Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Big Test Of The Anti-Red Wave Theory Comes In 2 Weeks-- In A California Special Election


Did you know there's a big special election on May 12, two weeks from yesterday? Remember when Katie Hill resigned after a sex scandal. This is the special election to replace her until the November election decides who represents CA-25 (the Santa Clarita Valley, most of the Antelope Valley and most of Simi Valley) for the next two years. The winner of the special win face the loser of the special again in November.

This is the perfect opportunity for the GOP to steal back a blue seat-- no incumbent and a dreadful Democratic candidate in what is expected to be a super-low turnout election. Or will it be?

158,849 people voted in the jungle primary. 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans were on the ballot. The combined Democratic vote was 80,387 (50.5%) and the combined Republican vote was 78,462 (49.4%)-- very, very close. The two top vote getters will be in the run-off in 2 weeks:
Christy Smith (D)- 57,423 (36.1%)
Mike Garcia (R)- 40,311 (25.4%)
As of March 31, Smith had spent $1,512,159 and had $357,257 in her warchest and Garcia had spent $1,426,856 and had $446,743 in his warchest. The DCCC has spent $1,687,850 to hold onto the seat, while the NRCC and McCarthy's Congressional Leadership PAC have spent $886,767 + $439,291 ($1,326,058).

The keys for Smith to win is to consolidate all the Democratic support in the district, to win over the huge independent vote and to turn out the base. A couple of years ago, Democrats finally became the plurality party in the district:
Democrats- 161,693 (38.41%)
Republicans- 133,771 (31.78%)
Others (including decline-to state)- 95,090 (29.81%)
The key to consolidating Democratic votes are the 10,391 progressives (6.5%) who backed Cenk Uygur in the primary. Smith is a classic lesser of two evils candidate. It would be hard for any progressive who knows anything about her to vote for her. The Democrats couldn't have found a worse candidate to run. In trying to say something in favor of her, Uygur told me that "Primaries are the most important part of our election system. Once you get to the general election in a U.S. election you have only two choices an overwhelming percentage of the time. This is also true in CA-25. I only endorse candidates who I know will not take corporate money. In terms of who to vote for in CA-25, that's relatively easy. Mike Garcia has all of the downsides of Christy Smith without any of the upsides. Garcia claimed Steve Knight wasn't pro-Trump enough-- Knight voted with Trump 99% of the time. Anyone who proudly claims that being with Trump 99% of the time isn't enough isn't fit for office. I wouldn't vote for Mike Garcia under penalty of law." He told me his guess is that his supporters will vote for Smith but added that he's "really guessing. Voters generally vote. I don't know how many non-regular voters I got to come out for me in such a short election. If anyone who voted for me got the idea that Mike Garcia would be better, then they didn't listen to a word I said."

The Cook Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball both rate the race a toss-up, while Inside Elections rates it as "likely Democrat." Yesterday, Rachel Bitecofer took a look at how the race has developed and wrote that she is "hesitant to say the CA-25 special election... will be a bellwether, but it’s the best chance Republicans have at reclaiming one of these seats this cycle. Democrats have been hesitant to spend heavily on the race whereas Republicans, increasingly bearish about their fall prospects under Trump, badly need any positive optics they can rustle up, and unlike other 2020 races where fundraising and candidate recruitment have reflected a hostile political atmosphere that still favors Democrats, their recruitment effort in California’s 25th district produced a top-notch nominee."

Bitecofer, who I generally think is a great prognosticator finds it easy to say that Garcia, a dangerous sociopath and walking freakshow who wants to spend his time in office licking Trump's ass, is "a top-notch nominee." She can't find it in her to describe what an utterly worthless catastrophe of a candidate Christie Smith is.
Ironically, outside of gender, Democrats struggle to embrace the electoral power of descriptive representation (i.e., identity politics) when it comes to candidate recruitment; however, Republicans have long understood the benefits of recruiting and running minority candidates in diverse districts. It is a strategy that has worked well for them in both Florida and Texas, and one they’re hoping might mitigate a massive demographic advantage for Democrats on the 25th. Their candidate, Mike Garcia, has an impressive background as a Navy fighter pilot, and perhaps more relevant for the GOP’s electoral purposes, Garcia’s Ballotpedia entry provided by his campaign notes he is a “first-generation American citizen whose family came to the United States legally.” Republicans hope he may be able to pull over some voters from the district’s 37-percent Latino population and potentially erode some of the Democrats’ advantage among this core voting bloc.

As my 2018 voter file analysis of the district reveals, a surge in turnout among Latino voters played a pivotal role in the district’s transition from red to blue. They doubled their 2014 turnout rate of 25 percent to 54 percent despite a massive uptick in registrations. As such, a strategy that offsets Democrats’ advantages among Latinos is critical for Republican efforts to reclaim these, and similarly situated, seats. So, CA-25 may be a beta test for the more expansive strategy the GOP plans to deploy in 2020 in similar districts and states such as Arizona, where the party is poised to lose a second Senate seat and see the longtime Republican stronghold flip to the Democrats in the Electoral College.

But it’s hard to predict what will happen because, although a special election normally has lower participation, and one that occurs during a pandemic may have even lower-than-normal turnout due to the inability of campaigns to engage in critical get-out-the-vote activities, as the pandemic emerged, the state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an executive order switching the election to an entirely vote-by-mail system, which could cause a turnout increase. Unlike most of the other California districts from 2018, the 25th has a modest registration advantage for Democrats and every voter in the district received a ballot. For now, I remain bullish on Democrats holding onto this seat.

As I discussed in my presidential forecast, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was anticipating something approaching-- perhaps even reaching-- 70 percent turnout in the 2020 general election, which is about 10 points higher than the 2016 turnout and would be history-making. This prediction was driven by the fact that 2018 midterm turnout increased just over 13 points over its 2014 levels (I was expecting about 10 points) and that based on my own calculation, in contests and cycles since Trump’s 2016 election, the average turnout increase has been about 10 points. The 2018 election overperformed my bold estimates because, unlike with Democrats during Obama’s tenure, turnout of Republicans in 2018 did not decline, it increased.

The image of a disaffected Republican Party, embarrassed by their “chaos” president, so far runs into an irrefutable data-reality that Republican voter turnout, even in the 40 suburban districts Democrats flipped, was robust — and it did not break in favor of Democrats in rates any higher than normal for the polarized era. Instead, the blue wave that washed through America’s suburbs in 2018 was powered by a massive turnout of Democrats and independents, who showed up in droves to toss Republican House incumbents out of office and send a message to Donald Trump. 
Personally, I will never cast a vote for an evil candidate-- even if it's a much lesser evil-- and Christie Smith has every intention of going to Congress and being one of the worst Democrats in the House. She's a corporate shill who will always disappoint, just as she has in her short, putrid time in Sacramento. But if I had to guess, I'd say she'll probably win in two weeks and again in November. I think she'll win for the same reason Biden will-- because most people are happy enough to vote against someone rather than for someone.

Party hack

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At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

The Democratic party has the worst inclinations. Always trying to get Republicans over instead of wooing real democrats to turn out with a progressive candidate. Biden is a perfect example, unfortunately. I will vote for him though, to get rid of Trump as it is the only choice we have. VERY unfortunate.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Increasingly, I find I cannot support any candidate backed by the Democratic Party. The values of the Party as displayed by their actions are more than enough reason. I have so much scar tissue in my back from Party betrayals that the standard-issue stiletto can no longer penetrate.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Anonymous at 12:36-- I recommend you consult a dictionary about the meaning of the word "plurality." You really are too stupid to be coming to this blog and bothering everyone. Can you please just go read Daily Kos everyday. No one wants you around here, especially not spewing your ignorance as though you had a clue what you're talking about. GO AWAY!

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve changed his name again?


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