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With less than two months left in the campaign, it's crunch time. Brownley's latest ad draws clear contrasts between her and Strickland on women's issues, as do mailers. Mailers worked very effectively in helping Brownley edge out Linda Parks in the open primary, so I think they can be effective in getting her message out in the general. The NRCC is running ads here now (mostly the same, tired old scare type of ad).

Brownley's ad against Strickland: http://www.youtube.com/...
NRCC ads: http://www.youtube.com/...

The gender gap will play a big role here and Brownley running up numbers among women will be critical, particularly in East County, where there are a lot of moderates. That said, let's take a closer look at what the path to a win looks like.

Strickland did lose this district running for Controller in 2010, mainly because Simi Valley is not in the district and the fact that his margin in Thousand Oaks wasn't as wide as one he would have gotten out of Simi Valley. Let's look at the numbers.

                                  
Chiang 45.93%
Strickland 54.07%
And it was the same story for his 2008 Senate race in SD-19                                  
Jackson 45.71%
Strickland 54.29%

2008 was of course a good Democratic year, but 2010 was not. Chiang is a good candidate and the race was a good ways down ballot, but that was a weak number for Strickland to turn in as a local. In 2006 when he ran for Controller, he did win 60% in Thousand Oaks, but that was only with Arnold winning heavily at the top of the ballot. Thousand Oaks has always been less conservative than Simi Valley, it gave Obama 51% of the vote, while Simi Valley gave McCain 52%. Strickland has won close races before without Simi Valley (1998 and 2000 for Assembly), but that Assembly district includes less Democratic territory than the new CA-26 and slightly more Republican leaning then. CA-26 has only a very small portion of Simi Valley in it and that portion is more moderate.

What Brownley has on her side is Oxnard and Ventura, which make up a good share of the vote. I have the turnout scenario here that show what Brownley needs in each city in the county to win. (Westlake Village and the portions of Simi Valley are so small, I just incorporated the numbers in with Thousand Oaks.)

Cities Distribution Brownley Strickland
Camarillo 11.73% 38.00% 62.00%
Fillmore 1.67% 59.00% 41.00%
Moorpark 5.63% 37.00% 63.00%
Ojai 1.45% 60.00% 40.00%
Oxnard 17.30% 64.00% 36.00%
Port Hueneme 2.27% 54.00% 46.00%
San Buenaventura 18.31% 56.00% 44.00%
Santa Paula 3.00% 58.00% 42.00%
Thousand Oaks 23.02% 39.00% 61.00%
Unincorporated area of Ventura County 15.62% 41.00% 59.00%
Totals 100.00% 50.11% 49.89%

The tightest of margins, but it shows that with very high floors in the strongholds, Brownley has solid ground to build from. The other good news is that Strickland can't solely rely on East County to pull him through. Brownley doesn't need to post performance far above the Democratic floor in most cities to pull off a narrow win, but of course, she does have room to do a little better than these benchmarks. The way I came up with these benchmarks was comparing neutral or Republican leaning year percentages in this district.

2000 Presidential

                                  
Gore 50.84%
Bush 49.16%
2002 Gubernatorial                                  
Davis 49.57%
Simon 50.43%
2004 Presidential                                  
Kerry 50.02%
Bush 49.98%
2010 Gubernatorial                                  
Brown 45.99%
Whitman 46.88%
2010 Senate                                  
Boxer 45.2%
Fiorina 47.1%
Then, there is the 2004-2010 aggregate of two party congressional performance in CA-26, although this skews a bit for incumbency on both sides, since the numbers include what Gallegly and Capps got in portions of their old districts which now make up the new CA-26.                                                                  
2004 55-45 R
2006 52-47 R
2008 51-48 D
2010 52-47 R
Again, those numbers are skewed by incumbency, but the numbers overall show that Democrats have a high floor. That's the sort of floor that is the perfect starting place. It will be a very competitive race, but I think our chances are very good.

Next time, I'll take a look at next door CA-24.

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