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California Democrats v. President Obama

by: Left Coast Libertarian

Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 17:16:53 PM EST


How did California Democrats do compared to President Obama?
Left Coast Libertarian :: California Democrats v. President Obama
Photobucket

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.  

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With due respect
You didn't think 58.5% was the new  normal for presidential years either. I think this election taught us that California is, in fact, rapidly trending towards the Democrats. The Inland Empire is now a Democratic area of strength, continuing its trend from GOP stronghold to swing area to Democratic leaning. San Diego is now solidly D. Orange County will become a swing county by the end of the decade, and will likely become Democratic leaning within 20 years or so.  

Point is
I would expect Democrats to get 58.5% in the midterm, and 60% in 2016. We will see if the GOP can reverse the trend, but I doubt it.

[ Parent ]
Do you think the 2016 nominee will be more popular than Obama?
Dianne Feinstein also won't be on the ballot to help down ticket.

R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2

[ Parent ]
Rapidly Trending?
When did I say 58.5% was or wasn't the new normal in Presidential years? I've never used that number before, since it's a number I just calculated a few days ago.

Barack Obama did worse in 2012 than he did n 2008. Yes, he did worse nationally but when a state is trending toward a party, let alone doing so "rapidly" that should mean he does better, not worse. Please explain how doing worse is trending toward someone? At best, the state is trending toward Democrats slowly.

The Inland Empire isn't an area of Democratic strength. Obama won San Bernardino County and barely won Riverside County. Jerry Brown lost both counties. At best, Democrats have achieved parity in the Inland Empire. That's a big accomplishment, but it's not an area of strength.

San Diego isn't solidly D. Meg Whitman won the county 50%-44%. Someone who loses by 13% doesn't win a solidly D county by 6%. For the state, the county is R+9.

If you can provide data to contradict this, please do so.

R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2


[ Parent ]
Well the IE surely isn't the R stronghold it once was
both Riverside and San Bernadino are atleast bellweather/swing counties.

SD county is definitely moving to the left you can't deny that. Obama's two majority wins of the county were the first since FDR. It's hard to compare midterm low turnout with presidential turnout and statewide/local vs President

"Barack Obama did worse in 2012 than he did n 2008. Yes, he did worse nationally but when a state is trending toward a party, let alone doing so "rapidly" that should mean he does better, not worse."
But that's just it, he did do better. That's why the PVI for CA41 actually shifted even more to the Dems this year.

He dropped 2-3 points nationally but didn't actually drop as much in the IE, hence why the D PVI improved.


[ Parent ]
San Diego
I'll deny it completely because it's not true. What happened with FDR or even Ronald Reagan isn't relevant to whether San Diego county is moving left now. You can't use data points years apart and consider them trends.

To prove your point below you chose to compare John Kerry 2004 to Barack Obama 2008. I'm a bit perplexed on how what happened between those two dates tells us anything about 2012.

Barack Obama is incredibly popular here and represents a unique situation. Rather than comparing him to Kerry, comparing Obama to Obama holds the candidate constant, which is important in any analysis. Obama dropped 0.3% in the state, but 1.3% in San Diego county., San Diego county didn't move toward the Democrats with Obama.

We can also use Dianne Feinstein's two elections as a comparison. She ran in 2006, a mid-term where Democrats overall had a worse performance relative to 1998, 2002, and 2010. Feinstein got 55.6% two party San Diego county vote in 2006 but only got 54.4% in 2012, a 1.2% drop. She got 55.7% of the two party vote in 2000.

No, San Diego isn't what it once was, but it hasn't been for a long time.  

R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2


[ Parent ]
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree
From your take on this, the counties aren't trending blue but trending Obama. The reason why I brought up FDR was after that no Democratic President (LBJ landslide included) won and outright majority of San Diego county's votes. You could have said the same thing about Mono and Alpine counties as being nothing more than fluke wins for Kerry, but now 3 consecutive wins for Dems, those two counties are now mostly considered Dem counties.

The reason why I bring up Kerry is to highlight just how Republican both of those counties were back then. If they weren't trending Dem then why didn't the Dem vote drop off as much as it did nationally?

What I'm saying is its fine that Obama dropped off 1.3 San Diego as that's still smaller drop than the 2-3 points he dropped off in the national, meaning that would boost the PVI in the D direction

You do make a fair point in regards to the other statewide races, so I guess we'll have to how the next D presidential candidate does in this county


[ Parent ]
2014
It's a bad idea to compare presidential numbers of two candidates ad draw a conclusions. First, the President isn't a California politician and thus not as translatable as a California politician might be. The numbers can be heavily influenced by one candidate's strength or weakness.

When making comparisons you like to hold as many factors constant. Thus, measuring Obama v. Obama or Feinstein v. Feinstein can give you a measurement that leads you with less external factors.

Before 1974,  Republicans used to win statewide and before 1992 they used to win at a Presidential level. Both of those are a long time ago and don't tell us how the state is trending now. As the Feinstein numbers show, San Diego county has been getting more Republican over the last 12 years. Sure, it was once very Republican but that doesn't matter to how it's moving now.

Obama didn't drop by 2-3 nationally. He dropped off by 1.7. So his drop off in San Diego was about average. I'd rather compare San Diego county to the rest of California, as we know California's drop off of 0.3% means that most California areas dropped less than national. Also, when we compare to national we're including a lot of states that have little in common with California. Using this measure, San Diego county is trending Republican.

The measures we should use are debatable, but there's no evidence San Diego county is trending Democratic, rapidly or otherwise. The next election in 2014 is a mid-term. So we shouldn't only use a Presidential year numbers and only a President who won't be on the ballot.

Any way you slice it Republicans are in a weak position. It just might not be getting any weaker.  

R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2


[ Parent ]
you make some fair points
I guess the question really is if you expect counties like San Bernadino, San Diego and Riverside to be carried by Republicans at the presidential elections in the future.

The city of San Diego seems to catching up to its presidential voting by electing Dem Mayor, council, and a new county sup.

Normally I'd say that voter registration numbers may help provide a good idea, but I'd be dead wrong in Riverside County thanks to that whole mess up with voter registration (it is the only way I can make sense of Senator Richard Roth carrying 47% of the GOP registered vote)

The reason why I felt Orange county was moving toward dems was because of voter registration:

Since 2004, the GOP has lost 31,000 registrations countywide, while Democrats picked up 80,000 new voters.

I'm also still picking up the pieces of the Chris Norby's defeat in what was supposed to be R friendly territory.

I guess we'll know by the end of the decade where to truly classify these counties.

2014 might be interesting just to see what happens to assembly members Sharon Quirk-Silva and Steve Fox . Both seats should be heavy targets for GOP is they want to return back to at least 1/3 control in the assembly


[ Parent ]
2008 -> 2012 trends in California
Romney improved in Orange, Ventura, San Luis, Santa Barbara.

27, R, PA-07.

[ Parent ]
California moved from D+8.5 to D+10
This is despite Romney improving across much of the state. Where he didn't improve on McCain, were in areas of heavy Hispanic growth (Most of the Central Valley, LA, Imperial, San Bern, Kern) and the high-minority areas of the Bay Area.

To turn around California, the GOP really needs to improve with minority communities. But this isn't just true to CA, its just more evident there.  

Baker '14
R, MA-3


Of Course
Its hard to win a State like California, when Hispanics are set to surpass whites as the state's largest ethnic group this year.  And that is assuming that we can keep on winning California white voters, who aren't exactly reliably Republican to begin with.  Then throw on top of that the state's significant Asian and Black populations, and you have some hard electoral math.

23, Libertarian Republican CA-18
Liberals dream things that never were and ask why not.  Conservatives shout back "Because it won't work"


[ Parent ]
One thing people forget
That's D+8.6 to D+9.9.

There was a massive influx of Democratic registrations in the last month due to the start of online registration. No one was counting on this, including me and they threw things a little more to the Democrats than anyone counted on.

These people voted heavier than people registered before, at about an 85% rate. They were likely responsible for 325,000 of Obama's vote margin. If you take that 325,000 away Obama 59.3%-38.2% and the state is D+8.8.

The onliners were legit Democrats and will likely vote again, but it's hard to call them part of an electoral trend since they all came in at once and likely wouldn't have voted if they didn't have online registration. If online registration had been started two months later we'd be talking about no change in California.


R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2


[ Parent ]
The counties
I hadn't looked at the counties. Here's how Mitt did vs. McCain, two party

Los Angeles -0.9%
San Diego +1.3%
Orange +1.9%
Riverside +0.4%
San Bernardino -0.5%
Sacramento E
Fresno +0.2%
Ventura +2.7%
Santa Barbara +2.4%
San Luis Obispo +2.2%
Kern -0.4%
Stanislaus -0.5%
San Joaquin -1.6% (worst)
Tulare -0.1%
Placer +4.2% (best)

If there's a place that there's cause for concern it has to be the Central Valley, not San Diego or Orange County.  

R, CA-37; hometown: PA-2


there still should be concern about those two counties
In both cases there was enormous shift away from Republicans from 2004 to 2008. 2012 did very little to return those counties back to their strong R roots.

San Diego County went from 46.4% Kerry to 54.3% Obama (nearly an 8 point shift)

Orange County went from 39% Kerry to 47.8% (another 8 point shift. While Obama did drop 2 points in 2012 his 45% was still best showing for a Dem since FDR's 1936 landslide.
This county where Dem struggle to clear the 40% mark, so it's not good for R's to see the floor rise.


[ Parent ]
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