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.

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