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.

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