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.

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