Monday, December 1, 2014

California Congressional Recap

By now you’re certainly aware that there were 8 congressional races in California decided by 5% or less and that Democrats won all 8. They also won all 9 that were 8% or less. Overall, the GOP averaged gaining 3.2% in all races, cutting the margin by an average of 6.4%. Only 3 of those 9 had the 2012 margins cut by 3.2% or more. Had the drop been uniform, the GOP would’ve won more seats.

Republicans were most hurt because they ran mediocre candidates and didn’t spend much money. The CAGOP was no help in the Federal races. They concentrated on assembly and senate races and left the congressional elections to Kevin McCarthy and the NRCC. The NRCC paid attention ton four races, CA-7, 26, 36, and 52, although they quickly lost interest in CA-36. CA-7, 26, and 52 were three of the four closest. We’re left to wonder what would’ve happened in CA-3, 9, 16, 24, and 31 if they’d bothered to recruit and/or put money in.

All margins are linked here. Here are the biggest margin gains from 2012 to 2014:

CA-39: +21.4% (Republican win goes from 15.6% to 37.0%)
CA-22: +20.4% (Republican win goes from 23.8% to 44.2%)
CA-16: +13.4% (Democratic win goes from 14.8% to 1.4%)
CA-45: +13.4% (Republican win goes from 17.0% to 30.2%)
CA-32: +12.0% (Democratic win goes from 31.4% to 19.4%)
CA-42: +10.2% (Republican win goes from 21.2% to 31.4%)
CA-27: +9.2% (Democratic win goes from 28.0% to 18.6%)
CA-46: +8.4% (Democratic win goes from 27.8% to 19.4%)

Here are the ones that were most competitive in 2014 and a couple that are expected to be competitive in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+4
2012 margin: Democrat +8.4%
2014 margin: Democrat +5.2%

The NRCC and outside Republican groups didn’t do anything to help Dan Logue. Logue put $785k of his own money into the race and ended up outspending incumbent Democrat John Garamendi, who is a weak fundraiser. The improvement was about average for a Republican nationwide. It’s possible a better Republican effort might’ve put this district in the GOP column but it’s not a good opportunity for 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: Even
2012 margin: Democrat +3.4%
2014 margin: Democrat +0.8%

There was a ton of spending in this district by both candidates and outside groups. Doug Ose improved on Dan Lungren, but not enough to win. If he’d done what the average Republican improved nationwide, the race would’ve been even. This is a district the GOP may try again with in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+7
2012 margin: Democrat +11.2%
2014 margin: Democrat +4.8%

Tony Amador got no outside help and he was outspent through October 15, 16 to 1. Considering that Jerry McNerney had cash on hand at that time and Amador had little that ratio was likely greater. It’s unusual for a Republican to finish this close in a D+7 district, especially when he’s unknown and spends no money. If a race can dispel the myth that spending decides elections, this is it. You have to wonder what might’ve happened here if the GOP made any effort, but I doubt we’ll find out in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: Even
2012 margin: Republican +5.4%
2014 margin: Republican +12.2%

While Democratic outside groups didn’t spend here, the Democratic challenger actually spent about the same amount of money that incumbents John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney spent in their races. So it’s not like Republican spending in CA-9. Jeff Denham acquitted himself well here, but if Democrats get a serious candidate here in 2016 they could make the district competitive.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+8
2012 margin: Democrat +14.8%
2014 margin: Democrat +1.4%

Republicans don’t usually challenge in D+8 districts and the 2012 margin should’ve been enough to convince anyone this district wouldn’t be competitive. I can toot my own horn because I predicted it would be. Johnny Tacherra didn’t raise a lot of money, although I can say I gave him a little bit. He was outspent more than 3 to 1 through October 15, but that was likely larger since Tacherra was out of money and Democrat Jim Costa had quite a bit of cash on hand left. We could see district be competitive in 2016 if Republicans recruit someone like State Senator Anthony Cannella. Cannella won the state senate district covering this congressional district by by 21%.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+4
2012 margin: Republican +15.6%
2014 margin: Republican +15.6%

This was the only congressional district in America where both parties ran a candidate and the result was exactly the same in 2014. David Valadao didn’t improve his 2012 performance, but his 2012 opponent was an unfunded nobody and his 2014 opponent actually spent more than $1.3 million. Democrats may target the district in 2016, although they’ll need a good candidate to make it competitive and Democrats have no bench here.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+4
2012 margin: Democrat +10.2%
2014 margin: Democrat +3.8%

This is another district that people didn’t think would be competitive and the Republican party didn’t bother with as a result. Republican Chris Mitchum was mostly tapped out by the primary. So while the FEC shows he was outspent 6 to 1, it was likely dramatically more than that in the general election. Lois Capps will be 78 in 2016 and may retire. If she does, the NRCC might actually pay attention after missing the opportunity this year.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+3
2012 margin: Democrat +5.4%
2014 margin: Democrat +2.6%

The Republican party had an inkling this district could be competitive but outside Democratic groups greatly outspent outside Republican groups. The GOP ran their best two candidates in 2012 and 2014 but they may try again in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+7
2012 margin: No Democrat was in Top Two
2014 margin: Democrat +3.4%

This district had two Republicans running against each other in 2012. Considering how well President Obama did in 2012, Republicans ignored it in 2014. Democratic outside groups didn’t and invested heavily. You have to wonder what would’ve happened if Republicans showed any interest. I doubt they will in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: Even
2012 margin: Democrat +5.8%
2014 margin: Democrat +8.4%

On paper this district looked attractive for the GOP. They soured on Brian Nestande early and put little money behind him. Democratic outside groups still spent, as did prolific fundraiser Raul Ruiz. The effort showed in the Democratic improvement over 2012. While Nestande certainly disappointed, there were 50 other congressional districts nationwide Democrats also did better in this year. I doubt Republicans will bother in 2016.

2012 Presidential PVI: D+1
2012 margin: Democrat +2.4%
2014 margin: Democrat +3.2%

Republicans went hard after this district. The party’s failure has been laid at challenger Carl DeMaio’s feet and DeMaio likely shares some of the blame for the loss. We don’t know how much the Tea Party and Focus on the Family getting behind Peters hurt DeMaio, however. I doubt Republicans will put nearly the effort in here in 2016 after failing with their star recruit.

Republicans had some surprisingly strong performances in California, especially when you consider they were massively outspent in many of the districts. Despite the closeness of those races, I doubt the GOP will work hard to recruit or invest much money in challengers in 2016. They’ll have a lot of districts to play defense in and will probably think that any district they couldn’t win this year will be one they won’t win in a Presidential year.

There’s likely to be no shortage of Republican challengers in Sacramento for CA-7 or San Diego for CA-52, even if Bera and Peters look battle tested. And the Riverside county Republican bench is pretty deep for CA-36, with former assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia losing a state senate race to a fellow Republican. The Republican bench in Ventura county is thinner since Tony Strickland and Jeff Gorell lost in 2012 and 2014, but there’s likely to be a challenger. Since the GOP ignored the rest of the districts in 2014, I doubt they’ll try in 2016.

The Democrats, on the other hand, didn’t bother to challenge Republicans in any district except CA-31. Look for them to go hard after CA-10, 21, and 25. The problem for them is they have little to no bench in Modesto, Fresno, and the Antelope Valley. They are likely carpetbag candidates if they need to. They have several possibilities from nearby Stockton who could challenge Denham. The list to go after Valadao is pretty thin. They’ll want Assemblyman Henry Perea but I think he runs for mayor of Fresno.

Look for Democrats to run Fran Pavley against Steve Knight in CA-25. Pavley was mayor of Agoura Hills, which is in CA-33. She’ll be a termed out state senator. While she’s from outside the district, her state senate seat does cover the Ventura county part of the district and a little of LA county too. Of course asking a Democrat to try to run up the score in very Republican Simi Valley is counter-intuitive. But the Democrats don’t really have Antelope Valley candidates where more of their voters are.

No comments:

Post a Comment