Friday, October 31, 2014

The one where National Journal shows they don't understand California

National Journal must've thought they discovered something when they noticed a hard fought Sacramento state senate race between two Democrats. Assemblymen Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan are going to drive people to the polls! On the other hand, Republicans might stay home since they don't even have a candidate in the race. All this would help Democrat Ami Bera in his difficult CA-7 congressional race.

Let's set aside that state senate races don't usually influence races up ballot. It's the other way around. The big problem is that most of the state senate district is in Doris Matsui's Sacramento based CA-6. I don't have the exact numbers but I'm thinking that maybe 20% of the state senate district is in CA-7. The Democratic dominated city of Sacramento is in CA-6, but cities like Elk Grove and Carmichael are mixed with Republicans and Democrats and in CA-7. So most of those motivated voters will be going to the polls to vote for Doris Matsui.

Ok, but what about the $2.5 million in advertising the two candidates are running? That might drive people to the polls, but it's dwarfed by an expected $10 spent on the CA-7 race. There's no shortage of Republican money supporting Doug Ose. He'll get people to the polls.

This theory also assumes that the candidates only want Democrats at the polls. The VBMs in SD-6 so far are 30% Republican and people who've run these inter-party races know that one candidate can win by appealing to a large number of opposite party voters. It's how Eric Swalwell and Gloria Negrete-McLeod got to congress. Pan is going hard after Republicans and probably thinks he stands to get a higher percentage of the vote with them than he'll get with Democrats. I'm sure he's working to figure out which Republicans will vote for him and turn them out.

As we know from the VBM returns, Democratic turnout isn't quite matching 2012 in CA-7. Maybe this is because much of the district is in the 4th state senate district and that's one where Republican Jim Nelson is sailing to re-election over a some dude Democrat who hasn't filed a campaign finance report because he hasn't raised money.

Try again, National Journal.

2014 VBM returns through 10/30

Another 187,453 ballots were added to the count and 2.2 million ballots have now come in. The problem is that this number is less than 25% of all the VBM ballots mailed out. On the same day in 2010 37% of VBM ballots had been returned. We had 10.3 million votes in 2010. I'm estimating that we'll be below 9 million this year, but even that could be high. If both the rest of the VBM and election day balloting show up at the same low rate we could see less than 8 million votes.

This is probably bad news for Democrats. They were hoping to reverse their Presidential-midterm drop but it looks like the opposite will happen. Instead of an increase, we're seeing a drop.

CA-3: No real change at D+2.7%.

CA-7: There was a dramatic change here, one that doesn't seem believable at this late stage. There was a larger than normal reported VBMs and they were heavily Republican. Instead of the D+0.2% advantage in returns, we now have an R+1.4%. This could be a reporting error, but if it isn't it's good news for Republican Doug Ose.

CA-9: No real change at D+7.7%.

CA-10: More Republican returns puts the district at R+4.6%. Even safer for Jeff Denham.

CA-16: Moved a little more Democratic at D+12.4%, but only the Democratic leaning Fresno county portion reported new returns.

CA-21: The good news for Republican David Valadao is that returns keep getting better for him, down from D+10.3% to D+9.1%. Valadao only got below 50% in one county, Kern, and that county didn't report. So his gain probably isn't as high.

CA-24: It doesn't seem like the Lois Capps/DCCC strategy has worked yet, as returns went from R+2.1% to R+2.7%.

CA-26: No real change. At D+3.0%. That remains good news for Julia Brownley.

CA-31 and 33: San Bernardino and LA counties didn't report new VBMs.

CA-36: VBMs dropped from R+3.2% to R+2.9%. Better for incumbent Raul Ruiz but not too significant.

CA-47: Republican Andy Whallon benefits from Orange county reporting new VBMs while Los Angeles county hasn't. Returns are now R+1.2%, up from R+0.3%.

CA-52: VBM returns continue to inch ahead for Democrat Scott Peters. Now at R+8.9% from R+9.3%. Carl DeMaio should still be favored.

State Senate
SD-14: Changed from D+14.4% to D+13.0%. As with CA-21 missing Kern county means less Democrats.

AD-8: Covers the same ground as CA-7 and thus saw a change from D+3.1% to D+1.5%.

AD-32: Mostly within SD-14. Changed from D+17.0% to D+15.5%.

AD-65: Continues to inche toward the Democrats, now at R+8.1%.

Thank you to PDI for compiling this data.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 VBM returns through 10/29 (updated)

Ask and ye shall receive. PDI has updated their charts to include an additional 100k ballots from yesterday. Based on the county VBM return rates it now looks like most counties are probably up to date. Those that aren’t are smaller. Republican leaning counties have returned ballots at a rate that’s 22% higher than Democratic counties. That’s believable, as it was 9% higher in 2012. The difference comes largely from low returns in LA county, which had very low returns in the primary.

The first batch which I reported earlier were more from Republican leaning counties. Los Angeles was among them, however, and those races had a definite Democratic push. These returns are much more from Democratic leaning counties, but there’s a Republican lean to the results. Overall, VBMs are 42.2%D/37.6%R. That’s 3% more Republican than 2012, but slightly less Republican than 2010. It’d be tough to expect a more Republican electorate in 2014 than 2010. Voter registration statewide is D+15 and it was D+13 then. We also had competitive statewide races where Republicans, mostly Meg Whitman, spent a lot of money to drive turnout. This year, the majority of Republican statewide candidates are just so the party has names on the ballot.

CA-3: Remember those VBM gains Democrats made due to Solano county? They’ve been wiped out. VBM remains at D+2.8%, the same as it was Tuesday.

CA-7: A bunch of new ballots came in but the VBM didn’t move. Democrats still have a 0.2% advantage, 41.0%-40.8%.

CA-9 and 10: VBM made a small move toward the GOP in both districts.

CA-16: There was a point where the Democratic returns were D+18. They are now down to D+12, only 1 point more Democratic than 2012. That’s certainly encouraging for Republican Johnny Tacherra, but probably not enough to make the district competitive.

CA-21: Remember that big jump when Democrats had a 17% advantage in ballot returns? Well, it dropped again from D+11.7% to D+10.3%. That scare David Valadao had seems to have brought a Republican response.

CA-24: There was a small move R+2.5% to R+2.1%, but Santa Barbara county reported VBM ballots while San Luis Obispo county did not. So that may not be much of a change.

CA-31: The Democratic return advantage shrunk slightly and the difference is smaller than 2012. Considering that there was no Democrat on the ballot in 2012, that’s a little surprising and may provide a ray of hope for Republican Paul Chabot.

State Senate
SD-14: As with CA-21, the GOP has wiped out much of a big margin for Democrats. The Democratic VBM advantage has dropped from D+18.9% to D+14.4%. There should be a slight sigh of relief as the GOP hopes to hold this district. Assembly
AD-8: Virtually unchanged.

AD-16: Movement towards the Democrats from D+2.9% to D+3.5%.

AD-21: The Republican surge in Central Valley VBMs shows here as the Democratic advantage drops from D+4.8% to D+4.1%.

AD-32: And it shows here in the drop from D+18.6% to D+17.0%.

AD-40: Movement towards the Republicans from R+6.4% R+6.9%.

Thank you to PDI for compiling this data.

2014 VBM returns through 10/29

There were only reported VBM returns in 18 of 58 California counties. Of those 18 counties, the only ones that matter are Los Angeles, San Joaquin, Solano, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, and Riverside. There are now less VBM ballots returned than 2010, despite the presence of over 3 million more VBM ballots mailed. I suspect that some counties aren't reporting all their VBM ballots when they report and others that haven't reported in the last few days will have quite a few when they do. On the other hand, this could be a very low turnout election.

CA-3: VBM ballots updated were only from Solano county, which leans left. Democrats picked up ballots and the district is now D+3.7%, instead of D+2.8%. That's much better for John Garamendi.

CA-26: Not much movement but it did help the Democrats. Now D+3.1%, instead of D+2.8%.

CA-33: For the second time this week, the VBM returns moved toward the Democrats, up from D+4.2% to D+5.5%. Republican Elan Carr's chances may be diminishing.

CA-36: There is a bright spot for the GOP. Returns ticked up from R+2.8% to R+3.2%. Brian Nestande shouldn't be dismissed with these VBMs.

CA-47: Remember that surprising Republican advantage? Well, it's almost all wiped out. The district went from R+2.9% to R+0.3%. This district was always an extreme long shot.

CA-52: I skipped a bunch of districts which either had no new ballots or a small number that didn't change anything. There were just under 7k ballots reported here, about 10% of the total. There was no change. Republicans still have an R+9.3% VBM advantage. This is a high turnout district, but there have been a significant number of VBM ballots returned. Carl DeMaio still looks good.

State Senate
SD-34: It was a very good day for Democrat Jose Solorio. Returns dropped from R+8.5% to R+6.5%. This may yet be a race.

AD-36: Like other LA county districts this one moved to the Democrats, from R+10.3% to R+9.8%. Democrat Steve Fox improbably won in 2012 with an R+15.1% VBM. So he can't be dismissed despite the large Republican advantage.

AD-60: VBM returns ticked toward Democrats from R+11.6% to R+11.2%. The GOP is still ahead of 2012 when Eric Linder won his first term.

AD-65: Like the overlapping SD-34, this district moved toward the Democrats, going from R+10.7% to R+8.4%. While still more Republican in 2012, Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva looks stronger.

AD-66: VBMs moved from R+3.1% to R+2.0%. It's still more Republican than 2012, but not a lot.

Thank you to PDI for compiling this data.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2014 VBM returns through 10/28

Tuesday had 189,654 ballots reported, bringing the total to 1,711,227. The returns remain anemic. That’s only 19% of all VBM. In 2010, returns were 28% by the same day. Because there are so many more VBM ballots now than there were then, this could result in substantially lower number of total votes. In 2010, there were 10.3 million total votes. While it’s tough to estimate how many there will be this year I think there could be a million less votes than there were then.

Yesterday’s returns were 40.4%D/39.4%R, another good day for Republicans. Los Angeles and Alameda county didn’t report any returns, as Los Angeles reports Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and Alameda reports Monday and Wednesday. Even after they report today, these counties will have low return rates. It’s possible they aren’t reporting all the ballots or that they aren’t getting a lot of ballots. Los Angeles was very low in the primary. The numbers right now look like Republicans Pete Peterson and Ashley Swearingen might have a shot in their statewide races, but the district races are easier to look at. The low returns in some counties don’t have a significant impact on district ranges, because most Los Angeles county districts are mostly in the county.

CA-3: The dramatic Republican returns dissipated slightly yesterday, with the Democratic advantage ticking up from D+2.4% to D+2.8%. That’s still 1.8% better than 2012 and at the edge of the territory where Republican Dan Logue could win.

CA-7: The district had another small tick toward the GOP, going from D+0.4% returns to D+0.2%. There should be the same number of ballots from each party with the current trend. Republicans are running 1.5% better than 2012 when Democrats had a 1.7% advantage in VBM. This is the only district where more Republicans than Democrats voted on election day in 2012. It’s still a toss-up.

CA-9: Jerry McNerney’s ballot advantage continues it’s sharp drop, down from D+8.6% to D+7.8%. Similar to the two district above, that’s 1.4% ahead of 2012. It’s difficult to see Republican Tony Amador winning, but McNerney should be doing a better job of getting out the vote.

CA-10: VBM are now R+3.7%, up through R+2.5%. The Republican advantage is now 1.3% above 2012. Jeff Denham has little to worry about.

CA-16: VBM was decidedly Republican yesterday and the Democratic advantage drops from D+14.6% to D+13.4%. Democrats are still running ahead of 2012 here, so Jim Costa is probably safe.

CA-21: Remember that big Democratic advantage in ballot returns. Well, there’s still a bigger advantage than 2012, but a massive Republican return has moved the VBM returns from D+15.7% to D+11.7%. There were no returns reported from Kern county, the Democratic stronghold in this district. So the returns look more dramatic than they probably are. Still, a move of this size is good news for Republican incumbent David Valadao.

CA-24: No change here. It’s still at R+2.5%. That’s a bit ahead of 2012. If Democrats have dramatically increased spending, as was indicated yesterday, holding steady isn’t bad for Republican Chris Mitchum.

CA-26: Remember when returns were D+6? They dropped from D+3.3% to D+2.8%. Democratic returns are still running better than 2012, but if Republicans keep reducing the Democratic advantage Jeff Gorell could win.

CA-31: No real change. Now D+1.5% return.

CA-33: Los Angeles county didn’t report. Update tonight.

CA-36: No real change. R+2.8%.

CA-41: No real change. D+3.6%.

CA-47: Because Orange county reported returns and Los Angeles county didn’t, returns for this district ticked up from R+2.2% to R+2.9%. The Republican improvement, it was D+2.3% in 2012, is the second largest of the cycle, but Democrats should have better numbers after Los Angeles reports tonight.

CA-52: Still steady at R+9.4%. Democrat Scott Peters needs to cut down that Republican advantage and there hasn’t been real movement.

This was a neutral to good day for Republicans in many districts. In most cases the VBM returns are running ahead of 2012. I’m not sure they are running enough ahead for the Republican to win. We might be looking at a bunch of 52%-48% Democratic wins. As I’ve mentioned before, however, Republicans did better on election day than VBM in 31 of 40 primary races. This was a dramatic change from previous years. If that isn’t a fluke we could see some Republican wins.

State Senate
SD-12: The district moved a little more Republican, from D+7.0% to D+6.6%. Still not competitive. Easy Republican win.

SD-14: As with CA-21, there was big movement to the GOP. Here it was from D+18.9% to D+15.5%. Good news for Republican Andy Vidak.

SD-34: Returns remain at R+8.5%.

AD-8: This district probably isn’t competitive, but it overlaps CA-7 and had higher Republican turnout on election day in 2012. It’s D+3.2% now, compared to D+4.6% in 2012. AD-16: Slight tick toward Democrats from D+2.6% to D+2.9%.

AD-21: Returns at D+4.8%.

AD-32: VBMs were strongly Democratic at D+23.7% but that dropped to D+18.6%. That’s good news for Republican Pedro Rios.

AD-36: Returns at R+10.3%. Again that’s ahead of 2012 for Democrats but Steve Fox will have to hope for a huge Democratic turnout on election day and that might be a bridge too far.

AD-40: The strong Republican advantage is now R+7.1%. It should easily remain Republican.

AD-44: Returns are now slightly more Republican, at R+0.4%. As with the Ventura county congressional district, CA-26, that’s much better for Democrats than 2012. They still can’t afford the returns to keep moving in this dirction.

AD-60: Returns are now R+12. Safe for Republicans.

AD-65: Returns stay steady at R+10.7%. Democratic incumbent Sharon Quirk-Silva may be doomed.

AD-66: Returns are now R+3.1%. Democratic incumbent Al Muratsuchi is getting more Democratic VBMs in now than before, but Republicans are returning at a greater rate than 2012.

Thank you to PDI for compiling this data.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CA-24 may actually be competitive

The DCCC is putting some last minute money into CA-24 to help Lois Capps.
Some Democrats, for example, have begun to worry about the prospects of California Rep. Lois Capps... the DCCC is making a last-minute purchase of $99,000 worth of radio advertising in the Santa Barbara area to boost Capps, according to a committee aide.
I don't know why the DCCC is putting money into the district, but I'd expect them to be professional enough that they aren't reacting to Chris Mitchum's internal poll. If that were all it took, Republicans would be happy to put out internals showing close races in 100 more districts. That said, VBMs should have them a little worried, but I also assume they've polled this race themselves. This morning I was cautious about positive VBM returns for the GOP, but this is a sign that there may something more than Republican wishful thinking in some of these districts.

Capps had $1,072,500 COH on September 30 and $736,206 on October 15. In a race where her opponent has spent $302,214 the entire cycle, she shouldn't need DCCC help. If she can't get re-elected with that money in the bank, another $99,000 won't help. If the DCCC is looking to help a California incumbent who could be in trouble, they should really be getting behind John Garamendi. He's cash poor and Dan Logue has already put $785,050 of his own money in. If Logue thinks he has a chance, he'll be putting more in.

2014 Congressional race VBM returns through 10/27

Another 194,279 ballots were reported for yesterday, 8 days from election day. This is 54,838 less than the same day for 2010. While ballots are roughly 100k ahead of 2010, there are a lot more VBM ballots out today. Thus far, only 17% have been returned. In 2010, 25% had been returned on the same day. We may be talking about fairly low turnout this year. Overall, Democrats did better Monday. Their spread was 43.6%D/36.2%R. That was similar to the overall return in 2012, however, not a good day. While some Democratic leaning counties haven't reported VBMs at the same rate as Republican leaning counties we're so far along that it's possible those counties won't return VBMs at the same rate. The overall return is 42.2%D/37.6%R. That's still very good for Republicans.

PDI also has the ethnic and age breakdown of returns. I'll start with a qualifier here. We don't know if certain groups send in their VBM ballots first and others do it later. So this data could change. The VBM ethnically in between 2010 and 2012. So there's not much there. Ballot return right now is 73% over 55 years old. It was 63% in 2012 and 71% in 2010. The older voters voting right now don't have to be Republican or Republican leaning independents, but older people tend to vote more Republican than younger people. So an older independent is more likely to vote Republican than a younger one. This percentage favors the GOP.

CA-3: The Democratic advantage keeps dropping. Yesterday it went from D+3.1% to D+2.4%. It went D+5 in 2012. I'm not ready to declare this race as competitive yet, but I think I'm being cautious here. D+2 should make it competitive. Through self-funding Logue has matched incumbent Democrat John Garamendi's fundraising. I'm guessing that if Garamendi's internals said he was in trouble, we'd hear something but that's making a big assumption. Neither candidate has gotten independent expenditure help.

CA-7: The district went from D+0.6% returns to D+0.4%. So it didn't move at all. There's a ton of outside spending and I anticipate this one still in doubt at the end of election night.

CA-9: Can you name the Republican nominee here? I'm guessing a lot of people don't know who it is until they get their ballot. Tony Amador hasn't spent any money, but the returns dropped nearly a point D+9.5% to D+8.6%. I don't think incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney is in a competitive race, but if Republican returns get this down in the D+5 range, it's possible.

CA-10: No change. Jeff Denham still sitting fine.

CA-16: More Democratic ballots, as it moves from D+14.0% to D+14.6%. The Central Valley is difficult to predict based on party breakdown, but I think Jim Costa is probably safe.

CA-21: More Democratic ballots here too, as it's moved from D+15.2% to D+15.7%. I'll reiterate that while that looks bad for Republican David Valadao, Democratic independent expenditures have pulled out of the district and SurveyUSA reported Valadao up 5 with already voted. If that's accurate then these Democratic returns aren't a concern for him.

CA-24: A good day for Democrat Lois Capps as the returns are now R+2.5%, compared to R+3.0% before. Like CA-3, this district could be competitive with these returns.

CA-26: A good day for Republican Jeff Gorell, as the Democratic ballot advantage dropped from D+4.0% to D+3.3%. I've said all along that if the VBM skews this Democratic then Republican Jeff Gorell will probably lose. But it isn't an advantage that we shouldn't look at returns on election day.

CA-31: Returns are now D+1.6%, down from D+2.0%. Democrat Pete Aguilar has spent a lot more money and has independent expenditures supporting him, while Republican Paul Chabot does not. But VBMs are fairly low here and this is a range where Chabot can still win.

CA-33: This district had the biggest drop in Democratic spread from 2012 to 2014. Despite a very strong day in Democratic ballot returns, it still does. The district went from a D+2.3% Democratic advantage to D+4.2%. That's still well below the D+10.9% in 2012. This is an open seat with candidates who don't fit the usual Republican-Democratic dynamic. There's a Jewish Republican from Santa Monica against an Asian Democrat from Torrance. If Carr makes inroads with either Jewish voters or West Siders, this may be a race.

CA-36: Returns moved more Republican from R+2.2% to R+2.7%. In most districts that's pretty good for the GOP but they were R+4.5% in 2012. Raul Ruiz likely did well with the independent vote then and there's no reason to think that's changed. Ruiz remains a strong favorite here, but Republican Brian Nestande can't be dismissed.

CA-41: No change here. I don't think Republican Steve Adams has a shot at an upset but this district had VBM returns of D+8.5% in 2012 and is now D+3.4%. Returns are the lowest of any competitive district right now. I think the VBMs will have to get closer to even for it to be a race, but again this may be a district to watch on election night.

CA-47: Democrats cut the Republican advantage down from R+3.0% to R+2.2%. Again this is a district with a some dude Republican going up against an incumbent Democrat. The difference between Democratic VBM and election day turnout was heavier here than any other district, but it's tough to dismiss a district where there are more Republican ballots. I'm not saying that Republican Andy Whallon has a shot any more than I said that Tony Amador or Steve Adams could win, but the numbers remain good for Republicans.

CA-52: Steady at R+9.4%. Carl DeMaio remains the favorite. This sort of advantage would be a death sentence for incumbent Democrat Scott Peters elsewhere, but that's not certain here. Still, he can't like this many Republican ballots.

I'm not trying to declare a Republican pick-up of 6 or 7 seats here. Democrats will most likely return almost every seat they have and pick-up CA-31. Still, the VBM returns suggest there may be more competitive races than expected.

Once again, a big thank you to PDI for compiling these numbers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

California Voter Registration

PDI, the gods of registration data, has a chart on new California voter registrations. The Secretary of State hasn't released the final registration data, but I assume it came from them or directly from the 58 counties. The new registrant numbers for the year are positive for the Democrats, as they lead the GOP 35%-17%, a little bit above the overall current spread of 43%-28%. This is the new registrants for the year, so we don't know the breakdown of the last six weeks.

The Secretary of State puts out statistics on their website of overall registrations, not new registrants. Those statistics for the first eight months of 2014 showed a net negative number of registrants, as it included additions and deletions. So while the new registrant numbers are good for Democrats, bad news for the GOP, I'm not sure they have a huge impact for this election. We should keep in mind that only 35% of new registrants are Democrats, compared to 43% of all people currently registered. So while having 17% of registrants is pathetic for Republicans it's also possible that the GOP has a better shot at the new 47% that's neither Republicans nor Democrats.

If there is good news for Republicans it's that there were only 272k new registrants for the last six weeks before this election. There were 332k in 2010 and a whopping 1,327k in 2012. Those new 2012 registrants voted at a higher rate than people who were registered before and Democratic registrations outnumbered Republican ones by 3 to 1. That likely killed Republicans and cost the party 1-3 seats in congress, the assembly, and the state senate. The new registrants in the last six weeks actually had more Republicans in 2010. I don't think that's the case now, but it'd appear that the GOP won't be hurt much by late registering new voters, as the party wasn't in 2010.

The lack of new registrants fits in with the low primary turnout and lower returns in VBM. The enthusiasm isn't there in California. And lower turnout here benefits Republicans.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 VBM returns through 10/24

California has reported receiving 1.3 million VBM ballots. That’s an increase from 2010, but that’s mostly because the number of VBM ballots is way up. In fact, only 15% of VBM ballots are in. At this point in 2010, it was 20%. The number of total registered voters isn’t much higher. So unless a significant number of people turn in their VBM ballots on election day we’re going to see a lower overall number of people voting in California. The primary had a record low participation.

This is important to know when looking at the numbers. We’re still at 42%D/38%R. That’s better for Democrats than 2010 if Democratic VBM participation rate is the same as it was then. Due to a Democratic party effort, however, their VBM returns were up in the primary. This mostly, but not entirely, cannibalized their election day vote. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If someone votes earlier it save you money on a mailer and means you can call or knock on the door of a different voter. So I’d cautiously say these numbers are good for the GOP.

One caveat is that Democratic leaning Los Angeles county has one of the lowest VBM returns. They are reporting ballots every other day, just as they’ve done in the past. They did have a low primary turnout. So it’s possible there aren’t unreported ballots.

CA-3: VBM return dropped again. This time it was from D+5 to D+3, after starting at D+12 with the first ballots. Both 2012 and the primary were D+5 VBM. So if this trend continues, Republican Dan Logue might have a shot.

CA-7: VBM moved from even to D+1. Any movement of 1 point isn’t really significant due to rounding. In this case, the change is less than half a point. The VBM has been bouncing 1 point either way the whole time. It’s still a toss-up.

CA-9: VBM now at D+9, the same as 2012. That’s a good number for incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney.

CA-10: VBM remains at R+2, the same as 2012. That’s a good number for incumbent Republican Jeff Denham.

CA-16: VBM is steady at D+14. The Central Valley is difficult to judge because so many Democrats vote Republican down ballot, but I don’t see any reason that incumbent Democrat Jim Costa should worry.

CA-21: VBM is steady at D+15. As I discussed previously this could be cause for concern for incumbent Republican David Valadao. As I also said previously, however, he romped in 2012 when the actual final electorate was 47%D/36%R.

CA-24: VBM remains at R+3, a tick higher than 2012. That’s a slightly favorable electorate for Republican Chris Mitchum. Lois Capps should be out there getting out the vote and spending some of that campaign cash. Mitchum’s internal says this district is competitive and it certainly has the partisan make-up to be competitive. I wouldn’t put it in the GOP column, but it bears watching.

CA-26: The district bounced back to D+3. I’ve maintained that Republican Jeff Gorell will have a tough time winning if there are more Democratic VBM ballots than Republican, but now isn’t the time to dismiss him either.

CA-31: The district is still at D+2. That’s positive for Democrat Pete Aguilar but Republican Paul Chabot shouldn’t be dismissed.

CA-33: The district finally started moving toward the Democrats, ticking up to D+3 from D+2. So it’s not much of a move. Normally, D+3 isn’t sunny for Republicans, but it depends on the district. As mentioned above, it can be encouraging in CA-3, while discouraging in CA-26. It’s very encouraging here. The biggest reason is that this district was D+11 in 2012 and you’re dealing with an open seat that has challengers from parts of the district that are usually the other party’s stronghold.

I know a lot of people would dismiss making a play for a district like this for the GOP. After all, a district this Democratic is sure to flip back in 2016. I think it’s a good idea for Republicans to try in a couple of Democratic districts like this one. The GOP hasn’t taken any light to medium blue districts in the last few cycles. It’d be nice to know that they can.

CA-36: The district is still at R+2. In some places that’d make Republican challenger Brian Nestande look strong, but R+2 here is like D+2 in CA-31. Nestande is in this but a definite underdog.

CA-41: I haven’t mentioned this district before, but it’s one the GOP thought they could win in 2012. It was an epic fail. The VBM is actually D+4, 5 points lower than 2012. That’s good, but I don’t think Republican Steve Adams is a serious threat to incumbent Democrat Mark Takano. It still is one to watch.

CA-47: The district is still R+3 VBM. This is a very similar district to CA-33 and CA-41 in voting patterns, if not demographically. They are all D+10-11 on a Presidential level. The differences in the congressional race are that CA-41 and 47 have incumbents and challengers who haven’t raised much money. CA-33 has no incumbent and a Republican who has raised a decent amount of money. The VBMs in CA-41 and 47 are 5 points more Republican than 2012, while the VBM in CA-33 is 7 points more Republican.

It’s likely that none of these will be competitive districts and Republicans will wish that this increased Republican turn-out had happened in a more competitive district. This could be a sort of control group/experimental group thing. CA-33, 41, and 47 are control group districts where Democrats and Republicans aren’t trying hard. The environment in such a case is strongly favoring the GOP. In districts where both parties are trying, however, Democrats are holding the Republican turnout gains down.

CA-52: This is one district that Republicans look healthy in that is competitive. While it’s now R+9 instead of the previous R+10, that exceeds the R+6 in 2012. I believe Republican challenger Carl DeMaio should still be the favorite.

State Senate
SD-12: District moves a tick more Democratic at D+7. Still fine for the GOP.

SD-14: District stays at D+19. Still worrisome for GOP incumbent Andy Vidak. We won’t know how worrisome until election day.

SD-32: I include this one not because I think it’ll be competitive, but because a Republican independent expenditure is going in. I’m wondering if Republicans are operating the theory I had above that you only know where you can compete and how much you can move the needle by trying it somewhere. The VBMs so far are D+8, more Republican than the D+12 in 2012 and D+12 in the primary. That’s not a reason to think this district will be competitive, however. Republicans aren’t going to win a D+8 in Los Angeles county and the district’s final tally was D+24 2012. So a lot of Democrats came out on election day then.

SD-34: At R+8 it's still tough odds for Democrat Jose Solorio.

AD-8: I haven’t mentioned this one because I don’t think it’ll be competitive. It looks like a district that could be. VBMs are D+4, down from D+5 in 2012.

AD-16: There are some similarities between this district and AD-8, but I don’t think Democrats have anything to worry about either. Returns remain at D+3.

AD-21: Returns tick up from D+5 to D+6, good territory for incumbent Democrat Adam Gray.

AD-32: Returns remain steady at D+24. This has the Valley dynamic of CA-21 and SD-14 as the ballots are the same ones reported there. Here, however, there’s a Democratic incumbent.

AD-36: VBMs go from R+11 to R+10. I still think incumbent Democrat Steve Fox remains a goner.

AD-40: VBMs go from R+7 to R+6, but the real movement is smaller than that.

AD-41: I’m including this one even though I think there’s no chance it’ll be competitive. Incumbent Chris Holden is running against a challenger who qualified by being a write-in. That said, VBM returns are D+1 so far and I’ve included any district that has VBMs that close. They were D+3 in 2012 when Holden won comfortably.

AD-44: This open Ventura county district is currently held by the GOP. For the first time, the ballots are even. There had been a Democratic advantage since the first ballots came in. While even isn’t terrible here for the GOP, I think it favors Democrat Jacqui Irwin. It was R+6 in 2012.

AD-57: Republican Rita Topalian beat Democratic incumbent Ian Calderon in the primary in a district that shouldn’t be competitive. Speculation centered around the Calderon name hurting the Democrat, as two members of his family are under indictment. Sometimes scandal can throw a race completely out of whack. People who normally would never vote Republican probably voted Republican just because of it. Returns are D+6. They were D+9 in the primary and D+10 in 2012. It would be stunning if Democrats take AD-44 from the GOP but are deprived of their 2/3 majority with a loss here.

AD-60: I continue to include this one, even though I don’t think it’ll be competitive. It moves from R+11 to R+12.

AD-65: The district stays at R+11, a margin that I feel may doom Democratic incumbent Sharon Quirk-Silva.

AD-66: Good news for Democratic incumbent Al Muratsuchi is that VBMs dropped from R+6 to R+4. They were R+1 in 2012, so he isn’t safe.

Once again, a big thank you to PDI for compiling these numbers.

Friday, October 24, 2014

2014 VBM returns through 10/23

We had another 125k ballots reported returned yesterday in California. Statewide Republicans are doing okay, better than 2012 but worse than 2012. I should note that the 2014 primary had a new dynamic where Democratic VBM ballot returns increased. It used to be that Democrats always did better on election day than VBM but Republicans did better on election day in 78% of the races this year. If voting follows the same pattern as 2010, this year won't be as good for the GOP. If it follows the same pattern as the primary, it'll be better. On the surface, it appears that VBM is up from 2010, 1,127,834 compared to 952,647 then. But the number of people who do vote by mail are up 52% since then. In fact, only 12.9% of VBM ballots are in, compared to 16.5% in 2010. There are less election day voters now. Of course, people can always bring their VBM ballots to the precinct on election day.

I'm only including VBM that's changed since the last update. There were no LA county ballots, so nothing changed there and many other congressional districts remained the same.

CA-3: Drops from D+6 to D+5, roughly the same as 2012. The first ballots were D+12. John Garamendi won by 8% that year, but this is a small enough advantage that this race should at least be on the radar.

CA-7: Drops from D+1 to even. It was D+2 in 2012 when Ami Bera won by 3%. This one will be tight.

CA-36: Back up to R+2 instead of R+1. If it moves a little more Republican Brian Nestande is in this thing. While UT San Diego has commissioned multiple polls for CA-52, no one has polled this district.

CA-47: The VBM returns went from R+2 to R+3, but that's a little cheating. They only added Orange County VBMs, which is the Republican part of the district. Since Andrew Whallon has spent $52k the entire cycle it's hard to take his candidacy seriously.

State Senate

SD-12: Moved from D+7 to D+6.

SD-14: The VBM return is now D+19 down from a high of D+24.

SD-34: Moves back to R+9 from R+8.

AD-21: VBM returns are now D+5 up from D+3, good news for incumbent Adam Gray.

AD-36: VBMs are now R+11, after being only R+6 a few days ago. That makes it tougher for incumbent Steve Fox.

AD-40: Returns are now R+7, after being R+4 a few days ago. This is good news for Republican Marc Steinorth.

AD-65: VBM returns are now R+11. If this differential continues incumbent Sharon Quirk-Silva is doomed.

A big thank you to PDI for compiling this data.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 Congressional race VBM returns through 10/22

We had VBM returns reported for every big county in the state except for Alameda. As a result, the VBM rate for Republican leaning counties is only 28% higher than Democratic counties. In 2012 it was 9% higher. While it’s likely that Democratic counties have more VBMs they haven’t reported, the difference isn’t as pronounced. Overall Democrats are 42% of VBM and Republicans are 38%. It’s similar to 2010 and better for the GOP than 2012. Of course we don’t care much about statewide returns. Let’s look at the congressional districts.

CA-3: VBM returns dropped from D+8 to D+6. The first VBMs were D+12, so these have been moving in the GOP’s direction. In 2012, VBMs were D+5 and Democrat John Garamendi won by 8%. I think that Dan Logue needs that advantage to be smaller to have a shot.

CA-7: VBM returns moved from D+2 to D+1. Remains a toss-up race.

CA-10: VBM remains at R+2, a comfortable spot for Jeff Denham.

CA-16: VBM remains at D+14. They were D+11 in 2012 when Jim Costa won by 15%. There are Democrats who vote Republican here, but I think the GOP needs a better margin to have a shot.

CA-21: VBM dropped from D+16 to D+15 with the addition of some Kings county ballots. That remains a wider margin than David Valadao would want, although it’s winnable in this district with crossover votes. A new SurveyUSA poll has Valadao winning people who’ve already voted by 5%. The poll and the VBM are certainly two different samples but that does tell us that Valadao is probably winning such a Democratic sample and would do even better if he can keep whittling that down.

CA-24: VBM returns remain R+3. They were R+2 in 2012 and the final electorate was D+2. Lois Capps won that one by 10%. So Chris Mitchum shouldn’t be looking at the deals on Washington flights on Orbitz just yet, but this race shouldn’t be dismissed either.

CA-26: Jeff Gorell was whittling Julia Brownley’s advantage down but it moved to D+4 from D+3 yesterday. Gorell needs to get more Republican ballots in to win. He still has time.

CA-31: When the first ballots came in the returns were D+7. They are now D+2, a number that means this could be a competitive race. That number should have more Republicans to feel Paul Chabot has a shot. It’s not far from that now.

CA-33: This race had a lot of new ballots. Over 1/3 of all VBM ballots came in yesterday. And yet VBM returns are holding steady at D+2. They were D+11 (and the final electorate D+17) when Henry Waxman beat independent Bill Bloomfield by 8%. Elan Carr isn’t an independent but Ted Lieu isn’t a 40 year incumbent either. This district has no business being competitive but I can’t dismiss that it is.

CA-36: Virtually no change. It went from R+2 to R+1 but that was mostly rounding (R+1.7 to R+1.4). In most districts that’d be fine for Brian Nestande but Mary Bono Mack lost after an R+4 VBM in 2012.

CA-52: The 19% VBM return is the highest in any competitive district, but it’s holding steady at R+10, although there was a slight move toward the Democrats. Like Raul Ruiz in CA-36, Scott Peters won this district with more Republican ballots in 2012, but an R+10 feels like a lot to overcome.

CA-24: Chris Mitchum leads in his internal poll

Lois Capps won CA-24 in 2012 by 10%. It was a healthy enough margin that the GOP didn't get a high profile candidate who could raise a lot of money. There were a bunch of Republican in the primary and Chris Mitchum finished top two with 15.8% of the vote. Mitchum has never served in public office and is best known for being the son of late actor Robert Mitchum. Mitchum has put out a poll showing him leading Capps. Internal polls can say whatever you want them to say, so you should take it with a grain of salt. I do have to compliment Mitchum for putting out a poll showing him ahead. I've seen candidates put out internal polls showing them 8% behind. You aren't going to win if you're that far behind this close to the election. I don't think Mitchum is ahead, although if that PPIC poll is right, he could be. VBM in 2012 was R+2 and the final result was Capps 55%-45%. This year VBM is again R+2. If there really is Democratic turnout drop off on election day Mitchum could win. I'm not saying I think he will win and he could very well lose 60%-40%. When you get crazy data this close to the election you have to pay attention.

California Generic Congressional Ballot

Respected California pollster PPIC is out with a new poll. They poll the governor's race and Jerry Brown leads 52%-36%. I think he's on target for 58-60%, which is what I've been saying since the primary. People have overestimated Brown, thinking he'd exceed the highest a Democrat has done in the state.

The generic congressional ballot is very interesting. Democrats lead 48%-41%. That projects to around 54%-46%. If you rejigger the 2012 vote to include one Democrat and one Republican in every race, the vote would've been 60%-40%. Republicans would improve by an average of 12% in each district. Democrats won 8 districts by 12% or less and two more by 12-15%. If Democrats finish at 54%-46% in the congressional ballot we are going to see around 10 congressional districts flip. It's simple math. If Republicans actually get 46%, they have to improve by an average of 12 points in every district. I'm skeptical that Republicans are really doing that well, although some of the VBM numbers are very positive. The poll numbers are the poll numbers whether I'm skeptical or not. It's an either or thing. If this poll is right, we could be seeing big Republican gains. This poll would have to be wrong for us not to see big Republican gains.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CA-52: SurveyUSA has DeMaio by 1

For a change, SurveyUSA conducted a CA-52 congressional poll using Registration-Based Sampling (RBS) not Random digit dialing (RDD.) RBS is just what it sounds like. The pollster makes criteria on a voter registration list and then polls those people. RDD is when a pollster dials phone numbers at random and then asks if the person is a registered voter and if they intend to vote. If they say, they're included. Due to the plethora of voter information in California, most pollsters use RBS and prequalify respondents.

Carl DeMaio only leads by 1% in the poll, but it's a very curious poll. He leads 53%-42% with the 24% of voters who say they've already voted, but trails by 2% among those who haven't. The already voted percentage is believable based on the much heavier Republican VBM rate that I've mentioned in previous posts.

It's the remainder that I have issue with. The sample is made up of 35% Democrats/33% Republicans. In 2012 it was 37% Republicans/33% Democrats and this year the VBMs are coming out more Republican than they did in 2012. That's not surprising since a mid-term is expected to be more Republican. This poll is less Republican. They appear to have oversampled young voters and minorities and arrived at a fairly Democratic sample. Based on that, I believe DeMaio is up by more points.

2014 VBM Returns through 10/21

Yesterday only 23 of the 35 biggest counties reported updated VBM. Los Angeles, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties didn't report returns. So once again the VBM reported skews Republican. The Republican return rate is now 10.5%, 37% higher than the Democratic return rate. It was 9% higher in 2012 and 6% higher in 2010. So it may be misleading to look at any statewide numbers for trends. Fortunately, this disparity doesn’t impact individual races that much. Some are overwhelmingly in one county while others have fairly similar returns in their counties. If I skip a race, it’s because there was no VBM.

CA-7: Still at D+2, although a slight tick to Democrats.

CA-9: VBM returns went from D+10 to D+9, the same as 2012. Democrat Jerry McNerney shouldn’t be concerned.

CA-10: We finally got some serious returns here. The VBM went from D+1 to R+2, the same as the primary and 2012. Jeff Denham should feel much more comfortable that he’ll win.

CA-16: VBM dropped back from D+17 to D+14, wiping away a Democratic advantage form yesterday.

CA-21: The good news for the GOP is that the district went from D+17 to D+16. The bad news is that isn’t anywhere near the Democratic jump it had on Monday. Of course this is a district where David Valadao will get a good share of Democratic votes.

CA-26: The VBMs keep moving toward Republican Jeff Gorell, now at D+3. To win he probably needs more Republican VBM than Democratic. The good news for him is that returns so far are probably around 20% of all VBM ballots that’ll be returned.

CA-47: In a real surprise the returns on this district have been R+3.

CA-52: VBMs remain at R+10. There have been 35,114 VBMs returned, the highest of any district. The huge edge remains encouraging for Carl DeMaio.

State Senate
SD-12: Stayed at D+7.

SD-14: Like CA-21, Republicans made small gains, going from D+24 to D+22, that don’t match the Democratic gains on Monday. Like that district, some Democrats there vote Republican.

AD-16: Returns yo yo from D+2 back to D+3.

AD-21 – Returns move from D+4 to D+3. This is better than 2012 for Republican Jack Mobley but he’d probably like to see it more Republican.

AD-40: Returns went from R+4 to R+5, strong for Republican Marc Steinorth.

AD-44: VBM returns remained at D+1 although the margin got smaller, From D+1.3 to D+0.6. If the edge remains with Democratic ballots, Democrat Jacqui Irwin looks stronger.

AD-65: Returns moved more Republican going from R+9 to R+11. VBM returns leaned Republican when Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva won in 2012, but the final vote was fairly even. If VBM are at R+11, she’s likely to lose her seat.

Thank you to PDI for compiling this data.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2014 VBM Returns through 10/20

Yesterday more Republican ballots were reported to the SOS than Democratic ballots. That’s very unusual for California, but more understandable when we realize that some counties report the VBM ballots that arrive daily, while others don’t. Neither Alameda nor Santa Clara counties reported ballots yesterday. Thus, Democratic leaning counties are at 6.3% of total VBMs returned, but Republican leaning counties are at 8.1%. That's a ratio that is higher than 2012. Of course some of the counties that didn't report today have no competitive races. In those districts, Republican and Democratic leaning counties reported.

CA-3: The VBM dropped for the second consecutive day. They were D+12 on Friday and are now D+8. I still don’t think that’s close enough for Dan Logue to win, because the VBM was D+5 in 2012 when Garamendi won comfortably. It’s certainly the right direction for Logue, however.

CA-7: The change was minor, from D+1.8 to D+1.6. Race definitely is a toss-up.

CA-10: We’re still lower on VBM in this district, but the new ballot batch has dropped the Democratic advantage from D+2 to D+1. There’s no reason to think Jeff Denham is in danger.

CA-16: VBM went from D+15 to D+17. A Republican can win in this district with a big Democratic turn out advantage but not in a race with an unknown Republican.

CA-21: This should blow anyone away. The city of Bakersfield reported a whole lot of Democratic ballots and this district went from D+5 to D+17. That’s right. So far 52% of the ballots are Democratic, compared to 35% of Republican ballots. In almost every other district, we’d throw dirt on the Republican, but not in the Central Valley. In 2012, the final turnout was 47.5%D/36.2%R and David Valadao won by 15.6%, while Barack Obama was winning by 11.1%. That means that Democrats in this district will vote Republican. Yet while Valadao might be okay this isn’t the sort of ratio he wants. I’m not ready to predict Amanda Renteria will win, or even be competitive, but the district bears watching.

CA-24: The district VBM returns went from R+2 to R+3. The VBM in 2012 was R+1 and Lois Capps won by 10. You be While I’m not willing to commit that Chris Mitchum will be competitive, we’re talking 29,029 ballots, which is probably around 15% of the total vote.

CA-26: The VBMs are moving in the right direction for Republican Jeff Gorell, from D+6 to D+5 to now D+4. I still maintain that he needs more Republicans to vote VBM to win.

CA-33: Like CA-24 this one continues to look weird. The Democratic VBM advantage dropped from D+3 to D+2. The VBM was D+11 in 2012 when Democrat Henry Waxman beat independent Bill Bloomfield by 8%. I still maintain that a Republican can’t win a district Barack Obama won 61%-37% but if Republicans turn out and Democrats don’t maybe I’ll be wrong.

CA-36: The good news for Republican Brian Nestande is that ballot returns are now R+2, up from R+1. In most districts that’d be enough for the district to be a toss-up. The VBM was R+4 in 2012. Either that was a fluke that Raul Ruiz won or a Republican needs to do better to win. That said, don’t discount Nestande winning.

CA-47: I haven’t talked about this district before because Democrat Alan Lowenthal won by 13% in 2012 and Republican Andy Whallon has raised $52,466 for the entire cycle. Lowenthal has only spent $406,903 for the entire cycle, however, and that’s very low for a sitting congressman. Linda Sanchez is in a neighboring non-competitive district and has spent $805,431. VBM returns are R+1, after being D+2 in 2012. Again, I don’t think this is a competitive district, but if Republican returns outpace Democratic returns… Nah… Probably still non-competitive. Keep watching though.

CA-52: VBMs are still R+10, although they went from R+9.6 to R+10.3. So Carl DeMaio continues to get Republican ballots returned at a strong pace. In most districts that many more Republican ballots would indicate an easy Republican win. In 2012, however, Republicans had a 6% VBM return lead and Scott Peters won narrowly. If this keeps up, however, DeMaio should win.

State Senate
SD-12: Moved from D+5 to D+7.

SD-14: These are the same ballots as CA-21, so there was a big Democratic surge here. The district is now D+24 in ballot returns. I don’t know what the breaking point is for Democrats to win in the Central Valley, but it’s got to be less than that. The primary was D+5.

SD-34: Drops from R+9 to R+8. Still good for the GOP.

AD-16: Returns go back to D+2 from D+3.

AD-32: This assembly district has the ballots from CA-21 and SD-14, there was a big jump here. It goes from D+8 to D+28. To give you an idea how big that is, CA-17 is the district where Democrats Mike Honda and Ro Khanna are facing off. That one is D+21. That said, there’s no way the VBMs stay like this.

AD-36: VBMs go from R+6 to R+9. That’s bad news for incumbent Steve Fox. As I mentioned yesterday, VBM was R+15 in 2012, so he may be okay.

AD-44: Returns went to D+1 from D+2.

AD-60: Returns went from R+8 to R+10. People don’t think it’ll be competitive and it looks like they’re right.

AD-65: Returns remain at R+9 but ticked up slightly from R+9.0 to R+9.3.

AD-66: Returns go to R+7 from R+6, a good sign for Republican David Hadley. They were R+1 in 2012 and even in the primary.

Source for all these great numbers

Sunday, October 19, 2014

CA SD-28: Democrats will support Jeff Stone

Due to California's top two the two candidates vying for the Riverside county state senate seat, former assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia and Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, are both Republicans. So who will Democrats support? Jeff Stone, who is the more conservative candidate. Why?
But Murrieta Change’s reasoning is that Stone’s election would open up a vacancy on the county Board of Supervisors that Gov. Jerry Brown could fill with a fellow Democrat. The governor by law has the power to appoint interim supervisors.
I guess if you're trying to find a silver lining that is one, but Stone's 3rd is a bad choice. Barack Obama won all the Riverside supervisor districts except the 3rd. He got creamed there. Not that the Democrats did well in the actual supervisor elections. They didn't run a candidate in the 2nd and lost the 3rd, 4th, and 5th in their last elections by 32, 14, and 33. The 1st did have Democrat turned independent Bob Buster in office for 20 years but he lost a close race in 2012. I assume they'll try for this one in 2016. If Democrats get the 3rd, they'll hold it until the next election. That's not much of a win.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

2014 VBM Returns through 10/17

Another 186,345 ballots were added to California’s ballots on Friday, putting the VBM return at a little over 5%. If you’re counting at home, it’s roughly 10% of all VBM ballots and probably 5% of the overall vote. It’s still early, so all these results could change dramatically.

The returns were 40%D/38%R through Thursday and they’re now 42%D/37%R. While this might seem to be bad for the GOP, the previous results had serious underreporting from large Democratic leaning counties. Many of those counties reported significant VBM ballots returned. As of now, Republican leaning counties have reported 16% higher returns than Democratic leaning ones. They had 9% higher returns in 2012. So this return rate should be fairly close to the final one.

The good news for the GOP is that the D+5 is better than the D+7 in ballot returns in 2012. The bad news is that it isn’t as good as D+4 in 2010. The final vote in both 2010 and 2012 was a lot more Democratic. On the other hand, Republicans did better on election day than VBM in 32 of 40 key primary races, a sharp change from the past. If that holds true for the general election, then a D+5 is excellent.

CA-3: Dropped from D+12 to D+10. That still isn’t enough to endanger John Garamendi, but it is better for Dan Logue. Logue did put a $785,000 contribution of his own money into the campaign but he spent most of that in the 3rd quarter. So the results aren’t showing up here.

CA-4: There’s no way of knowing how party returns will impact a race between two Republicans, but Art Moore should benefit from higher Democratic returns since he’s the moderate. Returns are R+15 this year, compared to R+18 in 2012. They were R+12.5 in the primary, however, and Tom McClintock got 56% of the vote. It doesn’t look like McClintock should be in serious danger, but inter-party match-ups are unpredictable just by looking at party ballot returns.

CA-7: Holding steady at D+2. Still looking like a toss-up. Ose outraised Bera in the third quarter, although Bera has a cash on hand advantage. There’s a ton of outside money once again in this race and I’ve heard that Sacramento TV is wall-to-wall ads for this race.

CA-9: Returns are down to D+13 from D+15 but I don’t think Jerry McNerney has anything to worry about. Tony Amador did start the month with $12.4k cash on hand.

CA-10: We finally have the first returns on this race and they’ve come in at D+2. That should be considered positive for Chris Eggman, but we should keep in mind that the primary had R+2 VBM and Jeff Denham won that by 18%. Denham also began the month with nearly 4 times the cash on hand and Eggman isn’t getting outside help.

CA-16: VBM returns are down to D+15 from D+18 earlier in the week. They were D+11 in the primary and Republicans beat Democrats by 17% in VBM balloting then. So a high Democratic return shouldn’t convince anyone that Jim Costa has this wrapped up. Costa closed the gap dramatically on election day, however, so Republicans would feel better if they can get the gap closer to the primary.

CA-21: More Democratic returns push this district to D+5, identical to 2012. The primary was D+3. David Valadao won in 2012 by 16% and in the primary by 26%. I honestly can’t tell you what the electorate would have to look like for a Democratic victory since even a slightly Democratic turnout gives Valadao a big win.

CA-24: With 9% of the VBM ballots in, returns remain at R+2. This remains a surprisingly strong result for the GOP, which could be considering more encouraging knowing that the return rate in Santa Barbara county is higher than San Luis Obispo county. It’s possible that the return rate will continue to be higher, but lower rates can also be because counties are slow in processing ballots. I’m not predicting Chris Mitchum is in this race but if I were Lois Capps, I’d be getting the vote out there. Capps had over $1 million in the bank at the end of September, more than any California Democrat other than Raul “ATM” Ruiz. I’m not sure what she’s waiting for.

CA-25: In CA-4 there’s clearly a moderate and a conservative. There isn’t here. The returns are R+14, similar to the primary. I don’t think any breakdown helps either candidate necessarily. What would be nice is if we had the breakdown by county. Strickland needs heavier Ventura county voting. Knight needs heavier LA county voting. If Knight wins, it’ll show that money isn’t necessary to win a race. He’s raised under $300k for the entire cycle. Tony Strickland has raised $1.6 million and had $400k cash on hand compared to Knight’s $70k.

CA-26: Some Republican ballots have pushed the VBM returns from D+6 to D+5. That’s positive for Jeff Gorell, but he needs more Republicans voting to beat Julia Brownley.

CA-31: Guess what? San Bernardino county finally noticed they had ballots stacking up in their mailbox. They still only show a 2.7% VBM return but that’s a big increase from the 0.0% they had earlier. The returns are good news for Democrats. They are D+7. The primary was D+1 and Democrats won there. Those who thought that Pete Aguilar would coast to victory may be right.

CA-33: I normally wouldn’t include a district that’s as safe as this one, but LA county reported 9,375 new ballots coming in and the party ID breakdown is 40%D/38%R. Maybe that’s an incorrect data entry, but this is a district where VBM in 2012 was 45%D/34%R. I don’t have a breakdown by city but I do have it by assembly district. This congressional district has a lot of very Democratic AD-50 and swingy AD-66. While there are more ballots in AD-66 it isn’t lop-sided. No one believes Elan Carr has any shot here, but the returns so far show we should keep watching.

CA-36: Returns remain at R+1 and Brian Nestande will need more of an advantage to beat Raul Ruiz. Ruiz actually had more cash on hand on September 30 than Nestande has raised all cycle. This is a swing district, but I think Ruiz is a heavy favorite.

CA-52: Holding steady at R+9 returns. Carl DeMaio should feel good about that.

State Senate
We don’t have baseline results for these state senate districts since they weren’t up in 2012. We do have VBM returns for them, however.

SD-12: Dropped from D+7 to D6. Still not competitive.

SD-14: This district overlaps some of CA-21 but unlike that one returns are heavy Democratic here at D+16. I’m not sure what they have to be for a Democrat to win, but this should make Democrats optimistic. It’s looking like if the Democrats have any hope of saving their supermajority, it’s here.

SD-34: Returns jumped from R+7 to R+9. For Democrat Jose Solorio that’s the wrong direction. The primary was R+8 and he lost that by 33 points.

AD-16: Returns go D+2 to D+3. I don’t know what they have to be for Catherine Baker to have a shot but that’s a movement in the wrong direction.

AD-21: Returns remain D+4.

AD-32: The first returns are in for this Central Valley seat and they are D+8. As with any Central Valley election Democratic returns with this advantage doesn’t necessarily mean much. VBM was D+11 in 2012 and that led to a 5 point Democratic win. They were D+7 in the primary and that led to an 12 point Democratic loss.

AD-36: Democrats have done a big registration drive in the district and maybe it’s showing in the VBM. It’s R+6 right now. VBM was R+15 in 2012 but a big Democratic election day push resulted in a razor thin Democratic win. In the primary the VBM was slightly less, R+13. That resulted in a 25 point Republican win.

AD-40: Returns are R+4, same as 2012.

AD-44: Returns are D+2, a good sign for Democrats.

AD-60: I don’t think Democrats are competing here and returns are R+8. It should be pretty safe.

AD-65: Returns so far are R+9, more Republican than 2012, R+6, or the primary, R+4. That’s a bad sign for Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva.

AD-66: While this might be a longer shot for Republican David Hadley, the R+6 returns should give him some optimism.
Source for all these great numbers

Friday, October 17, 2014

2014 VBM Returns through 10/16

Another 125,050 ballots were added to California, putting the VBM return at a little over 3%. In the past two elections we’ve had over 50% of VBM ballots returned. So we have a ways to go. The ballots are still being reported when the counties decide to give the information to the Secretary of State. The returns remain 40%D/38%R. While this is a good result for the GOP, some big Democratic counties including Los Angeles haven’t reported a lot of VBM returns. It’s difficult to say if the return number actually is good for the GOP.

Fortunately, we’re not that worried about how the parties are doing statewide, as most of those elections aren’t expected to be competitive. I’ll include all potentially competitive districts now, although I’ll note those where the returns are so low that it doesn’t pay to analyze them.

CA-3: Returns are D+12. They were D+5 in 2012. It looks like John Garamendi is safe.

CA-7: We’re now at D+2, down from D+3. It's worth noting that returns in the primary were D+1 and Democrats led by 1.5% after the VBM ballots were counted and Republicans won by 4.3%.

CA-9: Returns are D+15 after D+9 in 2012. Jerry McNerney is safe.

CA-10: Still not enough returns to make any determination.

CA-16: No new reporting today, so yesterday’s strong report for Jim Costa remains.

CA-21: Returns go from D+2 to D+3. They were D+5 in 2012, so David Valadao should be fine.

CA-24: The returns remain at R+2. It's worth noting that primary VBM returns were even and Democrats had a 2.1% lead after those were counted. Republicans won the election day and after election day vote. It'd take a lot of convincing for me to think Lois Capps is in trouble.

CA-26: No new results. Returns remain at D+6, very positive for Julia Brownley.

CA-31: At some point San Bernardino county may look at their mail. It hasn’t happened yet.

CA-36: Riverside county reported 10,741 new ballots, nearly quadrupling the total. It’s good news for Brian Nestande, as returns are now R+1, instead of D+2. They were R+4 in 2012. In most districts a Republican will win with more Republican ballots coming in, but Raul Ruiz won in 2012 with more Republican ballots. Is that something unique to this district or a fluke?

CA-41: This district is a long shot to be competitive, but returns are D+3, compared to D+8 in 2012.

CA-52: No new ballots. The ballots are R+9. VBM was R+6 in 2012 and it was R+10 in the primary when Republicans romped. This remains very good for Carl DeMaio.

State Senate<br /> We don’t have baseline results for these state senate districts since they weren’t up in 2012. We do have VBM returns for them, however.

SD-12: Democrats aren’t really trying here. It’s D+7 after D+10 in 2012. It was D+5 in the primary and that was okay for Anthony Cannella to win by 28%.

SD-14: Returns are D+13 and were D+10 in 2012. VBM in the primary were only D+5. So it could be close.

SD-34: Returns were R+6 in 2012 and are now R+7. Los Angeles county has reported less and but I don’t think that’ll be advantageous to Jose Solorio. Barack Obama got 54.8% in Los Angeles county and 54.5% in Orange county.

AD-16: I don't think this'll be a competitive race after the primary results, but returns are D+2. They were D+5 in 2012. Returns in the primary were D+8. So maybe Catherine Baker has more of a shot than I think.

AD-21: Returns are D+4 after being D+6 in 2012. Adam Gray did win by 16% in 2012.

AD-32, 36, 40, 57 and 66: There haven't been enough returns yet to judge.

AD-44: Like CA-26, this district is in Ventura county. The strong returns in that district also apply here.

AD-60: Democrats are running a write-in candidate who has yet to file a campaign finance report. It's hard to see him winning, but VBM returns are R+4 after being R+10 in 2012.

AD-65: Returns are R+8 after being R+6 in 2012. VBM returns were R+4 in the primary. Young Kim won those by 7.6% and increased that to 9.4% in the final tally.
Source for all these great numbers">Source for all these great numbers

Thursday, October 16, 2014

2014 VBM Returns through 10/15

Through yesterday 1.8% of VBM ballots had been received and reported to the Secretary of State. In the last two elections, 51% and 53% of VBM ballots have been returned. The percentage of ballots that are VBM has gone from 33% in 2010 to 50% this year. Two years ago 51% of ballots cast were VBM. That keeps going up. So VBM is going to tell us a lot by the time all the numbers are in on election day.

As usual, California counties report at different rates. San Bernardino county has reported only 29 ballots received for CA-31, while San Diego county has reported receiving 17,205 ballots for CA-52. The return for Republicans statewide is positive. So far, the VBM ballots are 40%D/38%R. In 2010, they were 43%D/39%R and in 2012 they were 43%D/36%R. I don't know the breakdown by day. So Republicans might just return the ballots earlier than Democrats. Still, it's good to be beating previous VBM.

Democrats do better on election day. So 2010 was D+4 VBM but the final vote was D+11. In 2012 it was D+7 VBM and D+14 final. Democrats had a consistent +7 increase in the final tally. The GOP did better in 2010 than 2012, likely due to the more Republican electorate. A good way to determine how each party will do on election day is to compare the VBM returns to 2012. For example, the VBM for CA-7 in 2012 was D+2. Ami Bera won by 3%. If the VBM in 2014 is similar, it’ll be a close election. If it’s D+5 or 6, Bera should win.

Below I'll list returns for congressional districts that have had returns of at least 1.8% of their VBM ballots. We can't learn anything from the small number of ballots in districts like CA-31. CA-7: Returns right now are D+3, pretty much the same as the D+2 in 2012. If this continues, it'll be a toss-up, but the GOP doesn’t have to much wiggle room if Democratic ballots outweigh Republican ballots by more.

CA-16: While I think this race is a longshot to be competitive, they've already gotten 5.1% of the VBM ballots in and those are D+18. They were D+11 in 2012. If this continues, Jim Costa coasts to victory.

CA-21: VBM has dropped from D+5 in 2012 to D+2 in 2014. The final vote had 48% Democratic ballots and 36% Republican ballots in 2012 and David Valadao still won that election by 15%. So Democrats need to do a lot better for Amanda Renteria to have a shot.

CA-24: The return is R+2, compared to R+1 in 2012. Republicans will need a better return for Chris Mitchum to have a shot. That said, Lois Capps won by 10% in 2012. If Mitchum finishes 7-8% behind I think people will be surprised the race is so close. With a good candidate this could be competitive when Capps retires.

CA-26: Returns are D+6. They were R+2 in 2012. If this continues Jeff Gorell won't unseat Julia Brownley.

CA-36: Returns are D+2. They were R+4 in 2012. The final vote was 41% Republican ballots and 39% Democratic ballots and Mary Bono Mack still lost. Brian Nestande needs better Republican return to have a shot.

CA-52: As I mentioned above, returns here are very high. They've already gotten 8.1% of VBM ballots in. That's remarkable. The ballots are R+9. VBM was R+6 in 2012. The San Diego Republican party is excellent at turnout and ran a very successful election in the San Diego mayoral win. Republicans walked every precinct in this district in that election except for those in very Republican Coronado and Poway. The sexual harassment allegations may hurt Carl DeMaio, but so far DeMaio and the SDRP are getting Republicans to send in their ballots. If this edge continues I think DeMaio wins this election.

While the statewide returns have been very positive for the GOP, CA-21 and 52 are the only competitive districts that look real good so far.
Source for all these great numbers

CA-52: Poll finds controversy hurts DeMaio

KGTV and UT San Diego have done a Survey USA poll on the DeMaio controversy. Strangely, they only surveyed adults and never ask the election question. That'd make sense if DeMaio were a current elected official because we'd want to know if it's hurt his approval ratings. DeMaio isn't. He's a candidate. The only people who matter now are the voters. We're less than three weeks from an election and the question most want to know is whether this hurts DeMaio with the voters. Unfortunately, they don't ask anyone who they'll vote for. Obviously the controversy does hurt his image with some people, but the question is whether it hurts it with voters and whether they'll vote for him. DeMaio has a 34%/38% favorable/unfavorable rating with adults. I wonder how that is with voters and how it compares to Scott Peters. Someone should do a poll.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Ground Game

I'm intimately familiar with the ground game. Over the last 6 years I've participated in phone calls or door knocking with more than 10 campaigns. Democrats believe the ground game is something being underestimated in polls. The first question is why do they think that? Pollsters weight their polls based on the expected electorate. Do the polls not contain enough young people? Single women? Blacks? They might not, but no one has presented evidence of this. Pollsters should be accounting for ground game.

Pollsters often use the respondent's answer whether they're likely to vote as a factor in including them in the survey. Usually more people say they'll vote/think they'll vote than will actually vote. I've talked to people on election day who tell me they'll vote and they don't end up voting. Are Democrats going to convince people who have decided not to vote to go to the ballot box? What will they say or do in the last three weeks they haven't been doing for the rest of the cycle?

The Democrats have let it be known that they're spending a lot on turnout, with a lot of paid operatives and that they have a lot of data. No matter how many operatives you have or how much you know about someone you aren't going to make them be home when you knock or answer the phone when you call. Anyone who has done the ground game knows that the vast majority of people aren't NH or you get VM.

I know that having information on voters can help but it'll help more with party faithful, who are high turn-out voters anyway. Knowing that someone is pro-choice is great but anyone who's been out there knows that most people you do get at home don't want to chat with you. If they don't, it's smart to just move on.

Democrats may win the ground game. Or they might not. In San Diego they twice as many walkers as we did and walked Republican neighborhoods while we didn't walk Democratic neighborhoods. We still beat them by more than people expected. I don't know that the Democratic ground game isn't accounted for in polls, but if it isn't I'm skeptical it'll mean enough to make up for the deficits we're seeing.

California VBM Ballot Returns

PDI is an incredible source for California voter data and they once again hit it out of the park. They are providing a daily count of VBM returns broken down many ways (e.g. congressional district, county) and by age and ethnic group. They also provide VBM and totals for 2010 and 2012 for comparison. If you want to follow California elections, check this site every morning.

I'm not going to get into an analysis of the VBM returns at this point. You have about 2% of the 2010 VBM totals right now and that's not representative enough to tell us anything. What's more, some counties are quick to report while others are slow. So a Republican part of a district might've reported, while a Democratic part might not. That'd skew results. Sacramento is usually not quick and they've reported 13 VBM ballots returned for CA-7. Yes, 13.

Once the returns start becoming significant the numbers to watch are VBM party breakdown for 2012 and 2014. I don't have any evidence there'll be a strong correlation between VBM party breakdown and results across years and we saw earlier this year that increased Democratic VBM cannibalized some of their election day voting. Still, if a party is doing better with VBM than 2012, they are likely to do better in the final vote.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Do polls overestimate Republican peformance?

While I was on Twitter I read a Tweet by Nate Cohn saying how the polls are looking good for Republicans. One of the Democratic replies had two reasons to discount that. I’ll get into one of them here and save the other one for a later post. The person said that Democrats beat the RCP average in every 2010 and 2012 poll. Was that true?

I figured I’d check, starting with 2012 Senate and Gubernatorial polls. I decided not to look at Presidential polls because 1) I wanted to go apples to apples running for the same position 2) Those polls all have the same two candidates and may be heavily influenced by that 3) We know Barack Obama beat the polls in 2012.

I only used states that had three polls in the last 10 days of the campaign, excluding those with one or two. This dropped a few states but I didn’t feel one or two polls provided enough data. I only used polls in the last 10 days. We know that in 2010 Republicans gained in the polls and that they beat most every poll taken more than two months before the election. So a Republican up 3 in the poll now might be up 7 later and could still not beat the poll and win.

I found 15 states that fell into the criteria in 2012. Eleven had Senate elections and 4 had gubernatorial elections. Democrats beat the polling averages in every contest, by an average of 4.5 points. That isn’t too surprising, since we know the polls showed Republicans stronger than they actually were based on Obama. While Republicans can come up with reasons it won’t be representative of 2014, (e.g. turnout, Obama not running), we can’t dismiss these ominous results. If pollsters have learned nothing from 2012, then the actual results might be better for Democrats than the polls show.

What about 2010? That’d seem to be better representative with similar turnout, no Presidential election, and the polls skewing Republican. Democrats also did better than polls indicated in 2010, but this time it was only in 21 of the 32 contests. I say “only” because it wasn’t the 2012 sweep. The percentage is still impressive. It includes three races Democrats won where they polled behind (IL-Gov, NV-Sen, Co-Sen) and one the GOP won where they polled behind (FL-Gov).

There’s nothing definitive about these results. Some of these pollsters aren’t active this year and Rasmussen was included in most of the races. So that one pollster skewed the polling average toward the GOP. We should still keep this in mind when looking at polls. The GOP might, once again, fall short.

Edit: Nate Silver tackles this very issue on 538.

Monday, October 13, 2014

CA-52: Could allegations derail DeMaio?

Carl DeMaio is a powerhouse of a candidate. He's an excellent fundraiser, knows everyone, has a vast campaign network, and ran an excellent 2012 mayoral campaign. The primary results were eye popping. Republican candidates beat congressman Peters by 15.4%. While Democrats won a few seats with larger margins in 2012, that edge looked fairly insurmountable. The polling has been better for Peters, but the pollster uses questionable samples. The conservative/Tea Party backlash against DeMaio may turn out to benefit him because Peters #1 campaign theme is that DeMaio is a Tea Party extremist.

Last week an October surprise came out that threatens DeMaio's bid. A former staffer that DeMaio claims was fired for plagiarism has alleged DeMaio sexually harassed him. DeMaio vehemently denies the claim and says the staffer was the one responsible for vandalism at DeMaio's campaign HQ. Right now it's a he said he said situation, with both parties having a reason to lie. DeMaio has faced allegations of lewd acts before. That either makes him likely to do this or someone who people will believe any false allegation against. There's also the underlying message that gay men just can't keep it in their pants. "We know how they are." If DeMaio were a Democrat, the LGBT community would be rallying behind him to dispel that awful stereotype. Since he's a Republican, there's silence. Shame on them for that.

I have no idea what happened and without any corroborating information, there's no way to prove DeMaio did anything inappropriate. Of course there's no way he can prove he didn't. Allegations like this, however, could tarnish DeMaio's image with swing voters and give Peters the win. Whether they're true or not. If stories on the web and his Twitter feed are any indication, DeMaio is going about campaigning as if this allegation never happened. That can work and really there's not much DeMaio can do other than deny it. Ignoring it won't make the story go away. And it could blow up even more with some new piece of evidence. Perhaps the best news for DeMaio is that no one else has leveled any sexual harassment allegations at him. Once one woman came out with a harassment claim against former San Diego mayor Bob Filner, 17 others did. If DeMaio is the type who harasses people he works with, he surely didn't start this year.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

CA-52: Pastor opposes DeMaio

I hadn't mentioned this before, but I spoke with someone at the CA Republican convention who had worked for Carl DeMaio's congressional campaign. He told me some social conservatives said they wouldn't vote for DeMaio because he was gay. They reasoned that DeMaio winning or losing wouldn't change whether the GOP had the majority. So the party wouldn't be losing anything by DeMaio losing. Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church, a Republican, has decided to not only not support DeMaio, but endorse his Democratic opponent Congressman Scott Peters.

This operative didn't indicate that any of those people would endorse Peters, but that endorsement puts Peters in an odd situation. Peters can't exactly embrace the homophobe vote. He'd look like a homophobe himself and that's not going to help him at all. This pastor's public endorsement of Peters cuts both ways for DeMaio. On the one hand, it could inform some social conservatives that DeMaio is gay and that they should oppose him. DeMaio could lose some votes, although I think they sort of people who would oppose DeMaio for being gay aren't going to vote for a Democrat. They are likely to leave the race blank.

On the other hand, this public opposition really undercuts Peters' big criticism of Carl DeMaio, that DeMaio is a "Tea Party extremist." Peters has been using this line of attack for the last year. If DeMaio is the focus of homophobia, Peters will look like he's lying with this attack. While this rhetoric may hurt DeMaio with social conservatives, he might win more of the LGBT vote. Nothing says "you're one of us" quite like people hating you for being gay. Supporting DeMaio, even if they might disagree with him on some issues, is a way to stand against homophobia. Likewise criticism from the far right could help DeMaio with moderates who feel he's being unfairly attacked.

While this pastor is endorsing Peters, right wing social conservatives are far more likely to vote for no one than jump to Peters. On the other hand, every moderate or LGBT vote DeMaio gets is one less Peters gets. Thus, the votes DeMaio gains in the middle are worth double the ones he loses on the right.

I've said all along that the anti-gay sentiment wouldn't sink DeMaio, as it didn't sink his mayoral bid. I could be wrong and this could be a difference maker. I do, however, think announcements like this might help DeMaio more than hurt him.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pollsters survey too many non-voters

I’ve noticed that a couple of pollsters (SurveyUSA and CNN/ORC) get their likely voter pool by randomly calling registered voters and asking them if they’re likely to vote. Others may use the same criteria. Using this criteria SurveyUSA indicated over 90% of San Diego’s registered voters would vote in mayoral race. The actual number was less than half that. Asking people if they’re likely to vote includes people who will vote along with many who won’t. These non-voters showed the San Diego mayoral race to be much closer than it actually was.

What pollsters need to do is to use a percentage similar to those that’ll actually vote. The linked chart shows the percentage of registered voters who actually vote.

2008 average state: 71% turnout
2010 average state: 50% turnout
2012 average state: 69% turnout

Notes: I couldn’t find accurate registration numbers for New Hampshire or Rhode Island. Thus, I excluded them from the chart. The 2014 registration numbers reflect the most recent report the state has on their website. In some cases this could a year old. Wyoming allows same day registration and voting. Other states due also, but Wyoming doesn’t make them permanently registered voters in their number registered. So their turnout in Presidential years is above 100%. Many states separate active voters and inactive voters. Most of these include all these voters in their registered tallies. Colorado and Nevada do not. So their turnout rate is relatively high. It’s worth noting that Washington and Oregon, which have all VBM elections have a higher percentage of registered voters voting than other states.

As the chart shows, on average half of registered voters voted in the last mid-term. Some pollsters pre-qualify voters based on their voting history. Those that just choose registered voters randomly, regardless of whether they’ve voted or haven’t, need to find a way to exclude nearly half the voters who answer their surveys. That SUSA survey in CA-52 used 83% of registered voters. This SUSA Florida survey uses 86% of registered voters. In 2010, 49% of Florida’s registered voters voted. The inclusion of non-voters mean that you just can’t know how accurate the poll is.