WV-Sen: Special Election To Be Held in 2012

According to Politico’s Shira Toeplitz, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office has decided that the special election to replace Robert Byrd will be held in 2012, not 2010. UPDATE: The SoS office’s full statement is here. In November of 2012, there will be not only the regularly scheduled election for the full six-year term, but also a coinciding special election to fill the seat during the lame duck session.

(As you’ve likely read elsewhere today, West Virginia law is decidedly hazy on when the special election had to happen. On its face, state law would suggest that a 2010 election needed to be held, since Byrd’s death occurred six days before the two-and-a-half-year mark until 2012. However, underlying case law supports the conclusion that because the primary has happened and the filing period has closed, the election won’t be held until 2012.)

Regardless of whether the special election was to be held in 2010 or in 2012, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin is charged with the responsibility of appointing a temporary successor. This gets a little complicated for Manchin, as he’s widely considered to have designs on that seat himself (he has previously established a fundraising committee for seeking federal office). Manchin has already established that he won’t appoint himself to the office.

Manchin therefore seems likely to appoint a placeholder, one who won’t get in the way of a future Manchin run. The most often mentioned name is former state party chair and Manchin ally Nick Casey; Casey, however, is up for consideration for a federal judgeship, and may not want to back-burner that lifelong sinecure for two years in the Senate. Current state party chair Larry Puccio (another former Manchin aide and ally) is another possibility. The other possibility would be a widely-respected elder-statesman type appointment, such as ex-Gov. Gaston Caperton. (I hear that soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Alan Mollohan is looking for a new job, but he might not fill the “widely-respected” part of the equation at this point.)

One other item for fans of arcane Senate procedure: Dan Inouye was just sworn in as the Senate President Pro Tem, taking over for Byrd, who re-assumed that role when the Democrats took over the Senate in 2006. The role is purely ceremonial, with no real-world presiding duties, and is generally given to the seniormost member of the majority party. Instead, this is momentous because Inouye (not Harry Reid, as many probably believe) is now 3rd in line in presidential succession, which is the highest an Asian-American (or for that matter, any racial minority, if one doesn’t consider Barack Obama himself) has ever risen in the succession totem pole. UPDATE: A helpful tipster points out the all-racial-minorities part is not quite true: Herbert Hoover’s vice-president, Charles Curtis, was half Native American.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/28 (Afternoon Edition)

CO-Sen: Politico’s Dave Catanese has an interesting profile on Ken Buck, who’s looking likelier and likelier to wind up as the GOP’s nominee in the Colorado Senate race. With a litany of fringy comments on eliminating Social Security, student loans, and the Dept. of Education, and on supporting “birther” legislation, the question is whether he’s poised to complete the troika of candidates (along with Rand Paul and Sharron Angle) whose very over-the-topness allows the GOP to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. Buck tells Politico that he “doesn’t recall” making some of those statements, and is seeking to walk back some of the most controversial. Not coincidentally, the US Chamber of Commerce just announced today that it’s backing Jane Norton in the primary, specifically citing electability and even taking an ad hominem swipe at Buck backer Jim DeMint.

IA-Sen: Roxanne Conlin got the support of EMILY’s List last Friday. Conlin has her own money, but to make any headway against Chuck Grassley, she’ll need every penny she can round up.

IL-Sen: Alexi Giannoulias has been subpoenaed to testify in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial (although it’s unclear whether he’ll actually ever have to take the stand). While there isn’t any suggestion that Giannoulias has done anything wrong, any mass-mediated association at all with the toxic Blagojevich isn’t good for Giannoulias; if nothing else, it might remove the local media’s target off Mark Kirk’s back, where it’s been squarely located for the last few weeks. The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet is still keeping the pressure on Kirk, though, at least for now; her latest column excoriates Kirk for his non-disclosure and secretiveness, which has been a constant throughout his campaign even before his house of cards started falling down.

MO-Sen: Even if I were a Republican I can’t imagine wanting to be seen in the same place as Karl Rove, but Roy Blunt — about as transparently power-hungry a member of the GOP Beltway establishment as can be — has always seemed strangely unconcerned about the optics of what all he does. Rove is hosting two fundraisers today for Blunt in the Show Me State, in St. Charles and Springfield.

SC-Sen: Although it was looking like the Alvin Greene story was starting to go away, with the state Democrats’ decision not to challenge his primary victory and the state election board’s decision not to investigate, the story may get a few more chapters. The state ethics and disclosure commission and the state’s 5th circuit solicitor, instead, will get involved; they’re going to look into whether any laws were broken in his financial disclosures, and they may subpoena bank records to find out. At issue, of course, is where Greene came up with the $10K to pay his filing fee; if nothing else, if he had $10K sitting around, he shouldn’t have qualified for a public defender because of indigence. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s been announced that Greene is no longer being represented by the 5th circuit’s public defender in his upcoming trial on obscenity charges.

WA-Sen: Dino Rossi won’t be doing any more get-rich-quick real estate seminars in the midst of his Senate campaign. And here’s the weird part… it wasn’t because of his own decision, because of the terrible PR that’s likely to result. Instead, it was the decision of the seminar’s organizers, who called off the last seminar in the series this week. They were worried about how Rossi’s presence made them look bad, in terms of politicizing their ostensibly agenda-free program.

FL-Gov: Does some sort of critical mass result when two of the most unlikeable Republicans — not in terms of policy, just in terms of purely personal characteristics — get together in one place? Newt Gingrich just endorsed Bill McCollum. Meanwhile, Bud Chiles has been enduring a lot of pressure from Democratic friends and well-wishers to get the heck out of his indie bid and not risk being a spoiler, but he’s standing pat for now.

GA-Gov: Here’s some bad news for Dems in Georgia: weirdo teabagging millionaire Ray Boyd says he won’t follow through on his plans to run a $2 million independent campaign for governor. He was having trouble gathering the requisite signatures, and decided not to throw good money after bad. (Recall that he spent a few days in the GOP primary field before storming out, unwilling to sign the party’s “loyalty oath.”) With Boyd poised to draw a few percent off the electorate’s right flank, his presence would have been a big boost to Roy Barnes in his gubernatorial comeback attempt.

MA-Gov: The Boston Globe, via Univ. of New Hampshire, has a new poll of the Governor’s race; while Deval Patrick has a significant lead, the poll seems to be good news for Republican Charlie Baker, and moreover the RGA, as it seems to vindicate their strategy of hitting out first at independent candidate Tim Cahill to try to make it a two-man race. The GOP’s ad blitz designed at wiping out Cahill seems to have taken him down a few pegs, as UNH sees the race at 38 Patrick, 31 Baker, 9 for Cahill, and 2 for Green candidate Jill Stein. (The previous UNH poll, from January against the backdrop of the MA-Sen election, was 30 Patrick, 23 Cahill, 19 Baker.) One other intriguing tidbit that’s gotten a lot of play today: for now, Scott Brown is the most popular political figure in the state, with a 52/18 approval, suggesting that unseating His Accidency in 2012 won’t be the slam dunk that many are predicting.

MD-Gov: It was the last day for Bob Ehrlich’s talk radio show on Saturday. Ehrlich will be officially filing to run for Governor before the July 6 deadline. Of course, he’s been saying he’s a candidate for months now, but has held off on the official filing to keep on the air as long as possible to avoid prohibitions against that sort of illegal in-kind contribution to his campaign.

MI-Gov: Rep. Peter Hoekstra has been seemingly losing a lot of endorsement battles in the last few weeks, but he pocketed a few helpful nods. One is from right-wing kingmaker Jim DeMint, who stumped with Hoekstra on Friday. The other is from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, which gave a split endorsement to local boy Hoekstra and Mike Bouchard. (The statewide Chamber has already endorsed Mike Cox in the GOP primary.) GRACC also endorsed Steve Heacock in the GOP primary in Vern Ehlers’ MI-03, and Bill Huizenga in the GOP primary in Hoekstra’s MI-02.

AL-02: Rick Barber seems to be reveling in his viral video celebrity, rolling out an even more feverish ad involving his hallucinations about the Founding Fathers and various other liberty-related heroes. Today’s ad includes a conversation with Zombie Lincoln, who compares health care reform to slavery.

ID-01: Here’s more evidence that the ID-01 Republican primary really was a win-win situation for Democrats. State Rep. Raul Labrador is backing down from his withering critiques of his possible-future-boss John Boehner, upon the realization that he’ll need the NRCC’s financial help to get to Congress in the first place (seeing as how he currently has $35K to work with). Labrador had previously criticized Boehner by name for helping drive the Republican party into the ditch and letting the Dems take over in 2006.

MS-01: Could Rep. Travis Childers rack up enough right-wing endorsements to save his bacon against Alan Nunnelee this cycle? Fresh off his NRA endorsement last week, now he’s gotten the endorsement of the National Right to Life.

Polltopia: Daily Kos’s Steve Singiser is putting his freakishly comprehensive personal database of poll data to good use. He finds that there is, indeed, a wide disparity in internal polls released by the two parties compared with the previous few cycles, when Dems released more internals as they seemed to have more good news to report. (This cycle has a 3-to-1 GOP advantage; even in the fairly neutral year of 2004, it was about even between Dems and the GOP.) The caveat, however: most internals were released in a flurry in the last few months before the general elections, and this kind of early flooding-of-the-zone with internals is pretty unprecedented, so it’s still hard to interpret what it means.

WV-Sen: Robert Byrd Passes Away

Nine-term Senator Robert Byrd died early this morning at the age of 92.

He started his political career by running for the state House of Delegates in 1946, while working as a butcher and welder. He won a seat in the House of Representatives six years later, was elected to his first Senate term in 1958 and won his ninth in 2006, three weeks shy of his 89th birthday….

In November 2009, two days before his 92nd birthday, he passed Arizona Democrat Carl Hayden’s record to become the longest-serving member of Congress.

Our condolences to his family and his many, many friends.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/28 (Morning Edition)

  • NV-Sen: An interesting tidbit from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which Jon Ralston rightly knocks them for burying: Former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, the first and only Republican woman to hold federal office in Nevada, says she isn’t sure whether she can support Sharron Angle, and might just vote “none of the above.”
  • WI-Sen: Former GOP candidate Terrence Wall is claiming that teabagging richie rich Ron Johnson engaged in “bribery” to win the state Republican convention in May – where “bribery” is characterized as, apparently, paying for some delegate hotel rooms. Johnson denies the allegations, and even his remaining opponent, Dave Westlake, isn’t buying them either.
  • WV-Sen: Sen. Robert Byrd, age 92, was admitted to the hospital over the weekend and is said to be “seriously ill” by his staff. We of course extend our wishes for his recovery.
  • AZ-Gov: While she has some distance to go before she reaches Sharron Angle or Rand Paul levels of foot-in-mouth disease, I think Jan Brewer is going to be one of those Republicans who really helps us by not knowing how to shut up. Case in point: She said on CNN this weekend that “the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now becoming drug mules.”
  • CT-Gov: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley is busy explaining two arrests in his past, both involving vehicular incidents. (Click the link for full details.) No charges were filed in either incident.
  • FL-Gov: Florida Republicans are drafting a new immigration law for their own state modeled after Arizona’s. We’re slotting this under the FL-Gov header because AG Bill McCollum’s office is helping to write this new bill. (Florida has one of the largest Hispanic populations in the country, with 21% of the state claiming Hispanic origin.) Meanwhile, the St. Pete Times takes a lengthy look at Rick Scott’s tenure at Columbia/HCA, the healthcare giant which engaged in massive fraud and eventually paid a record-setting $1.7 billion fine. Scott is trying to tout his experience as a CEO, but of course keeps attempting to distance himself from his former company. Ah, but what’s a little two-faced bullshit on the campaign trail?
  • IA-Gov: Ah, the Republican Party never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. As desmoines dem chronicles at her blog, Bleeding Heartland (bookmark it), Terry Branstad was dealt a pretty ugly vote-of-not-a-lot-of-confidence at the GOP state convention this past Saturday. Even though Branstad nominated his own Lt. Gov. candidate (the largely unknown Kim Reynolds), a state rep. put Bob Vander Plaats’ name into the hopper for the nod – and Branstad’s pick squeaked by with just 56% of the delegate vote. (Vander Plaats, of course, ran against Branstad for the gubernatorial nomination, losing by only about 10 points despite huge disparities in name rec and money.) And just the day before, BVP said he still wasn’t planning to support Brandsad, nor would he rule out an independent bid. Smell the cat fud, baby!
  • AR-02: I’m not really getting Joyce Elliott’s messaging here. On the one hand, she’s trying to tie former AG Tim Griffin to his one-time mentor, Karl Rove. On the other hand, she says she won’t run a campaign against Washington, DC. So not only is her message muddled, but she’s also unilaterally disarming. I hope she sees the error of her ways on this one.
  • MA-10: State Rep. Jeffrey Perry is touting an internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies showing him with a 41-25 lead in the GOP primary over ex-state Treasurer Joe Malone. Perry also claims to have favorables of 44% and unfavorables of just 1%….
  • VA-02: Sarah Palin is going to be in town for a wingnut event called the “Freedom Fest.” But GOP nominee Scott Rigell won’t attend – and his campaign is offering some made-up sounding b.s. about FEC regulations preventing him from going. Unsurprisingly, teabagger Kenny Golden is hitting Rigell for his failure to appear. Ironically, Rigell is claiming the fact that Golden wasn’t offered equal time at the event is a reason he (Rigell) isn’t going!
  • Breaking down TN-08

    Somewhat surprisingly, to me, Tennessee’s 8th Congressional district features a highly competitive House race in 2010.  The reason for the surprise is that the 8th has never really been competitive: John Tanner, the retiring incumbent, never won with less than 62% of the vote (even in 1994, he won 64%.)  Part of this was, certainly, that Republicans never gave a serious challenge to Tanner.

    This made sense back in the 1980s and 1990s.  Jimmy Carter carried the then-7th district in 1980 (Tennessee only had 8 districts in the 1970s), and Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis each won 43% of the vote in the 8th.  In the 1990s, Bill Clinton carried the district twice, and Al Gore narrowly carried it in 2000.  So, this was basically a Democratic district.  (Note to those concerned: the district lines haven’t changed much at all since 1980.  The 2000 redistricting subtracted some heavily Republican Memphis suburbs and added part of Clarksville, the net result of which was to change this from a district that Gore won by less than 1,000 votes to one that he won by around 7,000 votes.)

    More after the jump…

    (NOTE: I don’t have any nice, pretty maps to illustrate this, so follow along.  Somebody who’s better at working with this might be able to create one.)

    In the 2000s, though, the district has behaved quite differently in Presidential races.  In 2004, George W. Bush carried the 8th by around 15,000 votes; in 2008, the Republican margin was even greater: John McCain carried the 8th by about 35,000 votes.  That, combined with Tanner’s decision to retire, certainly gives Republicans an opening.

    However, despite the Republican surge (part of a general rejection of Barack Obama in a broad swath from West Virginia through Tennessee and into Arkansas), this district still retains a Democratic lean.  Let’s look at the numbers:

    Race Democrat Republican
    2008: Obama (D) vs. McCain (R) 115,209 150,348
    2006: Ford (D) vs. Corker (R) 100,126 91,414
    2004: Kerry (D) vs. Bush (R) 116,327 131,524

    See that?  While this is a district that has voted Republican in the last two Presidential races, in a competitive Senate race in 2006, it voted for a Democrat.  And a Democrat, it must be pointed out, more liberal than our likely nominee in 2010.

    The 8th district can be broken down into five rather distinct parts.  I’ll break these down further below.  The five parts of the district are:

    1.  Memphis area

    2.  Rural West Tennessee

    3.  Jackson

    4.  Tennessee River area

    5.  Clarksville (portion)

    (Another note: Tennessee’s Secretary of State has precinct-by-precinct breakdowns of the vote, but for 2004, absentee and early votes were lumped into “absentee” and “early” by county rather than assigning them to individual precincts.  This isn’t an issue in counties that are entirely within the district, but in Shelby County and Montgomery County, which are only partly in the district, we can’t get a completely accurate read of the 2004 vote.)

    Memphis area

    County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
    SHELBY 21,073 9,298 13,473 6,366
    TIPTON 7,931 17,165 6,775 9,717
    TOTAL 29,004 26,463 20,248 16,083

    I was actually surprised to discover that Obama carried the Shelby County portion of the 8th district with nearly 70% of the vote.  That’s because, rather than being suburban, most of the 8th district’s Shelby County voters live in a heavily African-American area of north Memphis.  And the district’s suburban areas are mostly in Millington, north of the city.  Millington, compared to the east Shelby County suburbs (Bartlett, Germantown, Collierville) is more working-class and has a higher African-American population.  The result is that it’s generally less Republican than east Shelby County.  And the net result is a heavy Democratic vote.  In fact, almost all of Harold Ford Jr.’s district-wide margin was in Shelby County.

    Tipton County could be classified as rural West Tennessee, but the rapidly-growing southern part of the county certainly is part of the Memphis area, so we’re putting it here.  Tipton County is certainly more working-class than east Shelby County (the median household income here is $47,850), but the African-American population is rather low (19 percent) compared to the surrounding counties, and as a result it’s generally Republican.

    The Shelby County portion of the district should provide a solid Democratic margin, but the danger for Roy Herron is that, without an African-American candidate at the top of the ticket, A-A turnout in Memphis could be down (something tells me A-A voters aren’t going to turn out in big numbers just to vote for Roy Herron.)  So Shelby County should give a solid margin to Herron, but it probably won’t be as big as the margins that Obama and Ford racked up there.  But the Shelby County portion of the district casts only 11% of the district vote — not much more than the 9% that Tipton County casts — so it’s unlikely that simply racking up a big margin in Memphis will be enough to put the Democrat over the top.

    Republican candidate George Flinn lives in Memphis, though he actually lives in the 9th district.

    Rural West Tennessee

    County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
    CARROLL 3,980 7,455 4,256 4,742
    CROCKETT 1,967 3,994 2,246 2,212
    DYER 4,411 9,859 4,848 6,115
    GIBSON 7,406 13,516 7,471 8,003
    HAYWOOD 4,893 3,165 3,763 2,130
    LAKE 1,024 1,175 981 571
    LAUDERDALE 4,322 4,933 3,954 2,953
    OBION 4,308 8,873 4,734 4,936
    WEAKLEY 4,596 8,855 4,542 5,412
    TOTAL 36,907 61,825 36,795 37,074

    Rural West Tennessee tends to be a swing area in state elections.  While Obama did poorly in this area, Harold Ford Jr., as seen above, came very close to carrying it in the 2006 Senate race, and Phil Bredesen carried it in the 2002 gubernatorial race — a key to his statewide win.  (Kerry lost this area by around 10,000 votes.)

    This portion of the district includes Haywood County, which has an African-American plurality (49.7% of the population) and as such is heavily Democratic — it was the one county in Tennessee that Lamar Alexander failed to carry in his 2008 bid for reelection.  But generally speaking, this area doesn’t have that many African-Americans — Lake County and Lauderdale County, on the Mississippi River, have A-A populations around 35%, but the rest of the counties have A-A populations more like those seen in neighboring Kentucky.

    Despite its recent performance, rural West Tennessee is still Blue Dog Democrat territory — almost all of this area is represented by Democrats in the state legislature.  Weakley County is the home of Roy Herron, who’s represented much of this area in the state Senate since 1996 — his district includes Lake, Obion, and Weakley counties, as well as Henry, Stewart, and Benton (which I’ve included in the Tennessee River portion of the district) and three other counties that aren’t in the 8th.  As such, Herron can be expected to do well in this area.  That’s a good thing, because doing well in the rural counties will be key to a Democratic win — in 2008, this area cast a little more than a third of the districtwide votes.  Republican candidate Stephen Fincher is from Crockett County, also in this part of the district.


    County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
    MADISON 20,209 23,290 14,549 15,367

    Jackson (2008 pop.: 63,158) is the largest city wholly in the district.  Jackson, basically, is like a smaller version of Memphis, with similar social ills and racially polarized voting.  In both national and state elections, it tends to lean Republican; both Harold Ford Jr. and Phil Bredesen (in 2002) lost narrowly here.  Unlike the rest of the district (and Tennessee in general), Madison County actually moved toward the Democrats in 2008; Obama lost by 3,000 votes, while John Kerry lost by around 4,800 votes here.  Increased African-American turnout seems to be the answer; a precinct-by-precinct breakdown shows that Obama won a bunch of extra votes in mostly A-A precincts in Jackson and didn’t seem to do any better than Kerry did in the white areas of town.

    Yet Jackson does seem to have a bit of a Democratic streak.  It rejected an incumbent Republican state Senator in 2002, and, after the new Senator switched parties, very narrowly voted for him in 2006 (he lost district-wide thanks to Gibson and Carroll counties.)  Herron should win here if George Flinn is the Republican nominee, though he’ll have a tougher time against Jackson-based Ron Kirkland.  Madison County casts around 16% of the vote district-wide, so Herron can weather a likely narrow loss in Jackson.

    Tennessee River counties

    County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
    BENTON 2,645 3,696 3,232 2,176
    DICKSON 7,506 11,677 7,232 7,014
    HENRY 5,153 8,182 4,947 4,689
    HOUSTON 1,678 1,608 1,734 931
    HUMPHREYS 3,600 3,818 3,915 2,236
    STEWART 2,470 2,956 2,608 1,675
    TOTAL 23,052 31,937 23,668 18,721

    Obama’s performance in this area is a little mystifying to me, as this has always been one of the most Democratic parts of Tennessee.  The easy argument is that Obama is black and a liberal — but that doesn’t quite hold water, since this area voted for a black (Ford) and nearly voted for a liberal (Kerry, who lost these counties by 775 votes) in recent years.  In any case, though, this area still likes its Tennessee Democrats, as Harold Ford Jr. won here, and Phil Bredesen carried it easily in 2002 (winning over 70% of the vote in Houston County.)  Roy Herron likewise should win this area, though perhaps not with the big Democratic margins of old.  (Dickson County is actually coming within the exurban orbit of Nashville these days, which explains some of the increased Republican vote there.)  This area, as a whole, casts around 20% of the district-wide vote.


    County Obama (D) McCain (R) Ford (D) Corker (R)
    MONTGOMERY 6,037 6,833 4,866 4,169

    The 8th district only includes a small part of Montgomery County.  This area does lean a bit Democratic, and Montgomery County moved toward Obama in 2008 — some of that may have had to do with unhappiness with Bush-era foreign policy (Montgomery County includes a large part of Fort Campbell, though it’s not in the district.)  In any case, Clarksville doesn’t carry a lot of weight in the 8th district, as it only casts 5% of the district votes.  The rest of the city is in the 7th district.


    While Democrats will have a tough time holding the 8th, it’s not nearly as uphill battle as it might seem from looking at the 2008 Presidential results.  In state elections, much of this district still prefers Blue Dog Democrats like Tanner and Herron, and even a relatively liberal Democrat (for Tennessee, anyway) like Harold Ford Jr. was strong enough to carry this district.

    In the 2010 election, Republican-leaning Jackson and the Democratic-leaning Tennessee River counties will likely cancel each other out.  Herron should win the Shelby County portion of the district, though without Obama or Ford at the top of the ticket, he can’t count on high African-American turnout.  That leaves rural West Tennessee, which gave McCain a big margin but which often votes for Democrats below the Presidential level, and where Herron is well-known and well-liked.  I’m not guaranteeing a win by any stretch, but Herron is well-positioned to keep this district in Democratic hands.

    In addition, the Republican candidates here have weaknesses.  Stephen Fincher and Ron Kirkland have never run for office before, while George Flinn doesn’t live in the district.  Against a seasoned, veteran state Senator, they could have trouble.

    Analyzing Orange County: Why America’s Most Conservative County is Trending Blue (part 1/2)

    (Note: This is a two-part diary on analysis of Orange County, i am writing up analysis of the effect of Prop 8 tomorrow. I apologize if it seems too long, but this is from a perspective of an OC resident. Comments and criticisms are welcomed.)

    In 2008, Barack Obama accomplished something no other Democrat statewide could do: Keep Orange County within single digits (47-50%). While everyone knew he would win California (maybe not by the double-digit margin he did it by), no one including many OC Democrats here would imagine him being on the cusp of a symbolic victory: Winning in territory the media calls “America’s most conservative county”, the home of Richard Nixon and the center of Conservatism in California.

    Well, how did he do it? Well, much like the so-called “Obama Wave” swamped the entire country, it also hit ground here in Orange County, taking the top three populated cities (Santa Ana, Anaheim and Irvine) and making large inroads in normally-conservative areas. President Obama wasn’t the only major change to Orange County politics, the controversional ballot measure known as Proposition 8 also broke-down boundaries, and you wouldn’t believe which cities voted for (or narrowly against) and against it, but first let’s take a look at each cities performance for the 2008 Presidential election (08′ only):

    City PVI % ’08 Notes
    (Orange County) R+4 47/50 Whole county.
    Aliso Viejo D+1 53/45 Incorporated after 2000 Census
    Anaheim R+1 51/47 Minority-majority; Second-largest city
    Brea R+10 42/56
    Buena Park D+1 53/44 Large Asian and Latino populations.
    Costa Mesa EVEN 52/46
    Cypress R+5 47/51
    Dana Point R+5 47/51
    Fountain Valley R+9 43/55
    Fullerton R+3 48.6/49.8 College town; Minority-majority
    Garden Grove R+5 48/51 Minority-majority; Large Vietnamese population
    Huntington Beach R+6 46/52 Libertarian-leaning
    Irvine D+5 57/41 College town
    La Habra R+3 49/48.6 Minority-majority
    La Palma R+3 48.4/49
    Laguna Beach D+11 63/35 Well known for large LGBT community
    Laguna Hills R+7 45/53
    Laguna Niguel R+6 46/52
    Laguna Woods EVEN 52/46 Extremely high percentage of Senior citizens
    Lake Forest R+7 46/53 Large evangelical presence; Added communities after 2000 census
    Los Alamitos* R+4 49/50
    Mission Viejo R+8 44/54
    Newport Beach R+12 40/58 Libertarian-leaning
    Orange R+7 45/53
    Placentia R+9 43/55 Large Hispanic population
    Rancho Santa Margartia R+9 43/55
    San Clemente R+10 42/56 Home of Ronald Reagan
    San Juan Capistrano R+10 42/56
    Santa Ana D+14 66/32 Largest city; Hispanic-majority; Most Democratic
    Seal Beach R+5 48/51
    Stanton D+2 54/44 Minority-majority
    Tustin EVEN 52/46
    Villa Park R+25 27/71 Most Republican; Least populated city
    Westminster R+10 42/56 Large Vietnamese population, home to Little Saigon
    Yorba Linda R+18 32/66 Birthplace of Richard Nixon

    *Number 12 on the map, wasn’t added to the list.

    If your one who prefers visuals (and tolerates crappy novice-style use of paint :P), then look below:

    Angry face

    This result shows that Obama made a large impact on Hispanic voters (OC was very Pro-Clinton during the primaries, as well as Hispanics), winning the heavily hispanic cities of Santa Ana, Buena Park, Stanton and Anaheim. He also made inroads with more conservative areas in the south, losing Huntington Beach by only 6 points (46-52) while it has a majority GOP registration edge, and Lake Forest by a similar margin (46-53), known for its strong evangelical presence such as the Saddleback Church and its pastor Rick Warren. Obama also gained huge support amongst young voters, handily carring Irvine (home to UC Irvine), and narrowly (48.6-49.4) losing Fullerton (home to Cal State Fullerton). From here, we’re going through a city-by-city analysis of how it votes, demographics and whether its going to be competitive in the elections to come:

    (Note: I will detail the important cities to look for below, so not all 34 cities will be listed below.)

    Aliso Viejo:

    Population: 46,123

    Analysis: Nestled in the fast-growing area of South Orange County, Aliso Viejo (the youngest city as of 2001) is an example of a city that is trending Democratic. Not only did it vote for Obama by a comfortable 6 point margin, it was one of only 4 cities here in Orange County that voted AGAINST Proposition 8 (48.5-51.5) and the second-strongest showing against the measure, Laguna Beach being the strongest. It is the stereotypical “Country club” Republican city, fiscally conservative on most issues (Also voting against the state’s High speed rail initative, which passed) but fairly moderate-to-liberal on social issues, voting against Propositon 4 which sought to restrict contraceptives to minors unless a parent has consent. If any Democrat statewide seriously plans to turn Orange County blue, winning Aliso Viejo is a must.


    Population: 353,643

    Analysis: The second largest city in the county and the main entertainment hub, home to Disneyland. Anaheim is a city that is easily classified by geography. Most of Anaheim is fairly urban and very Hispanic, mainly around the Downtown area. But to the East, lies a whole different kind of Anaheim: the community of Anaheim Hills. Already hearing the name, and you’re correct to guess that its a more wealthy, upscale area far different than its neighbor to the west. Home to mansions and a getaway for celebrities, Anaheim Hills is strongly GOP turf, fiscally and socially conservative but more so on the fiscal side. For someone to want to turn Orange County blue, they would need to keep their margins down in Anaheim Hills and fairly high in the rest of Anaheim.


    Population: 40,377

    Analysis: This one is personal since this is where i live, but its also the most descriptive as well. Surrounded by large cities (Fullerton, Chino Hills and Diamond Bar), Brea is a sanctuary to escape from the bigger more urban cities in and around LA County. Politically, however Brea is strongly conservative, especially socially. There is a large and very influential Mormon presence here (There’s two LDS places of worship here alone!) along with large Catholic, and Baptist faiths. To the south is the even-more conservative city of Yorba Linda, who uses the city of Brea’s Police since they don’t have their own department. However there is a steadily growing Hispanic population, mainly from neighboring La Habra and cities near Brea in LA County, but like with Mormons they are socially-conservative as well, so its a double-edged sword. No Democrat will win here, but cracking 40% here is an accomplishment in its own.

    Buena Park:

    Population: 84,141

    Analysis: It shares similarities with its neighbor Anaheim in that: Both have large Hispanic populations, and both are known for its amusement parks (Knott’s Berry Farm for Buena Park). Yet Buena Park is slightly more Democratic due to its large Asian population (most likely from nearby Cerritos in L.A County) and its higher turnout rates than Anaheim. Buena Park is a must win city, and getting around 55% would be enough for a squeaker county-wide.

    Costa Mesa:

    Population: 117,178

    Analysis: Surrounded by larger cities, Costa Mesa is a popular city to live in due to its close proximity to Huntington/Newport Beach, and close to UC Irvine. But Costa Mesa has made the news for declaring itself a “Rule of Law” city, taking a hard line against illegal immigration. The person most responsible for bringing it up for a vote? The Mayor, Allan Mansoor, who is also running for the State Assembly (Gee, see how that all works out?) in 2010. Despite this, Costa Mesa is trending Democratic because of its large Latino population, along with people from nearby Irvine moving to Costa Mesa. Another must-win to turn the OC Blue.


    Population: 106,335

    Analysis: Home to Cal State Fullerton (the largest in the state by enrollment), Fullerton is a fast-growing suburb of Los Angeles and an overall enjoyable city. Gaining a larger Latino population due to its close proximity to Whittier and South Los Angeles, makes Fullerton a swing city for elections to come.

    Garden Grove:

    Population: 174,715

    Analysis: Garden Grove is home to a very large Vietnamese population, much like nearby Westminster is as well. In terms of voter registration, Republicans edge Democrats by around 3,000 voters but gave John McCain a solid 52%. The reason being because Garden Grove is very conservative on social issues, and viewed Obama as too liberal for them. Along with their generally anti-communist views, Garden Grove is also home to a small, but noticable Latino population, mainly from nearby Santa Ana.

    Huntington Beach:

    Population: About 200,000

    Analysis: A well-known tourist destination for those looking for great surfing, Huntington Beach symbolizes a “Live free and Die” mentality, and its voting record is one to notice carefully. Voting for McCain 52-46% while subsequently voting against Prop 4 by 3 points and narrowly voting for Prop 8 by 2 points. If this trend continues, Huntington Beach will be poison for social conservatives.


    Population: 212,184

    Analysis: Irvine is a city that is rapidly turning Democratic, due to the extremely large influence the University of California, Irvine campus has on the city. In fact, all of the precincts in and around UC Irvine went around 80% for Obama. The city council has a Democratic majority, along with the Mayor, and has implemented many progressive policies. Democrats, Republicans and Decline to State voters all have around 30,000 voters each, meaning Irvine is a solid tossup for elections to come, but give it a Democratic edge due to its large youth voters.

    Laguna Beach:

    Population: 23,727

    Analysis: Laguna Beach is the major LGBT scene in Orange County, and was one of the first cities to sponsor a resolution opposing Proposition 8, so its no surprise that Obama carried Laguna Beach by a landslide. Laguna Beach is the second most Democratic city in Orange County, and will likely overpower Santa Ana as #1 in the near future. Any Democratic candidate can easily win here.

    Lake Forest:

    Population: 78,720

    Analysis: Home to the Saddleback Church and its pastor, Rick Warren, Lake Forest is situated within Southern Orange County and is close to the cities of Mission Viejo and Irvine. Despite its reputation as being home to major evangelical groups, Obama did surprisingly well, keeping his loss within single digits. Could he win here in 2012? It depends on a number of factors, but it can’t be ruled out.

    Santa Ana:

    Population: 355,662

    Analysis: Santa Ana is ground zero for Democrats, its strongest (being the most populated city in the county) and safest city politically. Home to an extremely large (almost 80%) Hispanic population, Democrats routinely poll in the high 60’s and all of the currently elected officials (State Senate/Assembly/Congress) have Santa Ana as their major base.

    SSP Daily Digest: 6/25

    AZ-Sen: Wow, ultimate blowhard J.D. Hayworth actually realized he was in an untenable situation and had to apologize… for his having appeared in an infomercial touting “free grant money” seminar ripoffs. (He was unapologetic on Monday when the story broke, saying Republicans’ two favorite words: “buyer beware.”)

    CO-Sen: The Denver Post has a must-read profile of Ken Buck’s time as a federal prosecutor in Colorado, focusing on a 2000 case where he declined to file charges against gun shop owners, suspected of illegal sales, that he knew from local Republican circles. The incident ended with Buck resigning in 2002 to take a job as counsel for a construction company, after receiving a letter of reprimand and having to take ethics courses. (Ironically, the US Attorney who issued the letter of reprimand is Republican now-AG John Suthers, who probably would have been the GOP’s strongest Senate candidate here had he decided to run.)

    CT-Sen: Linda McMahon is accusing Rob Simmons of running a “stealth campaign,” despite his having “suspended” his operations. Simmons’ name remains on the ballot, and he still has a skeletal staff, although apparently for fundraising purposes and to help other local candidates… but it seems pretty clear he’s keeping his engine idling in the event that the McMahon campaign implodes, which is probably the source of her chagrin. McMahon is also out with a new ad, which, for the first time, features her admitting to her past as pro wrestling impresario (instead of just vagueness about being a “businesswoman”); she says that pro wrestling “isn’t real” but “our problems are.” Yeah, tell Owen Hart it isn’t real…

    KS-Sen: Sarah Palin sez: Get a brain, Moran! Well, she didn’t quite say that, but she did tell her Facebook legion to support Todd Tiahrt in the GOP Senate primary in Kansas instead of Jerry Moran. Social con Tiahrt trails fiscal hawk Moran in the polls, though.

    NV-Sen: There’s more amazing dirt today on the Independent American Party, the right-wing third party in Nevada that included Sharron Angle as a member back in the 1990s. The party, during that time period, paid for a bizarre anti-gay flier (referencing “sodomites” and “brazen perverts”) to be included in local newspapers. The party’s other pronouncements during this time included prohibiting “the financing of the New World Order with American taxes” and eliminating “the debt money system.”

    TX-Sen (pdf): PPP has approval numbers for Kay Bailey Hutchison as part of their Texas sample this week, and they might give her some pause about running for re-election in 2012 (which she’s on the fence about, apparently). Her futile run for Governor seems to have hurt her standing, as her overall approval is 37/43 and it’s only 47/37 among Republicans. On the question of whether she should run again, Republicans are split 43/43, and maybe most alarmingly for her, 39% of Republicans think she’s too liberal while 46% say she’s about right. It definitely creates an opening for a teabagger challenge, if she does run again.

    CA-Gov: Meg Whitman’s trying an interesting damage control approach, having taken harder hits from the California Nurses’ Association than anyone else. She’s doing a targeted direct mailing to nurses’ homes, offering her side of the story, saying “don’t take the union boss’s word for it.”

    FL-Gov: I didn’t think super-rich Rick Scott really needed any intervention from outside groups, as he’s able to pay his own way. But he’s getting $1.5 million worth of advertising bought on his behalf by a 527 called “Let’s Get to Work.” It’s yet another anti-Bill McCollum ad, questioning his work as a lobbyist as well as his immigration stance.

    IA-Gov: Terry Branstad, who picked little-known state Sen. Kim Reynolds as a running mate yesterday, is now trying to sell her to the state’s social conservatives, letting them know that she’s really one of them (even if they hadn’t heard of her). Branstad, of course, is trying to head off an indie bid by vanquished primary foe Bob Vander Plaats. There are two other Branstad-related articles you might check out today: one is a piece from the Univ. of Minnesota’s Smart Politics on the success rates for ex-Governor comebacks (bottom line: it’s a pretty high rate (63%), although that’s usually for open seats, not against incumbents). And the other is a Politico look at the possible resurgence of the mustache in politics: Branstad, along with John Hoeven and John Kitzhaber, is wearing the ‘stache with pride (unfortunately, we can’t say the same about Ron Sparks anymore).

    IL-Gov: While nobody seems interested in challenging Scott Lee Cohen’s 133K signatures (five times as many as needed), Democrats are still weighing other legal methods of dispatching Cohen. While Cohen’s situation is unusual and there aren’t court cases on point, it’s possible the state’s sore loser law would prevent him from winning a Dem nomination, resigning it, and subsequently launching his own indie bid for a different office.

    SC-Gov: Here’s what initially seems like a big surprise, but is symptomatic of the rocky relations between the country-club wing of the state GOP and the Mark Sanford wing (of which Nikki Haley is a member). The state’s Chamber of Commerce just endorsed Democratic nominee Vincent Sheheen, suggesting that the GOP’s old-boy network in SC may take desperate measures to keep Haley out. The animus, at least on the surface, seems driven by efforts by Sanford (and Haley, in the legislature) to reject federal stimulus funds. Nice to see something of a public admission that, at the end of the day, big-business Republicans like to see government spending on the infrastructure that they, y’know, need in order to successfully do business, as opposed to the teabaggers’ empty-headed anti-government nihilism.

    TX-Gov: A Texas judge yesterday blocked the Green Party from the ballot in November, which ought to help Dems’ chances if the gubernatorial race winds up close. Moreover, the investigation into who was behind efforts to get the Greens onto the ballot in Texas (and conceivably save Rick Perry) has turned up some remarkable evidence: that Perry’s former chief of staff, Mike Toomey, personally paid for efforts. Toomey paid a monthly stipend for six months to the organizer of the petition drive. (That drive failed, but a subsequent one bankrolled by mysterious group Take Initiative America later succeeded; Democrats, however, blocked the Greens from qualifying, saying that Take Inititative’s $500K operation was an illegal in-kind contribution to the Greens.)

    KS-01, KS-04: SurveyUSA has polls of the Republican primaries in two dark-red districts in Kansas. In the 1st, state Sen. Jim Barnett (probably the most moderate figure in the race) is still in the lead, at 23. Someone by the name of Tracey Mann has surged into 2nd place at 20, from 4 in the last poll of this race in February (probably by virtue of consolidating the Tea Party vote), while CfG choice state Sen. Tim Huelskamp is at 18. Rob Wasinger is at 11, Sue Boldra is at 8, and Marck Cobb is at 2. And in the 4th, it’s a dead heat between two businessmen: Mike Pompeo is at 39 while Wink Hartman is at 37. (Pompeo is the insider here; he’s an RNC committeeman.) State Sen. Jean Schodorf is at 8, with Jim Anderson at 6 and Paji Rutschman at 1. They also look at the Dem primary, where Raj Goyle, despite his fundraising prowess, is only at 42-32 against “retiree” Robert Tillman. Looks like Goyle might need to expend some shoe leather to avoid going the route of Vic Rawl.

    PA-11: Rep. Paul Kanjorski is some Beltway-media hot water, after delivering a very convoluted sentence at a financial reform bill hearing on the topic of foreclosure prevention that made it sound like that “minorities” weren’t “average, good American people.” Extended parsing of the sentence seems to suggest that he was actually taking issue with Republican characterizations of the types of people who wind up in foreclosure. Still, any time that the crusty Kanjorski, facing another tough challenge from Lou Barletta this year, has to spend digging out of his own holes is too much.

    TN-08: With the hard-right rabble whipped up into such a froth that anything short of punching Democrats in the nose is seen as RINO collaborationism, this can’t bode well for Stephen Fincher’s primary hopes. Fincher voted in the May 2010 Democratic primary for local races. Fincher offers the excuse that, with no GOP primary, it was vote in the Dem primary or not vote at all, but that undercuts his own attacks on Ron Kirkland for his occasional Dem-voting past. (wtndem has more in his diary.)

    NC-08: Labor-Backed Candidate Declines Third Party Run

    It’s a no-go for Wendell Fant:

    Former Democratic congressional staffer Wendell Fant announced Friday that he will not mount a third-party campaign against North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell, rebuffing calls from activists to challenge the Democratic incumbent for his vote against health care reform.

    Fant has been urged to make the race by North Carolina Families First, a labor-backed group that gathered more than 30,000 petitions to put Fant’s name on the ballot. […]

    Fant also said Kissell had soothed the frustration of some liberals when he voted for the Democratic-backed American Jobs Act in May.

    “He’s also heard our message…and lately he’s voted in ways that make a difference for all of us,” Fant said, praising Kissell for “voting for jobs and our families and against corporate special interests.”

    You may recall a recent PPP poll that suggested that Kissell would actually have an easier time with Fant in the mix, as Fant’s candidacy drew a significant amount of Republican support from Harold Johnson. I’m on the record as doubting that such a split would be sustainable through a heated election campaign, as conservatives wouldn’t be likely to stick with the left-leaning Fant after a rigorous campaign by all comers. Fant’s presence on the ballot had much more potential to split core Democratic support than anything else, making this turn of events good news for Larry Kissell.

    May Party Committee Fundraising Roundup

    A penny saved is a penny earned. Here are the May fundraising numbers for the six major party committees (April numbers are here):

    Committee May Receipts May Spent Cash-on-Hand CoH Change Debt
    DCCC $5,103,683 $3,752,513 $28,627,821 $1,351,170 $0
    NRCC $5,385,306 $4,823,191 $12,018,534 $562,116 $0
    DSCC $5,000,000 $4,600,000 $17,600,000 $500,000 $0
    NRSC $3,600,000 $2,500,000 $18,100,000 $1,100,000 $0
    DNC $6,602,893 $7,240,205 $14,491,049 ($637,312) $3,029,912
    RNC $6,456,893 $6,368,433 $12,581,337 $88,460 $760,141
    Total Dem $16,706,577 $15,592,718 $60,718,870 $1,213,858 $3,029,912
    Total GOP $15,442,199 $13,691,623 $42,699,871 $1,750,576 $760,141

    For the first time this cycle (and for a very long time before that as well), the NRSC now has more money in the bank than the DSCC does. And the RNC is very close behind the DNC.