Friday, September 26, 2014

CA-SD35 special set for December 9

California governor Jerry Brown has set the date for the SD-35 special as December 9 with a run-off, if necessary, on February 10. As expected Democratic Assemblymen Isadore Hall and Steven Bradford have declared. While the 80 assembly districts aren't nested in the 40 senate districts, their two districts make up most of SD-35. Perennial candidate Mervin Evans will also be on the ballot. He's always on the ballot. I'm shocked he isn't running for anything in November.

Soon to be incarcerated ex-state senator Rod Wright won the district 77%-23% in 2012. So there are a few pockets of Republicans, mostly in Bradford's district. If the GOP doesn't run a candidate, either Hall or Bradford could get 50% in the election and avoid a run-off. If there's a Republican on the ballot, that won't happen. I doubt the Republican would make a run-off. Then it'd be a match-up between the two assemblymen.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

CA-10: Eggman's internal has him down 8

CA-10 is one of the three California districts held by Republicans that Barack Obama won in 2012. That makes it a prime pick-up opportunity for Democrats. They failed to get a top quality recruit, however, and ended up with beekeeper Michael Eggman. Democrats have tried to push him as a strong challenger, even producing a poll showing that a Democrat would beat incumbent Republican Jeff Denham. Any thought that the district could be competitive was dismissed when Denham got 59% of the vote in the primary.

Eggman's campaign has produced a poll showing their candidate down 8 points. I suppose when your opponent won the primary by 18%, being down 8 doesn't look so bad. The problem is that we're less than six weeks from election day and 8 points down won't cut it. He needs to be down 4-5 at most to generate any interest in the race. This isn't enough to get anyone behind him. I'm guessing an independent pollster will have Denham up comfortably by double digits.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CA PPIC Poll: Democrats +10 on generic ballot

PPIC, a major California pollster, has Democratic governor Jerry Brown leading his Republican challenger, Neel Kashkari, 54%-33%. Republicans and Independents are most of the undecideds, so Kashkari would probably end up losing 60%-40% or 59%-41% if this holds up. That's about what's expected. What's interesting is that the Democrats lead the California generic congressional ballot 50%-40%. If undecideds vote the same way that the others in the poll voted Democrats would win the congressional vote 55%-45%. In 2012, Democrats won the congressional vote 62%-38%. There were, however, several races with two Democrats. I adjusted the results using similar districts in order to get an idea of how each party would've voted in 2012 and came up with Democrats winning 60%-40%.

You can certainly argue whether the GOP will take 45% of the vote in November, but if they do, it'll be an excellent year for Republicans. That means they'll improve by 10% in each district. Some will be a little more and others a little less. Democrats won 7 seats by 11% or less and 2 others by a little more than that. That many pick-ups is almost unimaginable. So that means it's hard to imagine Republicans getting 45% of the vote. But that's what this poll says.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

California 60-Day Report of Registration

The new California 60-Day Report of Registration is out. In the past three cycles this report has shown small gains in registration of 47k, 16k, and 106k. This report showed a decline of 87k registered voters. A decline isn’t unusual. There are 611k less voters on the rolls since the 2012 election.

Voters can disappear from the rolls for reasons of moving or death, but the more common way is for county clerks to remove inactive voters who haven’t voted in a certain number of elections. The clerks have disgression in this, so some are more zealous than others. Losing these voters isn’t a big deal for a party since these voters weren’t voting anyway. The Secretary of State doesn’t publish how many people were purged, changed parties, or were added to the rolls. So we don’t know how many new registrants each party has or if people are leaving or going to one party or the other. Republicans lost 59k voters and Democrats lost 35k. Because the losses might be mostly from non-voters, this isn’t necessarily a bad report for the GOP. It certainly isn’t a good one. Those with No Party Preference actually increased, so there were party switchers and new registrants.

The big registration push is between this report and the 15 day report that’ll go through October 20. The last three major elections have seen increases of 1.1 million, 293k, and 986k voters. The 2008 and 2012 registrations heavily favored Democrats due to a big Obama registration push and online registration. The 2010 registration saw more Republicans added to the rolls, probably due to GOP enthusiasm. There doesn’t appear to be a reason to expect either party to heavily boost registration. Unfortunately, the 15 day report is unlikely to come out before the election. So we won’t know if there’s a jump for one party or the other.

The bottom line looks slightly disappointing for the GOP but a deeper dive shows the report is really good for Democrats in several places. I decided to look at competitive districts, but set aside any district where both parties lost registration. While it could be a positive that Republicans lost a decent amount less than Democrats in CA-3, we don’t know if this is due to new Republicans or a greater purge of Democrats. So I won’t include that here.

CA-10 – Republicans increased by 582 voters. Democrats dropped by 1,015. This district probably wasn’t competitive before this and this won’t make it more competitive.

CA-21 – Democrats went up by 5,839 voters and Republicans went down by 548, mostly due to a jump in Kern county. Clearly Democrats ramped up their efforts here in hopes of capturing the district. The assembly and senate districts within this district are both possibly competitive. Democrats went up 6,617 voters in AD-32 and 7,172 in SD-14. So they’ve likely concentrated their efforts in AD-32. Republicans had a surprising AD-32 win in the primary and the SD-14 incumbent, Andy Vidak, won in a landslide. There was elevated Republican turnout in the Central Valley, likely due to Ashley Swearengin’s controller campaign. Polls have been pessimistic for Democrats here, but there might be a surprise.

CA-25 – Democrats went up by 5,653 voters while Republicans dropped by 348 voters. Wait a second. This district is a match-up between two Republicans. Why are Democrats ramping up registration here by so much that there are more registered Democrats in the district? The district includes AD-36, the most vulnerable Democratic assembly district. Democrats actually gained 6,859 voters here. So they lost voters in the rest of CA-25.

Clearly, the AD-36 race is going to be more difficult than the primary showed and the Democrats are going to do their best to get out the vote here. Steve Fox might not be a goner. If you’re the NRCC you’re going to watch the results very closely in CA-25, because they’ll have to defend the seat in 2016. What they’ll want to look at is how much worse Jerry Brown, et al do compared to their statewide performance. Brown did 15% worse, two party, in 2010. You certainly don’t want to see it closer in 2014.

CA-26 – This one also might be rough for the GOP. Democrats went up by 3,862 voters and Republicans declined by 2,018. If both parties had similar purges then the Democrats did the job they did in Kern and LA counties. This could be a deciding factor for Julia Brownley. The congressional district contains AD-44, an open Republican seat the GOP would like to retain. That may prove difficult.

CA-31 – It’s not all bad news for the GOP. Democrats dropped by 861 voters and Republicans went up by 595. That’s hardly the 5,000-6,000 voter gains Democrats had in the districts above, but it is a definite gain. A lot of people think the district is hopeless for the GOP, but it appears to be one of the few places Republicans are registering voters. The good news for the GOP is that their open seat, AD-40, is within this district and showed similar gains.

SD-34 - Jose Solorio got trounced in the primary. Democrats aren’t giving up. They now have 4,348 more voters and Republicans have 252 less. Of course Democrats had a registration advantage while they were losing this district 67%-33% in the primary. It’ll take a lot more voters to overcome a deficit like that.

AD-65 – Surprisingly, Democrats don’t have a lot to show in this competitive Fullerton seat. They registered 552 new voters, while the GOP registered 730. None of this district is in SD-34. So their efforts in Santa Ana don’t help here. You’d think they’d register voters in this district if they’re sending people out to register voters.

AD-66 – This South Bay Los Angeles district looked like a good shot for the GOP in 2012. The disappointment in that election carried over to the primary. Republican candidates won the district by only 1%. There are now 3,777 new Democrats and 44 less Republicans.

Overall, I don’t think this changes the congressional landscape by much. CA-26 might be tougher and CA-31 might be a little easier. Democrats are hoping it’ll count more in legislative races. I don’t think their registration increases will net them SD-14 or 34, but it should ensure they’ll retain their 2/3 majority in the assembly. Democrats have registered a lot of new voters in 3 of their 4 most vulnerable districts and also in a district they’re hoping to take from Republicans.

Unions give $1.15 million to CA Democrats

Democrats howl about campaign finance and how the Koch brothers are buying elections, but Federal races have some strict campaign finance laws. California has virtually none. On Friday, unions gave the California Democratic party $1.15 million. Teachers (California Teachers Association) are apparently so rich that they can cut a check for $750,000. Remind me of that the next time they want a raise. The California Democratic party can do anything they want with this money. They could throw the whole amount into Jose Solorio's state senate, SD-34, account if they wanted. What they can't do is give much of it to Pete Aguilar, CA-31, due to Federal laws. Our campaign finance laws are a joke.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

CA-25: Knight gets further backlash over Donnelly endorsement

[Note: I supported Tony Strickland in the CA-25 primary and anticipate supporting him in the general election]

The backlash against Republican state senator Steve Knight over the endorsement of former gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly went up a notch today. Lee Rogers, the top Democratic candidate in June's primary, withdrew his endorsement and is now urging Democrats to leave the ballot blank. Rogers isn't really well known in the district, but he became notable in the 2012 election due to his stronger than expected performance. So he raised some money this time and I'm guessing he does have an email list. Still I wonder how much his endorsement withdrawal matters. I don't think he's going to be the only Democrat withdrawing his support.

Knight's opponent, Tony Strickland, has developed a strong reputation as a conservative. Enough activist Democrats dislike Strickland and looked to Knight as the less conservative alternative. Knight's views just weren't as well known, but he's always been regarded as a conservative. Based on 2012 Top Two elections between two same party candidates I'd anticipate around 30% of Democrats would leave the ballot blank. While this race could be higher, there still will be a lot of Democratic votes simply because a lot of people don't know they can leave one race on a ballot blank or just won't do that. So Knight and Strickland will continue to vie for Democrats, but still want to get Republicans and independents. It's a tough balancing act.

CA-7, 21, 25, and 26 News

Republicans beat Democrat Ami Bera by 4.3% in the 2014 primary. In 2012, Dan Lungren beat Ami Bera by 10.3% and Lungren lost the general election. If Lungren couldn't beat Bera, would Doug Ose have a shot? Ose put out an internal poll showing him leading Bera by 4%. Often challengers put out internal polls to show they're competitive in districts they really aren't. In such polls, they're usually trailing by 2-4%. That's enough to show that you're in it, but hopefully believable when people wonder if you have a shot. Does showing himself leading Bera by 4% actually indicate Ose is in a competitive race?

Two blog posts down I mentioned my problem with SurveyUSA being too loose with their likely voter screen. They did a CA-21 poll where they're estimating that 73% of registered voters will vote. This is a low turnout district that only turned out 43% of registered voters in 2010. So that makes the poll suspect. This poll shows Republican incumbent David Valadao up 19%. I put a little more stock in this poll because it's closer to the primary margin and it could overestimate Valadao's support and still be a one-sided election. I don't think Valadao is seriously threatened by Amanda Renteria.

Normally, Tim Donnelly's endorsement would be welcome by any Republican candidate. Due to his gubernatorial run Donnelly has a big conservative following and is regarded as a leading conservative voice. Kudos to Steve Knight for scoring that. He certainly wants to be seen as the more conservative candidates to conservatives. The problem is that when you're running against another Republican in Top Two you don't want to be identified as the most conservative candidate. The trick is to position yourself so that you can take 51% of the vote. When you're running in a district where the GOP only has a 1% registration advantage, that's pretty close to the center. Knight can't be perceived as being a Tim Donnelly. If that happens, he's sunk. So Knight is really backing off Donnelly.

This was regarded as a long shot district before the primary. It was D+3 in the 2012 Presidential election and Republicans don't win many of those. CA-7, 36, and 52 were 3 points more Romney than CA-26. It was a surprise when the Republicans beat Julia Brownley by 6.7% in the primary, a bigger margin than either CA-7 or CA-36. Apparently there is something to Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell. We've seen no polling but this district may be competitive.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CA-Gov: Jerry Brown's non-campaign

People show up at the polls for top of the ticket races. That's why turnout is highest when the President is on the ballot and next highest at mid-terms when there's usually a governor or senator on the ballot. In California this year there is a governor on the ballot, but he's running a non-campaign. There are no ads or campaign events.
Brown's campaign spokesman said Tuesday that the governor doesn't even plan to be the star of his own appeals to voters this year. Instead, he'll focus on urging them to pass a pair of bond measures.
Neither bond measure has serious opposition running ads. They aren't highly partisan and aren't the type of measures to bring out the Democratic base. In fact, some Democrats will oppose the measures because they don't want money spent on water for the Central Valley and they'd rather the state spend money and not save it.

Jerry Brown's non-campaign isn't likely to help Jerry Brown that much. But it's no big deal. He doesn't need it. I doubt he'd care if he won 55%-45% instead of 60%-40%. Neel Kashkari is running an energetic campaign, but he has no money and many people don't know who he is.

The people who do care whether Brown runs a rigorous campaign, however, are legislative and congressional Democrats. They'll welcome all the help they can get. Yet Brown won't drive voters to the polls with ads and he sure isn't going to campaign for them if he's not bothering to campaign for himself. The good news for Democrats down ballot is that the state party likely won't be spending any money on statewide elections. The bad news is that a race for state assembly won't get people to the polls no matter how much you spend. You need top of the ticket to do that. Of course the Republicans won't have a vigorous statewide campaign either and the only statewide candidate who'll do a massive GOTV effort is Ashley Swearengin in the Central Valley. But then the GOP wasn't expecting Kashkari to help them win this election down ballot.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

CA-52: SurveyUSA puts out another problematic poll

SurveyUSA is out with a new poll for KGTV and UT San Diego. This poll has Democratic congressman Scott Peters up 1% over Republican Carl DeMaio in the CA-52 congressional race. This is a contrast to their June poll, which had DeMaio up 7, and the June primary. The GOP won there by 15%.

I don't know what the current spread is, but SurveyUSA has once again shown they don't understand how to survey California. They have a policy. If someone says they're likely to vote, they consider the person a likely voter and include their answers. In California we know how many of the last five elections someone has voted in and use this data to predict whether the person will turn out. SurveyUSA has again overestimated the electorate. Let's set the way back machine to last February. SUSA put out a survey right before the San Diego mayoral race in February that predicted an amazing 91.3% turnout that had Republican Kevin Faulconer winning by 1%. Turnout was 43.5% and Faulconer won by 6%. Turnout was half what they predicted, although it was about what most observers expected. SurveyUSA caught a lot of non-voters and that's likely one of the reasons they were off by 5%.

We'll go further back to predict the turn-out this year. In a similar district, turn-out was 64.8% of registered voters in 2010. Turn-out in this district in 2012 was 74.5%. When SUSA did their June poll they determined that 73.9% of the registered voters they talked to were likely to vote. That was too high, but not awful. In this survey they have 82.8% of registered voters voting. So they've gone in the other direction and added more non-voters. That makes their results suspect.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Republicans don't have a women problem

I constantly hear about how the Republican party doesn't appeal to women and that the GOP does awful with them. This is false.

In 2008 John McCain won white women 53%-46%. That's R+7. Mitt Romney won them 56%-42%. That's R+9. Montana was R+9 in the 2012 Presidential race. No one is claiming that's a problem. The GOP is killing it with white women. There are some subcategories of white women Republicans aren't winning, but that's also a function of the GOP struggling with single people or non-Christians, not women. Yes, Republicans do better with white men than white women, but you have do do better with someone.

Yet the GOP lose women overall because the party gets killed with minority women to the point where Democrats win women overall. The Republican party's problems appealing to minority women is a problem appealing to minorities, both women and men, not a problem appealing to women.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Generic Ballot and the Senate

In August Real Clear Politics had Democrats as having a 1.4 average lead on the generic ballot. One the latest Pew poll is factored in, Republicans will have led by an average of 3.8 points in five September polls. That's a 5.2 point shift. The Fix says it's due to an RV to LV switch.

Logic tells us that if Republicans are doing 5 points better in September than August that Republicans everywhere, on average, should be gaining 5 points everywhere. They're not in the senate. A few are doing a little better, but some are doing worse. Even candidates who people think are doing better really aren't. Mitch McConnell's lead now is the same as August.

What gives?

1. It's possible the senate polls haven't caught up with the national situation. Most of them were taken before the recent switch or might still be using registered voters.

2. The state pollsters are getting it wrong. That seems unlikely. They all can't be getting the electorate wrong.

3. There won't be Republican gains in the polls. Even if Republicans gain 5 points on the generic ballot in Michigan that doesn't mean that they'll gain 5 in the senate race. As we saw in 2012, Democratic senate candidates can beat the House and Presidential vote, sometimes dramatically. Montana senator Jon Tester was winning those voters whether they voted Romney or Obama. House races are more reflective of the national mood because there are 435 to average out. Senate races are about the candidates. That's not to say that a more Republican electorate won't help Terry Lynn Land in Michigan. She just might not match the margins Republicans are winning the House seats by. I'd rather be the Republicans on the generic ballot right now, but it might not help the GOP in senate races.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

More Polls

When the Field poll showed Republican Ashley Swearengin getting killed in the California controller race, Swearengin pointed to two polls, one internal and one from Gravis Marketing that showed her tied or ahead. There are two problems with her response. First, internal polls can say what you want and Gravis is a firm with a definite Republican lean. The polls were both done in late July, a month before the Field poll. That's less of a concern because there hasn't been anything that's happened in the last month to change things in the race. I understand Swearengin trying to change the narrative and using what she had, but it shouldn't convince anyone that she's in a tight race. I'll wait for more polling.

SurveyUSA did a poll for the CA-21 congressional race. I have some issues with SurveyUSA, they allow far too many people in their polls that won't vote, but David Valadao's 19% lead is about what one would expect after Valadao's 26% win in the primary. Don't expect this one to be competitive.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

California Field Poll down ballot

The widely respected California Field poll gave out gubernatorial results last week showing Jerry Brown having an unsurprising 16 point lead. They've released down ballot polling results.

Lt. Governor: Gavin Newsom (D) 49%-29%
Attorney General: Kamala Harris (D) 49%-37%
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla (D) 43%-36%
Controller: Betty Yee (D)46%-32%
Treasurer: John Chiang (D) 52%-26%
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones (D) 47%-32%
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Marshall Tuck 31%-28%

It's unsurprising that Democrats are leading by wide margins. They should all win and most of them are more well known than their challengers are statewide. I'd guess that most will get 58-60% of the vote. I'm not surprised that the Secretary of State race, which is an open seat is the closest.

What is surprising is that Ashley Swearengin isn't doing better, at least more similar to how Pete Peterson is doing in the Secretary of State race. There are a number of reasons to think that while she might not win, she should be the closest challenger. If you look closer, you'll see that Swearengin has the highest percentage of people with no opinion of her. I wouldn't expect her to be well known, but she has spent some money and several other Republicans haven't spent any. Ronald Gold, the Republican running for Attorney General, has yet to file a campaign finance report. I don't know who he is. Yet not only do 52% of Californian voters have an opinion of him, but Gold has a +22 favorable rating. His Democratic opponent, incumbent Attorney General Kamala Harris, is only +20 favorability. This poll says that Swearengin has to do more to get people to know who she is before she can think of winning.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Boxer isn't running for re-election... or maybe she is

There was a story on Friday where Senator Barbara Boxer denied that she'd decided to retire. I was perplexed what she was denying, since that was the first I heard of it. The next day a story came out that she was going to retire. It's weird when the story denying the retirement is out before the story that she is. Is she or isn't she?

I have no idea. But what if she does retire. If she did, who would run? There are three heavyweights who hold statewide office that are all mentioned for governor in 2018, but no one talks about the senate. They are Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Controller John Chiang, and Attorney General Kamala Harris. Business executives Tom Steyer and Sheryl Sandberg have been mentioned. Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be mentioned in any discussion of statewide candidates.

It's long been understood that anyone who wants to win statewide better raise a lot of money or already have a statewide profile. This was confirmed in June in the Controller race. Assembly Speaker John Perez spent about $2 million, while Democratic rival Betty Yee probably spent 15-20% of that. Perez still lost to her, because his spending wasn't significant enough to overcome whatever strengths she had. Republican Ashley Swearengin was endorsed by many Republican groups and spent a few hundred thousand dollars. Republican rival David Evans had no endorsements and spent nothing. Yet he nearly matched her vote total because all that people knew about the candidates were their ballot designation. Evens had a good one.

No sitting Democratic congressman in a safe district has run for statewide office since 1992. This is likely because they know that they'd be in for a tough race to win statewide office and probably won't be able to raise their profile enough to break through. So why give up a safe seat for a chancy election? So I wouldn't expect any congressman in a safe seat to run. Ami Bera and Raul Ruiz are two young congressmen who are in swing districts and are prolific fundraisers. It's probably worth trading a seat you have to fight for every two years for a chance at a seat that you'll easily hold if you're able to win this one election.

A Republican wouldn't win a one on one match-up with a Democrat but we could see two Republicans make Top Two if enough strong Democrats were to run. But that's not worth discussing until we see who will be running.

Friday, September 5, 2014

CA-Con: Ashley Swearengin changes ballot designation

Ashley Swearengin, the Republican running for California controller, changed her ballot designation from “Mayor, City of Fresno,” which she used in the primary, to “Mayor/CEO” for the general election. The most important factor when voting is the party a candidate belongs to. I believe in California that the most important factor for those that don't use party is ballot designation.

The June primary provided strong evidence of that. Two candidates made Top Two in statewide races despite being unknown and spending no money on their campaigns. Swearengin's Republican Controller rival David Evans spent no money on the primary and only finished 0.7% out of Top Two. Ronald Gold made Top Two for Attorney General. Swearengin has clearly noticed and believes that adding "CEO" will help her win.