June 6, 2006

Predictions: Cal 50th

Hatched by Dafydd

CORRECTION: Slight change to the wording of the Busby quotation; see note below.

Every so often, when the Great Spirit moves me, I feel compelled to eructate a prediction... typically for an election.

I have a pretty good track record: over the past fifteen years or so, I've been right about 2/3rds of the time (and, naturally, wrong the other 1/3rd). But at least I'm willing to get right out there and make a concrete prediction, let it all hang out, live or die by the actual votes. I don't weasel around, like many "pundants" (Bushism alert!); and I don't belong to the League of the Perpetually Dour and Dispeptic (so long as I take my Nexium), and make only predictions of gloom and doom... like, say, Larry Sabato. (Didn't he pick the Kaiser in the World War I?)

California's 50th district is the former seat of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Alcatraz); with that scandal looming over the GOP's head, you'd think the Democratic nominee, Francine Busby, would be a shoe-horn. But her Republican opponent, former Rep. Brian Bilbray, who won the nomination in an April 11th free-for-all, has been surging -- primarily due to his staunch anti-illegal immigration stance. He was certainly propelled forward by Busby's boneheaded gaffe a few days ago, when she answered a question at a fundraiser from an admitted illegal alien that sure as shootin' seemed to suggest that "you don't need papers for voting."

(By "suggest," what I mean is those are literally the words she used, where "papers" means citizenship papers. A very strong suggestion, I reckon.)

NOTE: This is a slight correction from what I originally wrote. Some (Busby included) are now suggesting that she was only trying to say that one needn't be a "registered voter" in order to work on a campaign -- which is true.

But that simply doesn't wash. Her statement was in response to a question from a man who identified himself as an illegal alien. Here is the exchange:

Busby said she was invited to the forum at the Jocelyn Senior Center in Escondido by the leader of a local soccer league. Many of the 50 or so people there were Spanish speakers. Toward the end, a man in the audience asked in Spanish: “I want to help, but I don't have papers.”

It was translated and Busby replied: “Everybody can help, yeah, absolutely, you can all help. You don't need papers for voting, you don't need to be a registered voter to help.”

Here in California -- I don't know about elsewhere -- if an immigrant says "I don't have papers," he means "I am here illegally." It doesn't mean he simply isn't a citizen yet, and it certainly doesn't merely mean he's not registered to vote. "Papers" means a green card, a work visa, or some other visa allowing him to be here legally. And Francine Busby is no idiot; she is an experienced campaigner in a border district, and she knows exactly what that means.

"You don't need papers for voting" doesn't mean "you don't have to be a legally registered voter in order to work on my campaign;" I do not believe she was repeating herself; she was saying two different things. That's how the questioner would take it; that's how the audience would take it; that's how Californios will take it.

Californians all know (because it's discussed endlessly) that under California law, people working at polling places are forbidden from checking into the citizenship (or even the identity) of voters: you don't need to prove you are a U.S. citizen to vote here, and some politicians (the Sanchez sisters, e.g.) have been elected by what surely appears to have been votes by non-citizens.

It's barely possible that Busby is simply clueless. But to Californians, "you don't need papers for voting" said in response to an immigrant who just confessed "I don't have papers" means one and only one thing: go ahead and vote -- nobody is going to check. Just bring in somebody's sample ballot, possibly swiped from a mailbox in your apartment building; and be sure to vote early... so when the real citizen comes to vote after work, they won't let him, because he has "already voted."

The polls say this race is neck and neck; but not to keep you on tenderloins, I'll just out myself as predicting that not only the Republican, Bilbray, win the race -- I believe he will do it by 5% or more.


  1. Because Bilbray has all the "mo'."

He has been surging forward, while Busby has been on the defensive and falling back in the polls. She originally had a big lead, double digits, over Bilbray. Here's lefty website MyDD back in January:

In head-to-head match ups, Busby leads all six potential Republican candidates by up to 14%. In addition to voters' disgust with Cunningham and the Republicans, it's quite likely that Busby's name recognition in the district is giving her a leg up.

The Dems gleefully slid this district into the "D" column as soon as the "Dukester" case heated up, and they have been banking on it ever since.

  1. Because I believe there is an entrenched bias in the polls that slightly favors Democrats... so a slight Bilbray lead of 47-45, as Survey USA has it, is actually more likely a 49-43 lead for Bilbray.

We blogged on this race back during the first round of voting in April, and we noted at that time that if you added up all the Republican votes in that contest, they topped 53%. (We have a really cool chart there of the complete round-1 results; go take a look.) The results of the first-round voting, by party, from our previous post:

  • Libertarian: 0.60%

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

And we concluded, taking this case as a bellwether for the November elections:

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.

We stand by that bold claim. Here are our final predictions:

  1. We will know the results by late Tuesday night (PDT);
  2. Bilbray will win;
  3. Bilbray will top Busby by at least 5%;
  4. The Democrats will claim that Cal-50 wasn't a harbinger after all, and that everybody knew all along that the Republican would win... despite the fact that the Democrats have been counting this unhatched chicken for months now.

Fingers crossed, and here we go...!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 6, 2006, at the time of 12:16 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Jay Tea

Dafydd, I am loath to disagree with you, but Busby's exact words were "you don't need papers for voting" in response to someone asking if they can help her, despite not having those papers. I think she was accepting illegal aliens as campaign workers, NOT asking for their votes.

On every other point, I think you're dead right. But I believe these things must be won cleanly, and Busby -- for all her other flaws and disqualifications -- did NOT, in my opinion, cross that line. She skated right up to it, and I doubt she'd object to that guy voting for her, but she didn't solicit it directly.

(Video with subtitles at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f9vbngizSI)


The above hissed in response by: Jay Tea [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2006 3:05 AM

The following hissed in response by: Jay Tea

Dafydd, I am loath to disagree with you, but her exact words were "papers for voting," and in context is seemed plausible to me that she was talking about needing ID to volunteer for her campaign.

That said, I agree with the rest of your piece, and think she is horribly, terribly wrong on illegal aliens, and hope she is defeated soundly.

But I don't think her statement is quite the "smoking gun" people say it is.


The above hissed in response by: Jay Tea [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2006 7:43 AM

The following hissed in response by: Rovin

"But I don't think her statement is quite the "smoking gun" people say it is."

Oh contrare, Mr Tea. With utmost respect, what she intended on saying is of no matter at this point. With her position on immigration and this "misstatment", it will be the "cannon" that defeats her.

The above hissed in response by: Rovin [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2006 8:30 AM

The following hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

Ancient history--Robert Dornan lost a congressional seat down in SoCal to, I believe, Loretta Sanchez.
The election was close. Dornan claimed lots of illegals voted. The House declined to investigate, as I recall, and Sanchez holds the seat to this day.
If Busby wins, I wonder if there will be evidence of illegals voting (perhaps they will misunderstand the context as well...)
An interesting race to follow, no doubt about it.

The above hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2006 11:30 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Jay Tea:

Jay, thanks for the slight correction to my wording; but I just cannot agree that it makes any difference.

I don't know where you live, but I've lived in Southern California virtually my entire life... and the term "I don't have papers" has always meant "I am illegal."

Busby knows that as well as I. She knew she was talking to an illegal. And when she said "you don't need papers for voting," I simply don't believe she meant anything other than the obvious -- as I've added to the post body.

Please read it and tell me what you think.



The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2006 11:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Jay Tea

Dafydd, I agree with you on what was meant; I just don't think it was black and white enough to hang her. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and there's enough weasel room here to please even Bill Clinton.

My skepticism is based on another aphorism; "when you strike against a king, be sure to kill him." This is a HUGE charge, and to use it unsuccessfully could cause great damage to the campaign to defeat her and the open-borders crowd, and could even boomerang to help her.

My disagreement is purely tactical, not principled.


The above hissed in response by: Jay Tea [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2006 1:07 PM

The following hissed in response by: Xrlq

Jay Tea is right; Busby was fielding questions about who can help with her campaign, not about who can vote. In context, it's pretty clear that she meant you don't need [papers for voting] in order to help out with her campaign, and not that you don't need [papers not for voting] in order to vote. The latter is also true, of course, but that's beside the point. At worst, Busby heard a question she didn't want to answer ("I'm an illegal alien, can I volunteer for your campaign?") and responded by answering a question she did want to answer ("You don't need to be a registered voter to help"). She didn't encourage anyone to vote illegally.

I have to take issue with one other point, as well, namely your statement that given the Cunningham scandal, "you'd think the Democratic nominee, Francine Busby, would be a shoe-horn." Hardly. This is a heavily Republican district we're talking about, so I think a more accurate statement would be that absent such scandal, the Republican nominee should be a [shoe/shoo]-[in/horn]. The fact that he isn't ought to be cause for concern in its own right, even if he ends up winning. I agree that if Bilbray wins narrowly, the Dems will stop calling the special election a harbinger, but that doesn't mean it won't be. All it means is that the Dems know it won't play well politically to lose a race and gloat about beating the spread.

The above hissed in response by: Xrlq [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2006 1:40 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

Dang. Looks like Daffyd is wrong. :)
No doubt I would get lumped under xenophobic bigots who want to kill non-white people :)
What a pleasure to read Dem election analysis!
"NRCC in panic mode"
lightly editted below:
This is actually an amusing turn of events. As you probably know the immigration issue is a massive issue among Republicans in California. They split quite nicely into two groups, the business type Republicans who want cheap labor and the xenophobic bigots type Republicans that hate everyone that isn't white and would be happy to kill them all. Bilbray has been desperately trying to get voter turn out up for the election since he beat out the xenophobic bigot candidate in the election by barely a percentage point. So to play to the radical extremists he's had to attack McCain's slightly more humane plan to march them all into economic slavery... So a week before the election, Bilbary [sic] has managed to alienate a big name Republican... I've been surprised by how well Busby is polling right now, even with all the negative campaign ads that the desperate NRCC has been running against her. Amusingly, the NRCC assumed that this was going to be an easy win, so they didn't buy in ad time on local television. The DCCC bought all their ad time in advance, so they paid half as much. That's a real good use of money by the Democrats. But the Republicans have an unlimited supply of corrupt K Street funds from dishonest legislation they paid for to draw upon, .... I think we win no matter how the election turns out.

The above hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2006 2:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dirty Dingus

Looks like Dafydd is right abotu the outcome as I note at my blog - http://www.di2.nu/200606/07a.htm - and AP, which /quelle surprise/ was really keen on the Democrats has some crow to eat

The above hissed in response by: Dirty Dingus [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 7, 2006 2:57 AM

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