Election Day: Questions, What to Look For and a Few Predictions

Voting boothElection primary day is finally here in California. Watching much of the rest of the country’s voters engage in the process of choosing presidential nominees is little more than a spectator sport for Californians. While the choices of whom to vote for have been limited by those other states’ voters, Californians now will get a chance to speak through the ballot. Other important races will be decided, as well, and analysts will be looking for trends that could indicate how November campaigns turn out.

A few items to think about and a look into a cloudy and cracked crystal ball:

The Presidential Campaigns

Questions/What to Look For: Is the reported surge in Democratic registration a sign that the Bernie Sanders campaign is bringing in new voters? Will they show up on Election Day? On the Republican side, does Trump’s presumptive nominee status keep some Republicans away from the polls affecting down ticket races? Is there a protest vote against Trump by some GOP voters who either skip the presidential ballot or vote for another name in the Republican column?

Prediction: Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic primary by a larger margin than the 2-percent edge most polls have been predicting. A protest vote against Trump will be measured by his securing about 75% of the Republicans who vote, meaning one-quarter of the Republicans are not satisfied with the GOP presumptive nominee.

U.S. Senate

Questions/What to Look for: Will Attorney General Kamala Harris have a large commanding lead over the second place finisher or will the race be within 10-15%. If the latter, and that second place finisher is Congress member Loretta Sanchez, that will set up an interesting fall campaign for the first major seat affected by the top two primary. Will Latino voters rally to Sanchez in big numbers? (And how will that affect the thinking of those considering statewide races in 2018? I’m thinking of you, Antonio.)

Prediction: Harris has a comfortable win. If Sanchez qualifies for the finals, her fall campaign will turn on how Sanchez manages to find the sweet spot of corralling enough Democrats while attracting a strong Republican vote.

Shaping the Legislature

Questions/What to Look for: Outside competing interests are pouring in big money to help shape a legislature supportive of their issues. Will a trend of more business friendly Democrats continue to blossom or will labor and progressive candidates score big? Much of the independent expenditures come from advocates on both sides of education and environmental issues and success could lead to dramatic changes on how those issues are addressed by the next legislature. If the environmental candidates do well, will that increase the interest of environmentalist/financial player Tom Steyer to consider a gubernatorial run? Will a dominant Democratic showing increase the chances of the Democrats securing supermajorities in both houses in November? Or will supermajority even matter if a large number of Democratic victors are considered pro-business Democrats?

Prediction: Californians deep-blue hue will only become deeper—at least on the surface. However, business will do well enough to make for some interesting top two runoffs in November and keep the intramural conflicts within the Democratic Party active.

Local Measures

Questions/What to Look for: Many tax and bond measures appear on local ballots. Will success or failure of these measures be a harbinger for how voters will respond to statewide tax and bond measures in the fall? Will success of a nine-county parcel tax to protect the San Francisco Bay mean more regional ventures around the state in the future?

Predictions: According to the historical record, a large number of the tax and bond measures pass at the local level. That record remains intact. However, this may not be an indication of how voters will respond to statewide measures in November. The statewide measures often have more sophisticated opposition campaigns than local measures face. If the San Francisco Bay parcel taxes pass–close, but I think the measure will pass–it will encourage those who believe dealing with some of California’s problems over a sprawling area calls for regional solutions and we will see more efforts in that direction.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily