Following the June 5 top-two primary, I wanted to see how past California congressional primary results might compare to general election results to see how good Democratic chances might be in November. (This is all just some thoughts on my part, btw, and not any type of strict analysis...) I'm looking here only at 2010 results. That was not a good year for Democrats overall, and even though the red wave didn't quite hit California the way it hit other parts of the country, Democratic performance was nevertheless still not up to par in the Golden State two years ago. Thus, in a way this may be looking at the picture only in a worst case type of scenario if you're a Democrat.
(You really can't do much with 2008 results in terms of extrapolation because the Democratic primary vote was greatly skewed by the Obama-Hillary battle; 2006 was a very good year for Democrats in November -- so it may not be a good gauge for the purpose of this diary; and if you go back to 2004 or earlier you're getting results for a California where the demographics may be a bit different…)
Even before looking at the results I figured that Democratic performance would be likely to go up in most districts from June to November -- even looking at a year like 2010 -- and, indeed, I found that to be the case. The interesting part was seeing how that general increase was spread out quite differently depending on the district.
Now this is all not exactly comparing apples to apples for several reasons: 1.) 2012 is a Presidential year, unlike 2010, so turnout is likely to be even higher in November (vs. June) than it was two years ago; 2.) district lines have changed, and I'm comparing results from the 2002 districts to the new map… but nevertheless, using the closest approximation of geographical areas; and 3.) the top-two primary is a concept a bit different from the former regular primaries, but nevertheless, we are able to look at how many people voted in raw numbers and for whom and see how this might change in November…
I've read several diaries on conservative-leaning sites following the primary last week where the gist was that Democrats are unlikely to win certain California districts in November because of June Democratic totals being kind of sub-par in some areas -- and the first thing that came to my mind was that you really can't judge what the November result will be in California based on what the numbers look like in the June primary (except, of course in CA-31, where unfortunately you know 100% that a Republican will win!) In many cases, I think the GOP is just fooling themselves in thinking that Democrats will not have a chance in November just because our June numbers were not that strong. In some cases I think it's also an expectations and motivational game -- and as Democrats we must not get discouraged or sidetracked, as we still have very good chances of picking up seats in the state in November.
So here are some thoughts re. our chances in competitive California districts based on the 2010 results alone (please note that for purposes of comparison and simplicity I've accounted for all Democratic/Republican percentages for both 2010 and 2012 as a portion of the two-party vote, thus eliminating any third party numbers…)
CA-3 (old CA-10):
Garamendi received 57.3% of the two-party vote in the June 8, 2010 primary; in the November 2, 2010 general election he received 60.9% of the two-party vote, a 3.6% shift in the Democratic direction. Granted, the new CA-3 is formed out of only a part of the old CA-10 (while other large chunks come out of the old CA-1 and CA-2, so the geography here doesn’t correspond exactly)… Nevertheless, last Tuesday, Garamendi got 52.5% of the two-party vote, so I think he will be OK in November.
CA-7 (old CA-3):
Lungren and Bera faced each other two years ago. In the June primary that year, Bera received 40.5% of the two-party vote. In November 2010 Bera received 46.3% of the two-party vote. Thus Democratic performance shifted up 5.8%. In the June 5, 2012 top-two primary Bera received 43.5% of the two-party vote. If the pattern of 2010 is repeated in 2012, then Bera's November total would theoretically go up to slightly more than 49% of the vote… Granted, for this district and all the others mentioned here, we're looking at how the vote shifted using the old district lines, so it may not shift the same under the new lines… however, according to a diary I read recently at our conservative friends Red Racing Horses (I apologize but can't seem to find the link anymore even though I copied the data provided) the Democratic candidate received 49.2% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-7)… If Obama runs strong in California this year, then Bera has a chance of winning -- but it should be close either way.
CA-9 (old CA-11):
McNerney received 41.9% of the two-party vote in the June 2010 primary, while in November he got 50.6% of the two-party vote, a shift of 8.7% in our direction. On June 5, 2012 McNerney received 48.4% of the two-party vote, so I think he should win comfortably in November (according to the aforementioned RRH diary, the Democratic candidate received 54.4% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-9).
CA-10 (old CA-19):
In June 2010, two Democratic candidates combined received 34.7% of the two-party vote in the old CA-19 (facing Denham and three other Republicans in their primary), while in November the Democratic total was 35.3%, a slight increase. In June 2012 in a significantly more Democratic CA-10, two Democratic candidates, including Jose Hernandez, received 41.5% of the two-party vote. However, a better approach here might be to look at actual percentages (instead of my "two-party vote" calculations) since Chad Condit, son of former conserva-Dem. Congressman Gary Condit ran as an independent. All in all, Denham got 48.3%; the two Democrats 34.3% and Condit 15.0% (another independent received 2.3%). According to RRH, the Democratic candidate received 45.4% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-10… but it's a Presidential year in territory that Obama previously carried, albeit narrowly, and Hernandez has a great resume and he just might make this a win for us in November of 2012.
CA-16 (old CA-18):
Cardoza received 54.5% of the two-party vote in June 2010; in November he received 58.5%. Last Tuesday, Costa, who is now running in this district, and another Democratic candidate received a combined 51% of the two-party vote, so we should be OK here in November.
CA-21 (old CA-20):
Two Democrats, including Costa, received 55.8% of the primary two-party vote in June 2010, but only 51.7% of the two-party vote in November of that year -- thus this was the only competitive area in California where the Democratic number went the wrong way between June and November of 2010 -- almost costing Costa the old CA-20. In June of this year the two Democrats running here received only a combined 42.7% of the vote. According to RRH, the Democratic candidate received only 41.7% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-21, and although this particular district might experience one of the biggest shifts in turnout by November because of the very large Hispanic population (thus perhaps a considerable shift towards the Democrats as it is a Presidential year) it will likely not be enough (theoretically, a big enough shift is possible: according to calculations I did a while back, the Democratic Congressional candidate received approx. 63% of the two-party vote in November 2008 in territory that is now part of the new CA-21-- a huge shift from the 42% of 2010). Nevertheless, Republican David Valadao looks like the next Congressman here. I think if someone like State Senator Rubio runs here in the future, we might be quite competitive though.
CA-24 (old CA-23):
Capps received 55.5% of the two-party vote in June 2010, and 60.6% in November. In June 2012, Capps got 47.6% of the two-party vote. According to RRH, the Democratic candidate received 47.6% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-24, and my gut tells me that Capps will go above 50% in November.
CA-26 (old CA-24):
In 2010, three Democrats got a combined 37.1% of the two-party vote in the old CA-24 June primary. When facing Gallegly in November, the Democratic number rose to 40.1%. Last Tuesday, the four Democrats combined took 37.3% of the total vote, with GOPer Strickland at 44.2% and independent Parks at 18.5%. According to RRH, the Democratic candidate received 47.3% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-26. Obama did quite well here last time (57.7% of the two-party Presidential vote), and if Brownley captures just the right amount of Parks’ moderate supporters she will become the next Member of Congress.
There's really no single district to compare this to as far as 2010 numbers go. The new CA-41 was created out of territory mostly in the old CA-44 and CA-45. When looking at those districts we can see that the shift towards the Democratic side may indeed be very large here in November. In the old CA-44, Hedrick received only 32.6% of the two-party vote in June 2010, versus 44.4% of the two-party vote in November, an amazing shift of 11.8% towards our side. In CA-45, Pougnet received 35.3% of the two-party vote in June, and 45.0% in November -- a 9.7% shift… so the territory that is now CA-41 basically experienced a 10% shift towards our side from June to November 2010. In June of this year, the Democratic candidates combined took 45.2% of the two-party vote. According to RRH, the Democratic candidate received 54.6% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-41 (which almost perfectly dovetails with a 10% shift towards Democrats). For November 2012, I would put my money on Takano and not on Tavaglione.
CA-36 (old CA-45):
I already discussed the 9.7% shift towards the Democratic side in this area between June and November 2010. In June of this year, Ruiz took 41.9% to 58.1% for Bono Mack. Based on those numbers, it looks daunting for us, but if you look at the 2010 shift, it (surprisingly) looks possible! Obama didn't win by much here last time, but with shifting demographics things sometimes change quickly in California (see Loretta Sanchez v. Dornan back in 1996). We'll see!
CA-46 (old CA-47):
Loretta Sanchez received 47.0% of the two-party vote in the old CA-47 in June 2010, while in November that number rose to 57.4% (it appears that areas with a high Hispanic population tend to experience the largest shifts towards our side between the primary and general). In June 2012, Sanchez took 52.8% of the two-party vote; I think she will win comfortably in November.
It was also hard to compare this new seat to a predecessor seat. Large chunks came out of the old CA-37, CA-40 and CA-46. The shifts between June and November 2010 were rather small overall: a small shift towards the Democratic side in both CA-40 and CA-46, and a small shift the other way in CA-37 (though it should be noted that the Democrat in that district was the ethically challenged Richardson). The four Democrats running here received a combined 49.2% of the two-party vote on June 5, 2012 and according to RRH, the Democratic candidate received 48.7% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-47. However, Obama received 59.6% of the two-party Presidential vote here back in 2008, and it's a Presidential year once more. I would thus give the edge to Lowenthal, although the final result may be closer than what many optimistic Democrats now think.
CA-52 (old CA-50):
In June 2010 the two Democrats combined received 38.4% in the old CA-50, and in November that number increased to 40.7% as Busby once again ran against Bilbray. In the new CA-52, on Tuesday of last week, the Democratic candidates combined took 48.9% of the two-party vote. According to RRH, the Democratic candidate received 46.1% of the two-party vote in November 2010 in territory that is now part of the new CA-52. According to precinct calculations I did myself a while back, the Democratic candidate received approx. 53% of the two-party vote in November 2008 in territory that is now part of the new CA-52. It's a Presidential year once again, and Obama received 55.9% of the two-party Presidential vote last time. This is one district, btw, where the top-two concept may be towards the Democrats advantage (the thought of Saldana running as a left-leaning independent, though even theoretically very unlikely, has crossed my mind; but with top-two, it's just Bilbray against the moderate Peters). It's going to be close (obviously) but Bilbray's 41.2% in the June 2012 primary looks underwhelming. I understand that some sites (Cook? or Rothenburg maybe?) continue to rate this as Lean GOP -- but under the circumstances this is nothing but a pure tossup (and the Democratic partisan in me hopes Peters will squeak by with just over 50%).
Last but not least, wanted to cover CA-31 here. Yes, the Democrats screwed up big time here and this seat will have a GOP Rep. for the next two years. Btw, here's a neat link where you can see just how every precinct voted in the top-two primary (bottom of article): http://www.pe.com/...
Again, this is another seat where it's hard to compare to a predecessor seat, but a plurality (almost half) of territory came from Baca's San Bernardino-based CA-43 (personally, I think that Baca, by not running here is most responsible for the debacle that occurred here last Tuesday, and not Aguilar). In that old district, the shift towards Democrats in 2010 was from 58.3% to 65.5% of the two-party vote between June and November, thus substantial.
(I didn't count for areas that came out of the old CA-26 or CA-41, but assuming the picture is similar in areas with a high Hispanic population). On June 5, 2012, the Democrats got a combined 48.3% of the two-party vote here -- but failed to advance to November! Obama got 57.9% of the two-party Presidential vote -- hence, once again, this is a major screw up on our part. Hopefully, we have learned our lesson and can take this seat back in 2014. Interesting question -- might CA-31 be the highest Obama percentage seat held by a Republican after November 2012 -???