Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What to watch this election night for California races

On May 18th, everyone called that day the Super Tuesday for primaries. They apparently were not thinking about this Tuesday, June 8th. Today, about a dozen states are holding their primaries. Some states like Virginia only have primaries for House and State legislature while states like Arkansas have very contested Senatorial primaries. The state I will examine is my home state, California. Today, we have important primaries for many of our statewide seats. California had the potential to have even more. First, Jerry Brown sealed the Democratic nomination once Newsom dropped out of the primary although polls showed he did not have a strong chance. Although no one has dropped out of the Gubernatorial and Senatorial Republican primaries, Fiorina and Whitman are leading by more than 20 points in most polls. In March, Whitman was leading by 40 points and in early May, her lead was in the single digits. She came ahead again by writing herself another check so she has spent the most money of any candidate ever. Fiorina earned her money after running Hewlett Packard to the ground and she is now using that to defeat Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore. I see Chuck DeVore signs all around but he is not winning, he just has very enthusiastic supporters. The races I will examine are both Attorney General Primaries, the Lieutenant Governor priamry and Prop 16. I will discuss what to watch in each of them and here are the three most important factors: turnout, turnout and turnout.

For the Democrats Attorney General primary, the candidates are San Francisco Attorney Kamala Harris, Facebook's former privacy officer Chris Kelly, Rocky Delgadillo from the Los Angeles area, Pedro Nava from Santa Barbara and Ted Lieu. The three main candidates are Harris, Kelly and Delgadillo although polls show the race is between Kelly and Harris. A recent Survey USA poll showed Harris leading by 6 points. For Harris to win, she needs to win big margins in the Bay Area. Kelly should win big in the Los Angeles area although Harris received the LA Times endorsement. Delgadillo though might steal votes from Kelly, especially among Hispanics. The Survey USA poll has Kelly and Delgadillo tied in the Inland Empire. While watching the returns, ask yourself these questions: is Harris getting the margins she needs in the Bay Area and the Central Valley? Is Kelly winning in the Inland Empire or is he tied with Delgadillo? Most importantly, is Kelly crushing Harris in Los Angeles or is it a three way tie?


In the Republican Attorney General primary, Steve Cooley from Los Angeles goes against Orange County State Senator Tom Harman and teabagger John Eastman. Cooley is the more moderate candidate and he is establishment backed. This resembles many previous primaries this year where most people voted for teabaggers. The problem was that the teabagger divided the vote, allowing the establishment candidate to receive the nomination. This may happen in this election because a recent Survey USA poll showed Cooley leading by five points. Although Cooley is popular in the Los Angeles area, Eastman should win Orange County because he is from there. The Survey USA poll shows Harman leading in Northern California even though he has no strong connection to the area. Remember to ask yourself these questions while the results arrive: how high is the Los Angeles area turnout? Is Harman actually winning in the Bay Area and the Central Valley or is Eastman splitting the vote with him? Most importantly, who is winning the Inland Empire?

The Lieutenant Governor primaries are less active. For the Republicans, moderate Abel Maldonado is leading against Nevada County conservative Sam Aanestad. Maldonado has his Central Valley state Senate open with a close race brewing. This is another blog post for another time though. The Democrats have a more interesting race. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom faces Janice Hahn, the sister of a former Los Angeles mayor. Although the Hahn family is popular in LA, the LA Times endorsed Newsom. Although Newsom should probably win by getting high turnout from the Bay Area, Hahn may get close if there is low turnout. Newsom needs to win big margins in Northern California while keeping down her margins in Southern California. Although the state’s main political divide is Coastal vs. Inland California in the general election now, the primaries still have the NorCal vs. SoCal divide. While the results come in, ask yourself these questions: Is Hahn winning LA County by more than 30 points? Is Newsom winning the Bay Area by more than 30 points? If Hahn is winning the Inland Empire, is she winning it in the double digits? Most importantly, how high is the Bay Area turnout?

Prop 16 is the last race I will examine but it is very intriguing. PG&E put Prop 16 on the ballot and they are spending $46 million so it will pass. The ads claim it is about the taxpayers right to vote but they “forget” to mention it has to be 2/3 of the taxpayers. If passed, PG&E has its competition eliminated and it can raise electricity rates. If a county does not like that and wants to start a new electricity provider, it will not be able to. PG&E will start spending to prevent 2/3 of the people from supporting a new one and PG&E should get at least 1/3 of the voters to support PG&E. A Survey USA poll had the No side leading by 4 points. The poll also showed that minorities are split on their opinions of Prop 16 as well as LA County. Also, a good number of Republicans are against Prop 16 but many Democrats are for it. I would expect San Diego and Orange Counties to go strongly for Prop 16 because many people there care about taxes. The poll also showed the Central Valley mostly opposing Prop 16. You should remember these questions to ask yourself while the results come in: is the Central Valley actually opposing Prop 16? How high is the margin and the turnout in the Bay Area? Most importantly, which side is winning LA County?