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.
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