5 things to watch in every state: California, take 2

Because California is a ridiculous state, we had to focus on 5 of the ballot measures that were on the ballot there before we moved on to the rest of the elections that we’re interested in watching. And since California is so populous, we have double the amount of elections that we are watching.

  1. California US Senate election: This is an interesting experiment.  One of the legacies of the Governator was his insistence on “jungle primaries.”  The jungle primaries moved the primary elections in California to put everyone on the ballot during the primary and the top two vote getters regardless of party would move onto the general election for statewide elections, including federal elections for Congress.  What you can have, since California is more or less a one party state is that you can have two Democrats move onto the general election.  Or if there are enough candidates, you can split the vote enough ways to move a typical liberal district to have two Republicans advance to the general election.  A lot of people believe that the idea of the jungle primaries favors the more conservative candidates.  Loretta Sanchez may be trying to take advantage of it.  She was able to finish 2nd in the primary to current California Attorney General Kamala Harris for the US Senate.  Harris has the support of the traditional Democratic Party.  Sanchez, despite also being a Democrat, is not getting the traditional support from either party.  Sanchez is a fill in for the Republican candidate in this instance.  I’m not sure if I really buy that but that’s what’s out there.  Harris and Sanchez are both Democrats which is the first time that two Democrats moved to the general election for such a high office in California.  The election strategy for Sanchez is to be able to pick enough voters from the Democratic Party + the Republican Party in California to be able to win.  What is being threatened by the California Republican Party is that they’re not going to vote for Senate.  That could be possible.  Republicans might simply not vote for Senate.  With Trump at the top of the ballot and no Republican running for Senate, it’s possible that Republican turnout in California will be even lower.  This is a historic election as there will be either a black woman elected to Senate or a Latina woman.  Either way, should be interesting to watch.
  2. U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 10th District: Let’s operate under the assumption that Republican turnout will be depressed because Trump and no Senate candidate.  We may see some Congressional Districts shift from Republicans to Democrats (yes, there are Republican members of Congress in California).  Jeff Denham is not that far right wing.  He is left leaning for the Republican caucus in the U.S. House but he is running in a district that is not that conservative.  Denham has supported broad immigration reform, as well as introduced legislation to offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who served in the military.  But his district voted for Obama in the past two elections, although it was very close about a 3 point win for Obama.  It’s possible that it swings to the left to support Hillary Clinton.  Denham has to continue to run significantly ahead of the Republican candidate for President which he did in 2012 by about 3 points.  That may not be enough in this election.  I’m interested in watching how this district turns out.  He is running in a rematch against Michael Eggman who he crushed in 2014 56-44.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 25th District: It’s another moderate district in California.  In 2012, this district voted for Romney 49.8-47.8 Obama.  It had former member of Congress Buck McKeon who wasn’t exactly a Republican extremist.  In 2014, this district voted for two Republican challengers in the primary election advancing both to the general election.  Steve Knight advanced to the general election in which he won over fellow Republican Tony Strickland 53-47.  This time he is being challenged by Bryan Caforio.  The Los Angeles Times ntoed that Knight is the most vulnerable Republican in Los Angeles.  There has been a flood of dark money flooding into the district.  This is one worth watching to determine if turnout is lower than usual in 2016.
  4. U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 49th District: This is the district that I didn’t think was going to be in play at the beginning of the cycle.  This largely is going to come down to how bad Trump does in the district and how many college educated white voters show up to vote.  This district is represented by Darrell Issa.  You may think that Issa is relatively safe, which I thought at the beginning of the cycle.  This district voted Romney 52-46 in 2012 so it’s not terribly conservative.  Issa has also been sending out mailers of how he has worked with Obama in the past.  And I just can’t.  That’s insane to think about.  I’m interested to watch how Issa had to debase himself to potential primary voters.  Perhaps, this is an argument in favor of jungle primaries that it potentially decreases extremism on both sides of the political parties.  I’ve long thought that Issa is going to run for Senate or Governor in a lower turnout election.  But he needs to get re-elected to be able to do that.  He got nearly 60% of the vote in each of the last two elections.  But depressed Republican turnout and the moderate nature of the district could lead to an upset of Issa on November 8.
  5. California State Senate District 5: The Democratic Party in California holds a super majority in the state legislature (Senate and Assembly).  One of the districts that was very close in 2012 was District 5.  Democrat Cathleen Galgiani defeated Republican Bill Berryhill by about 3,000 votes.  In a year where Republican turnout was stronger either because of the top of the ticket or other elections, this would be a district that could potentially flip.  But it seems likely based under the assumption that we’re operating under, I believe Galgiani will double her margin.  If Republican turnout is somehow not depressed, this would be the State Senate seat that could flip and would be indicative of such a turnout.
  6. California State Assembly District 14: In what is becoming a race to have a referendum on education reform in California and education reform within the Democratic Party.  Mae Toralkson, wife of California Education Superintendent Tom Toralkson is running against Tim Grayson.  Tom Toralkson was endorsed in 2014 by the California Teacher’s Association (CTA).  Toralkson ran against Marshall Tuck who was championed by charter schools and the charter school business groups.  This same dynamic is coming into play within this district.  Mae Toralkson has been endorsed by the CTA and Grayson is aligning himself with charter schools and the education reform movement. He has also said that he would go up against teacher’s unions that “work against the interests of dynamic young teachers and students in low-income areas.”  The Democratic Party is having an intraparty war on education reform.  This is one district that will be a battle bulletpoint going forward.
  7. California State Assembly District 16: In 2012, this District went to the Democratic candidate Joan Buchanan.  She won 59% of the vote.  She chose not to seek re-election in 2014.  In 2014, Republican Catharine Baker and Democrat Tim Sbranti faced off in the general election.  Baker was able to get elected by less than 4,000 votes.  There were 74,000 less votes in this district from 2012 to 2014.  It seems likely to me that the vote for Baker was mainly because of depressed voter turnout rather than the district actually becoming more Conservative.  I’ve already said what assumptions I’m working under so I expect Republican turnout to diminish.  That is bad news for Baker.  This is one of the districts I’ve flagged to watch for my turnout prediction.
  8. California State Assembly District 39: In the 2014 election, Raul Bocanegra, who was the incumbent at the time, lost to fellow Democrat Patty Lopez by less than 500 votes.  Lopez has more or less been detached from the Democratic Party during her tenure in Sacramento. She does not have the support of the Party and is not making up for it with fundraising.  Bocanegra will likely be re-elected but it is the strength of the Democratic Party that is being tested in this election, which makes it well worth watching.
  9. California State Assembly District 65: In 2012, Sharon Quirk-Silva upset incumbent Republican Chris Norby by less than 5,000 votes.  Norby was elected in a special election in 2010  and was re-elected in November of that same year.  In 2014, Quirk-Silva lost by less than 7,000 votes in 2014 to Republican Young Kim.  Quirk-Silva has decided for a rematch with Young Kim in 2016.  If the election is basically just being flipped back and forth based on turnout, this would be an argument in Quirk-Silva’s favor for being able to win the election.  I think it’s worth watching because again, this is more data in the Republican turnout narrative.
  10. California State Assembly District 66: This is another district that seems to be flip based on turnout and elections that are better for one party or the other.  Democratic candidate Al Muratsuchi won election in 2014 with 102,136 votes and won by 18,000 votes over Republican Craig Huey.  in 2014, with 108,096 votes cast in the district, Muratsuchi lost by 700 votes to the Republican challenger Hadley.  The total votes lost from 2012 to 2014 was nearly 80,000 votes.  If the turnout is anywhere close to 2012, it seems like Muratsuchi is going to be headed back to Sacramento.