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Election Day 2014 is slated to fall on Tuesday, November 4. In this midterm election, Californians will go to the polls to determine control of their state. All 8 state executive offices are up for election, as well as all 53 congressional seats, the 20 even-numbered state senate seats, all 80 state assembly seats, and all 4 Board of Equalization seats, making 165 elections in total.

It's always incredibly hard to predict how elections will go when they are so far into the future. However, this is not to say that there aren't broad themes that we can draw:

  • This election will be a referendum on the total Democratic control of state government. 2014 will have to show everyone that the 2012 results were not a fluke but a harbinger of things to come.
  • High (relatively high, at least) approval ratings for current government performance boost Democratic chances. Jerry Brown, the wizened face of California resurgence and leadership, most likely gains more from this than anyone else. Democrats have mostly been responsible in governance, cognizant of the fact that they have to defy undeserved stereotypes and doomsday predictions. They have hewed to a moderately progressive line and refused to raise taxes despite having the votes to do so. To most people, that's good enough.
  • The Democratic state party machine has to show that it is more robust than ever before. In the red tidal wave of 2010 that washed over everywhere else, we managed to hold the line and keep all our seats, even gaining one in the state assembly. That is a high bar that we have set for ourselves.
  • The California Republican Party is still weak and rudderless. The party establishment is still very much in charge, as Tea Party activists and Paulists have yet to gain sufficient traction in the state GOP to take over the apparatus. However, they haven't quite learned how to compete in a state that is much more liberal than what they are used to. They also have a very weak bench, decimated by demographics and desertion.

This election should be viewed as a chance for Democrats to consolidate their control. The Republicans are down, but they're not completely out. They have yet to hit on the Next Big ThingTM, but their current chair, former GOP state legislative leader Jim Brulte, is one of the best political minds in the state. Brulte, the last leader to win a GOP majority in the state legislature, is one of the very few people who can give the state GOP a semi-decent chance of turning around. The Democrats should never get complacent and simply rely on demographics and natural trends to do the grunt work. Political winds are fleeting, and the Dems should work hard to keep it on their backs for generations to come.

But let's talk about now and next year. Follow me below the flip.

For reference:

08/12 PVI: D+10
2012 PVI: D+11
2012 Pres results: 60.2% Obama, 37.1% Romney


Statewide offices

Incumbent: Jerry Brown (D)
2010 results: 53.8% Jerry Brown (D), 40.9% Meg Whitman (R)
Major candidates: Jerry Brown (D), Tim Donnelly (R), Abel Maldonado (R), George Radanovich (R)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Realistically, the only major candidate is Brown. Former lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado is the establishment favorite, but he's as inspiring as used tissue. State assemblyman and former Minuteman militia founder Tim Donnelly is a Tea Party favorite, but that's a political death sentence in California. No one knows who George Radanovich is. At this rate, Brown may win Orange County again.

Lieutenant Governor
Incumbent: Gavin Newsom (D)
2010 results: 50.2% Gavin Newsom (D), 39.0% Abel Maldonado (R)
Major candidates: Gavin Newsom (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Many people dislike Newsom for many reasons, but he has yet to draw a top-notch challenger for this inconsequential office. The GOP might just put up a sacrificial lamb during the filing deadline.

Attorney General
Incumbent: Kamala Harris (D)
2010 results: 46.1% Kamala Harris (D), 45.3% Steve Cooley (R)
Major candidates: Kamala Harris (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Kamala Harris was widely considered the most vulnerable candidate on the 2010 Democratic statewide ticket, and her election results showed. That doesn't stop her from staying relatively low-key, racking up goodwill, defying her detractors, and becoming near-invincible in her reelection prospects.

Incumbent: John Chiang (D)
2010 results: 55.2% John Chiang (D), 36.1% Tony Strickland (R)
Major candidates: John Perez (D), Betty Yee (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Chiang is termed out of this office and is running for Treasurer (see below). Current Board of Equalization member Betty Yee was long considered a lock on this office after Treasurer Bill Lockyer bowed out of the race, but termed-out state assembly speaker John Perez jumped in, setting up this situation. Perez, being a prominent Latino gay politician from Los Angeles with a larger warchest and a wider political network, renders Yee, an Asian American from Northern California, the decided underdog.

Incumbent: Bill Lockyer (D)
2010 results: 56.5% Bill Lockyer (D), 36.2% Mimi Walters (R)
Major candidates: John Chiang (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Bill Lockyer, a longtime Democratic stalwart with a elected political career stretching back four decades, is termed out and has hung up his spurs under a cloud started by his wife Nadia. Chiang has jumped here for his next eight years of employment.

Secretary of State
Incumbent: Debra Bowen (D)
2010 results: 53.2% Debra Bowen (D), 38.2% Damon Dunn (R)
Major candidates: Derek Cressman (D), Alex Padilla (D), Pete Peterson (R), Leland Yee (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Bowen, the progressive hero best known for her work in voting machine security, is termed out. This throws the field wide open, with the top four candidates drawn equally from elected office and policy think tanks. Cressman is a vice president of Common Cause, while Peterson is the executive director of Pepperdine University's Davenport Institute. Alex Padilla and Leland Yee are termed-out state senators.

Insurance Commissioner
Incumbent: Dave Jones (D)
2010 results: 50.6% Dave Jones (D), 37.6% Mike Villines (R)
Major candidates: Dave Jones (D), Ted Gaines (R)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This obscure but important office regulates insurance in the state, in some cases having the ability to deny insurance rate hikes. Especially with the Affordable Care Act being implemented, it is important to maintain Democratic control of this office, which is projected to happen. State senator Ted Gaines has declared but is pretty much a sacrificial lamb.

Superintendent of Public Instruction
Incumbent: Tom Torlakson (D)
2010 results: 54.6% Tom Torlakson (D), 44.9% Larry Aceves (I)
Major candidates: Tom Torlakson (D)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Technically, this is a nonpartisan office. Also, unlike other offices, if a candidate gets a majority in June, that candidate wins outright and there is no November election. Torlakson has mostly stayed below the radar, so he should clinch another four-year term in June.



Note: An asterisk (*) indicates a major intraparty race.
Safe Dem Likely Dem Lean Dem Tossup Lean GOP Likely GOP Safe GOP
2, 3, 5,
6, 9, 11,
12, 13, 14,
15, 16, 17†,
18, 19, 20,
24, 27, 28,
29, 30, 32,
33, 34, 35,
37, 38, 40,
41, 43, 44,
46, 47, 51,
26, 31
7, 52
10, 21
1, 4, 8,
22, 23, 39,
42, 45, 48,
49, 50
34 CDs 2 CDs 2 CDs 1 CD 2 CDs 1 CD 11 CDs
CD-07 - Sacramento suburbs: Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove
Incumbent: Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove)
08/12 PVI: EVEN
2012 PVI: D+1
2012 Pres results: 50.7% Obama, 46.7% Romney
2012 Cong results: 51.7% Ami Bera (D), 48.3% Dan Lungren (R)
Candidates: Ami Bera (D), Igor Birman (R), Elizabeth Emken (R), Doug Ose (R)
Rating: Lean Democratic

If recent elections are of any indication, once a swingy Sacramento suburban district turns blue, it doesn't look back. That doesn't mean it's safe, and Bera knows that. He has made the necessary "vote-the-district" moves and is generally uncontroversial. He'll face stiff competition, especially from Birman, who is congressman Tom McClintock's former chief of staff, and former congressman Doug Ose, but he has history on his side.

CD-10 - Stanislaus: Modesto, Turlock, Tracy
Incumbent: Jeff Denham (R-Turlock)
08/12 PVI: R+1
2012 PVI: D+1
2012 pres results: 50.5% Obama, 46.9% Romney
2012 cong results: 52.7% Jeff Denham (R), 47.3% Jose Hernandez (D)
Candidates: Jeff Denham (R), Michael Eggman (D)
Rating: Lean Republican

Denham's voting to continue the shutdown isn't going to help him, but Eggman's fundraising has been lackluster. His connection to his sister, assemblywoman Susan Eggman, doesn't make this look any better. Without any further developments in Eggman's favor and no other competitive races in the area, I'm keeping this at lean GOP.

CD-21 - Southwestern Central Valley: Hanford, Wasco, Bakersfield
Incumbent: David Valadao (R-Hanford)
08/12 PVI: D+2
2012 PVI: D+5
2012 pres results: 54.6% Obama, 43.5% Romney
2012 cong results: 57.8% David Valadao (R), 42.2% John Hernandez (D)
Candidates: David Valadao (R), John Hernandez (D), Amanda Renteria (D)
Rating: Lean Republican

This district is riddled with anonymous Democratic candidates and volatile Democratic turnout. The DCCC is backing Renteria, former chief of staff to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow who was raised in the Central Valley. Hernandez is the failed 2012 candidate. Without knowing how Renteria will do in fundraising and endorsements and given the DCCC's poor track record in this district in 2012, I'm leaving this stuck in the GOP column.

CD-25 - Northern LA County: Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Simi Valley
Incumbent: Buck McKeon (R-Santa Clarita)
08/12 PVI: R+3
2012 PVI: R+2
2012 pres results: 47.8% Obama, 49.7% Romney
2012 cong results: 54.8% Buck McKeon (R), 45.2% Lee Rogers (D)
Candidates: Buck McKeon (R)?, Steve Knight (R)?, Lee Rogers (D), Cameron Smyth (R)?, Tony Strickland (R)?, Scott Wilk (R)?
Rating: Likely Republican

McKeon's 2012 performance and the surprise flip of the mostly overlapping AD-36 to the Democrats has struck the fear of God into Republicans here, and McKeon might decide to simply retire rather than constantly fight for reelection. Rumor is that he wants Tony Strickland to succeed him, but the GOP establishment in the district hates his guts and want one of their own. State senator Steve Knight, former assemblyman Cameron Smyth, and current assemblyman Scott Wilk are supposedly trying to decide amongst themselves who to defer to if McKeon does retire. Meanwhile, podiatrist Lee Rogers is fundraising at a rapid clip with little competition on his side. His only problem is that the district voted for Romney and it may take one more cycle to finally flip.

CD-26 - Ventura County: Oxnard, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks
Incumbent: Julia Brownley (D-Oak Park)
08/12 PVI: D+4
2012 PVI: D+4
2012 pres results: 54.0% Obama, 43.7% Romney
2012 cong results: 52.7% Julia Brownley (D), 47.3% Tony Strickland (R)
Candidates: Julia Brownley (D), Jeff Gorell (R)?, Tony Strickland (R)?
Rating: Likely Democratic

The only reason why this district isn't safe is because of state assemblyman Jeff Gorell. Gorell, a Navy reservist who represents an assembly district wholly contained in CD-26, is the only person who would make this seat competitive. Even then, Brownley has the advantage.

CD-31 - Northeastern Inland Empire: Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Redlands
Incumbent: Gary Miller (R-Rancho Cucamonga)
08/12 PVI: D+6
2012 PVI: D+7
2012 pres results: 57.2% Obama, 40.6% Romney
2012 cong results: 55.2% Gary Miller (R), 44.8% Bob Dutton (R)
Candidates: Gary Miller (R), Pete Aguilar (D), Joe Baca (D), Eloise Gomez Reyes (D), Danny Tillman (D)
Rating: Likely Democratic

Of course, this rating is contingent on a Democrat actually making it to the general election. Miller seems to have given up any pretense of moderation, hoping that being a stalwart conservative will drag him across the finish line in this light blue district. Without a second major GOP candidate, however, lightning will probably not strike twice and Miller is most likely screwed no matter what he does.

CD-36 - Coachella Valley: Palm Springs, Coachella, Hemet
Incumbent: Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert)
08/12 PVI: R+1
2012 PVI: D+1
2012 pres results: 50.7% Obama, 47.5% Romney
2012 cong results: 52.9% Raul Ruiz (D), 47.1% Mary Bono Mack (R)
Candidates: Raul Ruiz (D), Brian Nestande (R)
Rating: Tossup

Ruiz has mostly walked a fine line in his first term, but assemblyman Brian Nestande will be his strongest opponent. Nestande has a bit of a moderate streak, bucking the party line several times and even resigning his caucus chairmanship for voting to close a tax loophole (since it was considered a "tax increase" in their world). Ruiz's chances hinge on volatile Latino turnout, and maybe someone can harvest the heat emanating from this race to use as renewable energy.

CD-52 - San Diego, Poway, Coronado
Incumbent: Scott Peters (D-San Diego)
08/12 PVI: D+2
2012 PVI: D+2
2012 pres results: 52.1% Obama, 45.7% Romney
2012 cong results: 51.2% Scott Peters (D), 48.8% Brian Bilbray (R)
Candidates: Scott Peters (D), Carl DeMaio (R), Kirk Jorgensen (R)
Rating: Lean Democratic

This district actually got a bit redder in 2012 compared to 2008, but Peters should still be on top given his strong fundraising, personal wealth, and inoffensiveness. DeMaio, who lost to the now-disgraced Bob Filner in the 2012 San Diego mayoral race, has the GOP establishment at his side of the room. Jorgensen has been touring the usual Tea Party circles, even earning the endorsement of neighboring congressman Duncan Hunter. Who knows, DeMaio may be teabagged before he makes it to the city hall restroom general election.


State senate

Due to the quirks of redistricting, these even-numbered districts are being used for the first time and are often radically different from their predecessors, if there is even a corresponding predecessor.

Note: An asterisk (*) indicates a race with no incumbent. There are nine open seats.
Safe Dem Likely Dem Lean Dem Tossup Lean GOP Likely GOP Safe GOP
2*, 6*, 10*,
18*, 20*, 22,
24, 26, 30,
32*, 40
14, 34*
4, 8, 16,
28*, 36*, 38
11 SDs 0 SDs 2 SDs 0 SDs 1 SD 0 SDs 6 SDs
15 incumbent Dem
5 incumbent GOP
26 SDs 0 SDs 2 SDs 0 SDs 1 SD 0 SDs 11 SDs
SD-12 - Central Valley: Ceres, Merced, Salinas
Incumbent: Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)
08/12 PVI: D+6
2012 PVI: D+8
2012 pres results: 57.6% Obama, 40.3% Romney
Candidates: Anthony Cannella (R), Tom Hallinan (D)
Rating: Lean Republican

Despite the Democratic margin, this district has been held by the GOP since 1994. Cannella has mostly stuck to a moderate record and made few splashes. Hallinan is the city attorney of tiny Patterson, but is pretty much unknown. Giving this a lean GOP might actually be too generous.

SD-14 - Central Valley: Fresno, Hanford, Bakersfield
Incumbent: Andy Vidak (R-Hanford)
08/12 PVI: D+6
2012 PVI: D+8
2012 pres results: 58.3% Obama, 39.8% Romney
Candidates: Andy Vidak (R), Leticia Perez (D)
Rating: Lean Democratic

It's easy to run around with your hair on fire after the special election loss, but it's important to remember that Vidak's performance in that election is his ceiling. Midterm elections have lower Latino turnout than presidential elections but higher ones than special elections. Yes, the district got slightly redder after redistricting, but is swapping Coalinga for Woodlake really a substantial difference? Perez will have a hard fight on her hands, but this race should mirror the identical situation in 1994, when Democrat Jim Costa lost to GOPer Phil Wyman in a 1993 special for this same seat but won in the 1994 general, making Wyman the only Republican west of the Mississippi to lose that year.

SD-34 - Northwestern Orange County: Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Santa Ana
Incumbent: Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana)
08/12 PVI: D+1
2012 PVI: D+4
2012 pres results: 53.3% Obama, 44.4% Romney
Candidates: Janet Nguyen (R), Jim Silva (R), Jose Solorio (D)
Rating: Lean Democratic

Burgeoning Latino growth has the district zooming leftward rapidly, the reddening effects of Huntington Beach notwithstanding. While it is certainly marginal, the PVI shifted leftward five points between 2008 and 2012, and its continuing effects have boosted Democratic chances. With Correa termed out, Solorio has taken up the banner and has mostly consolidated all Democratic support behind him. On the other side Orange County supervisor Janet Nguyen has sucked all the energy out of the GOP room, leaving former assemblyman Jim Silva marooned far from shore. With the state senate supermajority at stake, this district will bear the brunt of the massive spending that dominates California elections.


State assembly

As it is still extremely early, the candidate field is quite bare. Candidates may not emerge until after November or the filing deadline in March.

Note: An asterisk (*) indicates a race with no incumbent. There are 20 open seats, exactly one-fourth of the chamber.
Safe Dem Likely Dem Lean Dem Tossup Lean GOP Likely GOP Safe GOP
2*, 4*, 7*,
9*, 10, 11,
13, 14, 15*,
16*, 17*, 18,
19, 20, 22,
24, 25*, 27,
28*, 29, 30,
31, 37, 39,
41, 43, 45,
46, 47, 48,
49, 50, 51,
52, 53*, 54,
56*, 57, 58,
59, 61, 62*,
63, 64*, 69,
70*, 78, 79,
8, 21, 66
32, 65
36, 40
1, 3*, 5,
6, 12, 23,
26*, 33*, 34,
35, 38, 42*,
55*, 67, 68,
71, 72, 73*,
74, 75, 76,
49 ADs 3 ADs 2 ADs 2 ADs 1 AD 1 AD 22 ADs
AD-08 - Eastern Sacramento suburbs: Arden-Arcade, Carmichael, Rancho Cordova
Incumbent: Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova)
08/12 PVI: D+1
2012 PVI: D+2
2012 pres results: 51.6% Obama, 45.5% Romney
2012 assm results: 54.3% Ken Cooley (D), 45.7% Peter Tateishi (R)
Candidates: Ken Cooley (D)
Rating: Likely Democratic

As previously mentioned under CD-07, once a Sacramento suburban seat turns blue, it stays blue. Since this seat is bluer than CD-07, its chances of staying in the blue column are much higher.

AD-21 - Demosaur Country: Modesto, Ceres, Merced
Incumbent: Adam Gray (D-Merced)
08/12 PVI: D+4
2012 PVI: D+6
2012 pres results: 55.6% Obama, 42.0% Romney
2012 assm results: 58.2% Adam Gray (D), 41.8% Jack Mobley (R)
Candidates: Adam Gray (D)
Rating: Likely Democratic

The CD-10 and SD-12 races may put this on the map, but otherwise Gray should have a decent chance of reelection. Unlike CD-10 in 2012 and SD-12 in 2010, no big money was spent last year, and Republican Jack Mobley was abandoned by the state GOP to fend for himself.

AD-32 - Southwestern Central Valley: Hanford, Delano, Bakersfield
Incumbent: Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)
08/12 PVI: D+3
2012 PVI: D+6
2012 pres results: 56.2% Obama, 41.8% Romney
2012 assm results: 52.9% Rudy Salas (D), 47.1% Pedro Rios (R)
Candidates: Rudy Salas (D)
Rating: Lean Democratic

This seat has been competitive for the past twelve years, and that's not going to change anytime soon. However, Democrats do have the advantage despite lower Latino turnout. The overlapping CD-21 and SD-14 may also boost turnout here. Salas has also showed an extremely moderate streak, breaking party ranks quite frequently (presumably with the blessing of leadership).

AD-36 - Antelope Valley: Lancaster, Palmdale, California City
Incumbent: Steve Fox (D-Palmdale)
08/12 PVI: R+3
2012 PVI: R+1
2012 pres results: 48.8% Obama, 48.5% Romney
2012 assm results: 50.1% Steve Fox (D), 49.9% Ron Smith (R)
Candidates: Steve Fox (D), Lou Gonzales (R)
Rating: Tossup

The race that, with a margin of 145 votes, stunned election junkies of all sides is now on everyone's radar. In 2012, Fox pulled ahead of Republican Ron Smith on the day before the legislative session opened. Smith had already attended orientation, been assigned an office, and was hiring staff and drafting bills before getting unceremoniously vaporized from the assembly rolls. This time around, GOP car dealer Lou Gonzales is the torchbearer, but the Democrats aren't leaving Fox stranded in the desert. Fox has mostly avoided controversial votes, voting against gun control bills and abstaining on the minimum wage increase. Knowing the base that helped elect him, he toed the party line on many immigration bills, including AB 60, the bill granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Watch for this dustup in November.

AD-40 - Northeastern Inland Empire: Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Redlands
Incumbent: Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga)
08/12 PVI: D+2
2012 PVI: D+3
2012 pres results: 53.1% Obama, 44.7% Romney
2012 assm results: 50.4% Mike Morrell (R), 49.6% Russ Warner (D)
Candidates: Mike Morrell (R), Art Bustamonte (D), Elvira Harris (D)
Rating: Tossup

In 2012, Democrat Russ Warner lost by 1,018 votes against the incumbent Morrell, and this was with an uncompetitive (partisan-wise) CD-31, which overlaps almost perfectly. Now, hopefully with a Dem-on-GOP race in CD-31 this cycle, the downballot effects should turn Morrell into toast. He has also shown no signs of moderation despite having a much more liberal district than before.

AD-44 - Coastal Ventura: Oxnard, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks
Incumbent: Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo)
08/12 PVI: D+2
2012 PVI: D+2
2012 pres results: 52.4% Obama, 45.5% Romney
2012 assm results: 52.9% Jeff Gorell (R), 47.1% Eileen MacEnery (D)
Candidates: Jeff Gorell (R)
Rating: Likely Republican with Gorell, Tossup without Gorell

Unlike many of this fellow caucus members, Gorell is a moderate with an appealing background (see under CD-26). However, even then he held on with only 52.9% of the vote in 2012 against an underfunded and near-anonymous Democrat. He should still be able to win one more term here, but when he's gone the GOP will be finished here.

AD-60 - Northwestern Riverside: Corona, Jurupa Valley, Riverside
Incumbent: Eric Linder (R-Corona)
08/12 PVI: EVEN
2012 PVI: D+2
2012 pres results: 51.9% Obama, 45.8% Romney
2012 assm results: 51.8% Eric Linder (R), 48.2% Jose Luis Perez (D)
Candidates: Eric Linder (R), Jacob Daruvala (D)
Rating: Lean Republican

While much of the money was directed to CD-41 (Takano), SD-31 (Roth), and AD-61 (Medina) and saw all three winning blowout victories (Medina in particular with 61%), woefully ignored Democrat Jose Luis Perez nearly pulled a surprise with 48.2% against Linder, vice chair of the Riverside County GOP. This time around, with Takano, Roth, and Medina safe in their seats, Democrats have set their sights on Linder. However, the only Democrat in the race is 17(!)-year-old Jacob Daruvala, so I'm going to wait and see.

AD-65 - Northern Orange County: Fullerton, Buena Park, Anaheim
Incumbent: Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton)
08/12 PVI: EVEN
2012 PVI: D+2
2012 pres results: 51.9% Obama, 45.7% Romney
2012 assm results: 52.0% Sharon Quirk-Silva (D), 48.0% Chris Norby (R)
Candidates: Sharon Quirk-Silva (D), Young Kim (R)
Rating: Lean Democratic

Quirk-Silva's 2012 campaign deserves an award considering who ran it and how well it was run. Democratic party organizations also poured $292,000 in the final weeks of the campaign. Life should be a bit easier this time around with her incumbency and the full firepower of the Democratic state apparatus behind her. Her opponent is Young Kim, a Korean American staffer for Congressman Ed Royce, which means serious competition. Still, Quirk-Silva has the edge in this race.

AD-66 - South Bay: Redondo Beach, Torrance, Palos Verdes
Incumbent: Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance)
08/12 PVI: D+4
2012 PVI: D+5
2012 pres results: 54.2% Obama, 43.2% Romney
2012 assm results: 54.8% Al Muratsuchi (D), 45.2% Craig Huey (R)
Candidates: Al Muratsuchi (D), Ned Vaughn (R)
Rating: Likely Democratic

Muratsuchi's 10-point win in 2012 against Republican millionaire and former congressional candidate Craig Huey was quite large for a swingy seat. However, it might be a sign of the times: no Republican will win this seat except in special elections and GOP waves, even if you're a Hollywood actor like Ned Vaughn.


As you can see, while the "Overton window" of swing seats only shifts slightly from the 2012 elections, many of the Democratic gains seemed to be locked in for good while Republican seats drift a bit more towards the blue line. Since same-day voter registration will not be in effect until at least 2015, there will be no "surge" of Democratic performance of the type that we saw with online voter registration in 2012. How well Democrats do will depend entirely on campaign machinations.

Of course, the ratings may change dramatically over the next year depending on various factors such as retirement, candidate quality, and who makes it to the general election. If your favorite candidate was written off here, it's not the end of the world and there is time to redeem him- or herself.

With that, let the 2014 electoral prognostications begin!

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Comment Preferences

  •  kurykh - thank you for a very comprehensive (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV, Alibguy

    and informative diary, from a fellow Californian.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 09:36:51 AM PST

  •  Great Diary and welcomed news (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV

    as a non-Californian I have to admit to not having a clue as to what a "Board of Equalization" even does....

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 09:42:08 AM PST

    •  the BOE members are Equalizers (0+ / 0-)

         It is a new kind of superhero!

         Actually the BOE is California's elected tax board. They decide on disputes related to the tax system. The BOE has five members including the state Controller and four members elected by districts. These are about the largest districts anywhere, with about nine million constituents each.

      Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 55, CA-30

      by Zack from the SFV on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 10:37:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, tipped and rec'd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV, ArkDem14

    How can we not be toss up at worst in the 12th...? Jerry Brown won it by 7% and Boxer, who performed horribly in the central valley, nearly won it in 2010. Also Brown would obliterate Donnelly here should he be the nominee...

    Oh well. My congress ratings are basically the same but I have Ruiz as Lean D for now and Miller as Safe D which is a minor difference.

  •  Well thought out and dead on. (0+ / 0-)

    You've captured the situation in my home state very well in your synopsis.

    I could have done without the Carl DeMaio city hall restroom crack. He should be vilified for being an establishment Republican and that only.

  •  Nice to get some news from here in the (0+ / 0-)

           Californian SSR. It is great to know about the victories in Novoyork and other places back east, but this is where we live and our politics are important too.

           Excellent work, especially since so many of the races haven't gotten going yet. I have a bit of news from my area. You have SD-18 as a safe Democratic open seat. That is true, but we now have a strong candidate running who has to be considered the favorite to win. Bob Hertzberg is a former Speaker of the Assembly who is back in the game after a few years off from running for office. He is well connected and very personable (he used to be nicknamed "Bob Hugsberg") and although he is a bit much of a biz Dem for my taste it is hard to see how he will not be the new Senator from the East SFV (Van Nuys, North Hollywood, and neighboring communities). I still would rather have him than the outgoing incumbent Alex Padilla.

    Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 55, CA-30

    by Zack from the SFV on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 10:52:44 AM PST

    •  I thought of including open seats (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zack from the SFV

      but the diary got too long and clunky and decided to concentrate on partisan control.

      I know Hertzberg is running in SD-18. He's also in the running for president pro tempore, but I would prefer a more progressive Dem in the Darrell Steinberg mold.

      23, D, pragmatic progressive (-4.50, -5.18), CA-14. DKE folk culture curator.

      by kurykh on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 12:35:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

            but after being redistricted out of Fran Pavley's district into Alex Padilla's, even Bob Hugsberg looks better than what I have now. Also it is weak to have to wait six years between being able to vote in a CA Senate election. Same thing also happened in my city council district, going from an odd number to an even one with two years having someone I neither voted for or against.

        Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 55, CA-30

        by Zack from the SFV on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 01:51:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What's so bad about Padilla? (0+ / 0-)

          I guess you'll be doing everything you can to help Leland Lee win that primary then, eh?

          "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

          by ArkDem14 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 12:15:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Padilla is a vendido-Dem (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ArkDem14, MichaelNY, kurykh

                He is a sellout. It isn't just that he is one of the "business Dems" but when he does oppose something good that his constituents might support (such as CA moving towards a single-payer health insurance system) he abstains. Same effect as a NO vote in committee, but he tries to hide it from his constituents. He is not as bad as a Calderon brother, but doesn't deserve a promotion in my view.

                 Considering the SoS race, there are other candidates. I don't know much about Leland Yee, but last night at an event I met Derek Cressman, who is one of the other people running. He sounded good, but I have not made any final decisions yet.

                It is amazing that all eight statewide offices are considered Safe Democratic at this point, but I can't disagree. The California of Nixon, Reagan and Pete Wilson is gone. Good riddance!

            Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 55, CA-30

            by Zack from the SFV on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 06:44:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Very nice (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV

    piece of work.  Thanks.

  •  CA-21 should be Lean Democrat or Toss-Up (0+ / 0-)

    Not Lean Republican.  If you have a D+1 or D+2 rating for a district, that's a Tossup.

    I'm really not sure why the Cook Report has CA-21 as Lean Republican and CA-52 as a Tossup even though both districts have the same exact PVI.

    •  Candidates win elections - PVIs don't - (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jncca, James Allen

      And as of today we have an incumbent D in CA-52 and two challengers (one one-time loser, one untested) in CA-21.

      I'm with the author: we need to see Renteria's Q413 and Q114 fundraising reports before putting much stock in her.  The strength of fundraising goes a long ways toward figuring out if this race is closer to Tossup or to Lean/Likely R.

      •  You lost me there (0+ / 0-)

        First off, this has nothing to do with winning or losing.  This is just a rating process.

        And the question I raised hasn't been answered yet:

        Why is it that CA-52 is rated as D+2 and CA-21 as D+2 yet the first Toss-Up and the other (CA-21) as Lean Republican?  Does the Cook Report make these ratings because of fundraising numbers?

        •  I'm not sure (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BENAWU, Zack from the SFV, jncca, lordpet8

          why you conflated race ratings with PVI. They're two very different concepts.

          PVI is simply a mathematical formula involving presidential performance. My ratings, along with everyone else's, includes analysis of incumbent strength, challenger quality,political environment, and PVI. Simply looking at PVI is not helpful at all.

          23, D, pragmatic progressive (-4.50, -5.18), CA-14. DKE folk culture curator.

          by kurykh on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 12:47:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not just simply looking at PVI (0+ / 0-)

            I'm factoring in all the data when I'm making my decisions on what kind of insight goes into the districts.  I'm also looking into more voter registration statistics.  These are the most important numbers but unfortunately, there's not a single site out there that I'm aware of (unless you know otherwise) that devotes to breaking down voter registration numbers by Congressional District and County across the U.S.  I'm not talking about each State SoS site.  Just one site for all.  Of course, voter registration numbers are broken down by county but thankfully the CA SoS Office is able to give me efficient numbers that I need based on Congressional District in CA.

            In looking at voter registration numbers:

            CA-42:  47% Democratic, 32% Republican
            CA-52:  32.61% Democratic, 34% Republican


            And yes, as you point out, PVI pertains to a mathematical formula involving presidential performance BUT, there's a reason why one district is rated as say D+10 vs. say R+3 on a presidential performance.  Are we talking polls?  Voter registration numbers?  That's what I'm trying to dig into.

            First off, the question still has not been answered.

            Perhaps the question should be rephrased:  Why is it that CA-52 is rated Toss-Up and CA-21 is rated Lean Republican?  Are these ratings because of as you point out, incumbent strength, challenger quality and fundraising, etc?

            Would it be said that while CA-21 has proven to not be a red district, it's rated Lean Republican because of David Valadao vs. any of his current Democratic challengers?

            Would it be said that while CA-52 has proven to be a purple district (slightly more GOP registration than Democratic), it's rated Toss-Up because of Scott Peters vs. any current GOP challengers?

            •  You answered your own question (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Based on the current state of affairs, it's their respective incumbents vs. their declared challengers. That's always the case when doing elections ratings. If circumstances change (incumbent retires or screws up, Democrats suddenly ride a wave, challenger has a breakthrough, etc.) and I deem thse changes to be meaningful, then my ratings will change accordingly.

              I don't know what you're trying to get into regarding PVI. It is calculated using actual presidential results from the past two elections (provided by the CA SoS and many other elections officials). No polls, no voter registration numbers, no demographic data, nothing else. Simply presidential results broken down by congressional district.

              These ratings are based on my analysis of the facts on the ground. PVI is only one consideration.

              23, D, pragmatic progressive (-4.50, -5.18), CA-14. DKE folk culture curator.

              by kurykh on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 05:09:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  More on PVIs (0+ / 0-)

                I'm not sure what's to not understand on why I'm choosing to analyze PVIs in relationship to voter registration numbers.  Perhaps I need to clarify better as to why I'm putting PVI into the discussion here.

                PVIs as you described do not get calculated as a result of polls, voter registration numbers, demographic data, etc.  That's not what I'm ultimately arguing.

                What I'm saying is that if you look into the PVI data (as you cited yourself via the CA SoS URL), which is based on the number of votes for a Democratic Candidate vs. a Republican candidate, one could make any of the following assumptions:

                In the case of CA-21, while it is true that the majority of residents there voted for Barack Obama, it seems probable that the majority of those who voted for Barack Obama were Democrats.  Independents can factor into the numbers, as well as potentially a few Republicans (tiny, tiny minority of numbers) although with this kind of analysis and assessment, it's more subjective rather than objective.  Therefore, unless I have an exact source that breaks down the raw data source provided for the PVIs even further, I can be left with just assumptions that most Democrats voted for Obama, as well as most Republicans voting for Mitt Romney.

                Then what I do with this kind of data, is that I look at the voter registration numbers and see what information they tell me so if the majority of residents in CA-21 are registered Democrats, then it's likely the majority of registered Democrats voted for Barack Obama.  We could also say, perhaps these Obama voters in 2012 that since it's probable they were also Democrats, would they be convinced to vote David Valadao out because of Obama?

                In Valadao's case though, he just got elected last November and is a freshman Republican so it's premature I think to make assumptions that just because he's popular that he'll be very hard to defeat November 2012.  This is still early in the election cycle and the government shutdown just happened recently and was blamed on the GOP.  Any factors could happen overtime in the course of the next ten or so months.

                •  Some of your assumptions are iffy (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  We could also say, perhaps these Obama voters in 2012 that since it's probable they were also Democrats, would they be convinced to vote David Valadao out because of Obama?
                  In Valadao's case though, he just got elected last November and is a freshman Republican so it's premature I think to make assumptions that just because he's popular that he'll be very hard to defeat November 2012.
                  In CD-21, just because someone voted for Obama does not mean they will vote Democratic downballot. It doesn't necessarily mean they will vote Republican (though that's certain a major issue), but that they neglect to vote on downballot races. Using a 2012 turnout model to project 2014 results  is also faulty due to lower Latino turnout. Not as low as 2010, but still lower than 2012.

                  Especially in the Central Valley, voting a straight ticket Democratic ballot is is much less common than in the Bay Area or metro LA. You can't assume, "Oh they voted for Obama, they'll vote against Valadao because of that." Valadao is a known quantity and is sufficiently moderate. The onus is on Renteria to convince voters that she's better than Valadao. Candidates have to be strong in their own right; they can't simply rely on party labels here. You can only say that Obama voters are more inclined to vote for Renteria, which gives her something to work with, but that's it.

                  Looking only at the data you talk about only gets you so far. What's more important is having a feel on the ground. Keeping up with the news, looking at fundraising prowess, other people's analyses, looking at the actions of incumbents and challengers, what language they use, or even asking people who are from the area. Looking only at data only gives a rough approximation of the field at play. The data analysis you talk about doesn't explain why Jeff Gorell held on but Chris Norby got defeated. It doesn't explain why Jeff Denham won but Brian Bilbray lost. It takes much more work and knowledge than simply looking at PVI and voter reg numbers.

                  Speaking of voter reg numbers, be careful of Democratic voter registration numbers in the Central Valley. They're much higher, but many of these "valleycrats" actually vote Republican (think West Virginia or Oklahoma). Many people dismissed me when I mentioned this last year and were left scratching their heads after Jose Hernandez lost. They're diminishing in numbers but are still a significant bloc in these parts. They must be accounted for in any analysis.

                  Lastly, I want to repeat something I explicitly mentioned above:

                  Of course, the ratings may change dramatically over the next year depending on various factors such as retirement, candidate quality, and who makes it to the general election. If your favorite candidate was written off here, it's not the end of the world and there is time to redeem him- or herself.
                  These ratings aren't set in stone. They change as warranted. Whether we like it or not, Valadao currently has the upper hand right now. He's a popular incumbent with untested opposition. If Renteria's candidacy catches fire, then I'll shift the rating accordingly. Until then, my rating reflects Valadao's electoral position vis-a-vis his competition.

                  I don't want to sound arrogant, but frankly I like my track record in last year's race predictions, so I'm standing by my instincts. I'll change my analysis when I get new information.

                  23, D, pragmatic progressive (-4.50, -5.18), CA-14. DKE folk culture curator.

                  by kurykh on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 01:12:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Any information does change, even data (like PVIs) (0+ / 0-)

                    Note I'm not criticizing what you're saying.  I think you're very smart and definitely do analysis effectively.  And no, I don't think you're sounding arrogant at all.  The information you've provided is very insightful for my case.

                    Yes, you're correct that down ballot races are less likely to be voted for in midterm elections than in presidential elections.  I should point out that my assumptions are purely based on any given hypothetical, which could happen but isn't guaranteed to happen.  Data changes, voter registration numbers change, polls change and so forth.  Not every bit of data means the same thing.  However, it could also be that there's an information bubble regular presidential voters are in where they think it's more important to focus on presidential races than midterm elections.  Of course, with what's going on in the government shutdown, nowadays that might change things a bit as folks understand, like us educated folks realized, that you need a bipartisan, functional and cooperative Congress doing checks & balances while working with the White House to run the U.S. government effectively so it makes a positive difference in people's lives.

                    In my guess (and I can only guess), I have to look more deeply into the situation beyond what data provides because as you point out, the PVIs, voter registration numbers, etc. don't give me any qualitative information that I need to understand the larger picture in Congressional races.

                    In fact, there is not a single website out there that I know of that provides complete insight and in-depth information on Congressional Districts and their races in the past to present (unless you know better), regardless of how low profile or high profile the candidates were.  Ex:  Democrat Jim Reed (or Jim Read) ran against Rep. Doug LaMalfa last year (before LaMalfa became a freshman Republican) for Wally Herger's open seat in CA-01 but I got so little information out of the race in terms of polling data and other information that I had to depend on a Kossack's reporting of the race.  Often going on Daily Kos to get an overview of Congressional races is painful because I have to dig through diaries after diaries just to put data and information into the overall picture.

                    That's why I'm glad you're clarifying the data regarding Congressional districts, whether PVIs or other information.  My efforts on my group, Knowledge Democrats, are to make information available and transparent so people can get a greater understanding of political races of all levels (local, state, federal) without necessarily having to live in the districts but it's not easy to do so.  That's why I'm always asking questions.

                    Of course, in the marketing industry (which I work in), marketing managers and CMOs are always looking at data, even big data, and recognize that the situations in the marketplace and in the customer world always change.  So does the political environment and scene.

    •  disagree (0+ / 0-)

      Dems have a history of being completely disorganized in that district, especially in midterm years. In 2010, Jim Costa suffered the single highest percentage drop in his vote total of any Dem in the House and nearly lost what looked like a safe seat. Valadao also seems to be popular, and was comfortably ahead of a generic D in that PPP poll a few weeks ago. I have that one lean D for this cycle.

      SSP poster. 44, CA-6, -0.25/-3.90

      by sacman701 on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 12:44:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There was some speculation a while back (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV

    that Gary Miller (CA31) might be interested in jumping to John Campbell's open seat in CA45, rather than getting his butt beat in a reelection attempt to his present gig.  Is there anything to that?

    MI-8, 71, married, 7 children, 16 grandchildren, retired, independent but progressive

    by jimmich on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 01:37:26 PM PST

  •  Great diary! Tipped and bookmarked n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    21, Male, Latino-Spanish, OK-1 (Tulsa: The Art Deco, Terracotta, and Cultural Gem of Green Country!); Currently studying in Madrid, Spain

    by gigantomachyusa on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 03:43:04 AM PST

  •  Hopefully we won't have 4 Dems v 2 Rs in a primary (0+ / 0-)

    With our top-two primary system in place in 2012, someone higher up must have taken it for granted that a large Dem majority in a southland CD (31?) guaranteed a Dem win.  

    However, when there are only 2 Republicans against 4 Democrats splitting the vote in a top-two primary, it should not have taken a genius to see the danger. As a result, what should have been a Dem hold was a gift to the GOP, as the two Rs were the top two primary vote-getters.

    My students were poor and they often came to class hungry. And they knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice… I saw it in their never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.-LBJ

    by Jeff in CA on Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 06:16:14 PM PST

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