Monday, October 31, 2016

Third Party Presidential Candidates

The conventional wisdom has been that a third party candidate would have no shot. That's why neither Donald Trump nor Bernie Sanders ran as an independent. I think this year has poked holes in that theory.

The first reason was that a third party candidate wouldn't have the party money machine behind them. Sanders and Trump both showed that you can raise a lot of money outside of the two parties since neither got much money from traditional party sources. An independent would get outspent but these candidates have shown that wouldn't doom them. Especially if Trump put more of his own money in.

The second reason was that you need the party apparatus for GOTV, but neither candidate had that in the primary and Trump isn't really using it in the general election. It's a drawback but might not be fatal.

The third reason was that you simply can't convince enough Republicans or Democrats not to vote for someone in the party. That might not be an issue either. Enough people on the right don't like the Republican party enough that they'd have no problem voting for an independent. I'm not sure if enough Democrats would. Trump got a good share of his support from self-identified Republicans, but Sanders got more from independents. A good share of his support was from people to the left of the Democratic party. Would a centrist candidate be able to convince traditional Democrats to abandon their own party?

All of those reasons might still apply but now we can see that they might not. The candidate would have to be high profile like Trump or Sanders, although it could be argued Sanders wasn't high profile until after he ran. You'd also need enough people in both parties unhappy with their nominee. That doesn't usually happen, but Sanders and Trump weren't necessarily popular because others were unpopular. They were popular because of who they were, their message, and because the environment was ripe for it. There's no reason to think people are going to fall in love with the establishment any time soon.

Friday, October 28, 2016

2016 Presidential Polls 10/28/16

Since last Friday the state and national polls have been moving toward Donald Trump. The state polls show Clinton +6.1, compared to Clinton +6.7 a week ago, and the national polls have gone from Clinton +6.5 to 5.5. (spreadsheet here) The discrepancy is likely due to lightly polled states that haven't been polled in the last week. If we look only at swing state polls only the Clinton lead is around 5.0 points. The non-swing states aren't necessarily closer than the numbers in the spreadsheet, so the spread might be 5.5 points.

Of course today's FBI bombshell could change things dramatically.

What We Thought About White Voters

It seems silly now but at the beginning of this cycle the thinking on Hillary Clinton would be that she wouldn't do as well as Barack Obama with Hispanics, Blacks, and young voters because she didn't have his popularity. And she doesn't. But she'd do better with White working class voters, as they went heavily for her husband and the Clintons has a special rapport with working class Whites. Right now Hillary Clinton looks to improve upon Barack Obama's 2012 performance but do worse than he did with working class Whites. We just didn't count on Donald Trump's appeal to them.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

California Congressional Preview

The 2014 election had some odd results. Democrats picked up one seat, CA-31, that might make you think they had a good year. They won six seats by less than 4 points and two other seats by 4.8% and 5.4%. The closeness of these races was surprising considering most weren’t considered competitive and the Republicans in many of them barely spent any money.

Forget all that. Or at least most of it. This is a Presidential year and Democrats have been very successful in registering new voters. These districts won’t be competitive this year. The initial VBM numbers have been heavily Democratic. That should be a bad omen for Republicans, as they traditionally do much better in VBM ballots. That might not be the case this year, however. Democrats have been voting by mail in increasing numbers and 2/3 of all new voters are VBM. So Republicans should be concerned about a wide margin with VBM but not as much as they would’ve been four year ago.

Of course, Republicans don’t need to do well statewide, just in specific districts.

CA-3 – After the GOP fell on their face in 2012, this district was supposed to be non-competitive in 2014. I think that’ll be the case this year. VBMs are strongly Democratic and John Garamendi won by 26% in the primary.
(2014 Margin: Garamendi by 5.4%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Garamendi by 16-20%)

CA-7 – This was a district Republicans did invest in last cycle and they fell less than a point short. The GOP is once again taking this race seriously but incumbent Ami Bera has a lot more money than Republican Scott Jones. With the increased Democratic turnout it shouldn’t be close.
(2014 Margin: Bera by 0.8%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Bera by 9-13%)

CA-9 – This race was completely dismissed for 2014 and, like CA-3, produced a surprisingly good showing for the Republican. The VBM so far has been D+19, 51%-32%. Maybe Republicans will try in 2018.
(2014 Margin: McNerney by 4.8%; 2016 Predicted Margin: McNerney by15-19%)

CA-10 - Jeff Denham has been a target for Democrats each cycle, but he’s fended them off each time. VBM returns are nearly even and Denham should have the most comfortable win of any Republican on this list.
(2014 Margin: Denham by 12.2%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Denham by 12-16%)

CA-16 – If CA-3 and 9 were surprises in 2014, this district was a real shocker. Underfunded and unknown Republican Johnny Tacherra actually led after election night in 2014. VBMs have been overwhelmingly Democratic, 55%-29%. While Republicans here do win with Democratic electorates that seems too Democratic.
(2014 Margin: Costa by 1.4%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Costa by 12-16%)

CA-21 – This is the hardest district to read. Republican David Valadao won in 2012 and 2014 despite a Democratic electorate each time. He didn’t do better in 2014 than in 2012, one of the few Republicans who didn’t improve. In fact, he won both elections by 15.6%. He won the primary by 8 with an even more Democratic election. Conceivably there is an electorate too Democratic for him to win with. I just don’t know what that is. I think this year will be closer, however.
(2014 Margin: Valadao by 15.6%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Valadao by 4-8%)

CA-24 – Incumbent Democrat Lois Capps is retiring after a close call in 2014, making this the best opportunity for a Republican pick-up. Republicans didn’t do well in the primary and early VBMs are heavily against hem.
(2014 Margin: Capps by 3.8%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Carbajal(D) by 9-13%)

CA-25 – This seat was open in 2012 and Democrats didn’t have a candidate make top two. In 2012, Republican Buck McKeon won by 9.6%. The district has become more Democratic but we’re still seeing more Republican VBMs by 3% right now. Incumbent Steve Knight should hold on with that electorate, but it’ll be narrow.
(2014 Margin: N/A; 2016 Predicted Margin: Knight by 4-8%)

CA-26 – This is another district Republicans had a surprisingly strong showing in 2014, but the magic doesn’t look to be there in 2016. Democrat Julia Brownley should coast to victory.
(2014 Margin: Brownley by 2.6%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Brownley by 12-16)

CA-31 – Republican Paul Chabot returns for a second bite at the district after his surprisingly close loss in 2014. The early VBMs suggest the district will be closer than other Republican challengers, but not close enough for incumbent Democrat Pete Aguilar to sweat.
(2014 Margin: Aguilar by 3.4%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Aguilar by 6-10%)

CA-49 – Darrell Issa’s close primary win surprised a lot of people after Issa won by 16% in 2012 and 20% in 2014. There has been a lot of buzz about Issa losing, so much so that President Obama has campaigned for his challenger Doug Applegate. VBMs suggest, however, that the district still has too many Republicans for Issa to lose.
(2014 Margin: Issa by 20.4%; 2016 Predicted Margin: Issa by 3-7%)

CA-52 – Republicans spent a ton of money in 2014 and came up short. It was a nasty campaign but Scott Peters prevailed. This year shouldn’t cause him to work up a sweat.
(2014 Margin: Peters by 3.2%; 2016 Predicted Margin: 17-21%)

I can see Republicans losing 6-8 assembly seats, but here I don’t see any change. Democrats are mounting a good challenge to several Republicans, but not enough of one to take any seats.

Monday, October 24, 2016

How Much is Hillary Clinton Winning By?

As of Friday, 538 had Hillary Clinton leading on average by 6.5 points and the state polls showed us a 6.7 point win. That'd be a healthy win, but less than Barack Obama's 2008 7-point win and just a bit more than Obama's 2012 4-point win. To make things more complicated, Democrats won the House by 11 points in 2008, but only 1 in 2012. So they did 4 points better than Obama in 2008 but 3 worse in 2012. So Clinton's margin might not tell us that much down ballot.

I keep seeing articles about a Clinton/Democratic landslide and the negative news about Donald Trump sure gives one a feel for that. Democrats are seizing on polls like one from ABC News/Washington Post that has Clinton up by 12. Yet the state polls have moved to a Clinton 6.16 point win. I was thinking maybe states that aren't heavily polled have moved more Clinton but we hadn't seen it. Maybe that was stifling Clinton's total. So I decided to do an aggregate of the 14 most heavily polled states. They account for roughly 40% of all votes. Barack Obama won these states by 1.7 points. Clinton leads them by 3.5 points, only an additional 1.8 points. That's less than the 2.2 points my overall state aggregate has for her.

If I add in Texas, a state where Clinton is polling well, Romney actually won these states by 0.7%. Clinton is winning them by 2.6%, a 3.4 point difference. Even with Texas, the heavily polled states are suggesting Clinton is leading by no more than 7.5 points. Again, that's a very healthy lead, but is is a landslide? And how much will it help Democrats down ballot?

California Legislature Elections Preview

A Presidential year is going to favor Democrats and a strong Hillary Clinton performance should help Democrats down ballot. Nationally Clinton is running several points ahead of Barack Obama in 2012. Unfortunately, the two most respected California polls, Field and PPIC, haven’t polled the state since September. There have been several online polls since then that have shown Clinton running anywhere from a few points ahead of Obama 2012 to a few points behind.

The primary had a heavily Democratic electorate. The Democratic candidates got 70% of the two party vote. In 2012 Barack Obama only got 62%. If Clinton were to get 70% of the vote, it’d be a huge jump for Democrats, one that isn’t seen in elections. Current state and local polling both suggest that even if the state is trending more Democratic Clinton shouldn’t get more than 64-65%.

Using uniform swing, Hillary Clinton getting 65% of the two party vote in California would man a 10 point national win. If she got 70% in California she’d likely win nationally by 20 points. Because California is such a large portion of the electorate, a huge swing here would really show up nationally.

So I’d expect the electorate to be close to 2012, perhaps a bit more Democratic. Certainly not as Democratic as the primary. It’s very early, but early VBM returns suggest an electorate even more Democratic than the primary. I don’t know how to process this, since that’d mean all the polls are wrong.

State Senate
Republicans had a good year in 2014, sweeping the competitive races and bumping their caucus from 12 members to 14. That’s the magic number they need to deny Democrats a super majority.

This year should be easy since Democrats have 15 seats up and Republicans only have 5. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

SD-5 – This Stockton based Democratic seat should be one where Republicans present a strong challenge. Cathleen Galgiani won the seat by 1% in 2012. Galgiani did well in the primary but a more Republican electorate could propel challenger Alan Nakanishi to victory. VBM so far do show a more Republican electorate here, but probably not enough for Nakanishi.

SD-21 – Republican Assemblyman Scott Wilk is running to replace the late Sharon Runner in the Santa Clarita/Antelope Valley seat. He should win by the high single digits/low double digits, but so far VBM suggest Wilk’s margin will be closer than that.

SD-23 – Republican Mike Morrell is running for a full term in a seat he won in a special election. This seat is just east of SD-21 and so far not many ballots have been reported. As with Wilk, Morrell should win by a reasonable margin.

SD-29 Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang is running to replace former minority leader Bob Huff. Huff won by 10 points in 2012 but Chang had a poor showing in the primary. She looks like an underdog to Democrat Josh Newman. This is an Orange County district and it’d be a nice pick-up for Democrats to make inroads there. They currently hold no Orange County seats.

Republicans made gains in the assembly in 2014, going from 25 seats to 28. They need 27 seats to deny Democrats a 2/3 majority. The primary went extremely well for the Democrats and they could be poised to make big gains. We’re talking blood bath. Almost every seat listed below is held by the GOP.

AD-16 – In the primary incumbent Republican Catherine Baker won by 6 points even though Democratic VBM returns were 15 points higher than Republican, 49%-34%. Baker had no business winning with such a Democratic electorate then, so it’s hard to say how Democratic an electorate would have to be to sink her. She should lose, but then she never should’ve won the district in 2014.

AD-35 – Republican incumbent Katcho Achadjian left office to run for congress. He’s done very well in this San Luis Obispo centered district. Republican Jordan Cunningham had a disappointing primary performance and that makes this district up for grabs.

AD-36 – Democrat Steve Fox surprised everyone by winning this Antelope Valley district in 2012. He didn’t go ahead until the last day provisional ballots were counted. So it surprised no one when he lost re-election by 20 points in 2014. Tom Lackey, the Republican who beat him, is running for re-election. He should win, but he didn’t win the primary, finishing with only 48.2% of the vote. If things break the Democrats way Fox will take the seat again.

AD-40 – Republican Marc Steinorth won this San Bernardino district by 11 points when it was an open seat in 2014 and was expected to defend his seat. He too lost the primary.

AD-42 – Republican incumbent Chad Mayes should win by low double digits but he only won the primary by 9.

AD-44 – This Ventura county seat was the Republicans’ lone loss in 2014. If the GOP were to challenge Democratic seats in this cycle this would one of them. Democrat Jacqui Irwin won the primary by 22 points and there’s no reason to think Republican Kerry Nelson will fare well enough to win.

AD-60 - In 2014, Democrats didn’t field a candidate against Eric Linder in this Corona based seat, but Linder managed only 45.6% of the vote in the primary. Democrat Sabrina Cervantes might be poised to take the seat.

AD-65 - Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva took this long time GOP Orange County seat in 2012, only to lose it in 2014. She’s back for another stab and beat the woman she lost to in 2014, Young Kim, but 8.6% in the primary. She looks to be favored here.

AD-66 - Like Quirk-Silva Al Muratsuchi won the South Bay seat in 2012, only to lose it in 2014. David Hadley was a surprise winner. He managed only 44.6% in the primary and Muratsuchi might be poised to take this one back.

AD-72 - Democrats have never challenged in this Orange County coastal district. Travis Allen won by 31 points in 2014. Yet he managed only 50.4% in the primary and is heavily in danger this time.

I’ve just listed 9 of the 28 Republican seats as being in play. There are a few others that would appear to have no chance of being in play, but if Republicans lose most of these I wouldn’t dismiss a surprise loss.

Friday, October 21, 2016

2016 Presidential Polls 10/21/16

Currently the state polls give Hillary Clinton a 6.7 point win. 538 has Clinton with a 6.5 point win. The RCP average is 6.0. Some people have focused on polls that have Clinton up double digits but that doesn't appear to be the most likely outcome right now. Clinton is up from 5.4 points in the state polls a week ago and was up only by 2.5 at the beginning of the month. The race is definitely moving towards her, so it's not hard to see an 8-9 point Clinton win. That'd be huge in the current partisan environment, although not the big historically.

It wouldn't be surprising if Trump shaved a few points off a Clinton win, but the race hasn't moved toward him since the beginning of the month. The debates didn't help Trump and Wikileaks revelations haven't lessened Clinton's lead. I don't know what would have to happen for the race to move toward Trump.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

California VBM First Returns

California is voting by mail more and more. In 2014, 60% of the electorate returned vote by mail ballots before or on election. As the linked spreadsheet shows, in the past the party breakdown of VBM returns has correlated well to the final result. In CA-7 in the 2014 general election, the Democratic/Republican VBM return was roughly even and the Democrat won by 1%. In the 2016 primary returns were D+7 and the result was an 8% Democratic win.

There are a few districts that defy the close correlation but they defy it consistently. The Central Valley districts, CA-10, 16, and 21, will have a more Republican result than the spread of VBM returns while CA-36 and 52 tend to have a more Democratic result than VBM returns.

Here is where PDI is keeping track of ballot returns. Returns have been very strongly Democratic, even more than the primary. That bodes poorly for Republicans but we should keep in mind that it's very early and a small percentage of ballots have been returned. Some counties have barely reported any being returned. California ballots are counted by counties and they each have their own pace. I'm not going to do a deep analysis at this point because so few ballots are in. But Democrats should be encouraged.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Donald Trump's Floor

We're hearing a lot about Donald Trump collapsing in the polls. If you look at the polls Trump doesn't collapsed. On September 18 Trump was down 41.0-40.3 in the RCP average. He’s down 45.8-39.0 now. He’s lost all of 1.3 points from when the race was closest, but Clinton has picked up 4.8 points. While the sex allegations against Trump have hurt him it seems to have drawn Clinton more Johnson, Stein, and undecided voters than Trump voters by a fairly wide margin.

Earlier this year the opinion was floated that Trump was so awful that he'd lose by 20% or even more. It appears that a major party candidate has a floor no matter how bad a candidate he or she is. Even when the news about him is awful, such that he should be abandoned by more people. In 2012 Republicans got 54.7% of the Missouri House congressional vote, but Senate candidate Todd Aiken got only 39.0%. People are willing to be less partisan for the Senate than they are for the President. Trump isn't going to fall 15.7% below the Republican congressional vote. It won't even be close to that.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Trump v. Clinton, State and National polls 10/14

Hillary Clinton has gained ground in the last two weeks. She was up 3.1% in the national polls then and is now up 5.9%. That's a healthy win, more than the 3.8% Barack Obama won by in 2012, but not as big as the 7.0% he won by in 2008. It is not the landslide that many predicted or thought was happening after last week's Access Hollywood Trump tape. The state polls show a Clinton 5.4% lead. That's less but we haven't had New York or California polls come out this week. If they moved toward Clinton her lead would be much closer to 5.9%. A new Texas poll yesterday moved the lead from 5.3% to 5.4%. Here is the spreadsheet.

My spreadsheet can be heavily influenced by states that are rarely polled. In those cases I use Internet only polls whose accuracy I question. So Oklahoma moving 9.5% towards Clinton should be taken with a grain of salt. The most heavily polled states don't show a 1.5-2.0% move toward Clinton. Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida show smaller moves or moves toward Trump. Clinton only gains 2.0%+ in Virginia, North Carolina, and Arizona.

The way the Presidential polls look now the results will be just slightly more Democratic than 2012. That year Democrats didn't match Obama's 3.8% win in the House. They won by only 1.2%. If 2016 is similar Democratic gains in the House should be no more than 10-12 seats. Because there are so many seats in the House, a few candidates who run especially good campaigns doesn't influence the net gains and losses very much. The Senate, however, is different because the number of competitive races is small. In 2012, good Democratic candidates resulted in Democratic gains overall, despite an unfavorable map. Either party could do well this time, even with the House not moving much.

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Democratic Wave?

Poll after poll showed that all those people warning that Republicans would stay home due to Trump were wrong. Loyal Republicans voters will vote, maybe not for Trump. Any candidate who can’t turn their voters doesn’t deserve re-election anyway.

The one thing that could sink the GOP was turning off Trump voters. Some of them weren’t long time supporters of the Republican party and others express a lot of animosity toward Republican office holders. Unlike the loyal Republican voter these people are largely non-ideological, except on immigration, or even lean left. Trump isn’t running on small government. He’s running on big government for his supporters.

Republicans thought they were being smart turning on Trump over the weekend. It now appears to be a huge blunder. Sure, repudiating Trump was the moral thing to do, but it looks like it wasn’t the smart thing to do electorally.

If Trump doesn’t tell his supporters to vote Republican down ticket we could be seeing the Democratic wave I've repeatedly said couldn't happen. But then did anyone see the potential for voters to abandon Republicans because they didn't support Trump enough?

A Lot of Crazy

I try to add something that isn't being added elsewhere and there isn't a whole lot of that. It's a crazy election between an unconventional candidate who people really dislike and a conventional candidate people dislike a bit less. Each has bombshells come out that would sink other candidates. I'm only linking to the latest ones.

The first poll post Trump video has Hillary Clinton with an 11 point lead. A lot of people on Twitter are taking the poll to confirm what they believe. Democrats are certain this proves Clinton will win big. Anti-Trump Republicans are certain this confirms their predictions of Trump losing big. I take it with a grain of salt. It's only one poll, taken exclusively the two days after the video came out, and from a pollster that's skewed Clinton. Unless Trump is bombarded with video after video this bump might go the way of Clinton's convention bump. The revelations about Clinton's Wall Street speeches was ignored due to the Trump video, but the next bombshell about her might not happen on a day with a Trump video.

In the RCP average Trump has been above 39% since September 3. When the margin was smallest Trump was at 40.3. Now Trump is at 39.7. I think Trump has a floor of his supporters and people who’ll vote for him because they hate Hillary. Clinton has jumped from 41.0 to 44.8. The third party candidates have gone from 11.7 to 9.0. The undecided has gone from 7.0% to 6.5%. Clinton appears to be drawing from people who dislike both Trump and herself but have decided that they need to vote for one of the two major candidates. I think that’s where her votes will come from. Conceivably she could win 59%-39% if people abandon the 3rd party candidates, but I don’t think she can get above 52-53%. I’d say her max might be 53%-41%. That's the ceiling. Of course she only needs to win by one vote.

The NBC/WSJ poll also had Democrats with a 7 point lead in the generic congressional ballot. That's pretty big and would be a problem for Republicans if it holds up. I'm skeptical how much Republicans' fortunes are tied to Trump. This CBS/YouGov poll had Clinton leading by 8% in Pennsylvania but Republican Pat Toomey in a tie. I don't think the environment is good for Republicans but I'm not sure how much Trump can make it worse.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

President Obama is Wrong about Sarah Palin

“I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party,”

In an effort to spin his Presidency, President Obama gave a very friendly interview with the liberal New York Magazine. Now there are a lot of things wrong with President Obama's characterization of Republicans in this period. I know this because I lived through it but also because I was in contact with a number of Republican congressmen at the time.

I'll leave that rebuttal to others who are even more knowledgable than I and focus on President Obama's statement about Sarah Palin. As many of you know, I've spent a considerable amount of time making a documentary about the Tea Party and the 2010 election. It was originally called "Where's The Party," hence the name of this blog, but is now "From The Ground Up." I had hoped to finish the film long before now, but circumstances prevented that. The documentary has been made independently and that is difficult to do these days. It is close to completion and will be out there at some point in the next year.

For the documentary I've spoken with Tea Party founders, Tea Party members involved in important elections, Tea Party organizations, and Tea Party candidates who both won and lost. While I wouldn't claim to know as much about individual events as the people who were there, my research has given me a complete view of what happened in the 2009-2010 perspective. No one who had any involvement with the Tea Party ever brought up Sarah Palin's name in an interview. I just did a computer search of all my interview transcripts for Palin and found that two people did use her name, but only after I asked a question with "Sarah Palin" in it.

Palin may have spoken at a Tea Party event but she wasn't at any of the key ones, including the February 27 or April 15 Tea Parties or the 9-12 March. She might have campaigned for candidates but she didn't campaign in the NY-23 special election or the pivotal Massachusetts Senate election. None of the candidates mentioned having her at a rally. I acknowledge Palin had a decent amount of popularity during this period and I'm sure that some people in the Tea Party liked her, but everything that happened would've happened whether she was nominated or not. There's a lot of people on the line of the beginning of the Tea Party to Trump, including President Obama himself, but Sarah Palin isn't among them.

As I've said before, there are certain elements of what the Tea Party supported in the Trump coalition and I'm sure some Tea Party members support him for outside status. If we're drawing a straight line of the Tea Party, it should end with Ted Cruz's 2016 campaign. Cruz was representative of much of what the Tea Party stood for.