Tuesday, March 29, 2016

California U.S. Senate Primary Candidates

The California Secretary of State has a list of candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat. It's not the certified list but I'd guess it'll be pretty close. There are 35 candidates listed, 8 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and 15 NPP/other party. I had no idea that many candidates could be on a ballot, but they may have all qualified. I don't think we've even had 20 candidates running for any office in the past two jungle primaries. So this is uncharted territory. The presence of so many Republicans bodes well for Loretta Sanchez's chances of finishing top two and making the fall ballot.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

LA Times Again Draws Conclusion Not Supported By Poll

A quarter of California Republican voters polled said they would refuse to vote for Trump in November if he is the party's nominee.
This statement in today's Los Angeles Times is supported by a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. Then they follow that with this:
That division sets up the potential of cascading losses down the ballot for Republicans already fighting the tide in one of the nation's most Democratic states, including in a number of contested congressional districts.
People not voting for Donald Trump would certainly cause Donald Trump to lose California. Of course, that's not in doubt with any Republican. They don't say why not voting for Trump would cause Republicans to have "cascading losses" down ballot. So I'll have to try figure that one out. First, the question is being asked in March, not October. A lot of voters who support other candidates vow never to vote for their rivals. Then many of them do. A lot of Clinton Democrats said they wouldn't vote for Barack Obama. As we know, they did so overwhelmingly. But people say Trump is different.

I'm skeptical of "this time is completely different" pronouncements, but let's say Republicans don't vote for Trump. It's certainly possible. We've had one sided elections before, although the last seven have been won by 8.5 points or less. Say it does happen. The next question I'd ask those people who won't vote Donald Trump would be whether they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, a third party candidate, or will stay home. They don't ask this question, although the answer to it is key to drawing the conclusion they've drawn. Let's look at each:

1. They vote for Hillary Clinton. That certainly helps Clinton's vote totals, but it has no impact on down ballot vote totals. Would voters who would've voted Republican down ballot if Ted Cruz or John Kasich were the nominee switch to Democrats because Trump is? Why would they do that? People won't switch their down ballot support just because they don't like the top of the ticket. In 2014 Jerry Brown won the California gubernatorial race by 20%. Some Republican leaning voters must've voted for him. Yet Republicans won districts which favored Brown. In SD-12, for example, Brown won 55%-45%. The Democrat lost 60.5%-39.5%. He lost 28% of Brown's support! These weren't loyal Democrats flipping, but loyal Republicans voting Brown for governor. If the LA Times had asked the Cruz/Kasich voters they planned to vote down ballot and they said "Democrat" then they'd have a reason for that conclusion. They didn't ask that question. So we don't have anything.

2. They vote third party, finding someone they feel is sufficiently conservative. If they do this, they surely aren't flipping to vote Democrat down ballot.

3. They stay home and don't vote. This scenario is more plausible than the first two resulting in a big Democratic win. We'd know this if the LA Times asked the Cruz/Kasich voters they planned to vote down ballot and they said, "I won't vote." They didn't ask that question. So we don't have anything. We have no reason to think they would stay home.

The last Presidential election decided by more than 8.5 points was 1984. Walter Mondale got 40.6% of the vote. Congressional Democrats got 52.6% of the vote, an increase over what they got 4 years earlier. Trump might lose in a landslide, partially because Republicans won't vote for him. Republicans might have cascading losses. Right now, however, there's no evidence to support that.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Paul Mitchell's Advice for Presidential Campaigns

Paul Mitchell has some excellent advice for campaigns coming to California for the June 7 primary. As Tom Petty famously once sang, "It ain't like anywhere else." Too often both the NRCC and DCCC think you can plan and manage a California campaign from Washington. We have a word for those campaigns. Losers. When we do campaigns here we use data. As Paul says, we have a lot of it. We laugh at pollsters who include people in their poll because "if they say they're voting and they complete the poll they're surely voting."

No, they're not. When the Presidential campaigns get here, they'll hire political consultants. Maybe they already have. If those political consultants aren't telling you that you should only target 4s and 5s, then you should fire them. What are 4s and 5s? I'm assuming candidates aren't asking that question, because their smart political consultants have informed them what they are. For the rest of you, California provides data on how many of the last 5 primary and general elections a voter has participated in. Primary turnout in California is fairly low. A campaign knows that it can count on people who've voted in 4 of the last 5 or all of the last 5 elections turning out for the primary. Voters who've turned out in 2 or 3 of 5 mostly won't show up in the primary, let alone voters who've turned out for only 1. You're going to waste a lot of man hours trying to get those voters who've shown up for 1-3 of the last 5 elections to show up for a primary. The most efficient thing is to put your resources to the people you know will show up.

What about those people who've shown up 0 of the last 5? Purging California rolls of people who've moved or passed away is handled on a county level. Some counties attempt to purge, while others don't bother. Orange County registration went down by 15% from 2012 to 2016, while Los Angeles county registration went up by 2%. This isn't because people moved away from Orange County and not from Los Angeles county. It's because Orange County did a voter roll purge, while Los Angeles didn't do one. So Los Angeles County probably has at least 15-20% non-voters on the rolls. If someone hasn't voted it's a decent bet they no longer exist at that address. So those phantom voters are definitely a big waste of time.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

California AD-31 Special Election: First VBM Ballots In

There's an upcoming special election to fill the Central Valley California AD-31 seat left vacant after Democrat Henry Perea resigned. This seat is the most Democratic one in the Central Valley and has a 52% Latino CVAP. The registration is 47% Democrat/28% Republican. Perea won big in 2012 and Republicans didn't run a candidate in 2014. Barack Obama got 63% of the vote in 2012, while Jerry Brown got 58% in 2014. Republicans hold only one assembly seat where Brown got 58% or more.

Specials are low turnout in California, even lower than the low turn out in the 2014 mid-term. While the mid-term had 60% vote by mail, the 2013 special election in SD-12, which this district is part of, had 76% VBM. So the VBM will be very telling. There's a Republican and two Democrats running. Regular California elections have a jungle primary and then a run-off at the general no matter what. If a candidate gets 50% in a special, however, there's no run off. The 2013 special had 22% turnout. The first VBM ballots are in and so far there's 4% turnout. The ballots are 48% Democrat/35% Republican and only 32% Latino. There may be an upset brewing here.

The source of the ballots is Political Data. Thank you for the information.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Kentucky Special Elections and the Trump Republicans

Today there are four special elections for the Kentucky House. It's the last legislative house that Democrats control in the south, after controlling all of them for over 100 years. This could be considered the conclusion of a realignment that started with the 1994 Republican Revolution when these houses started flipping. The Washington Post has an article about the elections: One interesting quote:
"What has the Democratic Party done for poor, conservative Evangelical white people?" Farrier said. "And the answer is not much. On God, guns and gays, poor, white Evangelical conservatives would say the Democratic Party walked away from them, and not the other way around."
This quote provides insight into the 2016 election. Southerners who left the Democratic party over the last 20+ years haven't done it because they've embraced the Republican party but because they were running from the Democratic party. They became the new Republicans. Republicans have taken delight with how they've won over voters without having to work to win their votes. Pretty easy, right? Except now these voters make up the core of Donald Trump's Republican support. Republicans thought they could win voters who didn't entirely fit ideologically without it changing the party. They were wrong. The Trump Republicans have found a candidate who fits them. And they have as much right to try to nominate him as the Republicans who were in the party before them do.

Monday, March 7, 2016

California Registration Thoughts Part 2

I know that I showed that the California SoS registration report tells us nothing and that any media source that subsequently writes that it tells us something just hasn't read this blog. As you have. I'll take a deeper dive.

Since the 2012 election there are 986,557 less registered voters in California. That would be alarming if there were actually 986,557 less voters in California. There aren't. There are that many non-voters no longer on the rolls. Actually there are some new voters, so the number of non-voters culled is higher than that. When counties delete non-voters from the rolls it looks like they're doing something but they are, in fact, just removing a name of someone who has moved or died who shouldn't be on the list.

There are 589,349 less Republican voters and 527,767 less Democratic voters. That’d appear to favor Democrats but eliminating more Republican non-voters from the rolls doesn’t mean that more Democratic voters shouldn’t have been removed from the rolls. In fact, the four counties that eliminated the most voters are 36.4% Republican and 34.4% Democratic. If every county was eliminating non-voters using the same criteria and with the same thoroughness we'd see a much higher Democratic number than that. Of course, there are more Democratic registrants. So there should be more Democratic non-voters.

Republicans have a much higher voting rate in June than Democrats and a slightly higher voting rate than Democrats in November. People have assumed that Republicans are just more likely to vote. I'm sure that's part of it, but what if another part is that the Democratic voting rate looks lower because there are more ghost Democrats on the rolls than ghost Republicans? Los Angeles County, home to almost a third of Democratic voters, has actually increased their voter rolls since November 2012. I'm speculating here, but I'd bet the LA county registrar doesn't do a diligent registration list purge. Maybe LA county's voting rate isn't nearly as low as people think. There are just more non-voters on the rolls. The Secretary of State should put out numbers listing what parties new registrants and what parties party switchers register with. Those are real voters. I'm speculating here but I suspect those numbers would favor Democrats. Unless we get those numbers there's no way to know. This June a higher percentage of Republican voters will vote than Democratic voters. But will they really?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ted Cruz's Moment

It's fairly apparent that both John Kasich and Marco Rubio will stay in the Presidential race at least through March 15. They are the only candidates with any hope of preventing Donald Trump from winning either state. Since the states are winner-take-all, either Trump gets all the delegates or one of them does. It appears likely that at some point after that both will drop out, leaving Ted Cruz one-on-one with Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz has built up a brand with the idea that establishment Republicans and moderates hate him. It sells well to an anti-establishment conservatives. The problem is that he’s not going for the anti-establishment conservatives nomination. He’s going for the Republican nomination and the Republican party includes establishment Republicans and moderates he needs those to vote for him. There are also non-establishment Republicans and libertarians Cruz has pissed off. If he has the field to himself he has to consolidate the Republican vote to beat Trump. He can’t have them thinking, “Well, I don’t like Trump, but Cruz treats me with contempt. So, maybe Trump.” If you want to lead the Republican party you have to lead the whole party. (Note: We can get into whether he should lead the whole nation if gets the nomination.)

Ted Cruz needs to lay off Marco Rubio and John Kasich until after March 15. If both drop out then, the situation won’t be that the Republican party needs to line up behind Ted Cruz. No, it’ll be that Cruz needs to sell the rest of the Republican party to vote for him. Trump has made it so it shouldn’t be hard. But it’s going to take an “I’m sorry” speech from Cruz. “I know there are many out there who agree with me on the issues but haven’t like my tactics. I hear you. I will strive to win your vote to unite all the legs of the Reagan coalition. If you pick me as your nominee I will be proud to share a ballot with great Republicans like Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, and Kelly Ayotte.” If Cruz can convince Republicans that they don’t have to love him to support him, he can consolidate Republican votes.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Trump Coalition

I'll make another attempt to explain the Trump voter. They are: Tea Partiers: This doesn't make sense because Trump talks about how government will solve all your problems once he's in office. He'll make sure you'll win. The Tea party generally favors the opposite, government doing less and letting people live their own lives. There are some who are attracted to the Tea Party because it's anti-establishment and they think the politicians in DC are beholden to the special interests. They see Trump as not beholden to anyone but them.

Conservatives: Many of Trump's ideas are left wing and at odds with what conservatives usually believe. Yet there are those like Anne Coulter who embrace his position on immigration so much that they'd be fine if "Trump performs abortions in the White House." For them, immigration trumps everything else. (What? What? Okay. Pun intended.)

Moderates: While Trump may be extreme on some issues he's in the middle on others. He isn't a rigid conservative like Ted Cruz.

Independents: Trump puts himself above party and many independents dislike the political parties. One of the perplexing things to me has been why Trump chose to run as a Republican instead of an independent. Yes, it's easier to win with a party behind you and a two person race, but he is in a a no man's land where he's moving to the right on some issues and not on others. Trump supporters like his independence but you have to give up some of that to run as a Republican. This is a problem Bernie Sanders is having too. He's always been an independent, but he's running as a Democrat. Like Trump he's not a good fit for a political party and like Trump him being independent of a political party should be part of his appeal. Both want to say they can't be bought but if you're going to ask for a party's nomination you have to bend somewhat to the party.

Democrats: At one time White middle class blue collar voters were the backbone of the Democratic party. The Democrats have been making them feel unwelcome and that they favor minorities, gays,and everybody else instead of them. Yet they are an uncomfortable fit for the anti-union Republican party they've always seen as "the party of the rich." Some have become Republicans, but others have remained Democrats. Until now. Donald Trump has done extremely well in New England, a place with the highest percentage of White Democrats. Trump is running a non-ideological campaign and isn't presenting a slew of policies Democrats oppose. Sure, immigration might be a hang up but there are Democrats who don't agree with the Democratic party on that issue.

Minorities: Some might think that minorities hate Trump and many do. But you can be Black or even Hispanic and want to get tough on immigration. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a lot of Black and Hispanic appeal due to his celebrity and celebrity is part of Trump's appeal. He's anti-establishment, and that he says what he thinks. You don't have to be White to appreciate these things. I'm not saying the Trump is going to do well with Blacks or Hispanics but I'd guess that Trump will do better with Blacks than other Republicans would and won't bleed as many Hispanics as people think he will.

Trump's support is so difficult to peg down because, for the most part, he isn't running on policy and isn't running left wing or right wing. Since that's how most politicians run Trump breaks the mold. I've heard from Republicans who insist they won't support him, even if it means handing the Presidency to a Democrat. They think that Trump will do very poorly as a result. While it's true he polls worse than other Republicans he likely also brings in voters who wouldn't vote for a Republican otherwise. I don't think the latter group is larger than the former group, but I've learned that I shouldn't underestimate Trump.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Trump voters moving into your house

Some Republicans believe that a significant percentage of Trump voters are Democrats and independents who are only voting Republican to vote for Trump. Massachusetts provides some evidence. Only Republicans or unenrolled voters were allowed to vote in the Massachusetts Republican primary. So 16,347 Democrats switched from Democratic to unenrolled and 3,455 of them became Republicans. These people were likely largely Donald Trump supporters. It's been presented that Republicans are telling the party establishment what they want and that's Trump. Except these voters aren't Republicans and they've decided to tell a political party they're not a part of what they want. They're telling Republicans they need to change their views to what they think.

That's allowed, but these voters haven't supported the Republican party in the past and likely have no intention of supporting the Republican party in the future. They dislike the Republican party and certainly wouldn't support the "establishment candidates" the party runs. I know political parties get a bad rap but they exist for like minded people and candidates to have a common brand. The Republican party has a brand. Sometimes people like it enough that the party wins elections. Other times it doesn't.

If you don't like political parties, you don't have to join one. If you're a candidate who doesn't like where a party stands you can run in another party or as an independent. It's like a stranger coming to your home and deciding to redecorate. You still have to live in your house. The stranger won't. The Trump supporters have decided to latch on to the Republican party and now are upset that people who don't agree with them politically, who've been in the party for years, don't want to provide their party apparatus to his candidacy. The media is presenting the situation as those who want to change what the Republican party believes are some sort of grassroot revolt and those who don't as establishment unreasonably resisting. There has been a lot of grassroots Republican support in the past. If Trump wins you'll see a lot of resistance. The winner in all this is the Democratic party. That's not because people like what they're offering, but because the opposition is experiencing a hostile takeover.