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Last week, I wrote about California's congressional prospects and came out with a result of effective status quo. Here we take a look at the California State Senate and whether we can achieve and hold a two-thirds majority.

It seems like a luxury to talk about a Democratic two-thirds supermajority when most states don't even have a Democratic majority. But as expounded time and time again on this site, two-thirds is the gold standard for full control of the Legislature. Taxes require a two-thirds vote, and until 2010, a budget required two-thirds. These requirements eventually led to a perversion where Democratic majorities in the Assembly (in place since 1996) and the Senate (in place since 1956!) had to cave in to the ever-shrinking Republican minority on any issue involving money yet took the heat for any budget or program cuts that had to be made.

First, some redistricting history.

During the 2001 redistricting, the State Senate was gerrymandered (ossified, rather) into a 25-15 Democratic majority. SD-18, then a Democratic seat in the Central Coast, was dismantled and reborn in Republican Bakersfield and the High Desert (talk about desertification). SD-15 was then stretched from San Jose in the Bay Area to Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara was buried into Thousand Oaks-based SD-19. SD-12 poached the heavily Democratic Salinas Valley and stuck them with much redder Modesto and Madera. This configuration held back the Democrats from a two-thirds State Senate majority.

Cue the 2011 redistricting. The Central Coast was redrawn and Republicans were put back in their proper place (aka minority status). Famously liberal Santa Cruz (initially in Palo Alto-based SD-11) was readded back in the district, now renumbered SD-17. The old SD-19 was dissolved, with Santa Barbara merged with Oxnard into a new SD-19 and eastern Ventura thrown into the western San Fernando Valley in a new SD-27. The Bay Area lost the Peninsula-based SD-08 to San Joaquin County as the new SD-05. Orange County lost coastal SD-35 to Riverside County as the new SD-28.

The maps were seen as friendly to Democrats, and the Republicans sued to overturn it. Failing at every court level, they put it up for referendum, now on the November ballot. They allege that this map will give Democrats the coveted (or dreaded) two-thirds majority, rendering the minority completely impotent. Is this true though?

To test this question, this diary will be split into two parts. As state senate elections are staggered and the odd-numbered ones are up this year, I will start out with these districts. The second part will discuss how the even-numbered ones will fare in 2014.

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Part I: Odd-numbered districts (up for election in 2012)

SD-01 - Inland northern California: Redding, Folsom, South Lake Tahoe
Pres 2008: 42% Obama, 54% McCain
Gov 2010: 37% Brown, 55% Whitman
Sen 2010: 32% Boxer, 59% Fiorina
Incumbent: Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin)
Candidates: Ted Gaines (R), Julie Griffith-Parker (D)
Rating: Safe Republican

While this district contains most of Gaines's territory, his original home and political base of Roseville was actually cut off. His wife, current assemblywoman (and his successor to the seat) Beth Gaines, kept the city. In order to keep the family together, they had to move to a house where the state senate and assembly districts overlapped and ended up in Rocklin, one city to the north. This seat is safe for Gaines.

SD-03 - Northern Delta/Wine Country: Petaluma, Vallejo, Davis
Pres 2008: 66% Obama, 31% McCain
Gov 2010: 60% Brown, 34% Whitman
Sen 2010: 57% Boxer: 35% Fiorina
Incumbent: Lois Wolk (D-Davis)
Candidates: Lois Wolk (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This district was radically redrawn, losing swingy San Joaquin County and gaining true-blue Bay Area turf. Otherwise, no excitement here.

SD-05 - San Joaquin: Stockton, Tracy, Modesto
Pres 2008: 53% Obama, 44% McCain
Gov 2010: 47% Brown, 46% Whitman
Sen 2010: 42% Boxer, 48% Fiorina
Incumbent: none
Candidates: Bill Berryhill (R-Ceres/Clements), Cathleen Galgiani (D-Livingston/Stockton)
Rating: Tossup

This newly minted district was allegedly created due to the outsized influence of redistricting commissioner Michelle DiGuilio, an independent from Stockton. This race features two star candidates: Republican assemblyman Bill Berryhill and Democratic assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani. Voter registration favors Democrats, but the Central Valley is full of conservaDems who readily vote Republican. Berryhill currently represents an Obama district with a Dem registration advantage, while Galgiani is a lesbian running in a district that voted 64% for Prop 8 and a vocal high-speed rail advocate in an area that is ambivalent about it. Not all is doom and gloom though, as Democrats have a history of winning narrow victories in Stockton-based districts. This race will be close to the very end.

SD-07 - Inland East Bay: Concord, Antioch, Livermore
Pres 2008: 62% Obama, 35% McCain
Gov 2010: 53% Brown, 41% Whitman
Sen 2010: 52% Boxer, 41% Fiorina
Incumbent: Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord)
Candidates: Mark DeSaulnier (D), Mark Meuser (R)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This district is almost identical to the pre-2001 iteration of the district. The only difference is that while the Republicans had a chance in the previous district, now they're completely shut out.

SD-09 - Northern East Bay: Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland
Pres 2008: 86% Obama, 11% McCain
Gov 2010: 83% Brown, 12% Whitman
Sen 2010: 82% Boxer, 12% Fiorina
Incumbent: Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley)
Candidates: Loni Hancock (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Apparently the only way for a Republican to be even remotely relevant here is to hold a bake sale.

SD-11 - San Francisco
Pres 2008: 82% Obama, 14% McCain
Gov 2010: 77% Brown, 17% Whitman
Sen 2010: 75% Boxer, 15% Fiorina
Incumbent: Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)
Candidates: Harmeet Dhillon (R), Mark Leno (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

In 2008, then-assemblyman Mark Leno got into a nasty primary fight with then-incumbent state senator Carole Migden, splitting the San Francisco and state Democratic establishments and grassroots down the middle. It seems like all is well now, since the race is now a complete snooze.

Trivia: When the redistricting commission was numbering these districts, they took a look at the old maps (the only time they did so). Districts with the most territory in odd-numbered districts were numbered odd and vice versa. Since this district took on a lot of "even" territory from the old SD-08, there was fear in progressive circles that it would become even-numbered and Mark Leno (in SD-03) would be out of a job. They started a campaign called "Keep San Francisco Odd" (haha get it?) in order to get an "odd" district. When the dust was clear, there were 19 "odd" districts and 21 "even" districts. One "even" district had to be given an odd number, and since this district was the "oddest" of the "even" districts territory-wise, it became the 20th odd district.

SD-13 - San Francisco Peninsula: San Mateo, Redwood City, Sunnyvale
Pres 2008: 73% Obama, 24% McCain
Gov 2010: 64% Brown, 31% Whitman
Sen 2010: 65% Boxer, 29% Fiorina
Incumbent: Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto)
Candidates: Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View)
Rating: Safe Democratic

The two big intraparty battles are in the Bay Area, and this is one of them. Assemblyman Jerry Hill is the CDP-endorsed candidate and represents much of the northern two-thirds of the district, while former assemblywoman Sally Lieber's base is in the extreme southern end of the district. Hill is seen as the more moderate of the two, but this is his race to lose.

SD-15 - Silicon Valley: San Jose, Cupertino, Los Gatos
Pres 2008: 67% Obama, 29% McCain
Gov 2010: 59% Brown, 35% Whitman
Sen 2010: 60% Boxer, 32% Fiorina
Incumbent: Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara)
Candidates: Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Joe Coto (D-San Jose)
Rating: Safe Democratic

The other big intraparty battle is much closer and reveals a deeper split. CDP-endorsed assemblyman Jim Beall is from the western, richer part of town, while former assemblyman Joe Coto is from the more diverse, poorer eastern side. I give Beall the edge.

SD-17 - Northern Central Coast: Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo
Pres 2008: 64% Obama, 33% McCain
Gov 2010: 56% Brown, 38% Whitman
Sen 2010: 54% Boxer, 38% Fiorina
Incumbent: Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo)
Candidates: Larry Beaman (R), Bill Monning (D-Carmel)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This district simply swapped two cities; it lost Santa Maria in the south and gained Santa Cruz in the north. But what a difference that makes. An enigma for the Democrats became a wasteland for the Republicans. Yay devious proper line-drawing!

SD-19 - Southern Central Coast: Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Oxnard
Pres 2008: 60% Obama, 37% McCain
Gov 2010: 49% Brown, 43% Whitman
Sen 2010: 49% Boxer, 43% Fiorina
Incumbent: none
Candidates: Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Mike Stoker (R-Buellton)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Stoker nearly knocked off Das Williams in Santa Barbara-centric AD-35 in 2010. Jackson is a polarizing Democrat that came off a bruising (if not close) primary. But if Stoker couldn't pull it off then, he wouldn't be able to pull it off now.

SD-21 - Antelope/Victor Valleys: Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Victorville
Pres 2008: 47% Obama, 50% McCain
Gov 2010: 39% Brown, 51% Whitman
Sen 2010: 36% Boxer, 54% Fiorina
Incumbent: Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster)
Candidates: Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), Star Moffatt (D)
Rating: Safe Republican

This district is moving rapidly to the Democrats, but it's not quite there yet. Maybe by the end of the decade.

SD-23 - Outer Inland Empire: Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Hemet
Pres 2008: 46% Obama, 51% McCain
Gov 2010: 40% Brown, 50% Whitman
Sen 2010: 36% Boxer, 54% Fiorina
Incumbent: Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet)
Candidates: Bill Emmerson (R), Melissa Ruth O'Donnell (D)
Rating: Safe Republican

When Emmerson was in the Assembly, he lived in Redlands and moved out to run for the Senate. This ensures that he won't have to do that again.

SD-25 - San Gabriel Foothills: Glendale, Pasadena, Glendora
Pres 2008: 60% Obama, 40% McCain
Gov 2010: 52% Brown, 40% Whitman
Sen 2010: 51% Boxer, 41% Fiorina
Incumbent: Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge)
Candidates: Gilbert Gonzales (R), Carol Liu (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This district took on a lot of Republican-leaning turf from the old SD-29, but it is still safe for Team Blue.

SD-27 - East Ventura/West SFV: Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills, Simi Valley
Pres 2008: 57% Obama, 40% McCain
Gov 2010: 47% Brown, 47% Whitman
Sen 2010: 46% Boxer, 47% Fiorina
Incumbent: Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills)
Candidates: Fran Pavley (D), Todd Zink (R)
Rating: Lean Democratic

The low-turnout primary election broke 51%-49% in favor of Zink. Presidential turnout means that this district will most likely tilt Democratic.

SD-29 - Nixon Country: Diamond Bar, Chino Hills, Fullerton
Pres 2008: 48% Obama, 48% McCain
Gov 2010: 39% Brown, 53% Whitman
Sen 2010: 38% Boxer, 53% Fiorina
Incumbent: Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar)
Candidates: Greg Diamond (D), Bob Huff (R)
Rating: Safe Republican

This district is moving towards the Democrats, but it's still has a ways to go. Sorry, Seneca Doane.

SD-31 - Central Inland Empire: Corona, Riverside, Moreno Valley
Pres 2008: 56% Obama, 41% McCain
Gov 2010: 48% Brown, 43% Whitman
Sen 2010: 45% Boxer, 45% Fiorina
Incumbent: none
Candidates: Jeff Miller (R-Corona), Richard Roth (D-Riverside)
Rating: Tossup

This district, like its congressional counterpart CD-41, hinges heavily on Latino turnout. Richard Roth has strong credentials as a former Air Force general. Jeff Miller is a current assemblyman, so he has name recognition. Miller got 51% in the primary, so while he is definitely vulnerable, Roth had to contend with former assemblyman (in the 1980s!) Steve Clute and edged him by nine points. As the Democratic bench here is almost zero, it will take a lot of work to put this in the blue column come November.

SD-33 - Gateway Cities: Long Beach, South Gate, Lynwood
Pres 2008: 75% Obama, 21% McCain
Gov 2010: 69% Brown, 22% Whitman
Sen 2010: 69% Boxer, 22% Fiorina
Incumbent: Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)
Candidates: Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Alan Lowenthal's former wife, current assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, tried running for this district but was edged out by the Democratic establishment.

SD-35 - Harbor: Carson, San Pedro, Torrance
Pres 2008: 76% Obama, 20% McCain
Gov 2010: 72% Brown, 21% Whitman
Sen 2010: 71% Boxer, 20% Fiorina
Incumbent: Rod Wright (D-Inglewood)
Candidates: Christine Svolos (R), Rod Wright (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Wright has been mired in charges of voter fraud, but this district isn't rejecting him anytime soon.

SD-37 - Central Orange County: Orange, Irvine, Costa Mesa
Pres 2008: 47% Obama, 49% McCain
Gov 2010: 35% Brown, 58% Whitman
Sen 2010: 34% Boxer, 58% Fiorina
Incumbent: Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel/Irvine)
Candidates: Steve Young (D), Mimi Walters (R)
Rating: Safe Republican

A lot of ticket-splitting here, so no dice for Team Blue.

SD-39 - San Diego, Coronado
Pres 2008: 60% Obama, 37% McCain
Gov 2010: 49% Brown, 44% Whitman
Sen 2010: 49% Boxer, 43% Fiorina
Incumbent: Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego)
Candidates: Marty Block (D-San Diego), George Plescia (R-San Diego)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This area is full of moderate Republicans, and Republicans got their star candidate in moderate former assemblyman George Plescia. However, the primary election gave Block the edge over Plescia, and since the third candidate was a Dem, Plescia will have an uphill battle if he has any hope of winning.

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Aggregated, this gives:

14 Dem incumbents (not up this election)
12 safe Dem
1 lean Dem
2 tossup
5 safe Rep
6 safe Rep

If SD-27 goes Dem, this would give 27-2-11. Since 27 (coincidence?) is the magic two-thirds in the state senate, Democrats are almost guaranteed their wish. Republicans have to win all three marginal districts for any level of saving grace.

Of course, just because Democrats gain a two-thirds majority doesn't mean there will be new revenue measures anytime soon. The assembly is not projected to gain two-thirds (more of that in a later diary), and there are many pro-business and moderate Democrats who may balk at being the 27th vote that chased the job-creating fairy to Texas. Lastly, there's that issue of what happens after the 2014 elections.

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Part II: Even-numbered districts (up for election in 2014)

By necessity, this part of the diary is extremely speculative. It's worth a try though.

SD-02 - North Coast: Eureka, Santa Rosa, San Rafael
Pres 2008: 71% Obama, 26% McCain
Gov 2010: 63% Brown, 30% Whitman
Sen 2010: 61% Boxer, 30% Fiorina
Incumbent: Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Not much will happen here.

SD-04 - Sacramento Valley: Chico, Yuba City, Carmichael
Pres 2008: 46% Obama, 51% McCain
Gov 2010: 42% Brown, 50% Whitman
Sen 2010: 35% Boxer, 54% Fiorina
Incumbent: Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale)
Rating: Safe Republican

LaMalfa may be going to Congress come January, but his successor is most likely going to be a Republican. The most prominent names are assemblymen Jim Nielsen of Gerber and Dan Logue of Linda.

SD-06 - Urban Sacramento: Sacramento, West Sacramento, Elk Grove
Pres 2008: 65% Obama, 31% McCain
Gov 2010: 63% Brown, 31% Whitman
Sen 2010: 56% Boxer, 35% Fiorina
Incumbent: Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Steinberg will be termed out, and potential successors include assemblymen Roger Dickinson of Sacramento and Richard Pan of Elk Grove. Either way, it stays blue.

SD-08 - Sierra Foothills: Rancho Cordova, Turlock, Fresno
Pres 2008: 44% Obama, 53% McCain
Gov 2010: 38% Brown, 55% Whitman
Sen 2010: 32% Boxer, 60% Fiorina
Incumbent: Tom Berryhill (R-Oakdale)
Rating: Safe Republican

Gold Country and Death Valley continue to run red.

SD-10 - East Bay/Silicon Valley: Hayward, Fremont, Santa Clara
Pres 2008: 71% Obama, 26% McCain
Gov 2010: 65% Brown, 30% Whitman
Sen 2010: 65% Boxer, 28% Fiorina
Incumbent: Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro)
Rating: Safe Democratic

One of only two even-numbered state senate districts in the Bay Area sees its incumbent termed out. Current assemblyman Bob Wieckowski might aim for this seat.

SD-12 - Northern Central Valley: Ceres, Merced, Salinas
Pres 2008: 56% Obama, 41% McCain
Gov 2010: 49% Brown, 43% Whitman
Sen 2010: 45% Boxer, 46% Fiorina
Incumbent: Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)
Rating: Safe Republican with Cannella, Tossup otherwise

This district has a huge Dem registration advantage, but has been GOP hands since 1994. The booming Latino population has edged it leftward, but Dems fall short every single time.

SD-14 - Latino southern Central Valley: Fresno, Hanford, Bakersfield
Pres 2008: 55% Obama, 40% McCain
Gov 2010: 51% Brown, 40% Whitman
Sen 2010: 43% Boxer, 46% Fiorina
Incumbent: Michael Rubio (D-East Bakersfield)
Rating: Safe Democratic with Rubio, Lean Democratic otherwise

Michael Rubio will most likely run for reelection, but can sooner or later be pressured into running for Congress in projected GOP-held CD-21. If he does, anything can happen, since this district depends heavily on Latino turnout.

SD-16 - Southern Central Valley/High Desert: Visalia, Bakersfield, Barstow
Pres 2008: 36% Obama, 61% McCain
Gov 2010: 32% Brown, 58% Whitman
Sen 2010: 26% Boxer, 64% Fiorina
Incumbent: Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield)
Rating: Safe Republican

Democrats, run. Run for your very lives.

SD-18 - Eastern San Fernando Valley
Pres 2008: 72% Obama, 24% McCain
Gov 2010: 65% Brown, 27% Whitman
Sen 2010: 65% Boxer, 27% Fiorina
Incumbent: Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Padilla is termed out, but his district will remain blue.

SD-20 - Inner Inland Empire: Pomona, Ontario, Fontana
Pres 2008: 65% Obama, 31% McCain
Gov 2010: 58% Brown, 32% Whitman
Sen 2010: 57% Boxer, 33% Fiorina
Incumbent: Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino)
Rating: Safe Democratic

If Negrete McLeod doesn't win in CD-35, then she's termed out. If she does, then her successor will be another Democrat. Choices include former assemblyman Joe Baca, Jr. and current assemblywomen Norma Torres and Wilmer Carter.

SD-22 - San Gabriel Valley: Monterey Park, El Monte, West Covina
Pres 2008: 63% Obama, 33% McCain
Gov 2010: 59% Brown, 32% Whitman
Sen 2010: 58% Boxer, 32% Fiorina
Incumbent: Ed Hernández (D-West Covina)
Rating: Safe Democratic

The Latino percentage went down and the Asian percentage went up. Otherwise, nothing interesting.

SD-24 - East Los Angeles
Pres 2008: 79% Obama, 17% McCain
Gov 2010: 77% Brown, 15% Whitman
Sen 2010: 77% Boxer, 15% Fiorina
Incumbent: Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles)
Rating: Safe Democratic

De León got this seat because he lost a fight for the Assembly speakership with John Pérez in 2010.

SD-26 - Hollywood/Beach Cities: Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Redondo Beach
Pres 2008: 68% Obama, 29% McCain
Gov 2010: 59% Brown, 35% Whitman
Sen 2010: 59% Boxer, 35% Fiorina
Incumbent: Ted Lieu (D-Torrance)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Republicans in the Beach Cities and Palos Verdes Peninsula lose out to the Democrats in West LA and Santa Monica.

SD-28 - Riverside County: Temecula, Palm Springs, Indio
Pres 2008: 47% Obama, 51% McCain
Gov 2010: 39% Brown, 54% Whitman
Sen 2010: 37% Boxer, 56% Fiorina
Incumbent: none
Rating: Safe Republican

A newly created district for the Republicans to feast on. For the prospective frontrunner, assemblyman Brian Nestande of Palm Desert, to feast on, at least.

SD-30 - West Central LA: Crenshaw, Culver City
Pres 2008: 87% Obama, 10% McCain
Gov 2010: 82% Brown, 12% Whitman
Sen 2010: 82% Boxer, 11% Fiorina
Incumbent: Curren Price (D-Los Angeles)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Moving on...

SD-32 - Southeastern LA County: Whittier, Downey, Buena Park
Pres 2008: 60% Obama, 36% McCain
Gov 2010: 56% Brown, 36% Whitman
Sen 2010: 54% Boxer, 36% Fiorina
Incumbent: Ron Calderon (D-Montebello)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This is Calderon Country; the Calderon family has held the assembly and senate seats in this area since the 1980s. Now that Ron is termed out, who's next?

SD-34 - Northwestern Orange County: Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Santa Ana
Pres 2008: 50% Obama, 46% McCain
Gov 2010: 43% Brown, 48% Whitman
Sen 2010: 43% Boxer, 48% Fiorina
Incumbent: Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana)
Rating: Lean Republican

I'm not sure what the redistricting commission was thinking when they tore apart a Latino district and created this. In any case, the Democrats are projected to lose this seat. I can't see a way for the demographics and voting patterns to work in our direction for the near future.

SD-36 - South OC/Northern San Diego County: Mission Viejo, Oceanside, Carlsbad
Pres 2008: 47% Obama, 50% McCain
Gov 2010: 35% Brown, 58% Whitman
Sen 2010: 34% Boxer, 58% Fiorina
Incumbent: Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad)
Rating: Safe Republican

A lot of ticket-splitting, so not going our way.

SD-38 - East County: Escondido, Santee, El Cajon
Pres 2008: 42% Obama, 55% McCain
Gov 2010: 33% Brown, 58% Whitman
Sen 2010: 31% Boxer, 60% Fiorina
Incumbent: Joel Anderson (R-Alpine)
Rating: Safe Republican

Is this Texas or something?

SD-40 - Southern San Diego/Imperial Counties: San Diego, Chula Vista, El Centro
Pres 2008: 62% Obama, 35% McCain
Gov 2010: 54% Brown, 36% Whitman
Sen 2010: 53% Boxer, 37% Fiorina
Incumbent: Juan Vargas (D-San Diego)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Vargas is going to Congress, but this seat is staying blue.

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Doing the math (assuming that the 2012 projection pans out):

13 Dem incumbents
12 safe Dem
2 tossup (from 2012)
1 lean Rep
7 safe Rep
5 Rep incumbents

This gives 25-2-13. To hold a two-thirds majority, Democrats must sweep the tossups this year or win SD-34 in 2014. When we look at the long run, this two-thirds majority is harder than initially thought. Can the Democrats pull this off and render Senate Republicans irrelevant for at least the next ten years? Or will Republicans be able to pull themselves back from the cliff?

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