Category Archives: House

The California Pairings

By Jim Ellis

California Congressional Districts

March 17, 2020 — The laborious California ballot verification and tabulation process continues, and now just two US House races fail to have general election finalists. Democratic Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Maxine Waters don’t yet know the identity of their general election opponent, but neither is in a politically competitive district.

Under the California electoral system, the top two jungle primary vote-getters from the March 3 Super Tuesday election advance into the general regardless of percentage attained and political party affiliation. It appears that 12 of the state’s 53 congressional districts will feature some level of competition. In each of these instances the seat is either open, known to be a national target, or the incumbent garnered less than 50 percent of the vote in the primary election.

The following are the competitive general election pairings, including the special general election in the 25th District that will be held on May 12:


CA-7

Rep. Ami Bera (D) – Incumbent, 4th Term – 49.3%
Buzz Patterson (R) – Retired Air Force Officer – 34.8%
• The 7th District, which contains most of Sacramento County, has turned in some close elections since redistricting created it before the 2012 election. Rep. Ami Bera (D-Sacramento), first elected in that year, had very tight original election results but has seemingly secured the district in his latter campaigns. Though he did not hit the 50 percent mark in the primary, at least at this point, the four-term incumbent should still win comfortably in November. Likely Democratic


CA-8

• Open Seat (Rep. Paul Cook-R elected as San Bernardino County Supervisor)
Jay Obernolte (R) – State Assemblyman – 35.1% in primary
Chris Bubser (D) – Engineer – 28.7% in primary
• Since county supervisor races in California are non-partisan, retiring Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) was able to win his new office on March 3 by securing majority support. In his wake, state Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) and engineer Chris Bubser will advance to the November congressional election. The 8th is one of the very few safe Republican districts in the state, and Obernolte is a lock to become the new congressman. Safe Republican


CA-10

Rep. Josh Harder (D) – Incumbent, 1st Term – 43.3%
Ted Howze (R) – Former Turlock City Councilman – 34.9%
• Freshman Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock/Modesto) unseated veteran Rep. Jeff Denham (R) in 2018. Though he finished well below 50 percent in this primary, Rep. Harder is still a strong favorite for the general election in a district that continues to become more Democratic. Former local elected official Ted Howze (R) raised over $717,000 at the pre-primary filing period, but $325,000 of that total was self-contributed. Likely Democratic


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Texas Turnout

By Jim Ellis

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

March 16, 2020 — There is some budding political chatter promoting a theory that the 2020 Texas primary turnout numbers suggest Democrats are poised for a good election later this year in the Lone Star State, but a deeper dive into the numbers and patterns doesn’t clearly support such a conclusion.

The turnout theory loses its steam when actually comparing the participation numbers not only with 2020 Republican turnout and understanding that the GOP has a virtually unopposed presidential candidate for its nomination, but also when overlaying recent political history.

When studying the numbers, one sees that the 2008 Democratic primary’s participation rate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton far exceeded the numbers posted in this year’s primary, which was held on March 3 – Super Tuesday. In 2008, we see that 33.2 percent of the registered voters participated in one of the major party primaries. This year, the combined turnout represented 25.2 percent of the registered voter pool.

And, 12 years ago, according to figures published in this March 6 Texas Tribune article, two-thirds of those voters chose a Democratic ballot to vote in the Obama-Clinton primary versus just one-third who entered the Republican primary to support John McCain over former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee.

This year, 12.8 percent of the registered Texas voters chose the Democratic primary versus 12.4 percent who picked a Republican ballot even though there was no competitive GOP contest. Furthermore, the combined 25.2 percent total participation factor is actually the second-lowest turnout in the past four elections.

Most importantly, however, as a gauge toward predicting general election turnout and result, while two-thirds of the 2008 voters chose the Democratic ballot in the primary in the largest percentage turnout of the century, Republican John McCain would later post a 55-44 percent general election victory within the Texas electorate.

While Democratic statewide turnout did exceed the number of Republicans voting early or visiting the polls this year, the difference was minuscule. A total of 2,071,745 individuals voted in the Democratic primary while 2,008,385 participated on the Republican side. Since the presidential race was likely the turnout driver, the fact that a highly charged Democratic primary among several competitive contenders barely out-polled a Republican race where the incumbent president was virtually unopposed is of no tangible significance as a predictor of general election preference.

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New House Vacancies:
Meadows, Ratcliffe

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) announced as the new White House chief of staff

March 9, 2020 — With Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) being announced as the new White House chief of staff and following the late February declaration that Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) would again be put forth for confirmation as the Director of National Intelligence, it means as many as two more US House seats could be added to the vacancy list.

Currently, five districts are without representation: CA-25 (Katie Hill-D), CA-50 (Duncan Hunter-R), MD-7 (Elijah Cummings-D), NY-27 (Chris Collins-R), and WI-7 (Sean Duffy-R). All but CA-50 are currently in special election cycles with nominees or finalists either being chosen or awaiting the general election in CA-25, MD-7, and WI-7. The NY-27 seat will be filled in an April 28 election, which is concurrent with the New York presidential primary. There will be no special election for CA-50, as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has decided to let this seat remain vacant until the next Congress.

The regular California primary election occurred on Super Tuesday. In the 25th District, it is apparent that state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) and defense contractor and Iraq War veteran Mike Garcia (R) will advance to the May 12 special election. They will also face each other in the regular general election. Though all the votes are not yet tabulated and won’t be for some time because of the California verification and counting system, leads are strong enough that the final result is unlikely to change the order of finish. Therefore, assuming the current trend continues, former Rep. Steve Knight (R), a relatively close third place finisher, will be eliminated from further competition.

In the 50th District, 2018 Democratic finalist Ammar Campa-Najjar has secured the first general election position. It appears that former Rep. Darrell Issa (R) will also advance, since his vote margin over former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R) is expected to hold.

When Rep. Meadows indicated that he would not seek re-election speculation quickly built that he was headed to the administration, especially when he made his surprise announcement just two days before the candidate filing period expired. The retirement declaration began a chain of events that just culminated with the Super Tuesday regular primary.

In last week’s North Carolina vote Democrat Moe Davis advanced to the general election from the 11th District. Republicans Lynda Bennett and Madison Cawthorn were forced to a run-off election scheduled for May 12.

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Numbers Rolling in From the
Texas and California Primaries

By Jim Ellis

March 5, 2020 — Tuesday’s elections in Texas and California were subject to slow counting, but at least in the Lone Star State, the numbers are near final.

More than 780,000 votes have currently been received in California but not yet counted. More votes are coming into county offices. To be valid, voters could have postmarked their mail ballots on Election Day and as long as they are received in the county election offices by close of business on March 6, they will be counted. Therefore, an unknown number will be added to the received but uncounted total.

The large total explains why some of the California congressional races remain uncalled even though the vote spreads among the affected candidates is sometimes quite large.

Map of US Congressional districts in Texas

In Texas, US Senate candidate Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez conceded the second Democratic run-off position to state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas). The two battled for the slot all evening and into yesterday, but the small margin in Sen. West’s favor was definitive enough that Ramirez officially ended her bid. The May 26 statewide run-off election will feature first-place finisher M.J. Hegar, a retired Army helicopter pilot who held veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Georgetown) to a 51-48 percent re-election victory in the 2018 CD-31 campaign that encompasses Williamson and Bell Counties, and now Sen. West. The winner opposes Sen. John Cornyn (R) in November.

The final unofficial Democratic presidential tally finds former vice president Joe Biden scoring 34.5 percent of the vote as compared to 30.0 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Though Biden and Sanders were the only candidates to break the 15 percent barrier to qualify for at-large delegates, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) both obtained the threshold percentage in certain congressional districts, so they, too, earned several delegate votes; both, however, have ended their campaigns, Sen. Warren just this morning. The final unofficial delegate board finds Biden capturing 111 bound Texas first-ballot delegates, Sen. Sanders 102, Bloomberg 10, and Sen. Warren, five.

Just over 2 million people voted in the Democratic presidential primary. President Trump garnered 94 percent of the Republican vote, translating into more than 1.863 million votes. Just under 2 million voters cast ballots in the GOP primary despite there being no real race for president.

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Super Tuesday Has Arrived

Super Tuesday 2020 States & Territories

By Jim Ellis

March 3, 2020 — The election landscape has changed since Saturday with former mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and billionaire Tom Steyer all exiting the race. Sen. Klobuchar endorsed former vice president Joe Biden as did Buttigieg in an announcement last night.

How do these developments and an obvious Joe Biden resurgence affect today’s vote? Maybe not as much as meets the eye. With the early voting processes well underway, and even completed in some states, the late-breaking political news and happenings will influence far fewer voters.

In fact, the three largest states with primaries today, California (415 first-ballot delegates), Texas (228), and North Carolina (110), all have extensive early voting options and large percentages of their voters have already cast their ballots meaning Biden’s sudden upswing in momentum after his South Carolina victory on Saturday night won’t sway them.

In California, more than 2 million people have already voted, which may translate into as much as one-third of the total Democratic presidential primary turnout. In 2016, more than 5.1 million people voted in the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders race in June of that year. Returning to today, more than one million have already voted in Texas, and 800,000-plus have cast their ballots in North Carolina.

Thirty-eight states have some form of early voting, even if it is merely an in-person absentee system like those found in Minnesota and Virginia. For Super Tuesday, of the 14 states with primary elections today, only Alabama and Colorado have no early voting. The latter state fully conducts all-mail balloting but has no pre-election process in which to submit votes.

Looking at the current political map, though the establishment is making moves to coalesce behind Biden, the latest polling suggests that Sen. Sanders leads in nine primaries today and it’s possible, even with the candidate departures, that as many as three contenders in almost all of the states could still qualify for delegate apportionment.

Today will also mark the first time that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s name will be on the ballot and how he fares will be telling. Depending upon how many votes he takes could prevent one of the leading candidates from securing majority support, meaning the race evolving into a contested national convention is still a possibility.

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