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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


It’s All Over but the Crying, and Analyzing

With the last report out of LA County the most expensive legislative race in the country comes to a close with a whimper.  Republican Jay Stern, spending just $2,000 (less than 6-tenths of one percent of overall spending in the district) overcomes Brian Johnson to capture the second spot in the new Top Two open primary.

Redistricting Partners has done some initial analysis of the race in the 46th and found that Republicans overwhelmingly favored Stern, Nazarian was the choice of Democrats and Decline to States, and Andrew Lachman was the strong choice of the Jewish Community.

But the San Fernando Valley district getting the ink now is the coming epic duel between Representative Howard Berman and Brad Sherman where Roll Call covers the dichotomy between the DC crowd and voters in the San Fernando Valley.  For the detailed Redistricting Partners /RPdata analysis (including maps and regression analysis) visit http://redistrictingpartners.com/?p=8215

The takeaways from Berman/Sherman in our memo? 

1) Sherman’s win was largely a function of geography – each candidate dominated in their old district lines, and Sherman’s are is much bigger.

2) With Sherman’s district advantage comes heavy Latino strength.  Sherman also did better with Decline to State Voters and Republicans. 

3) Berman did better among Jews, but their percentage of the vote is in the low teens and not going to get any larger for November.

This isn’t to suggest that the Primary Election will automatically be repeated in November.  There are still several months, and several million dollars in expenditures to come.

In the rest of the state we have been looking for trends under the new redistricting lines and the open primary.  In a couple recent presentations we have honed in on the following “lessons” from this first election under the new rules.

Incumbents– While redistricting was arguably the greatest disruption to incumbents in the state’s history, the Open Primary didn’t harm a soul.  Every incumbent won, with only Fran Pavley and Roger Hernandez coming into second place. 

Unequal Impact– The results were not as extreme as we had predicted, but the top-two did create many more competitive top-two Dem on Dem contests, like Allen/Levine, Bloom/Butler, Bocanegra/Alarcon, Stark/That other guy.  On the Republican side they have a shocker of an upset getting Congressman Miller and Senator Dutton into the runoff, and an interesting outcome with Pugno sneaking into the runoff against Gaines.  Overall there are 20 Dem on Dem contests and 9 Rep on Rep.  And of the coming bloodbaths, most are on the Dem side. 

Decline to States – The messaging for the open primary said that non-partisan voters would benefit from the new rules and come to the polls to help elect candidates in the middle.  That apparently didn’t happen.  DTS turnout appears to be the lowest we have ever seen.

Non Partisan Candidates – 37 non-partisan candidates ran, and none won.  Ok, one won, but that was in a race where there was only two candidates to begin with.  The four big NPPs, Linda Parks, Chad Condit, Mark Green and Anthony Adams all came in third or worse.  Even our friend Asm Nathan Fletcher couldn't use his national media attention and non-partisan switch to get past the Dem and the Rep in that race. 

Moderates – some significant victories for Moderates and the business community independent expenditures in Dem Districts.  Raul Bocanegra in the San Fernando Valley, Tom Daly in Orange County being just a couple examples. (Of course, those two came in first and therefore would have won under the old primary system, but let’s not spoil it.)  On the Republican side this strategy wasn’t as successful.  Leslie Daigle lost to Alan Mansoor in the OC Assembly seat and Tim Donnelly overcame a challenge from the middle in his new seat.

The Prelims – as we have outlined in the past, the primary election in many districts was going to be perceived as a preliminary bout.  Regardless of the changes coming in the November election, Senate candidates Jim Beall, Jerry Hill and Tod Zink get to come to Sacramento with a “W” while Joe Coto, Sally Lieber and Fran Pavley have to explain how their primary result wasn’t a sign of the future.

Pulling a Bill Simon – In the famous Gray Davis gubernatorial re-election his consultant, the brilliant Garry South realized that their real vulnerability was a Republican challenge from Richard Riordan.  In a late move they attacked Riordan for flip-flopping on choice, not to impact Dems, but to expose him as weak for Republicans.  It worked and Bill Simon won the Republican Nomination, and later lost the General to Davis.

In this election several independent expenditures and campaigns attempted this kind of play, and in at least one case it worked.  Rod Wright’s Independent expenditure successfully spent $500,000 on his race, and $100,000 to get the Republican into the runoff –ensuring he has no real challenger in November. 

There will be more lessons learned as we continue to analyze election results.  There still is an open question, for example, of how Republicans vote in a race with just two Democrats on the ballot.  There are a couple races from the primary where this occurred, and we will be doing analysis of those.  We are also interested in finding out the relative drop-off or undervote in these primaries – was that coming from partisans or decline to states?  Is the dropoff linked more to ethnicities or income/age?  Also, there is this continuing perception that Decline to State voters favor the Non Partisan candiates.  In a couple races we have analyzed that is simply untrue, but we will look at each of the NPPs to see if there is any identifiable trend.  We're guessing not.

Until then, here are some headlines:


California redistricting creates segregation
Daily Republic
California’s evolution into one of the planet’s most economically, culturally and ethnically diverse societies sparks ceaseless political debate, touching everything from illegal immigration to the plight of public education. We Californians have been less willing to discuss a particularly sensitive aspect of that diversity — the emergence of what can only be called segregation. Although the state long ago abolished legal segregation, we nevertheless tend to collect ourselves into enclaves, sometimes due to economic necessity but more often reflecting personal preferences to live among others with similar cultural, economic, linguistic, ethnic, generational or even political traits.

California's good-news Tuesday
The Los Angeles Times
While most of the country was focused on the back-alley brawl of Wisconsin's recall election Tuesday, a quieter but equally important political revolution was unfolding here in California. Two recent voting reforms — one that changed the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn and another that sends the top two finishers in a primary on to the general election regardless of party affiliation — drew little interest outside the circles of obsessed political insiders. But thanks to these two procedural modifications, California politics have been profoundly altered — for the better.

Redistricting, top-two primary led to closer races on June 5
Capitol Weekly
California voters recently adopted two ambitious electoral reforms that first took effect in the recent primary election. One reform is the establishment of new district boundaries for the state Assembly, state Senate, and U.S. Congress, drawn by a citizens’ commission. (Ten years ago, the state legislature drew the lines and largely protected incumbents in the process.) The other reform is a new "top two” primary system that combines all candidates on a single ballot for all voters, with the two candidates who receive the most votes, regardless of party, advancing to the fall election. Both reforms were intended to change the makeup of the state legislature to increase its accountability to voters and its ability to reach consensus on major issues.

California Tries Something New
The American Prospect
California ventured onto unknown terrain last week, holding its first primary election with districts carved by a non-partisan commission, and under a new law that stipulates the top two finishers in the primary, regardless of party, are the candidates who advance to the November run-off. There were two theories behind these reforms, which were enacted, in best California fashion, by voters approving a ballot measure. The first was that redistricting at the hands of the legislature had become the ultimate incumbent-protection act—during the preceding ten years, of the 173 members of Congress, the state senate and the assembly who came before the voters in multiple elections, just one had been unseated.

Primary Election Shows Reform is on the Move
Fox & Hounds
You know, I kinda liked “John Carter.” And if we’re handing out grades for Tuesday’s election, I’d give it at worst a gentleman’s “C.” Joe Mathews, my compadre here at Fox and Hounds had a piece here the other day comparing the last week’s primary – and the redistricting and voting reforms that surrounded it – to the worst Hollywood disasters, “John Carter” among them. “California Election Reform Flops” was the headline, which makes it pretty clear where Joe stands. That’s a mighty harsh verdict on a statewide vote that hasn’t even been completed. As of Monday afternoon, there were still about 778,000 votes remaining to be counted in the state, with the final spots in more than a dozen contests still up for grabs. And, since it was a primary, part two of this election is coming up in November.

Election reforms in California prove to be fruitful, bear watching
The Morning Journal
Wisconsin was the understandable focus of political attention last week, but intriguing things happened in California as well. Tuesday’s primaries were the Golden State’s first since voters approved twin election reforms in 2010. First, boundaries for congressional districts and the state legislature were drawn by a nonpartisan redistricting commission, rather than by the legislature. Second, all primary candidates were combined on a single ballot; the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will face off in November’s general election. The hope of these changes was to make races more competitive and winners less extreme and more accountable to voters.

If We Did Not Have The Top Two Primary …
Fox & Hounds
If we did not have the top two Open Primary Election on June 5 … Brad Sherman would be returning to Washington, D.C. as David the Giant Slayer. Pete Stark would have been guaranteed at least two more years in Congress. Former GOP Assembly Member Rico Oller would be thanking his tea party supporters for returning him to one final term in the Assembly. Assembly Members Michael Allen and Betsy Butler would be on the phone thanking Assembly Speaker John Pérez for his help in their being reelected. San Francisco County Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting would be looking forward to easily defeating his token Republican opponent in November. They would all be running in safe seats where winning the Primary is tantamount to winning in November. Instead …

California Tries a New Way
Real Clear Politics
The headline of the Los Angeles Times editorial page on the day after the state's primary on June 5 was: "What Tuesday Told Us: The top-two primary was held and the world kept turning." As it has many times over more than a century, the Golden State again tried to reform its politics. This time the state is trying to break the partisan deadlock that has made governing almost impossible. No one is sure how the new reforms are working or will work. This is what the state did over two years: -- Voters in a 2010 referendum approved a proposition creating a randomly chosen citizens redistricting commission that drew new lines for both legislative and congressional districts.

California’s Election Reform Flops
Fox & Hounds
Hollywood produced “Ishtar” and, more recently, Disney’s “John Carter.” But it has never made a bomb quite like Tuesday’s California elections. Expectations were high. California’s political reformers told us that this would be the year everything changed. After a decade and a half of reform efforts, a new system of less partisan elections was finally in place, and fairly drawn legislative districts and a new top-two primary system would usher in a new era of democracy. Voters would be engaged, competition would be spurred, independents would get a boost and California would see the kind of big policy debates necessary to find solutions to the state’s persistent governance crisis. Oh, well.

Citizens Redistricting Commission Defunded, Will Cease Operations
It's Election Day in California, and what a day for the Citizens Redistricting Commission to announce that they will no longer be in operation due to defunding by the legislature. Today's election is the first for the commission's newly drawn lines, and while their primary duty is over, "The voter-approved initiative creating the commission as a Constitutional agency... makes it clear that the commission has a continuing existence," explained Commission Executive Director Daniel Claypool in a letter to commissioners on Monday. He also said "the current commissioners have 'the sole legal standing to defend any action regarding a certified map and shall inform the Legislature if it determines that funds and other resources provided for the operation of the commission are not adequate'."

Michael Ward tops redistricting commission in per diem pay
The Sacramento Bee
It was an honor system: California's redistricting commissioners received $300 for each day they reported working, often from home. The result was that some commissioners were paid far more than others in the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts, records show. Commissioner Michael Ward received the most compensation for time served, $68,400 in per diem, while Commissioner Maria Blanco pocketed the least, $35,100, records show. The disparity between Ward and Blanco represents 111 more days in which the former reported that he had conducted commission business between late 2010 and this month. The panel is scheduled to shut down July 1.


Lawsuits on deck in Los Angeles' redistricting process
A coalition of clergy members took to the mayor’s office today to demand a meeting after the Los Angeles City Council approved new district lines that that group says ignore the will of the people. In a 13-2 vote, the council gave final approval to the maps. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has 10 days to approve or reject the maps. Council members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry continued to oppose the maps, which moved USC out of Parks’ district and decimated Perry’s downtown and South Los Angeles district.

City Council Approves Redistricting Maps Despite Threat of Lawsuit
Northridge-Chatsworth Patch
The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday approved a contentious redistricting plan for council district boundaries that drew promises of a lawsuit from opponents. The new boundaries, which will remain in effect until after the 2020 census, were crafted over a period of about six months starting last fall by a 21-member commission appointed by elected city officials. The City Council made some changes to the plan, which were approved on a 13-2 vote. Council District 12 which includes Chatsworth, Northridge and Porter Ranch, and is represented by Councilman Mitch Englander, remains essentially intact. It loses territory in Encino and Lake Balboa, but adds West Hills.

Redistricting and top 2 method debut at primary election
Claremont Courier
Feeling more like a rat maze experiment than a primary election, redistricting and the passage the “top 2” method have left may voters foggy about which districts Claremont now claims. Redistricting in 2011 moved Claremont to State Senate District 25 for the November election, with the new lines also placing Claremont in the newly-created 27th Congressional and 41st Assembly districts. The “top 2” procedure goes into effect this election, meaning the 2 highest vote-earning candidates in the primary will advance to November’s ballot. Proposition 14 was approved by voters in 2010, and requires that all candidates—Republican, Democrat or otherwise—run in a single primary.

Congressional changes: Leaders change, but issues are the same
The Alamedan
Redistricting efforts mean that Alameda will have a new Congressional representative come November for the first time in two decades. So how different will the representation of our likely new rep, Barbara Lee, be from our current one, Pete Stark? “I don’t think it will change that much,” said Elizabeth Bergman, an assistant political science professor at California State University, East Bay. While their signature issues are different – Lee became famous for casting the sole vote against granting then-President George Bush the authority to go to war against suspected terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and Stark, for his decades of work toward universal health care – both legislators were identified by one website, www.govtrack.us, as being far-left Democratic leaders.

LA city councilwoman Jan Perry protests redistricting map until very end
Southern California Public Radio
The Los Angeles redistricting process is nearing a close and councilwoman Jan Perry, who oversees portions of Downtown and South L.A., is protesting her district's new boundaries through every step of the process. Perry, along with her neighboring councilman Bernard Parks of District 8, submitted a formal letter to the council on Wednesday requesting the vote on the new map be postponed. They cited multiple reasons for the delay, primarily pointing to the fact that changes to the boundaries had been made since the original vote. After the map was preliminarily approved on March 16, the city attorney and city engineer made adjustments to reflect the amendments passed by the council and population requirements, said Eva Kandarpa Behrend, communications director for Perry.

Anaheim Council Does Not Adequately Represent Minorities
Voice of OC
Anaheim is in violation of a 2001 law that requires greater representation for minority groups and must form City Council districts to ensure that Latinos are adequately represented on the council, the American Civil Liberties Union has asserted in a letter to the city. Anaheim has an at-large election system, meaning there are no requirements that council candidates live in certain neighborhoods. The result in Anaheim is that four of the five sitting council members reside in Anaheim Hills, the city's affluent eastern quarter. According to the April 11 letter, 54 percent of the city is Hispanic or Latino, yet only two Latinos have been elected to the council in the last 15 years. None of the sitting council members are Latino.

APALC expresses disappointment with LA City Council redistricting map
Asian Journal
Recently, the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance which sets out the City Council electoral lines for the next 10 years.  During the Los Angeles City Council redistricting process, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, and Asian American leaders and community members testified as to the location of six Asian American “towns” in the City of Los Angeles and stressed the importance of keeping each “town” whole.  Keeping together communities with shared interests allows communities to express their undivided political voice regarding City policy issues.  APALC also submitted a citywide mapping proposal which essentially kept each town whole while balancing other interests.

S.F. Japantown Leaders Pleased With Outcome Of Redistricting Process
Rafu Shimpo
While representatives of Little Tokyo fought to keep their neighborhood in Los Angeles’ 9th Council District, a similar scenario played out in San Francisco’s Japantown, but with very different results. Japantown is currently located in District 5, and community advocates were able to keep it there by becoming involved in the redistricting process. San Francisco is divided into supervisorial districts; being both a city and a county, it has a Board of Supervisors but no City Council. The current 5th District is a diverse collection of neighborhoods; it includes Haight Ashbury of 1960s counterculture fame, pricey Lower Pacific Heights, and the Western Addition, a predominantly African American neighborhood once known for its jazz clubs.


Janice Hahn, Laura Richardson prepare for November runoff
Reps. Janice Hahn and Laura Richardson, who were pushed into the same district thanks to redistricting, will face one another in November, as expected. The two Democrats were the only candidates in yesterday's primary for the new 44th District, will includes South Gate, Lynwood, Carson and San Pedro. The state's new top-two primary system allows members of the same party to face one another in the runoff if they are the top vote-getters in the primary. With 100 precincts reporting, Hahn received 59.8 percent of the vote and Richardson received 40.2 percent.

Recent primary loss leaves Carmen Trutanich vulnerable in L.A. city attorney's race
Contra Costa Times
Carmen Trutanich's stunning loss in the June 5 primary for Los Angeles County district attorney may come back to haunt him next March when he runs for re-election as Los Angeles city attorney. Trutanich finished third in the district attorney's race, knocking him out of the runoff and shifting his sights back on a second term as city attorney. But his surprisingly weak finish in the DA vote raises questions about his vulnerability and whether candidates who were reluctant to challenge a sitting incumbent are now rethinking that prospect. Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, has raised $345,000 for the race - but said last year that he would not run against Trutanich, in part because they have the same campaign managers, John Shallman.

Feinstein poised to face off against East Bay Republican
Mercury News
Republican Elizabeth Emken, of Danville, came out ahead of 22 other U.S. Senate challengers Tuesday, making the "top two" cut to take on incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein in November's general election. Emken, 49, had about twice as many votes as her next-closest competitor, Oceanside businessman Dan Hughes, another Republican. But Feinstein, 78, had about four times as many votes as Emken, reinforcing the incumbent's reputation as practically unbeatable. Emken campaign spokesman Mark Standriff said Tuesday night the early results were "testament not only to a great candidate but a great campaign." "We've put ourselves in the right place at the right time, and we're looking forward to ... having an interesting, compelling race starting tomorrow against Dianne Feinstein."

Dem Reps. Berman, Sherman cruise to general election face-off
The Hill
Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) will face off in November after cruising to a top-two finish in California's newly minted all-party primary Tuesday evening. The Associated Press called the race soon after polls closed. Sherman led Berman by 39 to 34 percent with 3 percent of precincts reporting. They will continue their heavyweight battle through November — both have millions left in the bank, following big spending on both sides in the heavily Democratic district. Sherman has a geographic edge — most of the combined district comprises his old territory than Berman's — and begins the general election with a $2 million cash advantage after Berman spent more heavily to ensure he'd survive the runoff, a fact his campaign was quick to point out Tuesday.