Voting by mail is now the rage in California; in the June primary more than 69 percent of the ballots were cast before Election Day. It is very possible that a majority of votes this November will be by mail. And thanks to Paul Mitchell and Political Data Inc, for the first time we can watch the return of absentee ballots on a daily basis.
Political Data, which maintains a complete file of every voter in the state, has put together a series of on-line charts that gives the daily return of absentee ballots, and provides their party breakdown as well as age and race. Not surprisingly, the early electorate shows a Republican bias; that is always the case; Republican absentee voters get their ballots in early.
But the Political Data charts go a step farther; they show the final vote in California and by district, so it is possible to project out the likely make up of the final electorate in a district by comparing the current absentee turnout with the final vote. And for the first time, this allows analysis a week before Election Day of the likely results when all the votes are counted. As of this weekend, more than 1.3 million ballots had been returned to the counties and processed into the Political Data database.
So what are we seeing? Let’s look at areas with hot legislative and congressional races. First takeaway: Democrats May Well Regain a Two Thirds Margin in the State Senate. This is because the early returns suggest Democrat Luis Chavez could defeat GOP Sen. Andy Vidak in the 14th Senate district in the Central Valley. Democrats have run a huge registration drive here to boost their numbers and are running a major vote by mail effort. As of right now, Democrats are getting 53 percent of the early votes. In 2012, Democrats only got 48 percent of early votes, and in 2010, only 47 percent. Interestingly, the Latino turnout in this district in the early voting is 41 percent, well above their numbers in 2010 and 2012. So much for the Republican siren song that Latinos will not vote in this election.
The second take away: Democrats May Well Lose their Two Thirds Majority in the Assembly. Democratic prospects for picking up the Ventura Assembly seat that GOP Assemblyman Jeff Gorell is vacating to run for Congress look very promising; Democratic turnout is running well ahead of 2010 and even ahead of 2012, a very good Democratic year. Republicans need a big edge in early voting to withstand Election Day’s Democratic bias. They are not getting it.
But in Palmdale, Republicans lead by 10 points in early votes for the seat of Democratic Assemblyman Steve Fox. This is not as good as their showing in 2010 when this was a safe Republican seat, or in 2012 when Fox barely won it, but it does show that Fox has catching up to do.
In northern Orange County, Republican candidates Janet Nguyen for an open Senate seat and Young Kim for an Assembly seat seem well positioned to win. Republicans lead by nine points in absentee returns in the Senate race; that is better than their showing in 2012 and close to their showing in 2010 when GOP candidates did well in this area. In the Assembly race, Republicans lead by 11 points, comparable to their showing in 2010 when Republicans won this Assembly seat. Kim is running against Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva.
In the South Bay in Los Angeles County David Hadley is challenging freshman Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi. Republicans lead by four points in early voting, better than their showing in 2012 when Republicans lost this marginal district.
The red hot races for Congress are showing mixed results in the early voting. In the Sacramento suburbs, former GOP Congressman Doug Ose is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera. Early voting shows a tie between the parties, suggesting that this race is what everyone says it is: a true toss-up. The best chance for Democrats to win a congressional seat in California is in San Bernardino County where there was no Democratic candidate in 2012. This year Democrat Peter Aguilar seems well positioned to win based on a Democratic lead in early voting.
The best chance for a Republican pick-up is in San Diego where Republican Carl DeMaio is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters. Republicans have a ten point early voting advantage, comparable to their advantage in 2010 when they won this district.
Finally, the pundits had assumed an easy re-election for GOP Rep. David Valadeo in a southern San Joaquin Valley seat when public polling six weeks ago showed him 19 points ahead. But a poll last week showed only a five point gap, and right now Democrats are exceeding both their 2010 and 2012 early voting numbers in this district. It could be a barn burner to Election Day.
One sparrow does not a summer make, and these are very early results. But for the first time we can actually look at them on a daily basis, and compare them with past elections. Overall the early results look better for Republicans than 2012 when they lost almost all the close races, but not as good as 2010 when the Republicans were in better shape in California.