Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

San Diego Shocker

In Election Analysis on September 4, 2013 at 11:38 am
Councilman Carl DeMaio

Councilman Carl DeMaio

It looked to be a foregone conclusion that former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R), who lost a close 52-48 percent election to now-resigned Mayor Bob Filner (D) just last November, would run in the special mayoral election to be held before the end of this year. Not so, according to DeMaio’s announcement yesterday.

Almost immediately after his 2012 loss, DeMaio switched gears into a congressional campaign against freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52). Peters unseated Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50) by an even closer 51-49 percent count on the same day that DeMaio lost to Filner. With strong fundraising and polling – two surveys actually posted DeMaio ahead of Peters by 10 and 11 points from data collected two months apart – the former municipal candidate was becoming one of the strongest Republican congressional challengers in the nation.

There appear to be several major reasons DeMaio has decided to bypass what looks to be a winnable mayor’s race in order to stay in what, on paper, should be a tougher congressional contest against a well-funded incumbent, and they all relate to mathematics. In fact, multiple numbers point to DeMaio having a better chance to attain victory in the congressional race than running citywide.

First, while the early congressional polls place him ahead of Rep. Peters, as we previously mentioned, the one public survey released for the prospective mayoral campaign showed him trailing; one point behind former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher who has flipped his voter registration from Republican to Independent to Democrat in less than a year. Fletcher placed third in the 2012 mayoral primary posting 24 percent, trailing both DeMaio (31 percent) and Filner (30 percent). The top two finishers then advanced to the general election and produced the aforementioned November result.

Second, financial figures are another factor. While he has already raised an impressive $488,000 for the congressional race, slightly less than two-thirds of that total could be legally transferred to the mayor’s campaign. The $174,000-plus ineligible for transference represents a significant amount, since the mayoral special will be under a short time frame with stringent contribution limits.

Third, while DeMaio lost to Filner by four points citywide, those San Diego precincts contained within the 52nd Congressional District yielded a 12-point margin for the Republican, meaning a sector performance 16 points stronger than the overall result.

Fourth, the 52nd’s county precincts, the territory not residing in the city of San Diego, are even more Republican than those where DeMaio ran so strongly.

Fifth, the 2014 mid-term turnout model is likely to be better for Republicans than the previous presidential voter participation rate.

Though yesterday’s developments are surprising based upon DeMaio’s original statements surrounding Filner’s resignation that broadly hinted he would run for mayor, the final resolution of candidacy is a major plus for national Republicans. It would have been difficult for them to produce a Peters’ challenger equal to DeMaio in strength, and California’s 52nd District appears to be at the very top of GOP conversion opportunities.

Other Mayoral Updates

Quinnipiac University released their new poll of the New York City mayor’s race (Aug. 28-Sept. 1; 750 New York City Democrat primary voters; 101 New York City Republican primary voters) and show two primaries that may avoid run-offs.

For the Democrats, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has exceeded the 40 percent mark in the latest Q-Poll, meaning a potential outright nomination win. If no candidate reaches 40 percent, the top two finishers proceed to a run-off election on Oct. 1. Yesterday’s survey release posts de Blasio at 43 percent, followed by former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson second with 20 percent, City Council President Christine Quinn, the race’s former leader, dropping to 18 percent, and scandal-ridden former US Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) remaining in fourth position attracting just 7 percent.

On the Republican side, albeit through a very small polling sample, former NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Joe Lhota tops the field with 48 percent, followed by businessman John Catsimatidis with 24 percent, and Doe Foundation chairman George McDonald posting 10 percent.

In Detroit, the primary results are now certified and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan has officially captured first position via write-in, attracting 48,716 votes. He will face Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in the Nov. 5 run-off election. Napoleon, whose name did appear on the ballot, captured 28,391 votes.

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