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.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Illinois Primary Preview

After his wins in Mississippi and Alabama, Rick Santorum hopes to firmly establish himself as the conservative alternative to Romney by winning a state that conventional wisdom suggests should be safe for Romney. That state would be Illinois which has its primary on March 20th. Illinois not only has a large delegate prize of 54 delegates awarded on election day (Illinois has 69 delegates but only 54 are awarded based on the results of the March 20th primary,) but also appeared to be safe for Romney until recently when Santorum started to campaign there. Romney has a more than 300 delegate lead in the delegate count and to cut into Romney's lead, Santorum needs to win as many states as he can. Some upcoming states such as New York and New Jersey appear to be strong Romney states because of the large groups of socially moderate Republicans there. Illinois at first appears to resemble those states because like New Jersey and New York, Illinois has a large metropolitan area (Chicagoland, the 3rd largest metropolitan area in the nation,) which would suggest Illinois has a large population of moderate Republicans and would therefore vote for Romney. As Bill Brady's (R) one point loss shows though in the gubernatorial race against incumbent Pat Quinn (D), the conservative base in Illinois is still strong. Brady was against embryonic stem cell research, a woman's right to choose even in cases of rape and incest and he even supported legislation that would prevent pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception. Brady's platform was extremely far right on social issues and yet he still lost by one point, showing that the social conservative base in Illinois is very strong and if Santorum can capitalize on it, he can win. This post will discuss the three distinct regions of Illinois, describe their demographics and voting habits and highlight which candidate I expect to win there and why.

Here is a map of Illinois with dark blue representing Cook County, yellow representing the suburban "Collar Counties" and gray representing Downstate.

(Map courtesy of U.S Census quick facts.)

Cook County:
Cook County contains the city of Chicago, its close in suburbs which represent a bit over 40% of Illinois's population. In the Democratic primaries, the Cook County vote is crucial and casts more than half of the votes. The 2010 Democratic Gubernatorial primary shows the power of Cook County. Incumbent Pat Quinn (D) won 54% in Cook County, only won a handful of counties outside of Cook County and lost downstate by more than 20%. Quinn still won though because although percentagewise his Cook County margin was not overwhelming, the margin was large enough because of the number of votes in Cook County. In the Republican primary though, the Cook County vote is less crucial. Cook County’s percent of the Republican statewide vote is close to 25%. This is good news for Santorum because Cook County's Republicans are not likely to strongly support him. Most of the Cook County Republicans are middle to upper middle class, well educated and socially moderate. Statewide, Cook County is the Democratic base with its large numbers of African Americans, Hispanics, college students, Jewish voters and upscale liberals in the Evanston area so Republicans never win Cook County in the general election. In the Republican primary though, what Romney needs to do is win by more than 20 points here so he can offset Santorum's margins in the rest of the state. Romney should do well here due to the extremely low number of social conservatives here. Santorum may receive some support from the Illinois 3rd congressional district which represents western Chicago and some suburbs nearby but the votes Santorum receives from there should be nowhere near enough to offset Romney's support throughout the rest of Cook County. Also, based on my experience monitoring election returns, Cook County almost always reports early and should give a Romney lead early but the lead should narrow as less pro Romney areas Downstate report late.

Collar Counties:
These counties contain the rapidly growing Chicago suburbs and exurbs. Political pundits refer to them as the "Collar Counties" because they seem to form a collar around Cook County. Many of the residents are middle class to upper middle class families who left Chicago in the 2nd half of the 20th Century and work in the private sector. Most of the voters are well educated too. The inner counties include DuPage and Lake Counties while the outer and generally fast growing counties include McHenry, Kane, Kendall, Kankakee, Grundy, DeKalb and Will Counties. They were once all heavily Republican, DuPage County voted 68% for George Bush Sr. in 1988 but these counties have trended more Democratic in recent years as the Republicans moved right on social issues. George W. Bush only won 54% in DuPage County in 2004. The Collar Counties though have not trended left as much as the suburbs of Philadelphia and New York City have though, suggesting there are some social conservatives in the Collar Counties but enough social moderates to provide a delicate balance between the two groups. Although the inner suburbs of Lake County along Lake Michigan are more socially moderate, more wealthy and more educated and therefore should support Romney, the further inland one drives, the more socially conservative the voters become as a general rule. Rick Santorum therefore needs to win the exurban swing counties of McHenry and Kane Counties if he wants to win statewide. The 2008 Republican Presidential primary in Illinois paints a strong picture. McCain, the moderate candidate won 47% of the vote statewide, winning an outright majority in Lake and DuPage Counties but performing poorly in the exurban areas of McHenry and Kane Counties. During election night, watch the fast growing Kendall and Kankakee Counties which were formerly rural but are quickly being converted into suburbs (Kendall was the nation's fastest growing county with a population above 10,000 people from 2000 to 2010.) Santorum needs to run up the numbers there if he wants to keep it close or pull off an upset win.

Downstate Illinois:
This part of Illinois is everything outside of Chicago and its suburbs. It is very crucial because it cast around 47% of the Republican Presidential Primary vote in 2008, despite having less than 40% of the state's population. Downstate is mostly composed of rural farming areas and a few small cities such as Peoria, East St. Louis and Decatur. The voters here are farmers, working class and more socially conservative. This is the Republican base in the state which produced conservatives such as Brady. Even Obama only carried Downstate 51%-48% in the 2008 general election, despite hailing from Illinois and being popular there. Downstate is fertile territory for Santorum because of the large number of socially conservative rural voters there.  It is very possible for Santorum to win the small cities such as Peoria and Decatur because although Romney usually appeals to urban voters, these cities have very conservative Republicans and cities with similar demographics in Ohio such as Springfield and Lima voted for Santorum. Watch for some Romney wins though in Madison and St. Clair Counties (St. Louis metropolitan area,) due to the suburban voters there but as Santorum's sweep of the St. Louis metropolitan area during the Missouri primary proved, St. Louis metropolitan area Republicans are definitely open to voting for him. If Romney wins by Illinois by double digits though, he should win in some of the small cities such as Rock Island and Peoria. If Santorum wants to win statewide, he needs to win by at least 15 points Downstate.

Overall, most polls suggest a Romney win (the RCP Poll average as of Saturday, March 17th show Romney +6.) I therefore expect Romney to win but as the Ohio and Mississippi polls showed, Romney's lead sometimes is overstated so we should not count out Santorum completely. For example,  exit polls showed +6 for Romney and Mississippi +2 for Romney (polls a few days before the election mostly showed similar leads) but Romney won Ohio by only 1 point and lost Mississippi by 2. Although Romney's lead should be too large to overcome, Santorum could make it close and therefore be able to stay in the race. For Santorum to perform well, he needs to keep Romney's margin in Cook County below 20 points, win more votes than Romney does in the Collar Counties and win at least a low double digit margin Downstate. Illinois is a representation of the United States in a way because of how it represents the U.S's demographics. There are large communities of African Americans, Hispanics, upscale liberals, suburban voters, rural evangelical voters and farmers. Illinois will therefore give an important signal to the Republicans about how the U.S Republicans view their candidates and could either keep Santorum's campaign alive or reinforce Romney's image as the inevitable nominee.