Bloomberg Politics Carries Analysis of How Democrats Might be Eliminated from November 2016 Ballot for California U.S. Senate Race

Ballot Access News:

Dave Weigel has this analysis at Bloomberg Politics on the California U.S. Senate race for 2016. Because incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer won’t run for re-election, it is likely that four or five prominent Democrats might run for the seat. The analysis says if there are two strong Republicans, it is possible the two Republicans might place first and second in the primary, eliminating all Democrats from the November ballot due to California’s top-two system.

Of course, Democrats understand this, and the party is virtually certain to pre-select no more than three leading Democratic candidates and to use every possible device to squeeze out any other prominent Democrats. This is why top-two systems actually create less competition than normal systems do for the members of the two major parties. Thanks to Thomas Jones for the link.

IPR Note: See Editorial: IPR Opposes Proposition 14 in California

24 thoughts on “Bloomberg Politics Carries Analysis of How Democrats Might be Eliminated from November 2016 Ballot for California U.S. Senate Race

  1. Gene Berkman

    I’ll have what he is smoking! If two strong Republicans are on the primary ballot for U.S. Senator from California in 2016, then two strong Democrats are going to be on the general election ballot in November 2016. The basic Republican vote in California is down to 30% or maybe 35%, and if Republicans do not unite around a single strong candidate in 2016, there is a good chance they will not be represented on the November ballot.

    California used to be a competitive state. In recent years. California Republicans have too many candidates who make a big issue out of immigration, thus alienating Hispanics and Asians who might agree with them on other issues. Most California voters, including many Republicans are pro-choice, and most recent statewide Republican candidates have been pro-choice, but the anti-choice rhetoric of the National Republican Party offends California voters. And California will likely legalize marijuana in 2016, and even Republicans who agree with that are afraid to take a stand.

    But it is entertaining to read fantasy sometimes.

  2. Martin Passoli

    If there are four or five fairly strong Democrats all close to each other in support in the primary, and only two Republicans cracking double digits, it’s possible that the two Republicans and none of the Democrats advance. If you think that the Democrats would still advance, change that to six or seven Democrats (barely) cracking double digits. The Republicans could still be the only ones advancing even if they split only 30% between both of them.

  3. Steve M

    in the 2014 general election the Republicans got about 37% of the vote for President. In the primary they received 1.9 million votes to the democrats 2.1 million votes. That is 47.5% of the vote. Far fewer people vote in the primaries then the general election.

    In the 2014 primary for governor. The democrats (primarily Brown received about 2.4 million votes) The Republicans received about 1.7 million or 41.1% of the vote.

    If the Democrats had 5 strong candidates splitting 60% of the vote they would be at about 12% each to 20% each for the Republicans. It becomes a coin toss when the Democrats pre-select down to 3 candidates.

    Will the machine fix this? Even the “machine” has competing factions within it. Republicans have been switching parties in the SF area because they can’t win elections under the Republican brand.

  4. George Phillies

    In an era with very restricted party donations, and plenty of billionaires out to spend their own money, the party machine can’t do anything very effective in some cases.

  5. Steve M

    I don’t think any of the four mentioned candidates are billionaires..But if any of the four wanted to run who is capable of being the voice of the machine to talk them out of it?

    “Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Kamala Harris are widely considered Senate contenders. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, as has Rep. Jackie Speier.”

  6. paulie Post author

    If the Democrats had 5 strong candidates splitting 60% of the vote they would be at about 12% each to 20% each for the Republicans.

    There would also be some independent and alt party candidates thrown in there as well. But it seems unlikely that all (however many) Democrats would be equally strong. In all likelihood one or two would break out of the pack, or their percentages would span a range that would give them one or both of the top two spots.

    Nevertheless, a result where a relatively less strong top two party gets both of the top two spots because the other top two party has more candidates in the primary *could* happen. I could be wrong, but I think Richard said it has already happened in some congressional or legislative races.

  7. NewFederalist

    All the “what ifs” aside… it really would serve them right to get to choose between two Republicans in a state as Democratic as California. It might be just the thing to get repeal of “Top Two”.

  8. Jill Pyeatt

    The thing about California voters is that we don’t learn from past experience. Governor Moonbeam being re-elected is a good example, and, of course, Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi keep getting re-elected. Need I say more?

  9. AndyCraig

    Didn’t the same thing happen for a US House seat, where 2 Republicans advanced over 4 Democrats in a D-leaning district? Surely the local Dems were aware of the possibility, and tried to do something about it. Yet it still happened.

    It’s a lot less likely than not, for all the reasons already stated. But it really shouldn’t even be a possibility, and the fact that the mere possibility is creating a *less* competitive primary is a strong argument against all the lies spread about how wonderful Top Two would be. If, by some miracle, an R vs. R US Senate election actually comes to pass, then we will all be treated to CalDems and the rest of the CA political class falling over itself to repeal Top Two and denying/justifying why they supported it in the first place.

  10. Steve M

    The idea that top two could cause only two republicans on the ballot for a state wide office may not be as fictional as one might suppose. Apperently it came close to happening in the Office of State Controller during 2014 primary.

    “The Controller is the Chief Fiscal Officer of California, the eighth-largest economy in the world. Elected every four years, the Controller makes sure the State’s $100 billion budget is spent properly, helps administer two of the nation’s largest public pension funds, and serves on 81 State boards and commissions. These are charged with everything from protecting our coastline to overseeing crime victim compensation.”

    Betty T. Yee John A.Pérez Tammy D. Blair David Evans Ashley Swearengin Laura Wells
    878,195 877,714 200,532 850,109 1,001,473 231,352
    21.7% 21.7% 5.0% 21.0% 24.8% 5.7%

    Ashley Swearengin Republican was 1st with 24.8 % and David Evans the other Republican was only 0.7% lower then Betty Yee. Betty Yee went on to win the General Election.

  11. Steve M

    Betty T. Yee DEM 878,195 21.7%
    John A.Pérez DEM 877,714 21.7%
    Tammy D. Blair DEM 200,532 5.0%
    David Evans REP 850,109 21.0%
    Ashley Swearengin REP 1,001,473 24.8%
    Laura Wells GRN 231,352 5.7%

  12. Gene Berkman

    There is currently not a single Republican in California who could be considered a strong statewide candidate. 2006 was the last time a Republican won a statewide race. In 2014 Republicans had a choice of two losers, and the challenger to Gov. Brown had as his claim to fame a key role in administering the bailout of the banks under George W Bush and Hank Paulson.

    There are numerous Democrats who might want to seek higher office, but several are looking at the Governor’s race in 2018 rather than the Senate race in 2016. So it is unclear who might run, but pretty clear that a Democrat will take over Boxer’s seat in the Senate.

  13. Steve M

    Paulie, There is a wealth of opportunities coming up for California Democratic Candidates. Jerry Brown can’t run again for Gov so that is open in 2018. 2016 Boxer’s senate seat and very likely in 2018 Feinstein’s senate seat will be open. So I expect the Democrat heavy hitters will space them selves for these opportunities.

    So top two turning offices over to Republican is more likely not the top of the ticket spots but lower down ones such as controller, attorney general, treasurer, congress seats, etc.

  14. Steve M

    It does make an interesting republican stratagy where they run one religious conservative candidate and one moderate candidate. Then encourage as many democratic candidates and a green, as they can to run. The idea being that the conservative takes most of the registered republican vote and the moderates the rest and picks up unaffiliated voters.

    The liberatians probably help this republican stratagy because so many of the newly (ah believe with only antidotal evidence) registered libertarians did so in responce to the democratic parties anti-pot position pro-prison, dump the cost of health care insurance on their healthy young bodies. So socialy tollerent, economic conservatives could well pull votes that would have voted democratic or just stayed home.

  15. paulie Post author

    Republican strategy, however, implies the party establishment has some control…except that under top two, anyone can register Republican and say they “prefer Republican Party” regardless of what the party central committee or most Republicans think about it…and if they happen to get among the top two results, even if that’s 10% or less of a crowded field in an anemic turnout primary vote and even if all their votes come from Democrats, they will be on the November general election ballot as Republican regardless of what the party leaders or rank and file think about it.

  16. Steve M

    Party stratagy can imply they have a comittee or individual who’s job it is to recruite candidates.

    California GOP Chairman Jim Brulte said

    “The candidate who most looks like, sounds like, and has the shared values and experience of the majority of people in their neighborhoods tends to win,” Brulte said. “Our legislative and congressional leaders did a great job recruiting candidates who reflect the districts in which they were running.”

  17. paulie Post author

    Sure, but the question is less whether they can recruit candidates than whether they can stop candidates they don’t want from running or from picking up support.., and I doubt whether they can.

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