Democrats were remarkably consistent compared to President Obama in the 2012 election. In 61 congressional, senate, and assembly districts where the President got 39 and 66% they averaged doing worse than Obama by about 3.4%. They were 3.4% below in assembly races, 3.5% below in senate races, and 3.3% below in congressional races. They were between 0.1% ahead and 7.0% behind the President in 53 of the 61 races.
Conventional wisdom is that how much worse Democrats did than President Obama would be directly tied into the competitiveness of the district. Thus districts where the Democrats fielded a non-competitive candidate and the Republican spent a lot of money would be far below Obama. Districts that were the reverse would meet or exceed Obama.
Yet when we look at the list below we see that there were two districts where the Democrats beat Obama, CD-1 and AD-3, where the candidate was non-competitive. On the other hand, Democrats in districts where Republicans were less competitive were among the worst performers compared to Obama.
In congressional districts, John Hernandez was easily the biggest underachiever, but Alan Lowenthal was also disappointing. Gary DeLong might've won a district that wasn't so Democratic. He likely was a great candidate for this district, but it's one a Republican can't win.
So Democratic performance can be gauged based on how the President did. Democrats never did better than 1.3% ahead of the President. So Republicans can feel secure in any district Obama got less than 48.7% two party, even in a Presidential year. In a mid-term you can probably up that and say that if President Obama didn't win the district the Democrats won't win it in 2014. There may be an election when Democrats can target Buck McKeon but this cycle is unlikely to be it.
On the other hand, Republicans need to give up hope of winning any district where Obama got more 57% of the vote and likely should set their sights on district where he got 54-55% at most. Maybe go a little higher in a mid-term.
While Democrats were fairly well below Barack Obama, I wouldn't want to give the impression it was a bad Democratic year. Obama and Feinstein are off the charts as candidates, exceeding statewide vote totals other Democrats can't approach.
Falling 3.5% below Obama is actually good. That'd be 58.4% two party statewide. Typically Democrats get 55-57% in statewide mid-term elections. The only statewide elections in Presidential years are the Presidential race and, sometimes, a senate race. So there isn't a lot of data for baseline in a Presidential year.
Since California districts were so gerrymandered in the past, the districts were non-competitive and won't tell us a lot about competitive districts. So comparing those totals to candidates to Obama won't tell us much.
I don't think 58.4% is a new normal for Democrats in a mid-term, at least in one where there's a Democrat in the White House. They'll probably get around 56-57% in 2014. That's still on the high end. Of course that's speculation. Democrats could easily look at it optimistically and assume that an upward trajectory will continue in 2014.
While 2016 might not as good without Obama on the ballot, you have to think things look pretty rosy for Democrats.
Note: I don't have final vote totals for some counties in 6 assembly and senate districts. The Obama percentages, which appear in red, are estimated based on overall county performance.