Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Repeal AB 1621

In 2016 Democrats in the state legislature passed AB 1621, a law that makes it legal for someone other than a family member to get a person's ballot to a polling place. The law doesn't limit it to a friend. It allows campaigns and other groups involved in partisan elections to collect them too. I didn't hear about this law when it passed but it's horrible. And sure enough a campaign is already pressuring people to give them their ballots.

What will the Wendy Carillo campaign do with the ballots they collect? They could open them even if they’re sealed to see who the person voted for and discard the ballot. I'm guessing they're not allowed to do that but if you’re going to go to the trouble to get the ballots into your office are you going to really care about that? You don’t even need to open the ballots. You can go into neighborhoods where your opponent is likely strong and “forget” to turn in the ballots. Sometimes things get lost.The person who cast their ballot has no idea if the ballot made it to the polling place, so who's to say that any ballots were collected that weren't turned in?

People have worried about voter intimidation from employers or unions. With this law these organizations are encouraged to ask their employees or members to give them their ballots. There's nothing stopping anyone collecting ballots from changing an election.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Wave Didn't Miss California

Paul Mitchell has an article at Capitol Weekly about whether the wave that hit Virginia and elsewhere will come to California. He states, "First, California didn’t experience a Republican wave election after Obama." Paul is an astute guy with great insights but this is just wrong. He makes the mistake casual observers make and measure a wave based on seats won or lost. A party winning or losing seats isn't a wave. It's the consequences of a wave. A wave is when one party gets a higher percentage of votes than they had in the last election. When that happens, the result is often that party winning a lot of seats. Republicans in 2014 didn't win a lot of seats here and Democrats didn't win a lot in 2016. But there were waves.

Take a look at my spreadsheets. In them I compare the percentage of the vote each party got in 2012 to 2016 and 2014 to 2016 in seats where a Republican and a Democrat ran against each other in an election.

here were 33 congressional seats where that had a Democrats and a Republican in both 2012 and 2014. In 2012 Democrats got 57.1% of the vote in 2014 they got 53.9%. There was a slightly different group of congressional districts that had a Democrat and a Republican in 2014 and 2016. In 2014 Democrats got 53.3% of the vote in them. In 2016 they got 58.9%. For good measure we can compare the 35 congressional seats with both a Democrat and a Republican in 2012 and 2016. In 2012 Democrats got 56.0% in these seats. In 2016 they got 58.2%. The swings from 2012 to 2014 and then in the other direction in 2016 were dramatic.

These swings didn't result in seats flipping, however, because the seats which had the biggest shift from 2012 to 2014 weren't ones that were close in 2012. Republicans lost 7 congressional districts by 5 points or less in 2014. Since Republicans didn't take these districts in 2014 they couldn't flip back to the Democrats in 2016. The seats Republicans did win in 2014 were mostly one sided. Democrats lost all of them by 12 points or more. So even a big shift in 2016 didn't result in any of these districts flipping.

Democrats are certain to do much better in 2018 than they did in 2014 and may even do better than they did in 2016, the best year they've had this decade. If they do that might result in a dramatic number of seats flipping, but it also might not. Mimi Walters won by 17 points in 2016. David Valadao won by 13 points. Ed Royce won by 14. The shift could be big enough where these seats flip, but it also could be big and these seats won't. If there is a wave, it won't miss California. Because it hasn't in other elections.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Virginia Governor Numbers Very Similar to 2016 Presidential

As I mentioned yesterday the Virginia governor's race was a wave for Democrats. I'm not convinced it'll be a wave to get them the House. Democrats won legislative districts Clinton won by won only one Trump district and that was a small Trump victory. There are 23 Republican seats that Clinton won. It seems unlikely they’ll win all of them but if Democrats do, and lose no seats, they’ll fall short of a majority by 1 seat. Here is a comparison of Clinton v. Northam margins:

1: Trump +12, Gillespie +10
2: Trump +3, Northam +4
3: Clinton +32, Northam +37
4: Clinton +22, Northam +25
5: Trump +11, Gillespie +9
6: Trump +25, Gillespie +22
7: Trump +6, Gillespie +4
8: Clinton +53, Northam +53
9: Trump +41, Gillespie +37
10: Clinton +10, Northam +12
11: Clinton +39, Northam +41

Except in VA-2, Northam ran almost universally 2-4 points ahead of Clinton. Democrats can’t take the House that way because Clinton only won 205 districts. It appears that Trump voters are staying with Republican in districts Trump won. That could mean that Democratic incumbents in Trump districts are vulnerable even in a Democratic wave. Republican congressional candidates in MN-1, MN-7, MN-8, PA-17, did far better than expected due to Trump's coattails. Trump voters stuck with Gillespie, who is very unTrumpy and they may stick with Republicans in 2018 too.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Landslide Good Sign for Democrats

Last night Democrats in Virginia demolished Republicans up and down the ballot. They had similar smaller victories in Georgia, New Jersey, Washington, and elsewhere. They picked up 14 Republican House of Delegates seats and could end up with 18 more when the final count is in. Gerrymandering doesn't help as much as some people imagine it does, but gerrymandering was supposed to make sure Republicans kept their majority. They might not. I'm sure a lot of people will spin this election to mean what they want it to mean, but I'll try to cut through all that.

Turnout was high, not low. There are already 16% more ballots counted in Virginia than there were in 2013. And there are provisional and absentee ballots to count. Anyone who tries to spin that Ed Gillespie lost because he wasn't conservative enough or enough like Trump are barking up the wrong tree. He has 16% more votes than the 2013 nominee, conservative Ken Cuccinelli. Gillespie didn't lose because voters didn't turn out for him. he lost because Ralph Northam has 31% more votes than Terry McAuliffe got in 2013. (Note: If one candidate got 31% more and the other 16% you'd think turnout would be more than 16% higher. In 2013 3rd party candidates got 7.0% of the vote. Yesterday they got 1.2%.)

Gillespie did very well in getting right leaning voters to show up to the polls and vote for him. Northam just did a lot better. Democratic enthusiasm showing up at the polls is good news for Democrats but Gillespie doing much better than Cuccinelli is a silver lining for the GOP. There's going to be a drop off in voters from a Presidential election to any non-Presidential one. In 2013, McAuliffe got 54% of Barack Obama's 2012 vote total. Ken Cuccinelli got 56% of Mitt Romney's. This year Northam got 71% of Hillary Clinton's vote total, while Ed Gillespie got 66% of Donald Trump's. And, as I said, there are still ballots to count.

As elections this year have shown, Republicans haven't had a problem turning out their voters. They are actually turning out at higher than expected numbers. Their problem is that Democrats are doing even better than that. The worst combination for a party is when the other party is enthusiastic while your party isn't. There's not much you can do there. If your party is enthusiastic while the other party is more enthusiastic you can win if the other party is a little less enthusiastic. We don't have any reason to expect Democrats not to be as enthusiastic as they were last night but such high enthusiasm levels can be tough to maintain across the country. That doesn't mean Republicans will do better in 2018 than Democrats did in 2010 or 2014. It does mean they are more likely to do better than the Democrats were then.

Virginia Democrats did extremely well in traditionally Republican suburbs that have been getting bluer. The voters continued to support Republicans down ballot even as they voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Republicans did very well in rural white working class areas.

From the New York Times:
Of the 16 districts where Democrats currently lead in Virginia, Mrs. Clinton won 15 of them and received 49.7 percent of the vote in the other, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project and Daily Kos Elections.

If this continues it's extremely bad news for Republicans holding the upscale suburban districts that went Clinton but voted Republican down ballot again. There are 22 districts that voted for Hillary Clinton but voted Republican for congress. The good news for Republicans is that some more traditionally Democratic areas that went Trump in 2016 went for them last night. Congressional Democrats won 11 districts Trump won in 2016. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to win the House of Representatives. They'll have to win most of the districts Clinton won and some Trump won. If they lose their own districts that Trump won in 2016 they'll have win even more Trump districts in 2018. As good as this election might be for Democrats all it shows is that they can win in areas Hillary Clinton won. Unfortunately for them, that won't be enough.

That shouldn't discourage Democrats. Right now they look better than they have at any time since 2008. Not taking the House next year would be a disappointment but they've only had a higher percentage of the House vote in one of the last four elections. If they only do good it's a lot better than they have been doing.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

CA-Sen Poll Good News for Dianne Feinstein

When it comes to understanding California politics and elections, few are better than Capitol Weekly. Out of state pollsters don't ever seem to be able to figure out who is going to vote and who won't. One piece of information that's publicly available is how many of the last five elections a voter has cast a vote in. Anyone participating in California campaigns knows that when you're targeting voters you go after "4s" and "5s." Those are people who've in either 4 of the last 5 elections or all 5.

When polling you want to heavily poll the "4s" and "5s," especially in a mid-term. Mid-terms draw less voters and the "1s" and "2s" have likely skipped previous mid-terms. Of course, there are exceptions. Young voters weren't registered for the last 5 elections and some people move to California from out of state. I don't know who Capitol Weekly surveyed in their latest poll but I trust them.

Capitol Weekly polled for the primary, asking people whether they preferred Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Democrat Kevin de Leon, or Republican John Cox. Cox is running for governor, so he won't be running for senate. Cox, however, was polled with 9% favorable 6% unfavorable that are 9%/6% with 14% having no opinion and 71% having never heard of him. He's pretty much “generic Republican" to the voters. They could've used almost any name.

In a hypothetical match-up between Feinstein, de Leon, and John Cox, Feinstein gets 40%, Cox 32%, and de Leon 15%. They don’t break down the vote by party but, but Cox’s number is high enough that Feinstein is getting no more than 5-10% of Republican voters. And there are likely a few more Republican points in the 13% undecided voters. If Republicans get 35% of the vote in the primary, De Leon would need Republican voters to split their votes among 3-4 candidates or he’d need to significantly eat into Feinstein’s 40%. This should be a wake up call to California GOP chairman Jim Brulte. He wants a Republican to make the general election. If one is on the ballot he's more likely to get better turn out to help Republicans down ballot. He needs someone with a little bit of name ID and a little bit of money. Neither has to be that big.

The hypothetical general election head-to-head for Feinstein and de Leon has Feinstein winning 36%-17%. In that election 28% said they wouldn’t vote for either. These are likely almost entirely Republican voters. In 2016 15% of voters left the race blank and that was pretty high compared to other states. It certainly would help de Leon in a general election if Republican voters were to leave the ballot blank. If they do vote, Feinstein will probably get 75-80%. Anything over 50% puts him further behind.

This poll is what I expected. There's little path to victory for de Leon due to top two.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Kevin de León Ad

A Super PAC supporting Kevin de León is out with an ad. As expected de León is running as the progressive champion. As I've gone into in detail that's not going to win him a U.S. Senate seat.

So why are they positioning de León here? He has nowhere else to go. His resume is as a progressive champion. His reason for running is to be a progressive champion. Dianne Feinstein is vulnerable from a progressive position.

Don't they realize de León can't win if all he's running is as a progressive anti-Trump candidate? I'm sure they do but it's possible that progressives think that over half of California's voters will support a progressive.

Why run if they don't? I can give a few possibilities. Maybe the objective isn't for de León win but highlight progressive policies and move Feinstein and the rest of California to the left. De León is termed out of the state senate so why not do that?

What else? It may be macabre to say this but Dianne Feinstein will be 85 next year. While I haven't heard she isn't healthy that's years past the average life expectancy. It's possible that she withdraws due to illness or death before the primary deadline in March. While beating Feinstein might be nearly impossible de León could win a race she's not in. If that happens after the filing deadline Feinstein will still be on the ballot. You can't get off the California ballot once you're on. Yes, even if you die. If she were to finish top two, she'd advance to the November election, even though she wouldn't be able to serve. Either of those scenarios could put de León in the U.S. Senate.

If Feinstein is re-elected but can't serve her entire term de León will have an excellent argument that he should be appointed to the seat, since he will have gotten a lot of votes. And he'd have an excellent argument in a special election, along with name ID and a volunteer/donor base.

I'm not wishing ill on Dianne Feinstein. May she live a long life. But if I've considered the possibility de León's people have also.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Kevin de León Will Challenge Dianne Feinstein

Kevin de León made it official. He's challenging Diane Feinstein for her U.S. Senate seat. I understand his desire to run. De León wants to be a senator. He wants to have a bold progressive in office. They think California, the leader of the resistance, is perfect for that. Clinton did win 30 points here after all.

Beating Dianne Feinstein one-on-one in a Democratic primary would be hard to do. She's got name ID, money, and is beloved. Feinstein is the establishment Democrat (Hillary Clinton) and de León's is the bold progressive Bernie Sanders. Sanders couldn't beat Clinton in a Democratic primary in California. He lost by 7%.

But wait. Am I forgetting that top two means no Democratic primary? I haven't, but I think de León has. Yes, it's possible de León finishes 2nd in the primary. It's debatable whether it's possible for him to finish 1st. Even if he does there's no way Feinstein finishes 3rd. He has to go up against Feinstein in November.

But wait. Am I forgetting that Kamala Harris won a Senate seat and she's fairly progressive? No, because Harris was running against an unknown Loretta Sanchez and de León is running against Dianne Feinstein. Harris didn't run on progressive policies. She never mentioned the environment, healthcare, or immigration. She ran on how she was a fearless fighter who sued everyone on behalf of Californians. Few people would be against a candidate the big corporations to cough up bucks for the average Californian.

Kevin de León's record isn't that he was the attorney general who took on big banks. His record is progressive champion and he wants to let you know Trump "demonizes our diversity. Attacks our civil rights, our clean air, our health access and our public safety." He's running on the idea that Trump is terrible and his voters are deplorables. While I shudder at a politician showing contempt for any of their constituents, the resistance will love it the more he does it.

If de León makes top two he won't be in an election with only Democratic voters. He'll have Republicans and moderate NPPs. They'll be somewhere between 34-41% of the electorate, but there'll be blank ballots. So the numbers may be 29-35%. If they are 33% and Feinstein takes 80% of them, de León would have to beat Feinstein 65%-35% with left leaning voters. Sanders got 46.5% of the vote. How's de León going to get 65%.

I'm doubtful de León gets 20% of right leaning voters. His ads will emphasize how he's going to stop the evil Trump is and how progressive he is. Harris gave Republicans a reason to vote for her. He's running on how he doesn't want their votes. Will de León even send mailers to Republicans to get their votes? What would those mailers say?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Kevin de Leon May Challenge Dianne Feinstein

Per CNN California Democratic state Senate president Kevin de León will enter the 2018 California Senate election. Senator Dianne Feinstein announced her plans to run for re-election earlier this week.

Taking on a Democratic party icon like Feinstein will be a real challenge for de León. He's going to challenge her from her left, saying she's too moderate for California. There have been successful challenges to Republican senators from grassroots candidates to their right but it's rare. I can't recall a sitting Democratic senator losing a challenge from their left, so it's probably just as rare if not more so.

de León has several things working against him. He's unknown statewide and has no money in a campaign account yet. California is a very expensive state to advertise in even if you have money. Feinstein had $3.6 million as of June 30 and she's well known statewide already. de León could get a boost from progressive groups that know him. The California Nurses Association is a very powerful special interest group and they're likely to endorse de León.

Gavin Newsom is running far to the left in the gubernatorial race and is leading in polls. If it works for Newsom, why not de León? Newsom has advantages. There's no incumbent in his race, let alone a popular incumbent who's built up years of good will with the voters. Newsom is fairly well known statewide. He likely is getting a good share of Democratic and NPP voters who know him and think he'd make a good governor. Those people aren't currently in de León's camp. If he runs to Feinstein's left he's not going to try to get them.

If California's size and Feinstein's goodwill aren't enough of a hurdle California's top two primary creates a bigger one. In top two everyone gets to vote for any candidate they want from any party. Feinstein is popular with people who don't have a party preference and some Republicans. Especially if the alternative is further to her left. While he could conceivably get more votes than her among Democrats, he won't in top two.

The good news about top two is that de León will advance to November whether he finishes first or second. To finish second de León would likely have to beat a Republican candidate. Republicans tend to vote for Republicans, even the candidate is just a name on the ballot. In order to make top two de León actually needs Republicans to vote for Feinstein in the primary. He needs the remaining Republican vote to be spread out enough that no Republican gets more than than he does. His ceiling is probably 15-20% in a primary. de León would really benefit if Republicans don't coalesce behind one candidate, but split them among two or more. Right now the Republicans in the race are names on the ballot. So that benefits de León if it doesn't change.

Then he'd have to beat Feinstein in the general election. While Republicans voting Feinstein in the primary could benefit de León, he needs them to leave the ballot blank in the general election. But if they voted Feinstein in the primary she may have already gotten those voters for the general election. In 2016 two Democrats ran for Senate in the general election and 14% of the Californians who voted for President didn't vote for the Senate. In Pennsylvania that number was 1%. In New York it was 5%. So there is precedent for blank ballots.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How Many People Were Turned Away in Wisconsin?

17,000 People in Wisconsin didn't vote due to voter ID! 9,000 were turned away!

That's what the Washington Post is trumpeting today. If you look at the underlying data it's really questionable.

The first flaw in this is that 17,000 people didn't say the lack of voter ID deterred them from voting and 9,000 didn't say they were turned away. The researchers cherrypicked 2,300 people in the two lowest income counties in Wisconsin. Most surveys require people to be randomly selected. These weren't. They were picked because they expected certain results from them. They received only 293 surveys back in the mail. This should be a giant red flag. The people returning the questionnaire were self-selecting. They can't be proven to be representative of any larger group because of that. No serious survey would allow the respondents to be self-selecting. There's also the problem with the sample size being only 293. This is too small a sample to use.

African-Americans returned 35 surveys. Of these, 9 said they were deterred. Yes, you read that right. If only 35 people responded, the results are useless. The sample is so small that the results should be thrown out.

Of course people can say anything they want in a survey months later. The respondents could give any answer they wanted. It isn't verifiable. People can decide to vote or not vote for any number of reasons. Did a lack of voter ID come into play. Unless I'm missing something the researchers didn't verify these people lacked ID. They were only chosen because they didn't vote.

I'm actually surprised that only 11.2% of the respondents said they were deterred. Why return the survey if you aren't going to answer the key question yes?

About 6 percent of nonvoters said they tried to vote but weren’t allowed to. They claim that's 9,000 people in those two counties. This is a far easier number to verify. These people say they actually went to the voter table and were turned away. The state actually counted the number of people who showed up without proper ID and that number statewide was under 600. Of those, under 100 of their votes were disqualified. (There was an article earlier this year where the state gave out these numbers. I Googled and can't find it now) The Wisconsin Elections Commission could be lying, although that'd certainly be a huge scandal. This isn't a partisan entity but one that everyone trusts to count the vote.

Monday, September 25, 2017

California Governor Positioning Continues

As I mentioned a few months ago California could see a Gavin Newsom-Antonio Villaraigosa top two next November. Newsom is locking up progressives. If Villaraigosa wants to be Newsom, and first finish top two, he needs to position himself close enough to the center to win centrist and right leaning voters but not alienate that many Democrats.

Villaraigosa has an issue where he can do that. He has long fought with teachers' unions, something no progressive would ever do. And it's a great issue to veer away from Democratic orthodoxy. In the private sector unions are pitted against big "evil" corporations that don't care about their workers, only profits. Customers have little to no allegiance to the corporation and aren't really hurt if the union wins concessions.

Teachers' unions are up against the government. That's not some evil faceless corporation. That's you and me. The "customers" aren't car buyers or hotel guests. They're our kids. We might not side with hotel guests over hotel workers but we're going to side with our kids if we feel that what's good for the teachers isn't the best choice for our kids. Teachers' unions push that everything they want is what's best for the kids, but their needs, higher pay, job security, don't necessarily coincide with what's best for the kids.

Even a union representative will admit that.
“I don’t think he saw it as being anti-union in any way, but being sensitive to kids like he was, and for us to block the kinds of reforms he was supporting was doing a disservice to those kids,” said Pechthalt. “I would disagree with him but I don’t think it necessarily came from a bad place.”
Democrats and teachers' unions have painted Antonio Villaraigosa as anti-union and not sufficiently progressive. They'll do so in the gubernatorial election. That's normally a death knell to Democrats in elections but it actually is a benefit for Villaraigosa. He isn't going to win votes as the progressive champion. If Villaraigosa is to win votes from progressives it'll be with progressives who might see him as more competent or want a Latino governor.

Neel Kashkari was an unknown running against a California legend and spent very little money. He still got 40% of the gubernatorial vote. If Villaraigosa were to get 80% of the Kashkari vote he'd need to get about 30% of the Jerry Brown vote to win. Villaraigosa would need to position himself well. He needs to turn union support for Newsom into Newsom being in the pocket of special interests and being anti-student. He'll be criticized for Republicans supporting him. He needs to say, "they're Californians too and I want to be the governor for all Californians."

Top two would enable the more centrist candidate to win the election.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Are the Signs There for Democrats?

Democrats are encouraged about their prospects in congressional races in 2018. Is the year starting to skew Democratic?

There are a lot of Democratic Candidates Running
I’ve never seen anything correlating the number of Democratic candidates running and Democratic success. Darrell Issa is more likely to lose if he has seven Democrats running against him instead of two. It's certainly helpful if they challenge more Republicans than less, but that really wasn't the problem for Democrats in the past. Democrats had candidates in all but one of the Clinton districts a Republican congressional candidate won.

Fundraising is going well especially with grassroots progressive groups
Fundraising has never been a problem for Democrats and they seem to taut their fundraising advantage every cycle. There's evidence that a candidate needs to spend above a certain threshold for the voters to take him or her seriously, but after that's achieved spending isn't always an indicator of success. Democrats heavily outspent Republicans in the GA-6 race and they didn't win that. They didn't lose CA-49 in 2016 for lack of spending. They spent a lot.

Republican retirements are high
This is seen as an indicator for two reasons. First, these congressmen must know more than we do and that's why they're retiring. Second, open seats are much easier to flip. The problem here is that Republican retirements aren't all that high. Here are the numbers since 2006:

2006: 18R, 9D
2008: 27R, 6D
2010: 20R, 17D
2012: 19R, 22D
2014: 25R, 16D
2016: 25R, 18D
2018: 17R, 8D

What we see here is that Republicans have had higher retirement numbers in good Republican years and lower ones in good Democratic years. This year could be an all time high for Republicans but only 10 of the 17 Republican retirees are running for another office. in 2014 only 11 of the 25 retirees ran for another office. Generally, congressmen running for another office announce earlier to get an earlier start on campaigning. So right now 7 Republicans are actually retiring, compared to 14 in 2014. There were 20 retirements in 2016. I see no reason to think we'll get closer to the 20 than the 14 and Republicans actually did well with the 20 retirements last year.

While you may be hearing Republicans in competitive districts are retiring, that doesn't appear to be the case. Only 2 of the Republicans in a Clinton district is retiring. Donald Trump won Charlie Dent's PA-15 and Dave Trott's MI-11. Those could be competitive districts but they aren't going too be competitive solely on Donald Trump's unpopularity.

The Generic Ballot is Good for Democrats
This is true and the Democrats are better off with a good generic ballot than a bad one. The Democrats led for most of the 2014 and 2016 cycles, however, and lost the congressional vote each time. Polling seems to have had a tougher time finding Republican voters than it has in the fast. So this could be good for Democrats but it might not be.

2018 should be a good year for Democrats but I see nothing yet to tell me it definitely will be.

Monday, August 21, 2017

California Democrats are Attempting to Pass New Recall Election Bill

After the gas tax passed California Republicans began collecting signatures to recall Democratic state senator Josh Newman, who had voted for the gas tax. This angered California Democrats. Since they hold all the legislative power they passed a bill to make it much more difficult to recall Newman. Democrats shouted that the recall effort was misleading voters and should have to pass new hurdles.

Wait. What?

Are Democrats really arguing that a political campaign can't mislead voters? Seriously? Misleading voters is a strategy every campaign uses, Republicans and Democrats alike. I mean, come on.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a lawsuit to prevent that bill being implemented. The court didn't rule on the legality of the bill but stayed its implementation until after the court hears arguments and rules on the bill's legality. Democrats were attempting to pass new rules while the recall effort was underway. So the recall petitions will be certified before that happens and the election will be scheduled. Ex post facto laws are illegal in the United States and it could certainly be argued that applying this law to an existing recall would be an ex post facto law.

Democrats are undeterred and have decided to stick their middle finger at the judge and pass another bill similar to the first one. Are they trying to piss off the judge? If he stayed the first bill, he's going to stay any new bills that do the same thing. As far as Democrats are concerned they have the power to rig the election rules and they're going to use it. They don't care who knows it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Republican Need to Understand the Landscape

Republicans thought they'd have it easy. They'd repeal and replace Obamacare. It's something they've won elections repeatedly promising they'd do and it was popular. Now they are in a position to do just that they're finding they can't get the votes to do it and it's suddenly unpopular to do it.


It's not 2009. Republicans could've put their plan in to replace what existed before Obamacare. There are a good number of people who've been hurt by Obamacare. They've lost good insurance plans, sometimes more than once, and are now on a much more expensive plan that has such a high deductible that they pay for everything out of pocket. I know. I'm one of those people. I had a great plan for 12 years and it was cancelled when the ACA went into effect. And then my next plan was too.

But we don't count for a lot. Sure, we might have in 2009. If the Democrats had been truthful and told America that 3 million people would lose their health insurance due to the ACA he never would’ve passed it. But they weren't. And a lot of people haven't gotten health insurance through the ACA. And many of those people have gotten cheap insurance. Now none of them would lose their insurance with the Republican plan. (At least that's how it reads. Implementation may mean something else.) The 23 million people who the CBO said wouldn't have health insurance include almost entirely people who don't have it now but the CBO assumes will if Obamacare continues or people who choose to not have it.

That's not what the public believes. Democrats have most everyone believing they'll lose their insurance. Kamala Harris has said 129 million people could lose their coverage. That's reality.

It doesn’t matter that the ACA is unsustainable and that there are better ways of doing it. The Republican plan is less generous with subsidies and is being sold as something that'll take away people's insurance. Once government gives people something you can’t give them less. Republicans need to stop thinking what might be better and understand what the public will accept. They can change the ACA and make it more sustainable and more Republican, as long as people don’t lose their insurance and it doesn’t get pricier. If Republicans pass the current plan, even if it doesn't do what the critics say, they’ll get slammed at the polls in 2018. That's why they can't pass their plan. They can't get the votes to make massive changes. So they either make smaller changes incrementally or they do nothing. At least they can sell small changes at the polls.

I'm not sure that Republicans can avoid big losses in 2018, but so far everything they've done is helping make that happen. They may get slammed by their base if they don't make those massive changes. If they don't take that risk, they'll get slammed by everybody else.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

CA-Gov: Newsom vs. Villaraigosa?

We're still discovering how top two elections will work in California but the U.S. Senate race was enlightening as to what happens when there are strong Democratic candidates and weak unknown Republicans. Democrats got 64% of the vote and Republicans got 29%. A 35% difference was a huge Democratic margin for a primary. In 2014 the margin in statewide races was 12-17. Even in races with well known Democrats and no name Republicans. The Controller race was 48%-45% Democratic. So what will we have in 2018, a 15 point margin or a 35 point margin? There are arguments to support it could be either.

It'll be closer to 35% because California is moving towards the Democrats. Yes, a 20% shift in one year is enormous and unrealistic to expect but it shouldn't be ignored. A 5% shift would be worth looking at but a 20% shift is meaningful. The general election was even more one-sided for Hillary Clinton than the 2012 election was for Barack Obama due to Donald Trump's unpopularity. And 2018 should be a Democratic year. If California voters were anti-Trump in 2016 they'll be even more anti-Trump in 2018.

It'll be closer to 15% because the 2016 primary turnout was skewed heavily Democratic due to there being a competitive Democratic Presidential primary and an uncompetitive one. It was an anomaly that can't be duplicated. Mid-term turnout is always lower and there are a lot of people who'll stay home because Clinton and Sanders won't be on the ballot. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the general election by 30%, but that was because people disliked Donald Trump. There were 14 districts where Republicans won the congressional race and another 6 where they got between 42 and 49% of the congressional vote. Hillary Clinton won those 20 districts by 3%, but congressional Republicans won them by 10%. Based on the congressional margin the November electorate was really Democrats by 17%, not 30%.

This is important because if the gubernatorial primary is 55%D-40%R Democrats are unlikely to take both spots in top two, but if it's 64%D-29%R that becomes a lot more likely. Harris and Sanchez did take 92% of the Democratic vote in 2016. With the presence of John Chiang and Delaine Eastin in the race that number should be lower.

Gavin Newsom has positioned himself as the progressive in the race. He’s running on no moderation at all. Republicans are irrelevant in the state. We’re going for a progressive paradise! Whether Newsom is in fact on the that far left isn’t relevant. He’s selling himself there. And it’s not a bad place to be in a Democratic primary. He will get more Democratic votes than Villaraigosa and then would crush a Republican in the general election.

Villaraigosa is positioning himself as the level headed pro-business candidate. He’s a big charter schools advocate and has run afoul of the CTA. He called single payer unaffordable, running afoul of the California Nurses. Those are two of the most powerful unions in the state. Running to the right of Newsom is a tough spot to make top two from but Villaraigosa really has no other choice. He can’t get to Newsom’s left.

While Newsom is hoping that strong Republican turnout will give him a Republican opponent, Villaraigosa is hoping a divided Republican field gives a result like 2016. If the two of them make top two Newsom could be in trouble. Villaraigosa would be positioned on the left of 50%+1 while Newsom would be to the left of that. Newsom would need to pivot to the center to win Republican and independent votes but that’d betray progressives. If Villaraigosa has run a strong campaign he’d already be well positioned.

That brings up the question of how Villaraigosa could win being to the right of Newsom when Loretta Sanchez didn't. There are a few reasons. First, money. Sanchez didn't have much while Villaraigosa has quite a bit. He'll need a lot if he's going to try to position himself in a sweet spot of not conservative but not too liberal. Newsom's positioning is far easier. He can just recite the progressive positions. Sanchez had trouble positioning herself in the right spot. She really didn't have moderate positions on anything other than defense and her congressional track record wasn't strong. She was just a less desirable version of Kamala Harris. Finally, the offices are different. While people tend to vote ideology for the House and Senate they are more likely to vote competence for governor. Of course Villaraigosa will have to show he's more competent.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Republicans Win GA-6 and SC-5

Democrats spent $30 million on today’s GA-6 special election and came up 5.2% short. They actually did better in the first round of voting. They also spent next to nothing on yesterday’s SC-5 special election and came up only 3.2% short. The simplest way to look at the 2017 special congressional elections is that Republicans won all four elections. You only get House seats if you win, not if you come close. So the Democrats haven’t gained anything and they remain deep in the minority.

(Note: There was a special election in the very Democratic CA-34 which Democrats did win)

Looking at the chart above things aren’t that bleak. They beat the Trump Clinton margin by 14.5 points in three of the four races. Donald Trump won 230 congressional districts, but he won only 159 of them by more than 14.5 points. If they were to do 14.5 points better in 2018 Democrats would take the House in a landslide. The problem there is the one district they didn’t do 14.5 points better than the Clinton margin was GA-6. They only needed to do 1.6 points better and actually did worse. If they don’t beat Clinton’s margin they aren’t going to win many districts at all.

In three of the four races they improved on the 2016 congressional margin by 17.3 points. Republicans only won 190 districts by more than 17.3 points. If Democrats close the 2016 margins by 17.3 points they’ll win 245 seats. That’d be a smaller landslide but still a landslide. In Montana-AL, improving on the 2016 congressional result by 17.3 points would’ve won them the seat. That was the one district they didn’t improve by that much and didn’t win it. If they close the gap by 9.6% in all districts they’ll only net 13 seats in 2018.

The good news for Democrats is that they did beat the 2016 congressional margin dramatically in every district. The bad news is that these were all open seats. Incumbents are much harder to beat than winning an open seat. As of now, there is only one open seat in a competitive district, FL-27. That should change but right now Democrats will have to beat a lot of incumbents to take back the House.

In 2006 and 2008 Democrats won 56 Republican seats. Of those 20, 36%, were open. A number of the Republican incumbents in 2006 were plagued by scandal. If Democrats don’t get more retirements (or scandals) they’ll have to beat a lot more incumbents than they did in 2006 and 2008.

Who are the vulnerable incumbents? Is it the 24 Republican districts where the GOP candidate won by 12.8% or less? These four weren’t among those districts. Is it the 23 Republican held districts Hillary Clinton won? Again she didn’t win any of these. She did, however, come close to winning GA-6 and Democrats will have to win a 24th district to get the majority. Of course Democrats aren’t going to win every district Clinton won, even in a wave. They didn’t win every district Barack Obama won in 2008 either. They will have to beat incumbents in districts like GA-6 or MT-AL.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Why is it Shocking that Democrats may Win Seats?

Every time there's some bad news about a GOP held district the MSM runs an article saying, "Does this mean Republicans are in trouble?" It's treated as shocking news.Please. Everyone knows that 2018 should be a bad year for Republicans. The GOP has the White House. When a party holds the White House, they almost always lose the House popular vote. Republicans hold 241 House seats after winning the popular vote 49.1%-48.0% in 2016. Even a narrow popular vote loss in 2018 would mean Democrats should gain 7 seats to get to the 201 they had when they won the House popular vote in 2012.

So we should start with the idea it'll be a Democratic year. Donald Trump is unpopular and he did poorly in highly educated suburban districts like GA-6 in 2016. These are the most vulnerable districts for 2018. Jon Osoff nearly took the district in the first election. It won't be a shocker if he wins it in this election. This is an open district. Open districts where the Republican is retiring are the most vulnerable. I'd be shocked if the Democrats don't win 80-90% of them. Right now FL-27 is the only other swing district we know will be open. If there are 5 such districts next year Democrats should win at least 4. If there are 10, they should win 8-9. The problem for Democrats is that there probably won't be more than 5 swing districts that are open. Right now KS-2 and OH-16 will be open. These are districts that both the Republican incumbent and Donald Trump won by at least 16 points. They are tough wins for Democrats even as open seats.

If Democrats get the majority they'll have to win a significant number of swing districts where the GOP incumbent is running for re-election. Those are harder to win, but parties do win them in a wave. Unfortunately, special elections are only held for open seats. So we won't get an idea how Republican incumbents will fare in November 2018.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New Berkeley IGS Poll Good News for Villaraigosa

A new Berkeley IGS Poll for California governor is out. Democratic LG Gavin Newsom leads Democratic former LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa 22%-17%. Newsom led Villaraigosa 28%-11% in the last poll.

This is an ugly poll for everyone except Villaraigosa. Obviously cutting Newsom's lead from 17% to 5% is a huge positive. But it goes beyond that. Since California went to top two, there have been several statewide elections that had only unknown Republicans. Those Republicans tended to split the Republican vote. That's what's happened here now that David Hadley is included. That could mean that no Republican makes top two. That's bad news more bad news Newsom. Newsom wants to go up against a Republican next November. He's staked out the furthest left wing position in the field. That should get him the most votes in the primary and he'd crush a Republican in the general.

Antonio Villaraigosa seems likely to stake out a more moderate business friendly position and he is well established as a charter schools supporter. If he runs a strong campaign raising good money, being a moderate should mean he'd beat Newsom one on one. He'd pick up a huge chunk of the Republican and moderate independent vote while still maintaining his Democratic base with Latinos and Angelenos.

Okay, I hear you say, but Loretta Sanchez was the moderate in the 2016 Senate race and she got creamed. There's some big differences between Villaraigosa and Sanchez. Sanchez wasn't well known, she lacked a moderate track record, money, and strong campaign skills. Villaraigosa seems more likely to have those.

Gavin Newsom is hurt by John Chiang dropping from 8% to 5%. He needs Chiang to take enough of Villaraigosa's support to drop Villaraigosa below a Republican. Chiang is going in the wrong direction. There's a chance that Chiang sees his chances being so low that he runs for re-election instead. The biggest impediment to that is that individual campaign contributions are capped at $7,300 per person for Treasurer but are $29,200 per person for governor. Chiang couldn't transfer any contribution an individual made that's over $7,300.

Monday, June 5, 2017

CA-34 Run-Off Should Be Close

The run-off for the CA-34 special congressional election is tomorrow. I looked at ballot returns in the primary and thought Jimmy Gomez might be in trouble. Gomez did end up getting the most votes but now he's in a one-on-one with Robert Ahn and Ahn has done a great job in getting out the vote. We have data on the CA-34 VBM returns.

There have been 111 more ballots returned by Koreans than Latinos. That's a 30% return for Koreans and a measly 4% return for Latinos. The day before the primary there were 4,894 Latinos and 4,001 Koreans. Overall Asian returns are almost 50% higher than Latino. With ballot returns like this you want to watch the first election results. They should come out at 8:40 PM. Those are VBMs before election day. If Ahn is ahead he has a chance to win. If he's not, that means that an electorate with more Koreans than Latinos doesn't favor him. The election day vote isn't likely to be even more Korean than the lop-sided returns so far. If Ahn is behind, Gomez should win.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Montana-AL and the 2018 Congressional Vote

Last night Republican Greg Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist by 7 points in a special election to fill Montana's vacant congressional seat. There's always an effort to read into any special election and this one is no different.

It's true that Democrats have done very well in legislative and congressional special elections this year and that should be encouraging for them in 2018. A Republican being in the White House tells us all we need to know that this election should be a Democratic wave. You can stop reading here if that's all you need to know.

If not, here are some caveats. Don't compare the special election results to Trump-Clinton numbers. The biggest reason is that's a Presidential race between two candidates that don't live in the district, or in this case state, and this is a local race. In November Republicans rarely saw big gains in districts Trump improved over Romney and Democrats didn't see big gains in most district that Clinton improved over Barack Obama. Congressional numbers are a better barometer.

Ryan Zinke won the district by 15.6% in 2016. So a 7 point win for Gianforte shows a Democratic gain. One problem with that is that Zinke was an incumbent. This, like all special elections, had no incumbent. A party will almost always do better in an open seat race than when going up against an incumbent.

One thing that may be encouraging for Republicans is that the turn out in the special election was higher than the 2014 mid-term. Special elections are usually lower enthusiasm lower vote total affairs. Democrats are hoping for low Republican turn out but that doesn't appear to be the case in this election. If Democrats can't win districts with mid-term turnouts that could bode ill for them in 2018.

Trump won this state by a large margin and that's caused some Democrats to dismiss the district as one they won't have to win in 2018. When looking at congressional results, it is. Republicans won 217 seats by 13% or more. If Democrats were to win all of those seats they'd have the 24 they'd need to win back the House. Of course, planning on winning just those exact seats. They'll need to target a much broader group.

There are another 17 seats Republicans won by 13.4% - 15.6%. This is a good group to look at but they also look at any seat the GOP won by 20% or less that's open. A Republican incumbent who won by 12% may be harder to beat than winning an open seat that the GOP won by 20%. Zinke won MT-AL by 15.6%. That puts this seat at the upper limit Democrats should look at but it was also an open seat and that makes it far more likely to flip. Democrats can't dismiss any open seats in 2018.

Monday, May 15, 2017

508 ineligible North Carolina voters cast ballots in 2016

The state of North Carolina did an audit and found that 508 ineligible voters cast ballots in 2016. Of these 87% were felons ineligible to vote and 8% were non-citizens. The non-citizen number may be a bit higher, as they couldn't verify 61 additional voters. Only two people voted for someone else, both a recently deceased family member.

This audit pretty much sums up the truth in the voter fraud debate. Democrats deny that there are any people illegally casting ballots when there are some. Contrary to what Republicans say, it’s a pretty insignificant number. It's insignificant unless you're talking the 2008 Minnesota Senate race that was decided by less votes than ineligible convicted felons who voted.

Voter ID wouldn’t have prevented most of these, although I imagine that there are quite a few more instances of voter fraud they don't catch. The two they did catch here were people voting for deceased relatives, not people coming up with a scheme to create illegal votes. I don't know how many people get away with that, but I don't think there's any way to know the number. It's probably not significant.

Most of the people casting illegal ballots were wrongly registered to vote. One disturbing thing is the 102 non-citizens voting. The article doesn't paint them as part of an elaborate scheme to steal an election, but as people who thought they could and weren't eligible. North Carolina doesn’t give driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens the way California does. I’m guessing California has a lot more than 102 non-citizens voting, with most of whom think it’s legal to do so. This audit does show that contrary to what Donald Trump thinks there’s no evidence the number is significant and changed any election. Of course, any illegal votes shouldn’t be prevented.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Democrats Winning Trump Districts

The media has spent a lot of time writing about Republican districts Clinton won and how the Democrats will take them in 2018. So here's finally an article about a district Trump won. The focus of the article isn't how Republicans will take these. If Democrats will take Clinton districts it's logical to think Republicans will take Trump districts. No, the focus of the article is how Democrats could take even more Trump districts. Democrats dismiss media bias but part of it is the articles they write and how they write them. The focus is almost always about how Democrats are going to win elections, not on how Republicans will win.

Cheri Bustos won her district because it was a Democratic district. It has voted Democratic down ballot. Look at the seats which switched parties in 2016. There were a bunch in Florida and Virginia that switched due to redistricting. There were some districts that had been swing districts before, and they swung the other way in 2016. NJ-5 doesn't fit into either of those but that was a Republican district that Scott Garrett because of things he did.

There was only one district that was Romney-Clinton or Obama-Trump that flipped. That was NV-3. It was Obama-Trump and actually flipped the other way to the Democrat! There were some Romney-Clinton or Obama-Trump districts where the challenger came close, but that’s the best they did. If Romney-Clinton districts were really as vulnerable as people think, you would’ve seen a few flip in 2016. These congressmen would only be marginally vulnerable in a normal election. If there’s a wave, of course, they could be very vulnerable. What they don't mention in the article is that Donald Trump won IL-17 by less than 1 point. That's not a district Trump won by 10 or 20. Those districts aren't flipping even in a wave.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Did Republicans Just Cost Themselves the Majority?

Democrats seem to think so and the Washington Post asks the question.

Democrats have been making the argument that the American voter was going to punish Republicans for the last four cycles, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. They were going punish Republicans for obstructing President Obama's agenda. They were going to punish Republicans for the government shutdown. They were going to punish Republicans for blocking President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. There was a long list of things the voters were supposed to punish Republicans for. They never did. Republicans won the House vote by 7% in 2010, lost it by 1% in 2012, and won it by 6% in 2014, and 1% in 2016. Every time in the past Democrats claimed Republicans would be punished they weren't punished. So why would they be right now?

There's one big reason. There's a Republican in the White House, not a Democrat. Yes, voters have punished congress a few times before, but the President's party almost always gets beat in a mid-term. A President galvanizes the opposition in a way nothing else can. And Democrats are showing a lot of opposition. It's true that the mid-term electorate has favored the GOP in the past but that should be seen as immutable as the Permanent Democratic Majority was.

Less people always show up in a mid-term. In seven mid-terms from 1986 to 2010, the electorate was 71-76% of the previous Presidential electorate. In 2014, it was 64%. Both sides will lose voters who don't see it important to vote in a mid-term. If Democrats lose 20% of their voters and Republicans lose 30% of theirs, Democrats win the House vote by 8% in 2018. And that's certainly possible. While Democrats have had more voters indifferent about the mid-terms in the past they might not be indifferent with Donald Trump in the White House. Well, at least enough less of them might to help Democrats win.

There's another factor which often hurts the party in the White House. Swing voters are often disappointed. They expect something and the President doesn't deliver. The good news for Republicans is that Trump voters don't regret voting for him. Yet. There's still time.

In 2016 Donald Trump wasn't closely associated with House and Senate Republicans. There were many Republican held districts where Trump dropped off heavily from Romney and the House Republican didn't really drop off from how they did in 2012. The reverse was true. House Republicans failed to make inroads in many districts where Trump did a lot better than Romney. That was seen as unusual in age the experts insist there isn't ticket splitting. Of course, that was when Trump wasn't in office. It's a lot easier to see Republicans in the House being associated with Donald Trump now that they're working together. That could be a double edged sword. Yes, Republicans in Clinton won districts could suffer but Republican challengers in districts Trump won could take those. There's a lot of talk about 22 Republican districts Clinton won but not about the 11 Democratic districts Trump won. If Republicans can take 1 Democratic district for every 2 they lose, they'll have a bad night but still keep the House.

Will the AHCA hurt Republicans? I actually don't think so. I think the opposition would be robust whether they passed this bill or they didn't. I don't think vulnerable Republicans who voted no will be spared. Democrats were already energized before this bill passed. I doubt that'd dissipate if they didn't pass it. I think Democrats should do very well in the 2018 election. Of course, others have predicted they'd do well in previous elections and that didn't really happen.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Democrats and the 2016 and 2018 Elections

Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential election despite having more overall popular votes while losing several states by small margins. All those things are true. What is controversial is why. Some Democrats think Trump would never have won if the Republicans hadn't had help from James Comey and the Russians. Of course, Republicans won the House vote by 1.4 million votes and James Comey and the Russians had nothing to do with that.

Hillary Clinton clearly falls into the camp of "it was James Comey and the Russians." Believing this works for a few reasons. She doesn't have to accept responsibility for the loss and who wants to accept responsibility? That makes us fee bad. And other people get angry at us. And we might think that our policies aren't supported by enough people or that we are personally flawed. Better to blame it on others.

That's not to say that James Comey's letter, which he defends as justified, and the Russians didn't impact the election. Without them, Hillary Clinton would've won the popular vote! Oh wait. She won it anyway. We don't know how many people were influenced by either of these things and it's certainly possible that enough people in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania were to flip the election.

On the other hand, about a half dozen women accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. People assumed what they were saying was true, but none offered any evidence. I'm certainly not defending Donald Trump's treatment of women but then I'm not defending Hillary Clinton's treatment of classified information either. Let's say all but one of those women were telling the truth but that last women cost Donald Trump 100,000 votes. No one knows for sure and in a close election we can cite any number of factors which may have cost people votes. One thing that is true is that the leaked DNC emails were real and Hillary Clinton did mishandle classified information. It wasn't like James Comey was accusing her of killing Vince Foster.

I agree with David Axelrod. James Comey didn't prevent Hillary Clinton from campaigning in Wisconsin. Sometimes external factors are going to break against you. Sometimes they'll break for you. I don't get the feeling that anyone from Barack Obama's campaigns would complain about James Comey's letter. No, they'd work as hard as they could and would've won anyway. Of course Obama did have the advantage of never being the target of an FBI investigation. Some guys catch all the breaks!

Blaming the FBI and the Russians for the 2016 loss completely obscures that Democrats did lost the House vote by a point and they failed to beat vulnerable Senate Republicans. Priorities USA, a Democratic Super PAC, decided not to chalk up weak Democratic performance to the FBI and the Russians. They went out and found out why two time Obama voters voted Trump or not at all. And the answers were enlightening. You have to be doing something wrong when people who voted Obama as recently as 2012 switch to the Republicans.

The good news for Democrats is that they control nothing in Washington. How is that good news? Because the party in control gets a ton of blame for everything that goes wrong and people vote for the other party regardless of their policies. The Republican party wasn't offering much in 2010 other than Obamacare repeal, how's that going?, but America voted for them anyway. Because they weren't Democrats. As long as the Democrats don't do anything stupid like tell anyone opposing abortion not to vote for them, tey should do very well in 2018.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Political Parties

In the 2016 election many Bernie Sanders' supporters had a fundamental misunderstanding what political parties are. At their core they are a group of people who come together to support multiple candidates. Political parties tend to form on ideological lines. So it becomes a way for people who share a group of political positions to come together. In parliamentary countries there tend to be a lot of political parties and some parties focus narrowly on specific issues, not taking a stand on other issues. People in these parties support each other's candidacy and it provides a vehicle for donors and volunteers to latch onto. People know what the Democrats roughly stand for. They don't know what an independent stands for unless they look at his or her stances on the issues. An independent is just one candidate and a republic is set up where you have to win many elections to govern. Any time you group candidates together, for any reason, you pretty much have a political party.

Bernie Sanders hasn't wanted to join a political party and many of his supporters haven't either. Sanders, however, chose to run as a Democrat last year and the Democratic party is a group of individuals who've banded together to support other Democrats. Not independents. Since independents don't support all Democrats why should Democrats support independents? The Democratic party had rules that Sanders and his supporters chaffed at following. If he didn't want to follow those rules he shouldn't have become a Democrat. If he wanted to make up the rules himself he should've run as an independent or formed his own political party or like minded people. He chose to do neither.

The American political system has mostly been a two party system from the beginning. That means that one party often needs to get more than half the vote in each election and a party needs to get more than half in more than half the elections. The parties have always had firm, usually opposing, positions on issues. And they've operated on the idea that no one needs to adhere to all those beliefs, that people in their party need only support something in the half to two thirds of those positions. There's never been any strict requirement that to support a party you had to have a particular stance on an issue.

And there's good reason for that. Take abortion. While the numbers have varied a bit, about half of America is pro-choice and the other half is pro-life. If everyone who is pro-choice voted Democratic and everyone who is pro-life voted Republican each party would win roughly half the elections. That'd work fine. But pro-choice voters don't all support the Democratic party.

As you can see in this poll 36% of Republicans support abortion being legal in almost all cases. So Democrats aren't getting their votes. But that balances out, because 24% of Democrats think abortion should be illegal in almost all cases. That's because these people agree with their political party on most other issues. Democrats wouldn't win that many elections without their pro-life voters.

That's why it's perplexing that Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez declared, “every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same, because every woman should be able to make her own health choices. Period.” The logical conclusion from what Perez is saying that every Democratic candidate has to be pro-choice and, by logical extension, every Democratic voter does too.

This is a suicidal party position. If voters who are pro-life even vote for independents, and not Republicans, Democrats are going to lose most elections. They'll be a small minority in the House, Senate, and won't win the Presidency. Because there are only a few places where people who are pro-choice and support Democrats are the majority of voters. I can't imagine this is a path Democrats will go down.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

GA-6: Is a Wave Building?

Last night was the GA-6 primary election. Democrats Jon Osoff failed to get the 50% he needed to avoid a run-off but he had a very strong showing, getting 48% of the vote. He'll face Republican Karen Handel in a run-off. While he may be at a disadvantage in a fairly Republican district, it's a positive sign that Democrats lost this seat 51%-49%. Here are things to consider:

1) It's not necessary for Democrats to win this seat for them to do well in 2018. Republicans won only one House special election in 2010 and that was the quirky jungle primary in HI-1 where Democrats actually got 58% of the vote. They won no special elections from the Democrats in 2014. Yes, they had the big senate win in Massachusetts, but they actually didn't win the senate that year. Winning this seat won't give them the majority. Winning 24 seats in November 2018 will. And they don't need a win to be enthusiastic.

2) Last week some people jumped on the KS-4 result, saying that Republicans won a district Trump won by 27 points by only 8. That's a gain of 19 points! If they can do that everywhere they'll gain over 100 seats! Trump won GA-6 by 1.5 points. Republicans won it by 2 in the special. Oops. So now they're pointing out that Tom Price won the district by 23. That's a gain of 21 points!

3) There are a few problems with applying that everywhere. Jon Osoff spent $8 million, a total Democrats won't match in swing districts in 2018. This was the only race and got 100% Democratic focus. Republicans couldn't push one candidate, only run against Osoff. The biggest difference, however, is that there might be few open seats in competitive districts. Running against an incumbent can be tough, as he or she has a ton of capital with the voters. Open seats are much easier to win and Democrats likely will be favorites in any open swing district. So far six Republicans are retiring. None are in swing districts. At least one Democratic seat, MN-1, is one that should be competitive.

4) Republicans are looking for reasons a wave isn't building, a few of them are detailed above. That's denial. A wave could be building. If one is, these are the results you expect to see in special elections. One thing Republicans can't change is that their party has control of the White House. As they know, that can be a big motivator for the opposition. I doubt opposition to Donald Trump is going to drop. The party with the White House is less motivated. Many people will feel the President they voted for hasn't lived up to expectations. People just expect too much and are disappointed. So they don't go to the polls in mid-terms.

It's way too early to judge whether there's a wave building. In 2010 there were real indications until January of that year. In 2014 there were none. The wave was a surprise on election night. But a wave could be building.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

KS-4 Special Election Means Something or It Doesn't

Last night there was a special election in KS-4 a red district centered in Wichita. Republican Rob Estes won 53%-45%, a lackluster performance considering that Mike Pompeo won 61%-30% a few months ago.

Why It Means Something
The most obvious answer is that if Republicans are winning districts they won by 31 points by only 8 in 2018 they are going to lose a lot of seats. In 2008 and 2010 there were a number of special elections where the Democrats, in the former, and Republicans, in the latter, overperformed what they normally would do. These were signs that a wave was coming.

Why It Means Nothing
There were also elections in those cycles that swung the other way, where Republicans overperformed in 2008 and Democrats overperformed in 2010. This falsely led the parties to think there might not be a wave. On the other hand there were special elections in the 2004 and 2012 cycles where Democrats overperformed. These weren't indicative of a wave. It should be noted that the Kansas environment is positive for Democrats. Governor Sam Brownback is unpopular and Rob Estes is the state treasurer. That won't be the case in GA-6 or MT-AL, so those races might show if this close race was due more to Kansas or the national environment.

When will we know whether this election meant something? Possibly not until after the 2018 election. And that's not helpful at all.

Monday, April 3, 2017

CA-34 Special Still Looks Like a Surprise

Take a good look at this data. It's the VBM returns for the CA-34 special election through Friday. Election day is tomorrow. Despite being only 16% of registered voters Asians are 35% of the returned ballots. Latinos are 49% of registered voters but are only 28% of returned ballots. Voters 18-24 have been only 5% of the returned ballots despite being 10% of voters. Voters age 65+, on the other hand, are 44% of all returned ballots and they are only 19% of voters.

There are still going to be a lot more votes with late VBMs and election day ballots and this could be less than 25% of all ballots cast. But special elections tend to be much heavier VBM than regularly scheduled elections. And we really don't have any reason to believe election day voters are going to be much different. There may be reason for Jimmy Gomez to be nervous about making the run-off.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Impact of Healthcare Bill Failure

Passing bills is harder than opposing them. It’s easy for a congressman to find something they don’t like in a bill. Congressmen will get a lot more constituent opposition when they vote yes than when they vote no. Republicans are finding it hard to govern on the big stuff.

I don’t know if the GOP caucus is more ideologically diverse than the Democratic one, but Democrats have more of a tendency to fall in line behind leadership than Republicans do. I think it comes back to Democrats believing in collectivism and Republicans individualism. Republicans elect people who got things done themselves. Democrats elect people who worked as part of a group.

Not passing the healthcare bill might’ve been the best thing to happen to the GOP. Sure, they’ll take a hit for not getting things done but that’s better than passing a bad bill. I'm not going to judge whether the Republican healthcare bill would be good or bad for America. That won't be important for the 2018 election. What will be is how the voters perceive the bill. Quinnipiac showed 17% in favor and 56% opposed. The Democratic healthcare bill wasn't that unpopular and that killed them at the polls in 2010.

Democrats didn't do that well in 2012 when people knew what was in the bill and did even worse in 2014 when people actually saw it implemented. The lesson should be that a major health insurance overhaul is more likely to go badly than go well. And the Republican plan take an entitlement away from some people. You can win by not giving an entitlement but you can't when you take one away. Republicans need to accept that Obamacare is here and any alternative would be replacing Obamacare. Democrats had the advantage of replacing nothing and that went bad for them. The best Republicans can do is change Obamacare using Republican ideas that'd make the law actually work. That'd be unpopular with the GOP base, but if the law is perceived as positive then people outside their base might like it.

There's a lesson here for Republicans and it's not one they want to hear. It extends to tax reform. Republicans believe in smaller government and you get there by lowering taxes. But here's the thing. The people paying most of the Federal income taxes are rich. The top 1% pays 46% of all Federal income taxes and the top 20% pay 85%. The top 1% "only" earn 17% of all income. So they pay a disproportionate share of income taxes. If Republicans lower income taxes the people who pay them, the top 20%, would get the benefit. You can't cut taxes for people who don't pay them.

And cutting taxes for the rich is unpopular. If you're cutting taxes for 20% of people the other 80% are going to be unhappy and the 80% will always have more votes than the 20%. Doing anything that helps wealthier people is going to make Republicans look bad and they'll suffer at the polls. And really rich people aren't complaining too much. At least publicly. This is heresy to some Republicans. They believe that cutting taxes is always a good idea. Republicans don't need to raise taxes. They can cut taxes but they better be able to sell that they aren't just cutting taxes for the rich.

Democrats are in the minority in congress because they didn't adapt their ideology to what the voter wanted. If Republicans fail to do that, they'll suffer in 2018.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trump Predicts Doom if AHCA Doesn't Pass

I'm trying to understand Donald Trump's thought behind this statement. Is Trump threatening them with primary challenges? It's beyond imaginable if the President is threatening members of his own party with primary challenges if they don't support him. But Trump is Trump. The problem is that the idea is ill conceived. Donald Trump has no organization with candidates, money, and volunteers. I can't imagine Trump finding good candidates and then setting up an organization to beat Republicans.

Is he telling them that America will blame them for blowing something so great they'll elect Democrats? While that seems more plausible than a President threatening people in his own party it isn't clearly thought out. Even if not passing this bill would lead to a Democratic wave, Democrats aren't taking more than 40-50 seats in a landslide. That's not many of them since there are 241 Republican seats. And there really aren't that many vulnerable Republicans.

Most likely there isn't thought behind it. Trump believes the bill is great because he backs it and most people in America love him. So anyone who doesn't support him will lose because America will hate them.


I guess this answers the question. Trump probably doesn’t even know if there are 10 Democratic senators up for re-election, let alone which ones. He doesn't know if Republicans could beat 10 Democrats. He just knows that whatever he’s for is great and America will reward them if they support it. It is conceivable Republicans could win those 10 seats because Democrats have so many senators up in swing seats but it's unlikely that could happen.

Voters don't usually reward a party for passing a couple of bills. Voters imagine they'll pass a perfect bill and are usually disappointed by the bills' failures. And those are the supporters. Opponents are really energized by a bill passing.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Could Jimmy Gomez Miss the CA-34 Run-Off?

When Xavier Becerra resigned his congressional seat it appeared that stars aligned for assemblyman Jimmy Gomez to take it. L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo decided not to run and endorsed Gomez. Gomez got endorsements from politicians,, labor unions, and Planned Parenthood. Take it home. We're done.

Not so fast. Special elections are low turn out races, typically attracting 10%-20% of registered voters. The smaller the electorate the easier it is for candidates to rally a small amount of voters to the polls. We have VBM returns for the race. Only about 2% of registered voters have voted. Since even in a poor turnout special election 10% will turn out, this is only somewhere between 10 and 20% of the voters.

The District is 58% Democratic and 9% Republican but the VBMs are 58% Democratic and 14% Republican so far. Since this is the only election on the ballot, they are turning out to vote in this election. There is only one Republican on the ballot, while there are 19 Democrats. If William Morrison gets 15% of the vote he should be one of the candidates to go to the two person run-off.

Registered voters are 49% Latino/16% Asian but VBMs are 36% Asian/26% Latino. I don’t know the ethnicity of everyone on the ballot but it looks like 15 Latinos, 5 Whites, 1 African-American, and 2 Asians. The two Asians are Robert Lee Ahn and Steven Mac make the run off. Mac is a county prosecutor. If the Asian voters are voting for the Asian candidates one should easily get at least 15%.

Does Jimmy Gomez get the rest? Not so fast. Bernie Sanders won the district and three candidates are claiming to be cut from the Sanders cloth, including Arturo Carmona, Sanders’ deputy political director during the presidential campaign. Actor Danny Glover is endorsing him. The LA Times predicts Gomez will make the run off. I’m not ready to predict he won’t but I see the possibility that he won’t. If that happens it'll be a huge upset.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Democrats Challenging Southern California Republicans

Democrats have had the good fortune to pick up Republican congressional seats in San Diego, Palm Springs, Riverside, and Ventura county, places they haven't traditionally challenged the GOP. Now they're trying to pick up the next tier of Republican seats in Orange County. Like those, Democrats have no real bench of legislators or local politicians to rely on. They've usually not even bothered to recruit, leaving the races to anyone who can get their name on the ballot.

These some dude Democrats have never been able to raise money. A case in point is Doug Applegate, Darrell Issa's 2016 challenger for his North County San Diego based seat. Applegate raised almost nothing before the June primary. He finished close to Issa there and then the money poured in. He ended up raising $2 million. I'm guessing that little of that was due to his fundraising ability. It was a mix of PAC money, Democratic leadership raising money, and Internet donations. As the Sanders campaign showed there is a lot of money, even in small donations, if you can motivate people.

The Social Justice Warriors of the left are energized with Donald Trump in the White House and they see opportunity in Southern California. Democrat Harley Rouda is challenging Republican Dana Rohrabacher in a Fullerton based congressional seat. Rouda is a business man with no political experience. That's the type of candidate Democrats will have to run since they lack a legislative bench. Rouda lives in Laguna Beach. That's actually in the district. While a candidate who is from the district they seek to represent might seem obvious to some, it's been a struggle for Democrats. Several of their 2016 candidates weren't from the districts they sought to represent. Rouda has already seen strong fundraising and he could get a lot of internet donations without having to do much himself.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Healthcare Bill May Lead to Republican Election Losses

The healthcare bill in congress is likely to lead to dire electoral consequences for Republicans. I write this because the bill has been depicted as benefitting the rich and result in much higher expense for everyone else. If that’s what happens or people believe will happen, Republicans will be punished.

There’s an argument out there that if Republicans fail to pass a healthcare bill or the one they pass has flaws then Democrats will share the blame. After all, the ACA was their bill originally. It’s flaws are due to them. Democrats spent President Obama’s Presidency taking credit for any positives in the economy while at the same time blaming President Bush for any negatives. People assumed that eventually Democrats would “own the economy” because at some point it’d only be their actions that were affecting it. They never stopped blaming George Bush and the public accepted that.

I disagree with that reasoning. First, the press is usually going to depict Democrats positively and Republicans negatively. They supported the idea that the economy was “all Bush’s fault.” Republicans won’t be so lucky on healthcare. Articles are out already that they are ruining it and they haven’t done anything. Democrats were actually held accountable for a lot of their actions and didn’t fare well during the Obama years. Even if America didn’t blame them for the economy they blamed them for other things.

Obamacare is now in effect, a far different situation from 2009. Back then Democrats were taking no government involvement and created a system with a lot of government involvement. The baseline was nothing. The baseline here is real.

I’m aware of Obamacare’s negatives. It was promised as a way to control health insurance costs and premiums have skyrocketed. People who don’t get subsidies avoid the exchanges because the policies on the exchanges are pricey, have high deductibles, and cover fewer doctors and hospitals. Insurers keep pulling out of Obamacare exchanges and that’s going to lead to, in some counties, one or no insurers on the exchange. Prices will rise even higher or people won’t be able to get a policy at all.

That said, there are plenty of people either getting their insurance through the exchange or in Medicaid expansion. In 2009 Republicans could be against these handouts. No one was getting them, so people didn’t have a problem. Once people get handouts, however, they get very angry if you take them away. They don’t care if it’s a bad plan or if it’s collapsing. They want their free/discounted stuff.

Democrats have created entitlements going back to FDR and Social Security. The philosophy has been that it didn’t matter whether they did the entitlement well or if it was sustainable. Once people had the entitlement Republicans wouldn’t dare take it away and would have to fix it. That’s true. It doesn’t matter how negative people are about Obamacare. Take something away from people and they’ll vote you out of office.

This plan is getting savaged in the media. They don’t believe Republicans when they say this plan will be better for people. The Democratic plan was treated well and Democrats got creamed at the polls. I can’t see how hearing that your health insurance will either go away or become a lot more expensive won’t influence people.

The Republican plan repeals the Obamacare taxes. That fits Republican philosophy but doesn’t fit where America is now, because these taxes are on people perceived as rich. It doesn’t matter if these people aren’t paying taxes and the rich pay a huge share. The perception is that they’re paying too much and the rich aren’t paying their fair share. While Republicans might get support for not passing new taxes on the rich they won’t get much for repealing taxes on the rich.

The perception will be that the voter will have worse and more expensive healthcare while the rich will benefit. That’ll be a disaster for Republicans at the polls in 2018.

Is there a way to avoid it? Republicans would have to propose a completely different plan for it to be one people view as positive rather than negative. Not passing a plan at all might be better for them but if Obamacare continues to implode I doubt they’ll let the Republicans off the hook for not stopping it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Schwarzenegger for Senate?

Politico has an article up with speculation that Arnold Schwarzenegger could run for the US Senate. It's been widely believed that Schwarzenegger was done with politics but he has gotten into a high profile feud with Donald Trump. And he seems to enjoy it. If he wants to continue that, he has no better platform than to run for the Senate. Well, the better platform would be to be in the US Senate. Consider how things have changed in the last eight years.

2010 Democrats: Arnold is an awful evil Republican
2018 Democrats: Anyone who could stick it to Trump is worth a look

2010 Republicans: Arnold is apostate
2018 Republicans: He'd be better than a Democrat. Why not?

I don't think Schwarzenegger could beat Feinstein but he could easily make top two and face off with her in November 2018. If Feinstein were to retire Democrats don't have anyone with a profile like Kamala Harris. Gavin Newsom, John Chiang, and Antonio Villaraigosa could abandon the governor's race but they couldn't transfer their huge war chests. Congressmen like Raul Ruiz or Ami Bera could run but neither has much of a statewide profile. And if Arnold ran as NPP Democrats who won't vote Republican might for him.

Hillary Clinton's Policy Free Campaign

Wesleyan University has a new study and blames Hillary Clinton's loss partially on "Clinton’s message was devoid of policy discussions in a way not seen in the previous four presidential contests." It's true that her slogan #Imwithher was about the candidate and not the voters.

Clinton couldn't run on issues like Barack Obama did. Obama was running against a 3rd term of George W. Bush. Clinton was running for Obama's third term. George H.W. Bush ran for Reagan's third term. SNL made fun of him for "stay the course," but it worked. Al Gore ran for Clinton's third term but then tried to distance himself from it. It created a jumble, but he did win the popular vote. John McCain was DOA because of George W. Bush.

Hillary Clinton had no policy differences with Barack Obama until she came out against the Trans Pacific Partnership. People liked Obama and might've supported him for a third term if he ran. What they didn't want was someone who supported his policies that wasn't him. They didn't want a Washington insider. Yet Clinton was a Washington insider who supported Obama's policies. The server scandal and Goldman Sachs speeches reinforced all her negatives.

If she couldn't run on the issues or experience all she had was the woman card and Trump is awful. Clinton has never been comfortable as feminist icon and was clumsy with the woman card. Her efforts to paint Trump as awful led to her "Deplorable" speech. And there were enough people who disliked Trump enough to give her the popular vote. Just not where it counted.

Bernie Sanders ran a very different campaign. He had no problem running against Obama, even if he didn't say it explicitly, and the establishment insiders that Barack Obama was part of. Sanders said the economy wasn't working for people. No one said it was Barack Obama's economy he was talking about but the President owns the economy. Sanders is depicted too far to the left to win, but his far left stances were mixed with populism and struck all cords with the angry voter. Black and Hispanic Clinton voters might've stayed home but that wouldn't have cost Sanders states like New York and California. In the Rust Belt, however, he could've gotten white working class voters who felt that no Democrats was talking about the issues the way Trump and Sanders were and won the states Clinton didn't.

Clinton is derided for not going to Michigan and Wisconsin but I don't think that would've helped her. She spent time in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida and couldn't win the white working class votes in any of them. She wasn't going to win them anyway. Sanders could've won just enough to win the electoral college. Clearly Clinton couldn't.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Democrats: Vote For Us Because Trump is a Jerk

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi has unveiled the Democratic strategy for winning the 2018 election:

"The way I told my members: It's like telling your friend the guy she's dating is a jerk."

I have to say that this strategy is better than treating voters like they are racist, sexist homophobes. Hillary had a few more insults in her deplorables speech but you get the idea. No, this isn't that bad but it's almost as bad.

They'll be patronizing voters with a "we know what you need better than you do" attitude. That's certainly not unusual for Democrats but people don't like to be patronized. In fact, that's one of the reasons they lost these voters in the first place. Democrats really need to get their head around the idea that people who didn't vote for him knew what they wanted and Democrats weren't offering it. If you want to win their vote you need to offer them a vision that'll make their lives better than what the Republicans offered.

They shouldn't assume the voters will turn on Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton made her major selling point that people should vote for her because Trump was a horrible person. That didn't work well. Yet Democrats can't seem to get their heads around the idea that some Trump voters supported him and still do even after all the revelations. The polls are saying they aren't disappointed.

While some people will vote Democratic because the President disappoints them, there were many people who didn't vote for Trump who still voted Republican down ballot. So these people already didn't want Trump.House Republicans had more votes than Donald Trump, while House Democrats had 4 million fewer. So disappointment with Donald Trump might not be enough of a sell.

If Democrats don't give people a reason to vote for them and just hope people do so to vote against Trump, they may be disappointed with the election result. Again.