Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bernie or Bust?

A lot of people have been discounting any rift in the Democratic party and that the #bernieorbust voters will choose her. After all, there was a big rift in 2008. They may be right, but I think they're making a mistake just referring to 2008. In 2008, there wasn't an ideological difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Clinton voters were just bitter about losing.

That may be part of it this year but this year the rift is very different. Unlike 2008, Hillary Clinton is to the right of Bernie on many issues, even though she tries to sell herself as agreeing with Bernie. Bernie supporters don't believe she really supports the same issues. That wasn't there in 2008. But maybe she can convince them she's close enough to their beloved Bern.

The problem is that it doesn't end there. Sanders supporters aren't just voting ideologically. Hillary Clinton stands for the "rigged system" they oppose. She's cozy with Wall Street. She a status quo insider when they really want an outsider who'll shake things up. She seems phony and untrustworthy, two qualities they prize in Sanders

Of course, there's the elephant in the room, the email scandal. There will be Bernie supporters who won't vote Hillary Clinton just based on the damning IG report. There's also the FBI investigation. It's still going on. Clinton has the indictment cloud hanging over her head too close to the election. Even if the FBI decides that Mrs. Clinton acted properly, people will suspect that President Obama swept it under the rug. We're too close to the election for that story to leave people's minds. I don't know what the Bernie supporters will do. Leaving the Presidential box blank or voting Green/Libertarian or even Republican seem unlikely based on history. Maybe they stay home. They may they vote for Clinton, but it's a mistake to say this election is just like 2008.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

California Democratic Primary: Sanders will get shellacked

There's a new poll out saying Bernie Sanders is only down 2 points. He's got a shot!

I don't think so. There are now over 1.1 million ballots that have been returned and all the indicators are bad for Sanders. I can even add a little to yesterday's post.

Only 9% are from people 18-35. Sanders does well with young people and they aren't returning their ballots.

Only 18% are from people who aren't Republicans or Democrats. Independents are Sanders' core supporters. As I mentioned yesterday, few NPPs have requested Democratic ballots. So many of Sanders' independents who are telling people they intend to vote for him won't be able to vote for him.

Democratic ballot returns are way up over 2014. The more Democratic votes there are, the better it is for Hillary Clinton.

The Latino vote is 13% of the electorate. That is low, but up from 2014.

Sanders should do better on election day, than VBM but the election day vote is making up a smaller portion of the electorate. The 2014 primary was 69.4% VBM. VBM keeps growing in every election. I don't see Sanders getting enough voters on election day to get close to Clinton.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bernie and Republicans are in trouble in California

There have been 950,670 VBM ballots returned for the California primary. It's good news for Democratic down ballot candidates and bad news for Republicans and Bernie Sanders. Republicans and Bernie Sanders? Those two usually aren't negatively impacted at the the same time.

But they are based on these returns. Returns are running way ahead of the 2014 primary. This isn't a big surprise, given the Presidential primary. Returns so far are 49%D/33%R/18%O. The 2014 returns were 42%D/37%R/20%O. So Democratic returns are way up, while Republicans, and others are down.

With more Democrats voting, and fewer Republicans, the GOP may have problems in top two down ballot primaries. For the most part it won't be a big deal. Democratic candidates should get some more votes, but it shouldn't prevent a Republican making top two. The one race it could, and likely will, is the US Senate primary. Republicans didn't look to be in good shape because none have broken out. Top Two produced a 52-55%D/38-41%R result in 2014. If returns continue to be this strong for Democrats the result could be pushed up to 58-60% Democratic. With Republicans already at a disadvantage this should sink them. Everything points to Harris vs. Sanchez in November.

One caveat with this prediction is that increased Democratic ballots doesn't necessarily mean increased Democratic voting down ballot. Since the Republican Presidential primary is uncompetitive and the Democratic primary is, some voters may have switched from Republicans and other to Democratic to vote for President. Their down ballot behavior won't have changed. Of course, there may also be many new Democratic voters who do vote Democratic down ballot.

Bernie Sanders does very well with independents while Hillary Clinton does very well with Democrats. So more Democrats and less independents will hurt Sanders' chances. What's worse for Sanders is that NPP voters who want to vote in the Democratic primary must request a Democratic ballot. Only 14 percent of the NPP voters have requested a Democratic ballot. The rest won't vote in the Democratic primary. Those voting on election day will have it easier. The registrar of voters sends a ballot without the Presidential campaign if the voter doesn't request it on a VBM ballot. On election day the poll workers will, assumably, ask NPP voters if they want a Democratic ballot and all the voter will have to do is say yes. If the VBM requests are an indication, however, if poll workers don't ask if an NPP voter wants a Democratic ballot, the NPP voters might not request one.

Monday, May 23, 2016

California Senate: A Democratic Top Two?

It's looking increasingly likely that two Democrats, Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, will finish top two in the June California Senate primary. If that happens it'll be the first statewide election between two Democrats and no Republicans. I think that'll be a disaster for Republicans in congressional, assembly, and state senate races. All of the advertising and GOTV efforts by two Democrats will drive up Democratic turnout and the lack of a candidate in the only race for statewide office will drive down Republican turnout. The Presidential race will also be statewide, of course, but California is uncompetitive. So no national party will bother here.

When two Democrats are top two for lower offices we've seen one of them try to get Republicans to the polls. Usually these efforts are clumsy, as the Democrats doesn't know how to appeal to Republicans and fears turning off Democrats. Of course one of the candidates, likely Sanchez, will determine that Republicans favor her and higher Republican turnout will help her. From an election observer standpoint it'll be fascinating to see how the candidates will jockey for the 38-43% of the vote a Republican would get.

The San Jose Mercury News doesn't address whether it's good or bad for the GOP, but does highlight negatives for Democrats. The race would require massive spending by Democrats, money that could help them elsewhere. Kamala Harris won't be available to campaign for Hillary Clinton elsewhere.

Jerry Brown endorsed Harris today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CA Treasurer John Chiang will run for governor

We are in the middle of the 2016 campaign but the 2018 campaign to succeed California governor Jerry Brown has already started to heat up. Popular California treasurer John Chiang has jumped into the race, challenging popular California LG Gavin Newsom. Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is also expected to jump in. While Newsom is termed out of running for LG again, Chiang can run for re-election. Chiang has money and is a good fundraiser but I wouldn't be surprised if he drops down to run for re-election around January 2018 if his polling is bad.

The governor's race removes three very high profile candidates for the California senate seat that is expected to be open in 2018. People criticized Rep. Loretta Sanchez for running against heavyweight AG Kamala Harris, because she couldn't beat Harris. She is an underdog but she sets herself up as a favorite for Feinstein's seat by running this year. Sanchez will have created statewide awareness of her and will have developed a statewide campaign and fundraising infrastructure. That's something someone like Rep. Raul Ruiz doesn't have. She'd be the 2018 favorite.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Charlie Munger steps into California Senate race with curious choice

California adopted the Top Two primary format several years ago. We have yet to have the Top Two from the same party for a statewide race but that’s looking increasingly likely. There are 12 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and 15 others in the race.

Two of the Democrats, Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, are high profile and will likely get around 95% of the vote for Democrats. Democrats got roughly 53% in 2014 primaries. That could be larger for two reasons. First, there is a larger bump in Democratic registration than Republican registration this year. Second, Democrats likely will have a competitive Presidential primary and Republicans won’t.

With 12 candidates the Republican vote, roughly 41% in 2014, will be spread thinner. There are three Republicans who have a higher profile than the rest, Ron Unz, Tom Del Beccaro, and Def Sundheim. Their profile isn’t high enough that they’ll get 95% of the vote Republicans get. It could be as low as 70-75%. Unz has come the closest to Sanchez in polls with Sundheim in fifth place.

California Republican benefactor Charles Munger Jr has spent close to $53,000 on polling, research and a slate card mailer to support Sundheim. This is a very small amount of money and likely won’t move the needle much. If Munger chose to spend millions behind Sundheim he might be able to maneuver his chosen candidate ahead of Unz and Del Beccaro but doing so would split the Republican vote even further. While Unz might be able to get ahead of Sanchez if Sundheim remains with a low vote total, a Sundheim surge wouldn’t put him ahead of her. If Munger spends behind Sundheim we’re almost assured of a Democratic top two.

California political data guru Paul Mitchell is likely to be running around the state Capitol building naked.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

CA-11: Congressman Mark DeSaulnier Has Cancer But Will Continue Campaign

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier was diagnosed with cancer but announced he will continue to run for re-election. He has to run for re-election. He’s on the June California ballot and you can’t get off the ballot once you're on it. What’s more, if he finishes top two, and he will, he’s on the November ballot and can’t get off that. He can't get off if he's ill or even if he passes away. The two names on the November ballot are set in June and that’s that. If someone were elected but couldn't serve they’d subsequently have a special election to determine someone who would.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

California Senate race tight

Capital Weekly is out with a poll for the California Senate primary and the results look really good for Kamala Harris and daunting for Loretta Sanchez. Harris leads with 32% of the vote, while Sanchez only has 9%. Ron Unz and Tom Del Becarro, two Republicans, have 8% and 6%. I said the results look really good for Kamala Harris but there was no question she'd finish first and it doesn't matter how much she wins by. She'll still have to face an opponent in November. She'll be an overwhelming favorite over any Republican or a healthy favorite over Sanchez. Even though it looks like she'll swamp Sanchez in the primary, a statewide election between two Democrats is uncharted territory. Even Jerry Brown only won re-election 60%-40% over a relatively unknown Republican. So that 40% would be up for grabs. If Sanchez can get most of it, she could win.

But first she has to get to November. Sanchez benefits from the leading Republicans being relatively unknown and the shear volume of Republicans on the ballot. Were one of the Republicans to bust out that candidate would easily beat Sanchez because she's running weak with Democrats. This survey indicates that might not happen. I put Sanchez at 15-16% based on these results. I'd put Ron Unz at 14%, Tom Del Beccaro around 11%, and Def Sundheim at 7%. Sanchez would make it by the skin of her teeth. From an electoral standpoint two Democrats running statewide would be fascinating. We've seen two Democrats run in campaigns for mayor or congress and them trying to get Republican votes hasn't always gone smoothly. On another blog someone thought the Hispanic make-up of this survey was low. It isn't. In the 2012 primary the Hispanic make-up was 13%, just as it is here. Paul Mitchell of PDI writes for Capital Weekly, and I assume they consulted with him. If Hispanic turn-out is higher it won't be by much.