their primary vote share in 84%, 89%, and 98% of the races. I think 2012 was a little extreme because online registration was introduced between the primary and general election.

Still, if Democrats have the higher vote share in the primary we should count on their candidate winning 90% of the time in the general election. A good guide would be that if Republicans finish the primary 10% better than Democrats, the race should be a toss-up. If Republicans finish 20% better they’ll likely win over 90% of the time.

These races have candidates being attacked from the right, from the left, a far left self help guru, and a fake candidate in the race to help a candidate in another party. Something for everyone.

In the CA-3 and 47 races, you should watch vote share, since who is going to the November ballot isn’t in doubt. CA-9, 16 24. and 41 all have Democratic incumbents, all are too Democratic to be competitive and all have fields of Republican some dude challengers. My picks are businessman Steve Colangelo for CA-9, attorney Steve Crass for CA-16, cattle rancher Justin Fareed for CA-24, and Riverside City Councilman Steve Adams for CA-41.

CA-4: Without Top Two, the challenge by moderate Republican West Point grad Art Moore would be one that conservative Republican Tom McClintock wouldn’t worry about. With Top Two, this could be similar to CA-15 in 2012. McClintock, like Democrat Pete Stark, is so disliked by the other party. If Moore can make Top Two he might only need to win a small amount of Republican support to win the congressional seat.

Thus, McClintock, and movement conservatives, are very worried about a one-on-one November match-up with Moore, so much that they are trying to build up some dude Jeff Gerlach as the formidable progressive alternative. Gerlach is an NPP and has raised no money, however, so he might not garner all the Democratic vote. If he does, then he beats Moore and McClintock skates to re-election. If he doesn’t watch for all sorts of union money flowing in to knock off McClintock in November. I think Gerlach and Moore will be close for second.

CA-7: There are six candidates. One, incumbent Democrat Ami Bera is assured of advancing. The question is which Republican, Doug Ose, Igor Birman, or Elizabeth Emken also does. Ose is the best financed and seems the likely second place finisher. Dan Lungren won the primary by 12% in 2012. If the three Republicans don’t beat Bera by nearly that amount, write this one off.

CA-10: Democrat Beekeeper Michael Eggman should beat some dude Democrat Mike Barkley handily for second place and will face Republican congressman Jeff Denham.

CA-15 - Incumbent Democrat Eric Swalwell upset Pete Stark in 2012. He’s being primaried by Democratic state senator Ellen Corbett, but there are two huge differences. First, there’s a Republican this time around. Second, her campaign hasn’t gotten traction. This’d be an interesting race if Corbett can sneak into second place, but I don’t expect her to do so. Republican Hugh Bussell finishes second.

CA-17: This one has gotten a lot of press. Incumbent Democrat Mike Honda should finish first. The question is whether Ro Khanna can edge out Republican Vanila Singh for second. A SurveyUSA poll showed Republican Khanna dupe Joel Vanlandingham siphoning enough votes from Singh to allow Khanna to finish second. I think it’ll play out that way.

CA-21: The question is whether well-financed carpetbagging Democrat Amanda Renteria can beat underfunded local Democrat John Hernandez for the right to be served up to Republican incumbent David Valadao in November. I think she will but I thought the DCCC handpicked candidate would finish second in 2012.

CA-25: The successor to Buck McKeon will be a Republican but which one is in question. Republicans took 70% of the vote in 2012 primary, but this time there are four competing with two Democrats, a Libertarian, and an NPP. Republicans Tony Strickland and Steve Knight and Democrat Lee Rogers should be bunched together in the 20’s. Knight hasn’t raised a lot of money. So I think Strickland finishes first and Rogers second.

CA-26 and 36: Establishment Republican Assemblymen Jeff Gorell and Brian Nestande have Republican challengers from the right and both should be victorious and move onto face Democratic incumbents Brownley and Ruiz in these competitive districts.

CA-31: With all the exciting races on the ballot, this one is probably the biggest. The DCCC poll showed none of the four Democrats with more than 15% of the vote and Lesli Gooch, the Republican who was way back, happens to be the one with the most cash on hand and has the most Republican endorsements.

I think EMILY’S List endorsee Eloise Gomez Reyes will finish ahead of DCCC favorite Pete Aguilar. There are three Republicans on the ballot and some dude Ryan Downing could win enough to ensure that two Republicans don’t finish one-two. I think Republicans Paul Chabot and Lesli Gooch finish first and second, but it’s even possible that two Democrats advance.

CA-33: This is the most fascinating congressional primary in America this year. The Top Two could have even more combinations advancing. It could result in two Democrats advancing, a Democrat and an NPP, a Republican and an NPP, or even two Republicans. When Republican Lily Gilani showed no fundraising on her campaign finance report, it seemed certain that she wouldn’t finish Top Two. Since Elan Carr is the only serious Republican, there are three, it's likely that Republicans won't split the vote enough that one won't make it and it'd be a shock if Carr doesn't finish first. In fact, Carr could get as many votes as the second and third place finishers get combined.

Second place could be new age guru/crazy leftie Marianne Williamson. Or it could be state senator Ted Lieu, who is from the more Republican South Bay. Former mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel is trying to run as far to the left as she can. If you're keeping track, this is something like Wendy Greuel 4.0. There was the centrist Greuel who worked for Bill Clinton and Dreamworks. There was the mainstream Valley Democrat Greuel on city council. Then the non-partisan reformer Greuel who was Los Angeles City Controller. That was followed by the union Democrat in her mayoral run. Now she's the progressive Democrat. Maybe that's 5.0. Who Wendy Greuel 6.0 will be if she finishes Top Two depends on the other entrant. We could see a revival of an old operating system or something brand new.

Her reinvention as a progressive may be fruitless with Marianne Williamson being the more authentic progressive. The problem with going back to Greuel 1.0 in the primary is that former Clinton staffer and KCRW host Matt Miller spent years being the political center on "Left Right and Center." Then there's newcomer David Kanuth. He's impressed people with being a fresh face. And there are another six Democrats on the ballot to siphon votes off. Heck, I just got a web ad from an NPP named Tom Fox. I’m picking Williamson for second, as I think a combination of progressives and less partisan voters who like her will be enough to get 12% of the vote. Too bad. Greuel would be very interesting.

CA-45: Republican state senator Mimi Walters may have set a record in announcing her candidacy 42 minutes after John Campbell announced his retirement. Her path to congress will be easier if some dude Democrat Drew Leavens finishes second, as I expect him to. If Retired Marine Colonel Republican Greg Raths does, however, this could be anyone’s ballgame in November. This district should have enough Republican votes in the primary that Raths finishing second is possible.

CA-52: If Republicans were looking to invent a challenger for this cycle, they couldn’t have done better than Carl DeMaio. He beat Bob Filner in this congressional district in the 2012 San Diego mayoral race, finishing way ahead of Mitt Romney. He knows everyone in San Diego and has a strong organization. He’s also raised more money than any first time Republican candidate. And he’s the face of diversity since he’s gay.

So what’s there to worry about? Trauma Surgeon Fred Simon has poured over $1 million of his own money into the race and veteran Kirk Jorgensen has the backing of Congressman Duncan Hunter and Tea Party groups. Yeah, there are a bunch of districts where the GOP would welcome Simon or Jorgensen as the nominee, but here it’s Republicans cannibalizing themselves. I expect DeMaio to finish second, but it could be close. And it could really burn DeMaio’s cash.

Friday, May 30, 2014

California Primary: Statewide Ballot

This is the first three previews for Tuesday's California primary.

There are eight statewide offices up for election in 2014. The most controversial is actually the non-partisan Superintendent of Public Instruction. Despite the huge expenditures and mud-slinging Tuesday's election is irrelevant. There are only three candidates and the two who will advance almost certainly will be incumbent Tom Torlakson, and challenger Marshall Tuck. Torkalson is a long time Democratic politician and before that he was part of the state teacher’s union. The union has been running a ton of ads bashing Tuck, also a Democrat and a charter school advocate. They haven’t been elevating Lydia Gutierrez. So even if they are able to push people from Tuck to Torkalson they won’t get Gutierrez to Top Two. So I’m not exactly sure why there is so much outside spending.

If Jerry Brown were just another Democratic incumbent, he’d be a lock to be re-elected governor. He’s well liked by some Republicans and right leaning independents, so he figures to win in a blow out regardless of his opponent. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is likely to finish second. He scares the GOP establishment and they’ve been spreading the story that Donnelly will get less than the GOP floor and that’ll hurt Republicans down ballot. I doubt both of these assertions and have written about it on my blog. The establishment has been pushing Regardless Neel Kashkari. He's done so badly in polls that I don’t even know whether he'll finish third, let alone if he has a shot at second.

Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin is one of the great hopes for the Republican party since she’s a big city mayor. If a Republican is going to win statewide again, it’ll be someone like Swearengin. And this is the perfect race for her to do that. But that’s November. She’s expected to get most of the Republican vote and that should put her in first. Former Assembly Speaker Democrat John Perez has a higher profile and better fundraising than BoE member and fellow Democrat Betty Yee. But polls put him behind her. I still pick Perez to finish second.

The pick for Secretary of State is Leland Yee! Okay, no. Yee remains on the ballot, despite being under Federal indictment, but he’s not advancing. Former Pete Wilson flack Dan Schnur is running as an NPP. If an NPP could make Top Two in a race with a Republican and Democrat it’s someone like Schnur. He’s fairly well known, has gotten newspaper endorsements, has had strong fundraising, and has outside money pushing him. And this is the sort of position that people would vote for an NPP. Schnur trails badly in polls, however. So it should be Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson in Top Two.

Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, and Insurance Commissioner are also on the ballot. The GOP has put up pro forma candidates to make sure there’s someone on the fall ballot. It’s highly unlikely that those candidates won’t make Top Two, but it probably won’t change anything down ballot if they don’t.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

California SoS Certifies Write-Ins

In order to be a write-in candidate, you have to submit 40 signatures to the California Secretary of State a month plus after the filing deadline. There were a number of candidates running unopposed. The top two vote getters advance, so if the second place candidate is a write-in who receives one vote, he's on the ballot. There was a candidate in 2012 who got 3 votes. So he got 40 signatures but only 3 votes.

In congressional races, Kevin McCarthy and Janice Hahn won't be unopposed in the fall. McCarthy actually has four write-in opponents, a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian, and an NPP. Hahn will face a Peace and Freedom candidate.

In the assembly, Eric Linder is a Republican in a 53% Obama seat. Democrats had a candidate but that candidate failed to submit the proper paperwork in March. Two Democrats and a Libertarian qualified as write-ins. In 2012, Missouri Democratic senator Claire McCaskill meddled in the Republican primary to help her preferred opponent to win. As I've chronicled, Democrat Ro Khanna got a candidate on the ballot that may help him make Top Two. If Riverside County Republicans were like those Democrats, they'd give a push to the Libertarian candidate. Write-in candidates aren't on the ballot and remain unknown to almost every voter. If a Democrat were on the ballot, he'd receive enough votes to finish second. Since they're write-ins, a little promotion with one mailer could vault a candidate into top two.

Republicans didn't have a candidate in AD-21, a seat Carly Fiorina won in 2010 seat where the Democrat was unopposed. Jack Mobley, the losing 2012 candidate, is the sole write-in.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

California VBM Primary Return Indicate Democratic Advantage

Through Friday, 1.1 million VBM ballots were returned for the June 3 primary. In 2012, 2.2 million VBM ballots were returned prior to election day. Another 1.2 million VBM ballots were returned on election day and 1.9 million voters voted in precincts on election day.

I have the ballot breakdown by political party for the 2.2 million pre-election day ballots. The breakdown for those 3.1 million subsequent ballots exists, but I don’t have it. The first 2.2 million were 43.9%D/38.4%R/17.7%O. It’s widely believed that VBM ballots cast on election day and precinct ballots are more Democratic than the early VBM ballots. There are two reasons for this 1) the vote is more Democratic than the VBM returns would suggest 2) Democrats gain in post-election day counting. That’s exclusively ballots turned in or cast on election day.

Since the ballots turned in already are the same VBM as the 2.2 million 2012 ballots we have data for, we can do an apples to apples comparison. The 1.1 million turned in so far are 44.2%D/34.9%R/20.9%O, a significant Republican drop that’s gone almost exclusively to DTS and minor party voters. That means that the Democratic ballot return advantage in 2014 is 9.3% over Republicans, a jump from 2012’s 5.5%.

Why has the Democratic advantage gone up? Will it hold for the remaining ballots? What does this mean for the primary results? What does this mean for November?

Why has the Democratic advantage gone up and will it hold?
Since I don’t know have day by day data for 2012, I can’t tell you whether Democratic return is up or Republican return is down. The chart below shows that Democrats have returned 51% of their 2012 total, while Republicans have returned 46%, and others have returned 60%. We’ll have a better idea when all the ballots are turned in whether Republicans are down or Democrats are up.

One possibility is that this is just an aberration and Republican ballots will catch up as we get closer to the election. Democrats have been trying to emphasize getting their voters VBM ballots earlier. The reasoning for this is that once a voter gets his ballot in, you don’t have to spend time and money trying to get him to do so. You can focus on those other voters.

I dismiss this because the daily returns have been fairly consistent and not getting more Republican and because there’s been an increase in DTS/third party voting. Democrats won’t be pushing DTS voters to return their ballots because they don’t know who they’ll be voting for and because they aren’t likely to respond to Democratic pitches. I’m inclined to believe this is a real change that will hold through the primary and result in a better Democratic primary results.

Could this be a consequence of the increased Democratic and DTS voters as a result of the October 2012 online registration push? That’s part of it. Since May 2012, there are 235k more Democratic voters and 416k more other voters, but 145k less Republican voters. That makes it sound like people are leaving the Republican party, but really it’s due to a purge of inactive voters. Since the October 2012 online surge, Democrats have shed 288k voters, while Republicans have shed 315k.

If we assume Republicans have the same return rate as they did in 2012, 16.5%, we’d see that Democrats index 4% higher and DTS/other index 16% higher. So the change in number of voters is likely part of it, as Democrats are only up slightly. In fact, the Democratic increase, compared to Republicans, is nearly negligible.

It’s likely that the other part of the DTS surge is the intended consequence of the top two primary. Previously, they couldn’t vote for major party candidates and now they can. Their votes matter more, so more people are becoming involved. Their return rate still doesn’t approach Republicans and Democrats but it is higher.

What does this mean for the primary results?
Better Democratic results than 2012. That’d be a relief to Democrats, who famously got burned in the CA-31 primary because more Republican leaning voters voted. We see that’s reversed. In 2012, Republicans got 51.5% of the vote. If that’s 49.5% in 2014, the Republican chances of getting both top two spots go down.

One other races where the percentage of the Democratic vote could come into play is CA-17. In CA-17 Ro Khanna is hoping to finish top two along with fellow Democrat congressman Mike Honda. He stands a better chance if Republican voters are lower in the primary. They are, but so are Democratic voters. Since Honda is expected to win Democrats handily, the less Democrats there are the better it is for Khanna.

What does this mean for November?
It could mean a better than expected November for Democrats, but I’m not inclined to think so. In prior years we’ve had a big disconnect between primary and general election results, with Democrats doing a lot better in the general. This was even more pronounced in 2012. That occurred partially because of the additional voters who registered online between the primary and general election. There’s no such change like that on the horizon. I think the Democratic improvement from the primary to the general won’t be nearly as big in 2014 as it was then. I’d want to see increased Democratic ballots for the November election before drawing that conclusion.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Roll Call Thinks Donnelly May Be a Boon for House Democrats

Roll Call is the latest with the story that "Donnelly could keep moderate Republicans home, and motivate Democrats to head to the polls."

The article reads like a Kashkari pitch, not a careful analysis.

It's certainly possible that some moderate Republicans won't want to vote for Donnelly. But if these people stay home, then that's on the Republican GOTV effort in each district. If Carl DeMaio can't get Republicans to the polls who have already decided to vote for him, then he's failing. They can always leave the governor box blank or vote Jerry Brown if they prefer him. I've been involved with Republican GOTV efforts the last few weeks and I have yet to hear any Republican voters say a bad word about Donnelly, let alone tell me they won't vote because he's on the ballot.

Donnelly could motivate Democrats to the polls, but the people most fired up about Donnelly are voting anyway. And there are a few impediments to this Democratic motivation theory. Donnelly wouldn't have a chance at winning. It's questionable whether he has a chance to finish 20% behind Brown. Can you really motivate people to prevent Donnelly from winning when he has no chance of winning?

Jerry Brown isn't going to run anti-Donnelly ads. His campaign is all about the positive. Like Dianne Feinstein he's not even going to mention his opponent, because he's running above politics. Running anti-Donnelly could backfire on Brown. It might motivate some on the left, but Republican bashing could really turn off Republicans who support him. He could turn those votes into blank ballots and lose more votes than he'd gain by Donnelly bashing.

It'd be up to outside liberal Super PACs to exploit Donnelly. They may successfully tie Carl DeMaio to Donnelly, but it'll just be substituting one villain for another. Right now they're tying DeMaio to the Koch brothers. It's not like they'll lack for villains. The Super PACs will tie any Republican candidate to big oil, obstructionist Republicans, and maybe they'll even revive George W. Bush.

One thing everybody is missing is how motivated Donnelly's supporters are. They have grassroots groups all over the state and they'll be out to support Donnelly. They're unlikely to be active to support Kashkari. I've been at two events where Kashkari failed to inspire. Most of these people are likely to vote anyway, but it's no more unrealistic to expect some Tea Party voters to stay home for Kashkari than moderates for Donnelly. At the very least Donnelly will motivate voters to the polls. Kashkari won't do that. His biggest asset is that he won't turn them off to stay home. Edit: Over the last few years the conventional wisdom I heard at California Republican conventions was that Meg Whitman's weak candidacy compared to the Governator hurt Republicans down ballot. No one bothered to find out that Republicans down ballot did better in 2010 than 2006. They didn't need to. They knew Republicans did worse.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

PPIC Gubernatorial Poll

The Public Policy Institute is out with a new poll. The poll has a lot of questions and only one is relevant to the 2014 primary election. Those questions can influence the gubernatorial horse race question. Like SurveyUSA, PPIC has chosen to poll only three candidates, Jerry Brown, Tim Donnelly, and Neel Kashkari. Kashkari trails Donnelly 15%-10%. On the surface this would seem good for Kashkari, as it's the closest he's been to Donnelly. Like on the SurveyUSA poll, he's the only Republican alternative to Donnelly. Unfortunately for Kashkari, there'll be 4 other Republican names on the ballot. He trailed all of them in the last Field poll. We have no idea if Kashkari is consolidating support or if the support will continue to be diluted. That 10% may be for all non-Donnelly candidates. What has to be disappointing to Kashkari is that Jerry Brown is pulling in 13% of the Republican vote. Those are voters that would be more likely to vote for Kashkari in a Republican only primary. He needs those voters to finish top two.

California primary VBM ballots

In 2012, there were 5.3 million votes cast in the California primary. Political Data was able to classify the 2.2 million VBM ballots that arrived before election day. Additional VBM ballots arrived on election day. The 2.2 million ballots were 44% Democratic/38% Republican. So far, there are 863k mail-in ballots and these are 44% Democratic/35% Republican. It's still early, but this is good news for Democrats. In 2012, CA-36 the early VBM was 48% Republican/37% Democratic. Right now the returns are 43% Republican/40% Democratic. If election day follows the same pattern as VBM does, Democratic congressman Raul Ruiz should do much better in the primary than he did in 2012.

On the other hand, surveys haven't shown this being a better Democratic year than 2012 and Democrats haven't shown up in special elections so far this cycle. I don't have the data but anecdotes about the San Diego mayoral election indicated Democrats returned early mail in ballots at a better than expected rate. So Democrats could just be mailing in VBM ballots that they would've turned in on election day in previous elections. How 2014 Democratic party vote shares come out on election day will tell us if Democrats are doing better with their primary turn-out problem.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

SUSA has had this problem before

SurveyUSA polled the San Diego mayoral race on the eve of the election, showing Kevin Faulconer with a narrow 47%-46% lead. Faulconer won comfortably. SurveyUSA blamed voters for not voting when they said they would. A pollster isn't supposed to report what the voter tells them. A pollster is supposed to report what's actually going to happen. You don't let a voter tell you whether they'll vote. You poll people you believe will vote. California, fortunately, provides information on how many of the last five primary and general elections a voter has voted in and which ones of those they submitted a ballot.

If I were conducting a poll for this primary, I'd call voters who voted in either the June 2010 or June 2012 primaries. The only exceptions I'd make would be those under 20 who were too young to vote in those elections or new registrants. Even then I wouldn't mind under polling these groups because they are less likely to vote. My method might underestimate the electoral pool by 2-3%. Not doing that has caused SurveyUSA to overestimate by about 30%.

SUSA California State Poll is Worthless

A bunch of California TV stations pooled their money together and paid Survey USA for a truly terrible poll. There are two obvious reasons for this. The less important one is that the poll is the sample is 47% Democratic/29% Republican. This is a more Democratic sample than actual California registration and more Democratic than any November electorate. While it's certainly worth an argument that California may eventually have an electorate this Democratic in a November election, June primaries are always far more Republican due to low Democratic turn-out. Paul Mtichell, the premiere Democratic campaign analyst in California, predicts a 44%D/37%R turn-out. So the results of this survey skew very Democratic.

What's a really big deal is that they chose to only poll 3 candidates for governor, 3 for controller, and 2 for secretary of state. There will be 15 Gubernatorial, 8 Secretary of State, and 6 Controller candidates on the ballot. The includes indicted state senator Leland Yee for Secretary of State. When you're polling to find out who'll finish top two and poll only 2 or 3 candidates, those candidates will poll best. The number of people choosing "another candidate" is going to be far smaller than the actual election will be with actual names.

By not providing a Democratic, Green, or even NPP alternative to Jerry Brown, Brown gets 90% of the Democratic vote. By not providing the names of any of the four other Republicans on the ballot, Neel Kashkari gets all the non-Donnelly Republican vote in the survey. Kashkari trailed all four of them previously. It'd be nice to know if he's actually surging and has taken votes away from these candidates. Yet even without them on this survey he doesn't come close to passing Tim Donnelly for second place.

Ashley Swearingin is unlikely to lose enough votes to fellow Republican David Evans to finish third, but without Evans' name on the ballot, we'll never know if she's in danger. They do include Democrats Betty Yee and John Perez, so at least we get to see how they're doing relative to one another. Yee continues to lead Perez, despite Perez's cash advantage. Yee dominates Perez among women. There is a third Democrat, unknown Tammy Blair. She's also a woman. Would she take enough of the female vote from Yee to put Perez in top two.

The biggest joke is the Secretary of State question. They provide two names and, surprise, they finish first and second. They could've provided any two names on the ballot and those two would've finished first and second. Everyone expects Padilla to beat fellow Democrat Derek Crossman, but how can we know if he will if Crossman's name isn't included? Ex-Republican Dan Schnur is running as an NPP, hoping to get enough Republican and independent votes to make top two. He's not included either.

I hope for a better poll.

Edit: It's been pointed out on Twitter that they contacted 1,000 people and determined 610 voted or were likely to vote. A 61% turnout would be unprecedented. The predictions are less than half of that.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

CA-Gov: The Establishment Rallies Against Tim Donnelly

Governor Pete Wilson today joined Secretary Rice, Darell Issa, the Lincoln Club of Orange County, among others, being critical of Tim Donnelly. He's reiterating that on Hugh Hewitt this afternoon. I expect the transcript will be up there later today. Wilson is convinced that Donnelly will hurt the GOP down ticket.

I've had more than one GOP insider blame Meg Whitman for Republican poor performance down ticket in 2010. The problem with that is that the opposite was true. Republican insiders feel they can be alarmist without actually looking at the data.

The alternative to Donnelly, Neel Kashkari appears to be a really bad candidate. He's running behind three some dude candidates who've spent no money. One of them is a registered sex offender and another dropped out. I don't see how Kashkari will be better for Republicans down ticket, since Republicans can't even identify who he is. If you're running behind three nobodies are you the alternative to Donnelly?

Frankly, I don't know how much establishment Republicans being critical of Donnelly will hurt him. The grassroots that support Donnelly are skeptical of people like Wilson and Rice. If anything, their criticism may help Donnelly, not hurt him. I suppose people like Wilson and Rice need to step up for their preferred candidate, but I don't see how Kashkari finishes top two. I'm not supporting Donnelly. I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm just calling it based on what I see.

CA-33: Bill de Blasio Backs Wendy Greuel

I don't think there's ever been a New York City mayor as anonymous as Bill de Blasio. Granted, he's only been in the job for a few months and he wasn't well known before he ran. I'm guessing that most Angelenos have no idea who he is. So an endorsement from a mayor thousands of miles away doesn't seem valuable. That said, maybe he's well known and respected among the progressive left, if not the country at large. Greuel has never been perceived as being a committed progressive, but it's neither are the other candidates in the race. And there are plenty of progressives in CA-33. So de Blasio may help her win this group. Or maybe it's just that he opens the doors to New York money.

California Democrats Progressive Problem

In the 3+ years of Jerry Brown's third term as governor he's been fairly centrist on budget issues. This has been a surprise to Republicans and is the reason he has inordinately high approvals from California Republicans. Brown unveiled a revised budget and this one is fairly frugal with higher than expected revenues. Brown's election strategy appears to be one that he's above politics and party and for doing what's right for California. This is likely going to get him centrist Republican and NPP votes and might result in him breaking the Democratic ceiling by a few points.

The downside is that progressives are unhappy with Jerry. It's possible that some progressives won't go to the polls, as a way of protesting Jerry. They may surmise that he doesn't need their votes to win, so they don't need to go. In fact, his "adult in the room" strategy may result in him gaining more centrist votes than his progressive losses. The problem with that is the progressive who stays home would've voted Democratic for congress, the state senate, and assembly. The centrist NPP and Republican who votes Brown is far more likely to split their ticket and vote for the same people they always do, Republicans down ballot. They aren't changing their assembly vote just because they like Jerry. So while Jerry's strategy may end up giving him an unprecedented percentage of the gubernatorial it could mean Democrats losing some close races down ticket.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

CA-31: DCCC Poll Out

I've covered the background of CA-31 before, so I won't go through all that again. With four Democrats in the field, there is clearly a concern that two Republicans could finish top two again. The DCCC has been polling the race and the pollster memo is on Roll Call. The poll isn't pretty for them. First, let's set aside that Democrats lead in the poll 47%-36%. In 2012, Republicans had 51.5% to Democrats 48.5%. We have no reason to expect 2014 to be more Democratic than 2012. If anything it'll be more Republican. But I'd expect a Democratic group to anticipate a Democratic friendly electorate. Second, let's set aside that Lesli Gooch, the Republican with the most cash on hand, has only 6% of the vote. We wouldn't expect Democrats to show how Republicans are doing accurately. Even if Gooch is behind now, her superior cash advantage is sure to get her a higher percentage than she has now.

The thing to look at, the think that surprises me, is that the DCCC guy, Pete Aguilar has an anemic 15%. And he's leading the Democratic pack. If no Democrat exceeds 15%, I think it's likely that two Republicans will finish top two. I think there's a 50-50 chance two Republicans will get 19% here. So that's the dividing line for me. If a Democrat gets 22-23%, he or she should make top two. The Super PAC supporting Joe Baca may end up early hurting Democrats and cause the same result as 2012.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

CA-33: How Do You Run in a Crowded Primary?

CA-33 has 18 candidates, two of whom have dropped out. Yet they'll still be on the ballot. In 2012 the primary vote was 52% Democratic 40% Republican/right leaning NPP/8% other. All things being equal, I'd expect a similar 2014 vote. I think it might be more Republican, but I also think that the competition on the Democratic side could counteract that. Of course, Marianne Williamson is a wild card. Yes, she's running to the left of the Democrats, but she has such an unusual background that she could steal less ideological voters who normally might vote Republican.

The standard for a Democrat is to run to the left, although it'll be tough to outflank Marianne Williamson on the left. The one candidate who looks to run as far to the left as she can is Wendy Greuel. She has an ad out where she's doing just that.

This ad could work for her because there are a lot of "good progressives" in CA-33, but the ad is so bland that it reminds me of her really awful campaign for mayor in 2013.

There are five major, and a bunch of minor, candidates going for the left leaning vote. There is only one candidate, Republican Elan Carr, putting money behind the Republican vote. If you divide the Democratic vote five ways, you won't get a lot of votes. You could divide the Republican vote in three and you still might be larger. In 2012, there weren't many districts where Democrats were able to get Republican votes in the primary, but it happen. Here's Ted Lieu's ad.

Lieu's looks like he's running to the middle, as he goes with an issue, NSA spying, that crosses party lines. Yet he threw in that he was endorsed by the Democratic party. If you want NPP and Republicans to vote for you, you don't include that. You put that in mailers and phone calls specifically hitting Democrats.

Matt Miller's ad seems more centrist. He's definitely trying to go after the "no label independent" crowd. He mentions working for Clinton, but doesn't use the word "Democratic." People like Clinton.

David Kanuth doesn't seem to be running on anything but nice people like him. He even has a Democrat and a Republican in his ad. It's an okay introductory ad, but he'll need to give more if he wants people to vote for him. After all, his opponents have records to run on.

CA-17: More on the VanLandingham-Khanna Connection

After more research by the Mike Honda campaign and the, it appears the connection between Democrat Ro Khanna's supporters and the people who got Republican Joel VanLandingham on the ballot run deeper than originally thought. Khanna's campaign make pathetic denials about the connection and don't address any of the evidence.

I'm inclined to believe VanLandingham that he wasn't aware of the connection between the people who got him on the ballot and Ro Khanna. What I'm not inclined to believe is that VanLandingham doesn't believe the evidence presented to him. He clearly wants to run so badly that he'll do it any way possible. VanLandingham has been Republican for years and seems genuine in his beliefs. He doesn't seem to care that his candidacy is a negative for Republicans and that he's a Democratic tool. I apologize if my January post played any part in this fiasco.

Friday, May 9, 2014

CA-33: Brent Roske Drops Out

Brent Roske, an NPP running for the CA-33 congressional seat, is the second candidate to drop out, following Democrat James Graf. Even if you drop out in California, you're still on the ballot. Since Roske is unknown and didn't plan to spend money, it's difficult to gauge how much more support Roske would've generated if he'd stayed in the race.

In 2012, the California Senate race had 24 candidates, including Dianne Feinstein, who was popular and had universal name recognition. She managed to garner 49.3% of the vote. While there will be more candidates spending money here, it's unlikely any candidate will be as well liked or well-known as Feinstein was at the time. The most candidates in a congressional race was 13, in the CA-8 race. Here are the 9th through 24th finishers in the Senate race and 9th through 13th in the congressional race.

What we see here is that there's a floor for a candidate just by having his or her name on the ballot. The one candidate who got less than 0.5% was the second candidate in a minor party. Based on the 2012 voting patterns I conclude that the bottom ten candidates will get 7-14%, even if they don't spend any money. Even out of the race, Graf and Roske are likely to get 0.5%-1.0% of the vote.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

LA Times endorses Republican Swearengin for CA Controller

The Los Angeles Times, a liberal newspaper, has endorsed a second Republican for a statewide office. First they endorsed Pete Peterson for Secretary of State and now they've endorsed Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin for controller. It's out of character but welcome for the GOP. It's also pretty much worthless. Neither Peterson nor Swearengin have significant Republican competition and would make top two without any endorsement. It'll really count if The Times endorses the candidates in November when they are up against a Democrat.

Friday, May 2, 2014

CA-Gov: Kashkari misfires again

Neel Kashkari is out with a website to attack his Republican rival Tim Donnelly. It's another misfire by Kashkari that follows a series of misfires. Donnelly's support is largely from people the assemblyman has worked hard to cultivate, hardcore conservatives and Tea Party types. They are going to be difficult to peel off, but even if Kashkari manages to do so, there's no guarantee he picks up their support. As recent polls have shown, Kashkari isn't perceived as the alternative to Donnelly. He's one of many. If he's able to get people to walk away from Donnelly, they could easily support Winston or Champ.

If Kashkari is going to make top two he needs to grab the people who don't want to vote for Donnelly or a Democrat/Green/P&F. In the most recent poll that was nearly 30% of the overall vote. He needs to win votes by letting people know he's a good candidate. All evidence suggests he isn't.

Changing the electorate

Nate Cohn of the New York Times bucks the prevailing Democratic meme that if they spend enough money and use the incredible Obama analytics they'll change the electorate. I've participated in a bunch of GOTV efforts, all of which are pretty much walking precincts and making phone calls. GOTV can certainly help, especially if the top of the ticket isn't a Presidential election. That said, no matter how brilliant your analytics are you can't get people who don't want to talk to you to pick up the phone or answer the door. You can't get those you contact to listen to your pitch if they have no interest.

California voter rolls list how many of the past five elections someone has voted in. You want to make sure 4s and 5s, people who've voted in 4 of 5 or 5 of 5 elections, get out to vote. Yet I've had Republican 5s, people we know we're going to get, take my literature and get rid of me. You're sure you have them, but they don't act like it. If there was a magical pitch to get 1s and 2s to the polls, they wouldn't be 1s and 2s. You aren't going to get a lot of them in a mid-term. Cohn is right. You should try to turn out 1s and 2s but you should spend more time trying to convince 4s and 5s who lean Republican but might be open to voting Democratic.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nell Newhouse is wrong.

Mitt Romney's pollster, fresh off his brilliant 2012 campaign, predicts we won't have a wave this year. Why? Let him tell it.

Waves happen, he said, when the other party isn't prepared. "I don't think we're catching anybody by surprise."
Newhouse is repeating an old line that's been proven untrue repeatedly. Waves happened in 2006, 2008, and 2010 and the other party was prepared. In 2006, Republicans knew it was going to be a tough election. Bush was unpopular, spending was out of control, the Iraq War was going badly, and Republicans were getting arrested left and right. In 2008, Republicans knew it was going to be an even tougher election. The party was extremely unpopular and Bush was extraordinarily unpopular. Only hardcore Republicans wanted to vote for the party. In 2010, Democrats might have been unaware of what was building, but the January 2010 Massachusetts Senate election was a big wake up call. All year Democrats kept saying that waves only happen when a party is unprepared and they were prepared. I have a clip of Nancy Pelosi saying just that. Democrats were prepared. They still got clobbered.

Being prepared doesn't help. Newhouse doesn't want to say that a good campaign run by good consultants can lose. If being prepared can't fend off a wave, then why do you people like Newhouse?