June 10, 2006
Busby-Bilbray AAR [Abridged Edition]
by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math
We don't yet have a complete precinct canvass for the June 6th special election in California, but here are the top line numbers.
- In 2004, George W. Bush earned 55.7% of the two-party vote in CA-50. John Kerry earned 44.3%.
- In 2006, Brian Bilbray earned 52.4% of the two-party vote against Francine Busby (who earned 47.6%).
This represents progress on two fronts. Busby was able to convert the 6-7% of the public that voted for a President Kerry but a Republican Congressman (Duke Cunningham won his district with almost 60% of the vote) into Democratic votes further down the ticket. In addition, she was able to swing another 1-3% of swing voters. If that happens across the country, the 18 Republicans who hold districts that John Kerry won at the Presidential level are in all in serious trouble. Still, that's small a consolation award for the evening.Herman Edwards is right; the prize for coming in second isn't a set of steak knives, let alone a company car. The odds were tough, but it's a shame Democrats couldn't come through for once.
Wishcasting that turnout should have been higher is really asking for too much. You might as well ask for that pony while you're at it. In a contested Democratic primary, no Democratic candidate for Governor is going to expend resources trying to turn out voters in suburban San Diego, for crying out loud. Especially in California, where it costs obscene amounts of money to compete, and you're better off putting your GOTV resources into Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Alameda counties. Perhaps the negative tone turned off some casual voters, but in CA-50 turnout was high by historical norms. At the top of the ticket, Angelides and Westley combined to defeat Ahhnold by a 4:3 margin.
It was good to see Tester win in Big Sky country. Democratic ballots outnumbered Republican ones by over 10,000, so if JT can hold onto most of the Morrison voters and pick up some of the Keenan supporters, he'll be in good shape in November.
Wishcasting that turnout should have been higher is really asking for too much.
Why is it asking too much? Everyone has been assuming the Democrats are passionate and motivated for change this year. This election shows they may not be so motivated after all. Losing to Bilbray in a high turnout race would have been understandable, since Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district. But when overall turnout is low, it allows the more aggressive party to get its voters to the polls. The fact that there was an actual contest for Governor on the Democratic side should have gotten more Democrats to the polls as well.
This was the only major contest for the House this season. The national Republican party fought for this seat with money and boots on the ground. The Democrats didn't.
Posted by: Mike | Jun 10, 2006 10:38:49 PM
This is lame, Ezra. Where was the national party? A Busby win would have set the narrative - "angry voters reject Republican corruption." Instead we got a big yawn from the national party and no momentum for 2006. The national party is pathetic. They're happy with the status quo, and they don't want to win.
Posted by: JR | Jun 11, 2006 12:06:10 AM
yet another loser for the webdems.
Posted by: dan | Jun 11, 2006 2:24:01 AM
This is happy talk.
Comparing the "two-party" results is absolutely meaningless considering that there were right-wing third party candidates in '06 that weren't on the ballot in '04.
The more reasonable comparison is Busby's percentage of the total vote in '06 to Kerry's in '04. This comparison, of course, does not produce good results, as Busby barely beat Kerry's numbers.
Posted by: Petey | Jun 11, 2006 11:13:07 AM
I agree with Petey that this is happy talk. Read this analysis from a guest poster in Washington Note.
Let's ignore the Kennedy hagiography and focus on the question of the absentee ballots. Busby has already run twice in this district (in 2004 and in the primary for the byelection). She should know exactly in which her potential voters live. There were 105,590 of them in 2004. Given the ease of voting absentee in California, she does even have to get them to the polls. Democrats have not figured out how to do this.
Posted by: Vadranor | Jun 11, 2006 11:49:57 AM
I am so glad to see the commenters sticking up for sanity. This was a very, very discouraging result.
Democrat turnout should have been higher, much higher.
Until we see some evidence that Republicans are discouraged, and Democrats motivated, the very real possibility that the Republicans will retain Congress remains.
The idea that a conservative Republican district replacing a disgraced Congressman models the shift in the Northeast is just silly.
Posted by: Bruce Wilder | Jun 11, 2006 6:43:01 PM
Look, I'm not happy with the outcome. It's not a lot of progress, but it is progress.
WRT turnout, by historical standards, Democratic turnout was already high.
Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Jun 12, 2006 12:28:07 PM
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