The GOP’s Golden State Surprise

The political handicappers at the Cook Political Report rate 47 GOP-held House seats as “Toss-up or worse” according to their latest report.

But if you examine the data from the six toss-up or lean Democratic seats and one “Lean GOP” seat in California, the political know-it-alls are pretty ignorant.

Cook’s prognosticators put outgoing Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat (CA-49) as “Likely Democratic” while Nate Silver’s team at FiveThirtyEight give the GOP an absurdly low chance of holding the district (between 3.7 percent and 8.2 percent, depending on the model).

But the pseudo-scientific Silver and professionalized guesswork of Cook look to be heading back into the buzz-saw of voting reality.

The absentee voting data based on party, race, and gender of registered voters who have returned ballots—like the truth—is out there.

The analytics firm Political Data, Inc. compiled the latest “vote-by-mail” (VBM) statistics for every Congressional and legislative race in California.

The results are striking.

Aside from amnesty-flack and RINO-in-chief Jeff Denham in CA-10, every one of the GOP-held seats considered in play has a significant GOP absentee voter edge in returned ballots of this past weekend.

The “blue wave” hasn’t hit the Left Coast, it seems.

Issa’s seat (GOPer Diane Harkey is running to succeed him) has a whopping 7,300 GOP vote margin with 113,000 votes cast to date.

But VBM ballots aren’t all from the party duopoly. California has a myriad of minor party and independent or “decline-to-state” voters who have turned in their ballots as well.

The latest Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll gives an indication that California’s independents are relatively split. In the governor’s race, the Republican John Cox actually leads by 5 percent with independents while in the generic congressional ballot, Democrats lead by 8 percent (44 percent to 36 percent). In the competitive US House districts currently held by the GOP, that margin is likely much smaller.

By running through some scenarios and combining them with known party-affiliated ballots, we can surmise the GOP margins going into election day.

GOP Margins by Independent Voter Split Ratio

As you can see from the above chart—based on highly favorable splits for the Democrats among independent voters in the competitive seats across California—the blue wave seems to be ebbing.

With almost 60 percent of California general election voters casting their ballots by mail, these figures represent the majority of all votes to be tallied. Democratic election day turnout would have to swamp these margins and overcome huge structural advantages for the GOP in the at-risk races.

If as the old maxim states, “as California goes, so goes the nation,” the GOP will have a very good Tuesday night compared to what’s being reported by the crystal ball talking heads who, once again, will have whiffed.

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About John Weatherall

John Weatherall is the nom de cyber of a former Republican Capitol Hill staffer and public policy expert.

Photo: Getty Images