Between the 2012 primary and general election, Democrats gained, on average 15 points in the ballot box. So a Democrat that lost by 13% would, on average, win by 2%. I think the difference between the primary and general will be far closer to 2010 than 2012. There are two main reasons for this 1) 2012 saw an introduction of online registration and that went overwhelmingly Democratic. There won’t be a similar event between the primary and general election this year. 2) This is a mid-term, which skews more Republican, and this is a year that looks like it’ll be good for Republicans.
Based on the last mid-term, however, I expect that Republicans will gain at the ballot box in 10% of the congressional and legislative races. At the other end, I expect that in 90% of the races, Democrats will gain 18% or less. A race where the Republicans beat the Democrats by 9%, the mid-point, should be a toss-up.
Here are the congressional races, starting with the ones that pit a Democrat and a Republican.
2012 primary: Democrats 51.5%-48.5%; 2014 primary: Democrats 53.3%-46.7%
John Garamendi had a 54%-46% victory in the general and I don’t see Dan Logue having any more of a shot in 2014. Safe Democratic.
2012 primary: Republicans 52.7%-41.0%; 2014 primary: Republicans 51.1%-46.7%
Ami Bera came from further back in 2012, but I don’t think he’s entirely safe this year. Doug Ose figures to be well funded. Lean Democratic.
2012 primary: Republicans 52.2%-47.8%; 2014 primary: Republicans 50.6%-49.4%
Jerry McNerney improved on 2012 and his Republican opponent this time is underfunded. Safe Democratic.
2012 primary: Republicans 49.2%-33.4%; 2014 primary: Republicans 58.9%-41.1%
This is the first primary where Republicans actually have a bigger margin than in 2012 and this time Jeff Denham’s opponent isn’t as well funded. Likely Republican.
2012 primary: Democrats 52.3%-47.7%; 2014 primary: Republicans 51.4%-48.6%
The Central Valley showed a definite Republican shift compared to 2012. Jim Costa did win comfortably and his opponent is pretty much some dude. Still, the great Republican hope for statewide office, Ashley Swearengin, is from Fresno. She showed she can turn out Fresno voters in the primary, taking 52% of the overall vote in the county. She got 53% in Madera county and 46% in Merced. Those are the three counties in CA-16. I’m just guessing here, but it’s possible Republican performance got better in CA-16 because Swearengin’s GOTV operation was getting Republican voters to the polls. And she’s going to have a more extensive GOTV operation in the general election. Anthony Canella's district covers most of Costa's district and he got 64% of the vote in the primary. Johnny Tacherra won’t have to lift a finger to get out the vote. It’s possible that Tacherra will win because of who he shares the ballot with in 2014. Neither Swearengin nor Canella figure to be on the ballot in 2016. So it’d be a one term rental. I’m going to stick with Likely Democratic for now, but don’t dismiss this district.
2012 primary: Republicans 57.0%-43.0%; 2014 primary: Republicans 64.7%-35.3%
Democrats spent a lot more money in 2014 to get their desired candidate in Top Two and they did just that. Unfortunately, she the overall Democratic vote dropped dramatically while the Republican vote went up. I don’t see this as a possible Democratic pick-up. Safe Republican.
2012 primary: Republicans 51.2%-46.4%; 2014 primary: Republicans 50.3%-48.7%
A well funded moderate Republican couldn’t finish within 10% of Lois Capps. Chris Mitchum is a Tea Party candidate with little money other than what his dad left him. Safe Democratic.
2012 primary: Republicans 44.1%-37.6%; 2014 primary: Republicans 52.1%-45.4%
The margins of the two primaries are similar and Julia Brownley only pulled out a narrow 4.6% win in 2012. Because of that, however, I still make her the favorite. Lean Democratic.
2012 primary: Republicans 51.5%-48.5%; 2014 primary: Democrats 53.2%-46.8%
Democrats actually got a candidate Top Two. The victory margin says Safe Democratic and it probably is. On the other hand, Pete Aguilar’s vote total dropped from 14,181 in 2012 to 9,242 in 2014. I don’t enough belief in him to think he couldn’t lose. Likely Democratic.
2012 primary: Republicans 58.1%-41.9%; 2014 primary: Democrats 50.3%-49.7%
Raul Ruiz really got shellacked in 2012. His better showing wasn’t a shock. I predicted he’d get 49% in the primary. Based on him getting the majority of the vote I’d make Ruiz safe, but this is a district Jerry Brown lost by 7 points in 2010. Likely Democratic.
CA-41 and CA-47
The GOP put up a fight in 2012 and got killed in the general election. They aren’t putting up a fight this year. Safe Democratic.
2012 primary: Republicans 48.8%-46.3%; 2014 primary: Republicans 57.7%-42.3%
This was a holy shit result. Peters, now the incumbent, should’ve been in stronger position in 2014. I thought he’d get 49% of the vote. He was steamrolled. What’s more, Carl DeMaio got 61% of the Republican vote, despite facing two well-funded challengers, one of whom had Tea Party/Duncan Hunter backing. If this were an open seat, I’d make it Likely Republican. But I don’t want to underestimate an incumbent. Lean Republican.
If the parties win the seats I have them favored for, it’ll be a wash. The GOP has to be hoping for better than that in a Republican leaning mid-term. If they don’t fare better than 2012 in 2014, I fear that 15 seats will be a high water mark for the foreseeable future. And it won’t be a low water mark. There are two same party match-ups where the incumbent is in danger and one open seat where the result is in doubt.
2014 primary: McClintock 56.1%-Moore 22.5%
This is the match-up that Tom McClintock and his conservative base feared. McClintock easily cleared 50% of the vote. That’d make you think he was safe, but he may not be. The primary was low turn out and McClintock managed only 70k votes. This was the highest turnout congressional district in 2012, with over 320k votes. In 2010, McClintock’s old district had over 300k. So Tom McClintock will need to more than double his primary vote. The general election turns out more Democrats than the primary and they are the people Moore is counting on to topple the staunchly conservative incumbent. Moore likely needs to win only a third of the right leaning vote to win. Lean McClintock.
2014 primary: Honda 48.2%-Khanna 28.0%
Mike Honda’s strong showing is more meaningful here, because 1) more Democrats in the general election helps him 2) The district is less Republican than CA-4 is Democratic. Tom McClintock’s Democratic opponent got 38.9% in 2012. Mike Honda’s Republican opponent got 26.5%. Even if Khanna dominates the right leaning vote, he still will need to get over 40% of those that normally would vote Democratic. Likely Honda.
2014 primary: Strickland 29.7%-Knight 28.4%
When Buck McKeon retired, Democrats were excited thinking they had an opportunity. Lee Rogers had a surprisingly strong showing in 2012’s general election and this time he had more money. With four Republicans and a Libertarian and only two Democrats in the field, Rogers seemed likely to advance. Republicans took 65.1% of the vote to the Democrats 31.7% and the two main Republicans coasted into Top Two.
This race has a different dynamic than the ones above. Moore and Khanna are likely to look closely at the 2012 results in CA-8 and CA-15, where the moderate topped the staunch conservative and staunch liberal. This race will be closer to ones in CA-30 and CA-31 where the candidates were closer ideologically. There’s a strong regional element to the race. Strickland blew out Knight in Ventura county 39.5%-19.4%. The problem for him is that only 22% of the primary vote was in Ventura county. So while Strickland may be able to consolidate Democratic votes there, getting 70% means he’ll still have to take 45% of the Los Angeles county vote. That may sound daunting, but if you only take the votes Knight and Strickland got, Strickland got 46.5% in LA County. Toss-up.