The Obama Eight: Playing w/Numbers

Tomorrow, Californians will probably screw everything up by voting down all the budget resolutions. So let's take a look at something a bit more meaningful: the fates of the Obama Eight.

I blogged earlier about my pessimism regarding these seats, but I want this to be a creative pessimism - my unique, useful form of paranoia, as a friend of mine might call it.

The list is usually displayed as it was in that post, with Dan Lungren's 3rd district at the top (although Buck McKeon's 25th is the closest in registration numbers). Registration is, of course, a key indicator - voters tend to support the candidates representing their party - but I don't think party registration is the best predictor of future voting behavior, comprehensively. It's also useless in predicting independents' behavior.

Independents, or "Declines to State" as they're called in California, are therefore a good place to start. Statewide, 20% of Californians are DTSers.

DistrictIncumbentDTSersDem Registration
45thBono Mack16%38%

Not surprisingly, more DTSers means fewer Democrats, generally. Unfortunately, this is still not very helpful. The Obama Eight's districts go from Mary Bono Mack's partisan 45th - which delivered the highest vote percentage for Obama (52%) - to Brian Bilbray's fence-sitting 50th.

Let's take a look at the actual preference of the voters and compare it to the voters' party identities (as measured by their registration numbers). The formula is simply the difference between Obama's win percentage and the GOP's registration advantage.

(Obama% - McCain%) - (GOP Reg% - Dem Reg%)

The result represents the disparity between the voters' identities and their actual behavior. The higher numbers represent districts with close registration numbers and a considerable preference for Obama. I'll call this "flipability."

DistrictIncumbentFlipabilityDem Registration
45thBono Mack138%

According to this, David Dreier's got the most to lose, where his voters are frequently Democrats and they voted for Obama in a big way. Compare this to John Campbell's situation, whose voters only barely picked Obama, and remain overwhelmingly Republican anyway.

(This could also serve as a political guide for Dem candidates in these districts; the lower the number, the more conservative the voters and, thus, the more conservative must be the candidate.)

The next task will be identifying and recruiting viable candidates for these districts. If you know of someone who's declared - or should declare - please let us know!


fnpople said...

I agree 100% with your assessment. However, the critical factor IS the candidate. The candidate can make the race exciting and potential regardless of party registration if she or he can appeal broadly (like Charlie Brown in CA-04, even "unwinnable" districts can get ridiculously close).

For example, Dr. Bill Durston lost against Congressman Dan Lungren by about 5% in the 2008 race for CA-03. The reason was not because of a lack of trying. Bill was simply too much for DTS and Republican voters, and even turned off some Democrats. The Obama wave helped him, but the candidate himself hurt his chances of victory.

The key is finding sensible, accomplished and NON-crazies to run for office.

Luckily, a few credible candidates are already starting to emerge across California--
CA03- Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis
CA24- green businessman Shawn Stern
CA45- Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet
CA48- Irvine City Councilwoman Beth Krom
CA50- 2006 Dem nominee Francine Busby

More will undoubtedly come, but CA25 for some reason seems to lack prospects. Kind of makes me wish I had the courage to move to Barstow...

Anonymous said...

Another interesting point is that American Independent Party registration (currently 2% or 2.5%) is more appropriately categorized as DTS, making the DTS voting block larger in real terms.