Wednesday, March 28, 2012

California State Senate Races Guide and Analysis

In 2011, the California Redistricting Commission redrew California's Congressional lines, California's Senate lines and California's Assembly lines. The California Redistricting Commission is a group of five Democrats, five Republicans and four Decline to States who worked together to draw lines that combine communities of interest and create competitive districts. California's bipartisan incumbent protection plan in 2002 eliminated competitive districts. No seats in the California State Senate changed hands from 2004 to the 2010 elections. Currently, the State Senate map is being sued in court but most pundits believe the California Supreme Court will uphold the map. Many of my earlier posts on California's redistricting maps here: analyzed the communities of interest aspect of the map. This new post though will analyze the partisanship of the new California State Senate seats. Control of the California State Senate is important because if the Democrats gain 27 Senate seats, they will have the 2/3 Senate majority needed to pass a tax increase. The Democrats used to need a supermajority to pass a budget but in 2010, Proposition 25 passed which allowed a simple majority to pass a budget. Before 2010, the State Legislature would not pass a budget until late in the year around October, instead of in June when the deadline is. Another fact about California's Senate seats is that only the odd number seats are up in 2012. Of those 20 seats up in 2012, Democrats hold 11 of them and need to win 13 of them in order to gain the 2/3 majority in the Senate. In 2012, the redistricting suggests that they can gain the two seats they need. The 2001 map for California protected many of the State Senators, preventing any partisan turnover in the State Senate since 2004. Anyway, here are the Senate races.

Link to new California Senate maps:

California's 1st State Senate District: Ted Gaines (R)
Presidential Data: Obama 42%, McCain 54%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 37%, Whitman 55%
Demographics: 11% Hispanic, 79% White
Status: Safe Republican

The 1st district represents the Mother Lode Country in the Sierras and the mountainous northern part of the state. This district should elect Republicans easily.

California's 3rd State Senate District: Lois Wolk (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 66%, McCain 31%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 60%, Whitman 34%
Demographics: 8% African American, 11% Asian, 25% Hispanic, 52% White
Status: Safe Democratic

Wolk's district gains the Napa area and part of Sonoma County but she remains anchored in Yolo County. Her district is also still strongly Democratic.

California's 5th State Senate District: Tom Berryhill (R)
Presidential Data: Obama 53%, McCain 44%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 47%, Whitman 46%
Demographics: 6% African American, 12% Hispanic, 38% Hispanic, 40% White
Status: Tossup

Most of Berryhill's current district is further south in the Central Valley but his home is in the new 5th district which represents all of San Joaquin County and part of Stanislaus County so he may run here although Obama and Brown won the district. The confirmed Republican candidate is Leroy Ornellas (R), the San Joaquin County Supervisor. The Democratic candidate is State Assembly member Cathleen Galgiani (D) who represented parts of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced Counties. She has been a strong advocate for high speed rail and placed Proposition 1A on the ballot in 2008 which allowed California to build a high speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Also, she is a strong advocate of water for farmers, an important issue in the Central Valley. This district is a swing district but is trending Democratic quickly. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) won his congressional race in 2010 in similar territory so the voters may decide to choose Galgiani.

California's 7th State Senate District: Mark DeSaulnier (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 62%, McCain 35%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 53%, Whitman 41%
Demographics 18+: 6% African American, 14% Asian, 18% Hispanic, 59% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 7th district becomes more Republican as it loses territory along the Bay and represents inland suburbs. Although this area was once swing territory, it has trended Democratic very quickly and the cities of Pittsburg and Antioch help keep the district fully in the Democratic column.

California's 9th State Senate District: Lori Hancock (D) vs. Sandre Swanson (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 86%, McCain 11%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 83%, Whitman 12%
Demographics 18+: 19% African American, 21% Asian, 21% Hispanic, 35% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The district remains heavily Democratic but the primary challenge between Hancock and Swanson looks extremely competitive. Swanson was endorsed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D) from the southern part of the district while George Miller (D) endorsed Hancock. Both candidates have strong support from labor and the candidates dislike each other so this race will be extremely competitive.

California's 11th State Senate District: Mark Leno (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 82%, McCain 14%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 77%, Whitman 17%
Demographics 18+: 6% African American, 36% Asian, 15% Hispanic, 41% White
Status: Safe Democratic

This district represents San Francisco and Daly City. No Republican should win this district and State Senator Mark Leno (D) who is extremely popular should keep this district easily.

California's 13th State Senate District: Jerry Hill (D) vs. Sally Lieber (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 73%, McCain 24%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 64%, Whitman 31%
Demographics 18+: 24% Asian, 19% Hispanic, 51% White
Status: Safe Democratic

Jerry Hill (D) is a State Assembly member from northern San Mateo County running for the new State Senate district against State Assembly member Sally Lieber (D) from the Mountain View area. They are both popular State Assembly members but I expect Jerry Hill to win because of his strong organization and his endorsements from people such as Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D).

California's 15th State Senate District: Jim Beall (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 67%, McCain 29%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 59%, Whitman 35%
Demographics 18+: 30% Asian, 27% Hispanic, 37% White
Status: Safe Democratic

This district which represents most of San Jose and its southern suburbs around Campbell and Los Gatos should easily vote Democratic. Jim Beall is the current 24th District Assembly member and should have no trouble winning the district.

California's 17th State Senate District: Open (R held)
Presidential Data: Obama 64%, McCain 33%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 56%, Whitman 37%
Demographics 18+: 26% Hispanic, 61% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 17th district was formerly the 15th district held by Sam Blakeslee (R) who was moderate and represented a 59% Obama district. The addition of all of Santa Cruz County though increases the Obama percentage from 59% to 64% which made the terrain for Sam Blakeslee more difficult. He therefore decided not to run and with no top tier Republican running, Democrats will probably win the seat. State Assembly member Bill Monning (D) has announced his candidacy and assuming no primary challenge arises, he should win the district easily.

California's 19th State Senate District: Open (R-held)
Presidential Data: Obama 60%, McCain 37%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 49%, Whitman 43%
Demographics 18+: 6% Asian, 42% Hispanic, 48% White
Status: Likely Democratic

The 19th district is currently represented by Tony Strickland (R) who lives in Ventura County but the district has become four points more Democratic as Oxnard was added to the district. Tony Strickland is not running for reelection though so Democrats have a great shot at picking up this seat which Strickland won by only one point against State Assemblymember Hannah Beth Jackson (D) when it voted 56% for Obama, not 60%. The candidates include Jason Hodge (D), the Commissioner of the Oxnard Harbor District and a firefighter and Hannah Beth Jackson is also running again for the seat. The Republican candidate is Santa Barbara County Supervisor Mike Stoker (R). Both Jason Hodge and Hannah Beth Jackson are strong candidates. Jason Hodge is viewed as a rising star who is likable and young while Jackson is an experienced politician who has won "legislator of the year" awards from NOW and LCV. The Democratic primary should be extremely close due to the strengths of both candidates.

California's 21st State Senate District: Open (R-held)
Presidential Data: Obama 47%, McCain 50%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 38%, Whitman 50%
Demographics 18+: 11% African American, 5% Asian, 36% Hispanic, 45% White
Status: Safe Republican

This district which represents Los Angeles suburbs in northern Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties may be close and trending Democratic nationally but are still heavily Republican at a local level. Assemblyman Steve Knight (R) from Palmdale is running for the seat and will probably win.

California's 23rd State Senate District: Bill Emmerson (R)
Presidential Data: Obama 46%, McCain 50%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 40%, Whitman 50%
Demographics 18+: 7% African American, 6% Asian, 33% Hispanic, 51% White
Status: Safe Republican

This district is also strongly Republican at a local level. It represents the outer suburbs in the Inland Empire and does not include the more Democratic parts of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. State Senator Bill Emmerson should be reelected easily in this district.

California's 25th State Senate District: Carol Lieu (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 60%, McCain 36%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 52%, Whitman 40%
Demographics 18+: 5% African American, 14% Asian, 23% Hispanic, 55% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 25th State Senate district represents the Foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Although a few areas in the eastern part of the district such as Upland lean Republican, the Pasadena and Burbank areas help keep the district safe for Lieu

California's 27th State Senate District: Fran Pavley (D) vs. Todd Zink (R)
Presidential Data: Obama 57%, McCain 40%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 47%, Whitman 47%
Demographics 18+: 11% Asian, 22% Hispanic, 61% White
Status: Lean Democratic

This district combines the heavily Democratic west San Fernando Valley with the Republican leaning Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley in Ventura County into the same district. State Senator Fran Pavley (D) is the Democratic candidate with a strong chance of winning the seat. She has represented the southern portion of the district and has been a strong environmental advocate, winning the "Legislator of the year" award from Californians against Waste and the "Global Warming Leadership award" from the California League of Conservation voters. The Republican candidate is Attorney Todd Zink (R) who was a former marine. Due to Fran Pavley's connections in the district and the district's Democratic lean, Fran Pavley should probably win but the race could be close because Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks may have been close in the Presidential election but they vote strongly Republican at the local level.

California's 29th State Senate District: Bob Huff (R)
Presidential Data: Obama 48%, McCain 48%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 39%, Whitman 53%
Demographics 18+: 28% Asian, 32% Hispanic, 35% White
Status: Safe Republican

The district may be trending Democratic in areas such as Fullerton but for now it is heavily Republican and should elect State Senator Bob Huff (R) easily.

California's 31st State Senate District: Open (New District)
Presidential Data: Obama 56%, McCain 41%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 48%, Whitman 43%
Demographics 18+: 9% African American, 8% Asian, 47% Hispanic, 33% White
Status: Lean Democratic

This new district containing Democratic leaning northern Riverside County has a strong chance of being picked up by a Democrat. State Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R) from the Corona area is planning to run. He is strong on transportation and law and order issues. As for the Democrat, State Assemblyman Steve Clute (D) is the candidate. This district leans Democratic but if Jeff Miller campaigns strongly, he has a shot at winning this seat.

California's 33rd State Senate District: Ricardo Lara (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 75%, McCain 21%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 69%, Whitman 22%
Demographics 18+: 10% African American, 7% Asian, 66% Hispanic, 16% White
Status: Safe Democratic

This seat is safely Democratic but at first it seemed that the primary would be competitive. Young and openly gay State Senator Ricardo Lara (D) from Commerce was planning to face a tough primary with State Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal (D), the wife of State Senator Alan Lownethal (D) from Long Beach who is running for Congress in the 47th district (see my post on the California Congressional districts for more info on that race.) Bonnie Lowenthal withdrew from the race though after Ricardo Lara received high profile endorsements from the California Nurses Association and Linda Sanchez. This seat should be safe for Ricardo Lara.

California's 35th State Senate District: Roderick Wright (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 77%, McCain 20%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 72%, Whitman 21%
Demographics 18+: 22% African American, 12% Asian, 53% Hispanic, 11% White
Status: Safe Democratic

This seat should be heavily Democratic and safe for Wright as it contains heavily Democratic areas in the Los Angeles area.

California's 37th State Senate District: Mimi Walters (R)
Presidential Data: Obama 47%, McCain 49%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 34%, Whitman 58%
Demographics 18+: 18% Asian, 19% Hispanic, 59% White
Status: Safe Republican

This district representing central Orange County is trending Democratic as Irvine becomes Democratic quickly but the district's Republican roots keep it heavily Republican at a local level. Walters may have lost her statewide run for State Treasurer but she should win this district easily.

California's 39th State Senate District:
Presidential Data: Obama 60%, McCain 36%
Gubernatorial Data: Brown 49%, Whitman 43%
Demographics 18+: 15% Asian, 15% Hispanic, 62% White
Status: Likely Democratic

This district voted strongly for Obama but in 2008, Obama overperformed strongly in San Diego County so his numbers are a bit overstated here. Former State Assemblymember George Plescia (R) has announced his candidacy for the seat and he is facing Democratic State Assembly member Marty Block (D). As the Whitman percentage shows, Republicans can come close in this district but the district's Democratic trend should be enough to push Marty Block over the top.


Ed said...

This is a good writeup. It seems that the Democrats should at least pick up the two open seats and hold on to what they had going in.

While I never understood the need for two legislative chambers, both elected by pluralities from single member districts, a number of things about the California Senate stand out as unusually weird. The first is that State Senators represent a larger electorate than Congressmen, the second is that only half the Senate is up for reelection each election. You would think at least they would equalize the number of State Senators and Congressmen, so that now that you have independent redistricting the same district could just elect one State Senator and one Congressperson.

Alibguy said...

I agree, I think we need more State Senators in California. I do not think 40 is enough to represent California. They each represent around 930,000 per district. Even the State House should be larger. In most states, the state house represents around 100,000-200,000 but in California, they represent close to 450,000 per district.

Ed said...

Its a good question about at what point single member districts get too heavily populated for the single member to provide effective representation. Though India has the most populated single member districts in the world, I think the U.S. House of Representatives and the California legislature are getting close to that point.

Once you reach it, you expand the size of the chamber, which California certainly can and probably can be done to a limited extent at the federal level. If you can't expand the size of the chamber, you might as well go to multimember districts, and power should start devolving to more local levels.

Ed said...

Not strictly on the topic of this post, and I'll repost the comment under a redistricting post later, but I found a very good series of fair California congressional redistricting proposals on "the Politikal Blog". These may have been put up on Daily Kos since the blogger sometimes posts diaries there. They are worth checking out and comparing to the proposals made here:

He sensibly breaks the state up into eight regions so there are multiple points.

Looking at these, aspects of the Commission's approach are baffling. With the online redistricting software lots of bloggers tried their hand on this, and in some areas came to a consensus that the Commission went against. Californians even make drawing the lines easier than in other states to some extent by self-segregating.

Anonymous said...

"The California Redistricting Commission is a group of five Democrats, five Republicans and four Independents who worked together to draw lines that combine communities of interest and create competitive districts."

Capitalizing the word "independents" is misleading. The four are not registered with the American Independent party.

Furthermore, the four are registered Decline to State. By definition, DTS is neither partisan nor non-partisan.

Using the word "independent" to describe someone who is unwilling to publicly align themselves with any political party is inaccurate and an abuse of the word "independent."

Alibguy said...

Thanks for the point! The changed has been made and noted.