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PPIC Reports Clinton, Sanders Close in California

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

hillary-clinton-bernie-sandersBolstered by independent voters, Bernie Sanders has pulled to within two points of Hillary Clinton in California, with support from younger voters and men compared to Clinton’s lead among older voters and women, according to the Public Policy Institute of California’s most recent poll.

While Clinton leads 49-41% among registered Democrats, the race overall stands Clinton 46% and Sanders 44% among all voters likely to vote in the June 7 Democratic primary, PPIC said. The institute did not report results among independents. But for Clinton’s margin to be just 2 percentage points, as PPIC asserted, Sanders would have to be killing her among independents, who comprise only about a quarter of the primary vote.

Democrats allow independents to vote in their presidential primary, Republicans allow only those registered with the GOP.

“Asked if they would vote for Trump or someone else, most Republican primary likely voters (67%) choose Trump, while 26 percent say they would vote for someone else. Men (72%) are more likely than women (62%) to say they would vote for Trump,” PPIC reported.

In the Democratic primary race, voters age 45 and older support Clinton 59-28%, while younger voters favor Sanders 66-27%. Men prefer Sanders 46-42% while women favor Clinton 49-42%.

eyeshadeCrosswise with Crosstabs According to PPIC’s data, Cinton leads Sanders 52-43% among Latinos and 47-41% among whites. “Others” are not reported, apparently because there were not enough of them in the sample for a statistically reliable number. Which led the Calbuzz Green Eye Shade and Abacus Department to wonder: How could Clinton be leading by 9 points among Latinos and 6 points among whites and yet by only 2 points overall?

After a long conversation with Dean Bonner, the associate survey director at PPIC, we remain unconvinced. Bonner said Sanders led among “others” by 8 points, which altered the overall results. But since “others” includes blacks, among whom Clinton has consistently creamed Sanders, something still didn’t make sense.

So we spoke with Mark Baldassare, PPIC’s Big Kahuna, who said his survey had found that Sanders is leading Clinton among non-Latino, non-whites 50-42% and that this explains how the race could be so close. “These are the numbers we have,” Baldassare said. “Is it surprising? Yes.”

Our Calbuzz bean counters don’t doubt that the Democratic presidential contest in California is close. Whether the PPIC poll explains why is less certain.

BTW, in a general election match-up, PPIC said, “Among Democratic primary likely voters, 85 percent of those who support Clinton in the primary would vote for Sanders against Trump in the fall, while 75 percent of Sanders supporters would choose Clinton over Trump.

A few other findings, lifted straight from PPIC’s release:

Senate Race

– In the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, nearly a third of likely voters (31%) remain undecided less than a month before the primary. Among the candidates, Democrat Kamala Harris leads with the support of 27 percent of likely voters. Democratic U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez has the support of 19 percent in a race in which the two candidates with the most votes—regardless of party—will advance to the November election.

They are followed by Republicans Tom Del Beccaro (8%), Ron Unz (6%), and Duf Sundheim (3%). Among Democratic likely voters, Harris leads Sanchez (43% to 32%), with 19 percent undecided. Among Republicans, nearly half (46%) are undecided, as are 35 percent of independents. Latino voters are most likely to support Sanchez (48%), though 19 percent favor Harris. White voters are the most likely to be undecided (36%) or support Harris (24%).

If Harris and Sanchez advance to the November election, 34 percent of likely voters say they would vote for Harris and 26 percent would vote for Sanchez (24% volunteer that they would not vote and 15% are undecided). Just under half of Democrats (46%) would vote for Harris, while half of Republicans (51%) say they would not vote. Latinos support Sanchez over Harris. Whites support Harris over Sanchez, with nearly a third saying they would not vote.

No word yet on what effect the embarrassingly sycophantic profile of Queen Kamala (who immediately tweeted a link with “thanks” – ! – for the piece to NY Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon, who ought to be ashamed of herself) will play in the race. No doubt young Emily has a similar display of fluffy hagiography on Loretta Sanchez in the works.

Other stuff

– Half of Californians (49%) have a favorable impression of the Democratic Party, while only 23 percent have a favorable view of the Republican Party.

 – A strong majority of likely voters (65%) oppose building a wall along the entire border with Mexico, as Trump has promised to do. There is a stark partisan divide: 86 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents oppose building a wall, while 59 percent of Republicans favor it. Asked whether or not undocumented immigrants living in the United States should be allowed to stay legally, 75 percent of likely voters favor allowing them to stay. Majorities across parties say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay.

Why National Presidential Polls are Malarkey

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Tearing-Hair-OutWhy does it make us tear our hair and rend our garments to listen to so-called analysts in the national news media hyperventilate about how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are locked in a dead heat in nationwide surveys? Because national polling in the presidential race, especially at this stage of the game, is bunk.

Why do the blow-dried bloviators get so excited? Because 1) they pathetically need content to fill 24 hours of air time, 2) they’re desperate for a competitive race that keeps viewers tuned in, and 3) sadly, they’re idiots who do not understand how the president is elected.

Also, they made such a fuss for months about how much various Republicans hated Trump, that when the New York narcissist finally locked up the Republican nomination, the big-name TV talkers are now shocked – shocked, we tell you! – that Republican elites are acting like, uh, Republican elites and rallying around their presidential candidate.

Points 1 and 2 need no further explanation, but it is Point 3 that makes this kind of frenzied blather possible, in its failure to understand — or to ignore – the fundamentals of presidential election civics.

Divided We Stand. First of all, finding that the country is divided about 50-50 between a Democrat and a Republican is a classic case of News That Stays News, a simple reflection of the way things have been at least for the past four decades. Since 1976 the average winning percentage of the popular vote for president has been 50.78% — about as close to an even split as you could have and still have someone get more votes than his rival.

But this, of course, has nothing to do with electing presidents. Otherwise, in 2000 we’d have elected Al Gore instead of George Bush as president. In electoral votes, the state-by-state contests with various numbers of votes that determine who actually wins the White House, the average in that same 40-year time period was 374-164 – a winning percentage averaging 69.52%.

WizOfOzIn other words, it matters practically nothing that the NBC-Wall Street Journal shows Clinton ahead of Trump 46-43% or that Fox News shows Trump ahead of Clinton 45-42%. Especially when Trump has wrapped up the GOP nomination while Clinton is still battling Bernie Sanders on her left flank.

After the national conventions, when both parties have candidates who have spoken in prime time to the country and begun to make their case for themselves and against their opponent, polling in individual battleground states like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin and Colorado, for example, will tell us whether Clinton or Trump is heading toward the White House.

Until then, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: he’s a fraud.

 

Memo to Millennials: Dire Risk in Bernie or Bust

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

USA-ELECTION/SANDERSDear Millennial Bernie Backers:

At the serious risk of sounding like the get-off-my-lawn geezers we despised in the 1960s and ‘70s, the old codgers at Calbuzz would like to speak directly to you Bernie or Bust people who are, we fear, on the verge of  making a huge mistake.

We understand your passion and commitment to Bernie Sanders and the cause he represents. He stands as a beacon for income redistribution, universal healthcare, and an end to the corrupting influence of money in politics, international peace, racial justice and breaking up the financial institutions that have a stranglehold on American politics and the economy.

These are great goals and laudable aspirations – exactly the kinds of things intelligent, decent and social justice-minded young people should seek. They’re the same things many of us, now in our 60s and 70s, fought for decades ago (although we also put a premium on stopping the war in Vietnam and bringing about equal rights in America).

There’s a lot to admire in what Bernie stands for. But Senator Sanders, the independent socialist from Vermont who has never been a member of the Democratic Party, can deliver exactly, um, none of these things. First, because he can’t be elected president and second because even if he were elected president, he couldn’t get any of them through Congress.

What he can do is weaken the campaign of the first woman likely to be elected president of the United States – Hillary Clinton — and assist the campaign of the most unprepared, narcissistic, misogynistic, bigoted candidate ever to represent an American national political party – Donald Trump. So it’s kind of a big deal all the way around.

richard_nixonThe bad old days. What you guys don’t remember –  we’re not talking down here, just recalling history – is what life was like before service in the military was voluntary, blacks and Latinos had the right to vote, women had equal rights, unions had the right to organize and abortion was legal. Those of us who remember these things don’t want to risk losing them at the hands of a Supreme Court that would – if remade by Trump — surely undo whatever progress has been made in the past 40 or 50 years.

We know from over-zealousness. Back in 1968, many of us who had been for Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy didn’t see much difference between Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate chosen at the tumultuous convention in Chicago, and Republican Richard Nixon. Yeah, that worked out well.

As our friend (socialist and Sanders supporter) Harold Meyerson wrote last week:

Those Sanders supporters—they’re a distinct minority—who insist that the difference between Clinton and Donald Trump isn’t great enough to justify their voting for Clinton do themselves, not to mention the nation, an enormous disservice. A Clinton White House would be subject to pressure from the Sanders wing of the party, just as the Sanders campaign plans to pressure it at the upcoming convention. A Trump White House would be subject to no such pressure, and instead of fighting to push the nation’s agenda to the left, Sanders activists would be fighting alongside Clinton supporters to keep the nation from sliding into racist authoritarianism.

To conflate Clinton’s myriad imperfections as equivalent with Trump’s is to repeat the world historic mistake that German Communists, at Stalin’s behest, made in that nation’s 1932 elections, when they campaigned against their left-wing rivals, the Social Democrats, as though they were on a par with the Nazis. “Social Fascists,” the Communists called them, right up until the time that Hitler took power, suppressed both the Social Democrats and the Communists, imprisoned them, killed some, abolished the unions and turned his attention to the Jews. This is not to argue that Trump is Hitlerian, but a man can be a danger to civilization without plumbing Hitlerian depths.

So there’s that.

trumpangerWhat Bernie would face: It’s especially worrisome that so many Bernie supporters put stock in his claim that he would be a stronger candidate than Clinton because he currently does better in the polls against Trump than she does.

This is an entirely bogus argument. Clinton has been the target of Republican negative campaigning for about 30 years, accused of everything from murder to treason — literally. Sanders, on the other hand, has never been the subject of a serious, nationwide negative campaign of the sort that he would face as the Democratic nominee: Russia-loving socialist, anti-religious crusader, tax-tax-tax-and-spend left-winger who’ll cripple the military and take away your guns and your freedom and force you to live on a vegan commune with released murderers for minders.

None of that will come to pass, however, because the race is virtually over: Sanders cannot get enough votes or delegates to overcome the huge advantage Clinton has in votes and delegates. And the notion is absurd that super delegates – for whom Clinton has raised millions of dollars and who are actual Democrats – would switch allegiance for the guy who has fewer votes, isn’t a Democrat and has done nothing but castigate party officers and leaders.

Moreover, it’s worth noting, as renowned lefty Joan Walsh argued, there is a “presumption of moral and ideological superiority from a coalition that is dominated by white men, trying to overturn the will of black, brown, and female voters or somehow deem it fraudulent.”

Jerry-BrownBrown’s wisdom on insurgency: Eons ago (back in January), Calbuzz said it was time for progressive Democrats to stop dabbling with Sanders – primarily, we said, because the U.S. Supreme Court is at stake and while Sanders cannot win a general election, Clinton can.

Hundreds of thousands of left-liberal voters promptly ignored our advice. So now it’s Sanders himself (and his nasty campaign manager Jeff Weaver) who need to wise up.

It’s not that Sanders should quit his campaign. He has every right to speak out for income equality, breaking up the banks, universal medical care, ridding the political system of massive campaign contributions and more. But given that there is no path by which he can overcome Clinton’s massive lead in votes and delegates, Sanders can only aid Donald Trump by attacking Clinton and the Democratic Party.

The riotous disruption of the Democratic Party convention in Nevada coupled with Sanders’ tacit approval and his continued caustic rhetoric are evidence that he is engaged in a slash-and-burn strategy through to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. It’s as if he’s decided that if he can’t have the Democratic nomination and thus the presidency, neither can Clinton.

Even California Gov. Jerry Brown, who ran three of his own insurgent campaigns for president, has warned that Bernie is threatening to pave the way for Trump.

“I don’t think anybody should be seeking the Democratic nomination with a scorched earth policy,” Brown told reporters at a United Farm Workers convention last weekend. “At the end of the day, we’ve all got to work together. It’s very important that we beat Donald Trump. That is the overriding imperative for, I think, America, for the party and for organized labor. So, I’ve run insurgency campaigns, and they have to be run in a way that ultimately the Democratic nominee wins.”

So, millennial friends, hang in there, work for and vote for Sanders. But give up the notion that it’s Bernie or Bust. After he’s had his run, it’ll be time to rally around the candidate who will – with your help – keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

How Trump Could Flip Republican CDs in California

Monday, May 9th, 2016

trumpfaceNow that Donald Trump has nearly completed his hostile takeover of the Republican Party, thoughtful leaders of the GOP are fretting about one thing only: keeping The Donald from dragging down their candidates and incumbents in House and Senate races.

And in deep blue California – where the “race-bating, xenophobic, religious bigot,” in Sen. Lindsey Graham’s words, is spectacularly unpopular (74% unfavorable in the most recent Field Poll and 87% unfav among Latinos in the LA Times/USC survey) – Republican congressmen in at least three districts with significant Latino and other minority populations, could get Trumped.

With only 14 of California’s 53 congressional districts on their side of the aisle, GOP Reps. Jeff Denham of Atwater, David Valadao of Hanford and Steve Knight of Palmdale all could soon find themselves joined at the hip to a Republican presidential candidate even less popular than John McCain, who took just 37% of the vote against Barack Obama’s 61% in California in 2008.

Unlike their counterparts in most parts of the nation, where 95% of Republican districts are majority white, Denham, Valadao and Knight represent districts that could include plenty of voters disgusted by Trump and susceptible to an appeal from the Democrats. If – and it’s a big “if” — Democratic outreach and voter registration are successful and their candidates are sufficiently qualified and funded.

No matter how much Trump is detested, you can’t beat somebody with nobody.

jeffdenhamDenham in Danger Consider Denham’s 10th CD in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, where 42% of the population is Latino and registration is 39% Republican, 37% Democrat and 19% independent. It’s a district that includes Manteca, Modesto and Turlock in which Democrats Obama, Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein all have won in the past.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is supporting beekeeper Michael Eggman (who ran and lost to Denham 56-43% in 2014), has already tried to link Denham to Trump. In a March 17 press release titled “The Denham and The Donald Line Up Again Against Immigrant Families,” the DCCC pointed to a 2010 debate in which Denham replied “yes” when asked if be believed “anyone who is here right now as an illegal immigrant should be detained, arrested and deported?”

But based on Denham’s more nuanced stance on illegal immigration, Politifact California, which acknowledged Denham had agreed to the debate question, rated the DCCC’s charge “mostly false.” That, however, may be giving Denham a bit more leeway than voters are likely to accept – unless the congressman denounces Trump’s approach to immigration and deportations.

eggmanEggman has already jumped on the issue. “Like most Californians, I’m deeply offended by Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric,” he said back in April “We’re going to send Trump Republicans like Denham packing.”

“I have won by big margins…no matter who is on top of the ticket, because I represent the views that are important to people at home,” Denham told McClatchy’s Michael Doyle in response. “I am a Republican in California who wins the Hispanic vote, and I expect to continue to do so.”

Perhaps, but the political landscape in California is changing rapidly, in part driven by newly registered voters who are repulsed by Trump. As Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., noted recently in an important analysis of voter data:

This skyrocketing registration can be broken out by partisanship, ethnicity and age, and shows some striking differences by group.  In a traditional election year, a 65% growth from the same period of last year would be remarkable.  But this year we are seeing a doubling of registration growth among Latinos, and a more than 150% increase for some young voters, and a near-tripling for Democrats.

valadaoValadao Seeks Validation: Rep. David Valadao’s 21st CD, in Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties – including part Coalinga, Delano and part of Bakersfield – is another target-rich district, where 71% of the population is Latino and registration is 47% Democrat, 31% Republican and 19% independent.

Emilio Huerta, a Bakersfield lawyer and son of famed United Farm Worker’s Union leader Dolores Huerta, is challenging Valadao and is ready to tie Valadao to Trump.

“We just can’t go back to the time that Latinos were blamed for all our country’s woes,” Huerta told McClatchy’s Doyle.

huertaAs Javier Panzer of the Los Angeles Times observed, the Democrats failed in 2014 to turn their 16-point registration edge to their advantage in 2014, when “Amanda Renteria, a long-time Capital Hill staffer who grew up in the Central Valley, mounted an expensive campaign that year but still lost to Valadao by the same margin as the Democrat who faced him in 2012, 57.8% to 42.2%. (Renteria is now Hillary Clinton’s national political director.)”

This time, however, the shape of the race could be the equivalent of Cesar Chavez versus  David Duke — which might just motivate all those potential Latino voters to actually get out the vote. Obama, Feinstein and Brown all have carried the district in the past and with Renteria in Clinton’s political command, it would make sense if Huerta v Valadao were to become a parallel to Clinton v Trump in the Central Valley.

steveknightSteve’s Trump Nightmare: And then there’s Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale, in the 25th CD, which is 46% white, but 35% Latino, 8% black and 8% Asian – in other words 51% of the population is made up of people offended by Donald Trump in one way or another. Moreover Democrats and Republicans each claim 37% while independents comprise 21%.

The district encompasses northern Los Angeles and Ventura counties, including Santa Clarita and Simi Valley. Obama won in 2008 here, but Republican Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina won in 2010. It’s no easy challenge for the Democrats.

But Emily’s List and the DCCC have already been hammering on Knight, especially on the issue of abortion.

“Donald Trump is leading the GOP charge to prevent women from making their own health care decisions, and Steve Knight is standing right beside him,” said EMILY’s List Press Secretary Rachel Thomas. “First Knight and Trump supported an unconstitutional abortion ban that would criminalize doctors, and now he’s standing by the Republican frontrunner who said he wants to ‘punish’ women who get abortions. Elections matter, and Steve Knight is linking arms with Donald Trump at the expense of California women and families.”

Just last week, Knight tried to distance himself from Trump during a debate in the district, but didn’t exactly make clear whether he’s for Trump or not.

cafornioTrump “looks like, maybe, the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party — but we don’t know that yet,” he said.

louvince“We still got a convention,” he told the Timesman Panzar later. ”And they are not going to cancel the convention, and he still hasn’t gotten enough delegates. So until that happens, I think this is a moot point, I think this is something for sensationalism.”

It’s doubtful that his Democratic challengers —  attorney Bryan Caforio and Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Lou Vince – will let Knight wiggle away from The Donald. When the incumbent congressman’s presidential standard-bearer is despised by three-quarters of the voters, the target is too rich.

Kasich Out, GOP = Grandiose Odious Perversity

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

JohnKasich (1)The record will show that Calbuzz prophetically picked John Kasich, who quit the Republican presidential race Wednesday, as the #3 candidate in the field eight months ago, after first touting him as a #5 dark horse a month before he even got in:

The rooting favorite of our founders, who hail from Cincinnati and Cleveland respectively, Kasich is at risk from the Tea Party because of his disgraceful act of accepting Obama’s money to provide health care for poor people, but if Bush falters, he’s the only other grown-up in the room.

Oh sure, we whiffed on that whole Donald Trump thing, along with the rest of the punditry universe, although in defense of our Department of Prognostications and Las Vegas Cheap Fares, we did better than most of the Beltway geniuses, ranking him #5 back in August 2015 with some pretty prescient language:

We wouldn’t put it past deranged GOP primary voters actually to cast ballots for the guy (and remember, we warned you not to write him off) but look for him to set his two pounds of hair on fire by Halloween.

At least we were half right.

Why Kasich Mattered: Self congratulation and self-criticism aside, the withdrawal of Kasich, despite his failure to win more than his own state, represents an unalterable, profound transformation of America’s political landscape: only one of the nation’s major parties in 2016 will field a nominee capable of speaking in complete sentences and who routinely employs rationality, logic and Actual Facts.

There’s plenty of time to handicap and analyze the extraordinarily bizarre Clinton-Trump match-up, but this is the Ohio governor’s day, so let us briefly enumerate the traits he brought to the race, which once were just table stakes for any presidential nominee but are utterly lacking in the whack job neo-fascist the Party of Lincoln lists at the top of its ticket:

kasicheatingHope, not fear: Kasich was positive and pragmatic, and never succumbed to the dark and dystopian style that characterized virtually every other member of what once was a 17-person field. Unlike Trump, he was neither paranoid, perfidious nor vicious and, despite our big disagreements with him on policy (hello, Planned Parenthood), it was clear that he understood that being president actually is about, you know, the country — unlike Trump, who behaves as if it’s all about him, not to mention his pathological need to convince himself his hands are really big as a way of masking what apparently is a severe sex problem.

Government 101: Kasich’s notion of leadership, based on experience in Congress and as chief executive of a large, diverse state, appeared to be rooted in the world we live in, which is to say the real world. Trump appears to have skipped Social Studies class on the day the teacher talked about the Separation of Powers, and his insistence that he, Trump, will solve the nation’s problems owes less to Adams, Jefferson and Madison than to Mussolini, Kim Il-Sung and Attila the Hun.

Compromise: Kasich, although a soldier in the Gingrich Revolution, not only allowed the essential importance of the federal government in shaping domestic policy, the economy and providing a social safety net, but also acknowledged the need to account for — and even accommodate! — viewpoints different than his own. Trump by contrast not only believes he has all the answers, despite his massive ignorance of the complexities and issues he would face as president, but also presumes that browbeating, intimidation and force are the paramount tools of politics, the logical culmination, evolutionary consequence and most monstrous mutation of every hot-shot corporate executive who recklessly thinks politics is just a second-rate form of business.

mussoliniAs E.J. Dionne wrote in his recently published and essential “Why the Right Went Wrong,” Kasich was the closest thing to a serious-minded conservative reformer in the Republican race:

A partial exception was Governor John Kasich, In the Republicans’ first debate in August 2015, he was willing to break with party orthodoxy by offering an unambiguous defense of his push to have Ohio accept an expansion of Medicare under the Affordable Care Act. He offered a stirring defense of the interests of the working poor and seemed, for a moment at least, to be the incarnation of a compassionate conservative coming back to life. In late October, Kasich excoriated his party’s moves rightward on issues ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the flat tax. “What has happened to our party,” he asked. “What has happened to the conservative movement?”

Guess we’ll find out, governor.

P.S. Forget everything we said about Kasich if he runs as Trump’s veep.