April 12, 2006

Legacy of a Duke: Republicans Rock!

Hatched by Dafydd

No, not the Duke; the other Duke, disgraced and convicted former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, once R-CA.

Yesterday, an election was held to fill the congressional seat vacated by Cunningham (on the specious grounds that a criminal can't serve in Congress -- as if that hadn't happened before!) The race was touted as an important bellwether of the fate of the Republican majority in the Congressional elections next November.

Let Jay Cost of Real Clear Politics explain the importance of California's 50th District:

If the Democrats are going to net 15, they are going to have to do very well with the open seats. There are only about 7 of them, including CA 50, that are on the table for the Democrats. Unseating incumbents is a very difficult job these days. They will need to take all 7 of these open seats to take the House - thus, they will have to take CA 50. Losing CA 50 means that they will have to defeat 11 to 14 incumbent Republicans. That sounds easy, but putting together an 11- to 14-person list entitled "Republicans Who Will Definitely Lose" is very hard to do.

This is not to say, however, that CA 50 is a sufficient condition for the Democrats to capture the House. In other words, winning CA 50 is not a sign that the Republican majority is doomed, or even is in serious jeopardy. [Emphasis added]

Cost notes several points in the Democrats' favor in CA-50... advantages which make the district atypically likely to flip from R to D (which is why it means little for the Democrats to win but a lot if they lose):

  • The district used to be strongly Republican; but lately, it has barely trended above the national average of Republican sentiment. Thus, the other seats Democrats must take to regain the House are by and large more conservative than is CA-50.
  • This is a district (as we all know) whose Republican representative turned out to be a crook... as in indicted, pled guilty, sentenced, currently enjoying a hundred-month stretch in Butner Fed. Obviously, that should tend to depress the Republican turnout; even if the Democrats take it this year, they could easily lose it again in 2008.
  • Finally, here's one that Jay Cost didn't note. I don't know where he lives, so perhaps he doesn't know that the California Republican Party is peculiarly incompetent; it comprises the most bumbling bunch of simpletons of any state GOP in the United States.

    It's a biannual astonishment that they even manage to win their safe seats, let alone the difficult ones. They are not representative of Republican Parties in other states, whose leaders don't actually pick fleas off each other and peel bananas with their feet, as ours do.

There was only one strong Democrat running in the race, Francine Busby, a member of the Cardiff School Board. The other Democratic candidate, Chris Young, barely registered in polls.

There were a bunch of Republicans, however: fourteen to be exact. Because of multiple candidates, there were only two likelihoods:

  1. Francine Busby might win more than 50% of the vote; if so, she would be elected immediately to fill the remainder of the term.
  2. Busby might win only a plurality; in this case, there would be a runoff on June 6th -- the same day as the primary for the November election.

Possibility (1) was the best hope for the Democrats, of course, since they would have the seat immediately; while (2) was the best that Republicans could hope for: with so many of them running, there was no chance that any would get more votes than Democrat Francine Busby. The real question, however, was how many votes would fall to each party.

For example, it was entirely possible that Busby might win only a plurality... but her votes combined with Chris Young might top 50%. Alternatively, it's possible that the Democrats, Libertarian, and Independent might together deny the Republicans a majority. Either of these would have made the June 6th runoff very dicey indeed, as the top Republican would have to pull votes from other parties to have a chance of winning.

The final results are now available; note that we have highlighted all the Republican candidates in bright blue type:

Results of California 50th District Special Election (100% precincts counted)
Candidate Party Percent of the Vote
Francine Busby Democratic 43.92
Brian P. Bilbray Republican 15.15
Eric Roach Republican 14.46
Howard Kaloogian Republican 7.45
Bill Morrow Republican 5.39
Alan Uke Republican 4.00
Richard Earnest Republican 2.15
Bill Hauf Republican 1.59
Scott Turner Republican 1.43
Chris Young Democrat 1.32
William Griffith Independent 0.82
Victor E. Ramirez Republican 0.66
Paul King Libertarian 0.60
Jeff Newsome Republican 0.43
Scott Orren Republican 0.24
Delecia Holt Republican 0.19
Bill Boyer Republican 0.15
Milton Gale Republican 0.04

Here is the breakdown by party:

  • Libertarian: 0.60%
  • Independent: 0.82%
  • Democrat: 45.24%
  • Republican: 53.33%

This party breakdown tells us two things: first, that the "third parties" in fact played no role at all in this election; their performance was less than pathetic. But second and most important, in the race between the Democrats and the Republicans, the GOP outpolled their rivals by more than 8%.

In fact, even if we only count those Republicans who finished ahead of the number-two Democrat, that still adds up to an absolute majority of the vote (51.62%). This bodes very well for the Republicans retaining the 50th District of California... hence, by Jay Cost's analysis, of retaining the House of Representatives.

The runoff will be between Francine Busby (D) and Brian Bilbray (R), the two top vote getters; if the Republicans rally behind Bilbray, the seat is easily held.

If the Democrats cannot collectively get to 50% -- or at least hold the Republicans below 50% -- in a district that is so stacked in their favor as this one is... they will have a long, uphill battle ahead of them to capture Congress.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 12, 2006, at the time of 5:11 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Big D


The chances of the Dems winning back the House and Senate in the fall as as usual, the fevered pipe dreams of a select few. But I'm sure when it doesn't happen there will be charges of vote fraud. Progressive=progress=they get their way in all things, doncha know.

I used to live in California. When I was young Republicans were competitive for the state, but now...well they are indeed the bumbling fools you so aptly describe. But then again, politicians in California are almost universally insipid and uninspiring.

I blame the initiative process. It has so ruined the mechanics of governance that only the most incompetent technocrats unemployable by the free market and the most committed (committable?) party hacks will tolerate it. Unfortunately there are more of the former in the R column, and more of the later in the D column.


Big D.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2006 9:12 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

The really interesting thing is that after Cunningham is proven to be a crook, after two years of political smears of the Republicans nationally and in California over the war, and after big declines in polling popularity by the President and the Republican congress, the leading Democrat in the race just barely edges higher in voting percentage than Kerry took in the same district in '04. that has to be regarded as a very good sign for Republicans in the coming election.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2006 9:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

This party breakdown tells us two things: first, that the "third parties" in fact played no role at all in this election; their performance was less than pathetic. But second and most important, in the race between the Democrats and the Republicans, the GOP outpolled their rivals by more than 8%.

Nice job...again!

i have been political since just before the 2002 mid-terms...this is the longest four years of my humble life in the flesh, and i am about done with politics...especially, if the Democrat party doesn’t take another downward thrashing in the 2006 mid-terms. This ‘two party’ crap needs to be brought to its knees, and the only way to do that is to crush one of the ‘two’, in front of the other one...so to speak.

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2006 4:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

Big D and Dafydd-

Hey, c'mon. Our Republicans are just as insipid as yours. Our Republican governor, who is being prominently mentioned for national office (well, at least here he is), recently came out in favor of initiative and referedum -- for the usual cop-out reason: Let the people have a voice (rather than have the politicians make the hard decisions we elect them to make).

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 12, 2006 10:46 PM

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