Thursday, July 28, 2016

California Senate: PPIC Poll has Harris up too

The Public Policy Institute of California has a new statewide poll out and it shows similar results to the Field poll. Kamala Harris leads Loretta Sanchez 38%-20%. Harris is winning big with Democrats and has a good lead with independents. A full 50% of Republicans and 34% of independents indicate they won't vote in the election. The survey overall has a 28% undervote. As I said with the Field poll I expect about a 15% undervote. It doesn't surprise me that right leaning voters are saying they won't vote now. A lot of voters unhappy with choices might say they won't vote in July but get a feeling of responsibility when the ballot is in front of them.

Sanchez is doing better with Republicans who say they'll vote in this survey but she needs to take a lot more to win. The survey is 46% Democratic and only 22% Republican. Even with the Republican presence in California diminishing that's above Democratic registration and below Republican registration. Such a turnout would be unprecedented in a California general election. Sanchez's challenge is to get those Republicans and right leaning independents to vote and vote for her. I don't know what her strategy is to do that.

I don't see the race really hurting Republicans down ballot. In 2012 popular Democrat Dianne Feinstein ran against Republican (do you remember her name?). I'd guess that many Republicans didn't even know there was a senate race until they opened the ballot and more had never heard of Elizabeth Emken (was she your guess?). Yet they still voted.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Who do the third party candidates help and hurt?

The conventional wisdom in an election is that any candidate from a minor right wing party (Libertarian, Constitution) hurts Republicans and those from a minor left wing party (Green, Working Families) hurt Democrats. The voter is finding an alternative ideologically and would vote for the major party candidate if the minor party candidate weren't on the ballot.

This line of thinking is due to people assuming that a third party vote is ideological. More often than not it's a voter who just doesn't like the major party candidates and chooses anyone else regardless of party. They are just looking for a name. If a Libertarian is the only alternative to the Republican and Democrat that candidate could take more voters from either of the major party candidates. People really dislike both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson could pull from either. This Democracy Corps survey suggests Johnson is pulling more from Clinton. (Look on page three)

Who are these people? They could be primarily a mix of two groups. The first are Bernie voters who'd only vote for Clinton if she were the only alternative to Trump. They'd vote for someone they disagreed in order to not vote for Clinton. The other group could be Republican #NeverTrump people. They dislike Trump so much that they'll support Clinton. Yet given a third party alternative, and a right wing one at that, they'll go to Johnson. The left wing alternative to Gary Johnson is Green party candidate Jill Stein. She has the problem of being lesser known than Johnson, a two term New Mexico governor, but also not being on the ballot in many states.

On election day the third party candidates might or might not take a significant share of the vote. If they do, we shouldn't be so quick to assume who they'll be taking it from.

Monday, July 18, 2016

California Senate: Field Poll has Harris up

The California Senate race will be a fascinating one for election analysts, as it'll be the first statewide top two between two Democrats.

Field is a respected California pollster. They had Jerry Brown up 20 in June 2014 and 16 in August. He won by 20. They had Barack Obama up by 24 in September 2012. He won by 23. They had Dianne Feinstein up by 26 in September 2012. She won by 25. So that's a pretty good history in statewide races.

That said, those were easy races to poll. The Democrats were all popular and the Republicans had no appeal beyond Republican leaning voters. This race, however, is different than any we've ever had. It's a race between two Democrats and no Republicans. Can you make sure you actually get the right mix of Republican voters who will vote and those that won't? Unfortunately, the Presidential race doesn't give you a good control group. You could've looked at the sample in 2012 and judged what Romney voters were saying they'd do. Donald Trump isn't your standard Republican. He'll lose some voters who would've voted for Kasich, for example, to Clinton, some to Johnson, and some at home. But Trump could also get some Obama voters that other Republicans might not get.

Field shows Kamala Harris with a 39%-24% lead. A poll with 39% of the voters undecided is unusual but Field includes voters who say they won't vote in this race. Among voters who say they'll vote Harris' lead is 46%-28%. Voters who leave blank ballots aren't counted.

Unsurprisingly, Harris leads 48%-27% among Democrats. Despite both candidates being Democrats, Harris' progressive politics plays better with traditional Democratic voters. Harris does very well with Black voters. They tend to be among the most liberal. For Sanchez to win she needs to win Republican and independent voters by good margins and she also needs strong turn-out with both groups. The primary was extremely Democrat heavy. I don't think the general election will be nearly as heavy with Democrats, but it could be heavier than past general elections.

Sanchez also needs Republican and right leaning voters to vote in the senate race. In 2012 the Presidential to congressional undervote was 6% in districts with a Republican and Democrats but around 11% in districts with two Democrats. These districts, however, had fewer Republicans than the state as a whole. If Republicans decline to vote in the same proportions you're talking about a 15% undervote. The survey has a 15% undervote.

Sanchez should also be concerned that she trails 28%-16% among Republicans who've made up their minds. She needs to win Republicans at least 60%-40% and is losing them by 64%-36%. So getting Republicans to vote is no guarantee for Sanchez. Why would Republicans be favoring the progressive Harris? I'm speculating but part of it is name recognition. Harris is more well-known. Part of it might be her office. Harris has championed progressive causes as Attorney General, but many people don't know that. Attorney General sounds like a law and order position that Republicans might favor.

California is a left leaning state but the middle of the electorate is just a bit left of center, nowhere as far left as Harris is on issues. That's the opportunity for Sanchez. What she has to do is position herself as the only candidate who can appeal to the center and the right while not alienating Democratic voters that she'll need. She doesn't need to win Democrats to win this election but she needs to get a good share. How do you position yourself as two different things for two different groups? That's tricky but there have been enough Democrat-Democrat races that there is a path to victory. Eric Swalwell beat Pete Stark as the more rational Democrat in the CA-15 race. While Ro Khanna fell 4% shy of Mike Honda in 2014, he must've done something right to get it so close. Khanna beat Honda in the June primary this year, so he's likely figured out how to appeal to those voters a bit better.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton - Is being dishonest the way to convince people you're not dishonest?

The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's server was led by a Barack Obama appointed Justice Department and nothing to do with Republicans. That hasn't stopped the Clintons from dishonestly trying to portray it as a fake Republican witch hunt. The Democrats are being dishonest here and dishonesty is one of Hillary Clinton's biggest liabilities. Lying seems to be the wrong way to go to convince people that she's not a liar.

Of course, there are many Clinton voters who believe that the only reason that any scandal about Hillary Clinton is false. So they've fallen for the sales job. Those people aren’t the voters who think she’s dishonest, however. Those people believe the scandals, even some that are untrue. Hillary Clinton has the voters who'll believe this investigation is a Republican lie. She needs to convince the voters who realize it wasn't. She can only convince people of her honesty by being honest with them. Unfortunately for Clinton she's not willing to do that.