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We cap off this election cycle's comprehensive rundown with the California State Assembly. For a refresher on the other election races in California, click here for Part 1 (Congress) and here for Part 2 (State Executive and State Senate).

In 2012, Democrats in the state assembly surprisingly won a two-thirds supermajority and reduced Sacramento Republicans to complete irrelevance. This cycle, unlike their colleagues in the state senate, assembly Democrats look poised to cement their supermajority and maintain their iron grip on the chamber. Republicans will try to strike at some shaky Dem holds, but they are mostly playing on turf that should have been theirs in the first place.

Without further ado, join me below for Round 3!

Snoopy and the Speaker.
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Welcome to the second of my three-part series on this year's elections in California! If you missed the first installment (which dealt with congressional districts), click here.

Except for 20 odd-numbered state senate seats, all elected positions of state government are on the ballot this year. In 2010, Democrats swept the statewide offices and established control of almost all levers of political power in California. This year, they will seek to consolidate those gains and keep the superminority Republicans shut out of relevance.

Part 2 will be split into two parts: the first will discuss the state executive offices, and the second will break down the state senate races.

"Look into my eyes...you are getting sleepy...you will vote for Jerry...you will vote for Democrats only..."
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While much of the country continues to wallow in primary election angst, California is done with that and forging ahead to the real game in November. California Democrats are seeking to strengthen their grip on the nation's most populous state, while California Republicans, still deep in their sea of electoral misery, desperately flail at any floating object that passes by.

At the congressional level, Democrats are hoping to hold onto their (relatively) massive 2012 gains and even picking off one or two more, while Republicans try to nip off a district or two, knowing that 2016 will be a brutal year for them.

Head below the fold for the first in a three-part series on California's 2014 elections.

Finally.
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A legislative constitutional amendment in the California State Legislature has put Democrats in a bind and has put their grip of one constituency to the test: Asian Americans. More specifically, certain groups of Asian Americans.

That bill is SCA 5, dealing with affirmative action.

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While my home state of California continues to fry under the winter sun and faces the worst drought in 500 years, its political world continues to flow with juice and intrigue. As the candidate filing deadline approaches and candidates' year-end campaign finance reports are scrutinized, we begin to get a feel for what 2014 will look like and how Democrats will fare this election.

Some immediate takeaway points:

  • Democrats made things harder for themselves with second-tier candidates in several competitive districts. This is more obvious in the Central Valley state senate districts and the Inland Empire state assembly districts.
  • The Republican bench remains a pathetic joke. The party's habit of nominating millionaires for governor has lost its shine, but the only thinkable alternative of nominating a Tea Partier guarantees an implosion of Alabama Democratic Party proportions.
  • There has been some hype about Latinos and Asian Americans going head-to-head in contentious races. This might actually hold true, but there's more nuance to it than the article suggests, and ethnicity is only one factor among many.

On to the good stuff below the fold.

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Election Day 2014 is slated to fall on Tuesday, November 4. In this midterm election, Californians will go to the polls to determine control of their state. All 8 state executive offices are up for election, as well as all 53 congressional seats, the 20 even-numbered state senate seats, all 80 state assembly seats, and all 4 Board of Equalization seats, making 165 elections in total.

It's always incredibly hard to predict how elections will go when they are so far into the future. However, this is not to say that there aren't broad themes that we can draw:

  • This election will be a referendum on the total Democratic control of state government. 2014 will have to show everyone that the 2012 results were not a fluke but a harbinger of things to come.
  • High (relatively high, at least) approval ratings for current government performance boost Democratic chances. Jerry Brown, the wizened face of California resurgence and leadership, most likely gains more from this than anyone else. Democrats have mostly been responsible in governance, cognizant of the fact that they have to defy undeserved stereotypes and doomsday predictions. They have hewed to a moderately progressive line and refused to raise taxes despite having the votes to do so. To most people, that's good enough.
  • The Democratic state party machine has to show that it is more robust than ever before. In the red tidal wave of 2010 that washed over everywhere else, we managed to hold the line and keep all our seats, even gaining one in the state assembly. That is a high bar that we have set for ourselves.
  • The California Republican Party is still weak and rudderless. The party establishment is still very much in charge, as Tea Party activists and Paulists have yet to gain sufficient traction in the state GOP to take over the apparatus. However, they haven't quite learned how to compete in a state that is much more liberal than what they are used to. They also have a very weak bench, decimated by demographics and desertion.

This election should be viewed as a chance for Democrats to consolidate their control. The Republicans are down, but they're not completely out. They have yet to hit on the Next Big ThingTM, but their current chair, former GOP state legislative leader Jim Brulte, is one of the best political minds in the state. Brulte, the last leader to win a GOP majority in the state legislature, is one of the very few people who can give the state GOP a semi-decent chance of turning around. The Democrats should never get complacent and simply rely on demographics and natural trends to do the grunt work. Political winds are fleeting, and the Dems should work hard to keep it on their backs for generations to come.

But let's talk about now and next year. Follow me below the flip.

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California is the most populous state in the nation, yet it has the 15th smallest state legislature and some of the largest districts in the nation. The 40 state senate districts comprise around 931,349 people each, the second most populous single-seat electoral districts in the world after the parliament of India. The 80 state assemblymembers represent around 465,674 people each, the most of any American lower-house state legislator. With such large constituencies in such a diverse state, the distance between the politician and communities is necessarily more distant even in the most compact and monolithic districts.

With the advent of equal-population districts after Reynolds v. Sims and equal-length term limits after 2012's Proposition 28, there is little reason to maintain a bicameral legislature. The "braking mechanism" reason doesn't work; bills can be and have been rammed through both chambers in less than a day, committees and all (for an example, see 2011's SB 202, which forces all state ballot measures onto the November ballot). Scrutiny is usually limited to the various special interests jockeying between themselves for favorable legislation, and major legislation is usually drawn up by Democratic party leadership and the governor before ramming through the legislature in the last days of session. Vacancies due to politicians jumping between chambers also create monetary drains and lost representation due to vacancies and special elections.

Instead of spending millions of dollars on shuffling paperwork and staffers between opposite ends of the state capitol, combining the two chambers into a single 120-member unicameral legislature. The districts are smaller (though still quite big compared to other states), and constituencies that are drowned out by their surroundings can be better represented. More diverse voices can come to a larger table and the legislators can concentrate more on their constituencies and represent them better. But enough advocacy. You came here for the map, so let's go below the fold and get straight to it.

Poll

Should we reform the structure of the California State Legislature?

15%9 votes
51%31 votes
3%2 votes
23%14 votes
3%2 votes
0%0 votes
3%2 votes

| 60 votes | Vote | Results

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In line with the Daily Kos Elections (DKE) living glossary that all newcomers (and longtime members) should peruse as an introductory course into our realm, this page captures the more esoteric, quirky, and occasionally bawdy side of DKE life.

This page is a collaborative effort to make the DKE world more accessible to new members and to refresh the memories of more experienced ones. Occasionally, this page may serve as a warning to those engaging in several recurring themes in DKE life, ensuring that discussions and interactions are more fruitful and engaging for everyone.

Some of these were shamelessly taken from the aforementioned glossary. Entries are continuously added and updated as time progresses and the DKE community evolves.

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My next stop in redistricting is Michigan, currently captured by a robust Republican gerrymander. Here, I present two maps: an aggressive 11–1–2 Democratic gerrymander and another, more robust but less aggressive, 10–1–3 Democratic map. The differences between the two maps all involve Central Michigan, especially in the Lansing and Ann Arbor areas.

In these maps, the benchmark I used was 55% Obama (2008). All projected Democratic districts except for MI-01 meet this threshold, and MI-01 doesn't have to due to its ancestral Democratic status. I assumed a three-point dropoff in Obama's 2012 performance in metro Detroit, a four-point dropoff in central and northern Michigan, and a five-point dropoff in western Michigan.

I tried to adhere to some of the extra requirements unique to Michigan. I minimized county and city splits to the furthest extent possible. I maintained the tradition(?) of having only one district crossing a single county border (e.g. only one district crossing the Wayne-Oakland border, only one district crossing the Oakland-Macomb border). The district are compact insofar that they allow Democratic dominance.

Let's now delve into the two maps. I will start with Map 1, the 11–1–2 Democratic map.

Poll

Which map do you like better?

31%10 votes
68%22 votes

| 32 votes | Vote | Results

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The 2011 redistricting cycle was a bonanza for Illinois Democrats, flipping the state delegation and the map upside down. Despite being a relatively clean and effective gerrymander, it fell short in quite a few places. In this map, I want correct these deficiencies and push the Democratic numbers to the limit short of dummymandering or baconmandering the state.

In this map, the guidelines I used were as follows:

  1. All Democratic incumbents kept their homes in their districts. GOP incumbents, well, not my problem.
  2. Former mayor Richard Daley's ancestral home in Bridgeport is kept in Dan Lipinski's district.
  3. Dan Lipinski is made safer from a primary challenge. Like most people on this site, I don't like him, but blame Michael Madigan for that and the GOP-heavy precincts had to go somewhere.
  4. 58% Obama was the benchmark that I used for all Democratic districts except for the two downstate ones.
    Illinois
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Mon May 13, 2013 at 07:44 AM PDT

A 20-16 Democratic Texas?

by kurykh

Let's imagine for a moment that Democrats controlled redistricting in Texas last cycle. Can they do what the Republicans did in 2003 and flip the map back in their favor? Can they be the margin of victory that pushes Democrats back into the majority in the House and reinstall Nancy Pelosi (or her successor) as speaker?

In this diary, I had only one firm requirement: that it adheres to the Voting Rights Act. Guidelines and goalposts that I tried to stick to:

  1. Keep Nueces County (Corpus Christi) whole.
  2. Give Nick Lampson an opening to return to Congress.
  3. Districts intended to elect Latino candidates have SSVR numbers over 50.1%.
  4. Reduce wasted Democratic votes as much as possible.
  5. Incumbent preferences were mostly disregarded. If someone must insist on a >70% Obama district, well he or she doesn't have to be in Congress.
  6. After drawing the Democratic districts, the leftover GOP areas should be drawn as neatly and sensibly as possible.

Now, the map!

Texas
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Behold, a one-stop shop of complete PVI and voter registration numbers for the 58 counties and 177 legislative districts of the great state of California. Analysis is below the fold. But first, the numbers!

Partisan voting index (PVI)

This spreadsheet contains the full set of PVI data based on the last two presidential elections. The election results are raw percentages, and the PVI is based on the national Democratic two-party performance (aka Cook's definition). PVI numbers are color-coded to indicate party and partisan shift. Negative numbers indicate Republican inclinations, while positive numbers indicate Democratic leanings. PVIs between R+2 and D+2 are coded in yellow. There are different sheets for counties, congressional districts, state legislative districts, and the State Board of Equalization (SBOE) districts. 2008 numbers are taken from Meridian Pacific, a GOP consulting firm, while the 2012 numbers are taken from the California Secretary of State.

If you want the short and sweet version, here are the PVIs for the counties and legislative districts, without all that the extraneous stuff.

Voter registration numbers

This spreadsheet is similarly structured as the PVI spreadsheet, except this uses data from the three most recent dates: September 7, 2012; October 22, 2012; and February 10, 2013. The September numbers show the voter registration standings right before online voter registration was allowed on September 19. The October numbers show the voter registration of the November electorate (October 22 being the registration cutoff date). The February numbers are the most recent numbers and will be the last set published by the Secretary of State until next year.

Rather than using some complicated formula, I simply used subtraction (arithmetic! onoz!) to show the shift in the two-party voter registration share and the change in no-party-preference (NPP, California's name for independents, used to be called decline-to-state or DTS) registration, all on one side of the spreadsheet.

Important: For the even-numbered state senate districts, the names listed under the "Senator" column do not necessarily correspond to the actual senator currently in that seat. Since state senate elections are staggered, elections for odd-numbered seats were held in 2012 and these senators represent the new post-2011 redistricting districts. Elections for even-numbered seats were last held in 2010 in the old pre-redistricting configurations and senators in these seats continue to represent the old districts. The districts in the spreadsheets of this diary refer to the new districts, and the first elections for the new even-numbered seats will be held in 2014. Any names listed on these spreadsheets for the even-numbered seats therefore refer to the closest corresponding successor district.

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