Tag Archives: Los Angeles County

The Crystal Ball Comparison

By Jim Ellis

Professor Larry Sabato, University of Virginia

Professor Larry Sabato, University
of Virginia

July 31, 2018 — Last week, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato released his latest “Crystal Ball” ratings of the current US House races and declared that the Democrats are a “soft favorite” to assume the majority in the coming November elections. There’s more to the story, however.

Dr. Sabato supports his claim for several basic reasons. First, he sites the historic trends that a new president’s party loses seats in the first midterm election, and traces this electoral pattern all the way back to the Civil War era. Second, he turns to the typical polling regularly released that places President Trump’s approval ratings in what he terms “the low 40s”, and includes the generic House ratings, along with the “enthusiasm” analysis. Third, is the Democrats’ record in the current cycle’s federal and state special elections, and fourth is their second quarter fundraising “advantage.”

There are counter arguments that need mentioning for each of these points.

It is questionable to compare electoral trends developed during the 1800s to the elections of today because the world has changed so much. Bringing the analysis to at least the 20th Century and looking just at the post-World War II patterns (from President Harry Truman, inclusive, to today), we find that the average seat loss in the House during a new president’s first midterm is 26 seats. But, this average combines the six Democratic presidents losing 32 seats, and the five Republicans’ dropping 15 districts. Just three elections, 1966 (Johnson; -47 seats), 1994 (Clinton; -54), and 2010 (Obama; -63) have substantially upped the overall average.

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Berman Strikes First in California’s 30th District

One of the most interesting 2012 congressional races will undoubtedly be the pairing of veteran Democratic congressmen Howard Berman (D-CA-28) and Brad Sherman (D-CA-27) in the state’s new 30th district. Both men are Los Angeles County political powerhouses. Mr. Berman, 70, first elected to the House in 1982 after spending a decade in the state Assembly, where he served as majority floor leader, is the former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman. Along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA-30), the two dominated Los Angeles County politics with their famed Waxman-Berman political machine for the better part of four decades. Mr. Sherman, 56, was elected to the House in 1996 after serving as chairman of California’s Board of Equalization, a statewide panel that handles tax-related issues.

With the two now in the same district, an epic internal Democratic battle is beginning, and Mr. Berman just fired the first shot … and, it hit home. Yesterday, he announced that Gov. Jerry Brown (D), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), Rep. Waxman, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) have all agreed to serve as his campaign co-chairs. Berman is also expected to raise huge sums of money from the Hollywood community, including an event headlined by mega-movie producer Steven Spielberg. To his credit, Rep. Sherman already has amassed almost $3.7 million in campaign cash over the past several years in anticipation of this fight, more than double Berman’s $1.5 million.

The two will square off in the June Democratic primary, but will likely face each other again in the general election under California’s new nomination law that sends the two top vote-getters to November, regardless of political party. This means the CA-30 confrontation will be the most expensive, and longest, congressional campaign in the entire United States. Round one, of many to come, goes to Mr. Berman.
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Hahn Wins in California’s 36th CD Special Election

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D) won the special election for the right to succeed resigned Rep. Jane Harman (D) last night, though the margin suggests a potentially tough battle next year for the full term in a different Palos Verdes Peninsula-anchored district. Hahn scored a 55-45 percent victory over Republican businessman Craig Huey, a rather uninspiring win for a Democrat in a seat that gave 64 percent of its votes to President Obama in 2008 and saw only one national Republican candidate, George W. Bush in 2004, even reach the 40 percent plateau for a presidential election.

Mr. Huey, for his part, out-performed all expectations from the very start of this campaign. Barely qualifying for the special general under California’s new “top-two” election law – the two highest vote-getters in a primary election, regardless of political party affiliation advance to the final vote – Huey ran a better campaign than expected and is relatively well-positioned for a regular election campaign in the post-redistricting seat.

The California Citizens Commission on Redistricting crafted a proposed district for the South Bay region in Los Angeles County that is more favorable for the Republicans, even though the Democrats should continue to win here. The new district, as drawn but not yet adopted, is about 10 points more Republican than the current 2001 version. Since Huey came within 10 points of beating Ms. Hahn in the overwhelmingly Democratic seat, he has to be considered as a legitimate threat to unseat her in the more competitive district next year, assuming he again becomes a candidate.

The turnout for the special election was 76,221 voters, or 21.9 percent of those registered to vote. That number is expected to grow as California normally receives a large number of mail-in votes that will be counted post-election. The new House now stands at 240 Republicans and 193 Democrats with two vacancies. The next two special elections in NV-2 and NY-9 will both occur Sept. 13.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com