What To Look For In CA-50 Tonight
by Chris Bowers, Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 07:50:21 AM EDT
Overall, in the campaign to replace disgraced and corrupt Duke Cunningham, there are 18 candidates. If no one receives 50%+1 tonight, the top finisher from each party will move on to a June 6th run-off. Besides Francine Busby, there is another Democrat, but that person will probably not receive more than 2% of the vote. There are numerous Republicans, including three self-financing Republicans. I also imagine there is the usual slew of California third-party candidates (Green, Libertarian, American Independent), but I don't imagine they will make anything close to the same impact that they made in CA-48.
For Busby, the hope is obviously 50%, but don't count on it. No poll has shown her even within the margin of error for 50%. Most polls have Busby hovering at around 40%. In 2004, she only managed 36.5%. It would take the perfect storm to pull off 50%+1 tonight. This is a difficult district for Democrats, with a 45-30 Republican voter registration edge, a meager 43.8% Democratic performance. Simon beat Davis in this district by 18%. Schwarzenegger defeated Bustamante by 43%. A win here, no matter when it occurs, would be a clear signal of a huge Democratic year, because it will take a big pro-Democratic swing to win such a solidly red district (source for numbers).
For Busby, the goal should really be to surpass 43.8%. With another Democrat in the race, several third party candidates, and numerous Republicans for voters to choose from, if she can surpass the Democratic performance of the district anyway, then she has to be considered the favorite for June 6th. Deep in my heart I am hoping for 50%, but in my head 44% is the number I am really looking for. The number I dread is anything below 40%. Some form of moral victory could be claimed if she surpasses her 2004 percentage of 36.5% and does not reach 40%, but anything less than 40% means that she would no longer be the favorite. I currently project her to finish somewhere in the mid-forties.
The Republican favorites are Brian Bilbray and Eric Roach. Both Datamar polls (here and here, both PDF) on the race show the two neck and neck, with a small but statistically significant lead over the rest of the field. The trend-lines are also in their favor. Howard Kaloogian, of fake Iraqi street photo fame, is still viable in third place, but only just barely. The Survey USA poll actually had Kaloogian in second, and all three of these candidates within the margin of error on each other.
A Kaloogian win among Republicans, though unlikely, would mean two things. First, it would mean that Busby looks very good for the June 6th run-off. Kaloogian has virtually no support outside of Republicans, and is well behind Busby in head to head matchups. Second, it would mean that the Republican activist base is not actually all that discouraged or demoralized in 2006. Kaloogian seems to be the candidate of the conservative activist base, so monitoring his performance should give us a good idea of how effective that base is going to be this year.
A Bilbray win would mean basically the opposite of a Kaloogian win. Bilbray is not popular among the conservative activist base, and draws a far larger percentage of his support from Democrats and Independents than either Roach or Kaloogian. If Bilbray wins anyway, then the conservative activist base in the area was both ineffective and demoralized (although Newt Gingrich did endorse Bilbray). Bilbray would also probably be a more difficult candidate for Busby, since head-to-head polls on a hypothetical Busby-Bilbray election are within the margin for error.
Eric Roach might be the most dangerous potential candidate for Busby. The guy is super rich, and has already spent $1.8M of his own money on the race (and there is a lot more where that came from). Then again, if he has spent $1.8M and still isn't ahead of Bilbray in the polls, maybe he is a shitty campaigner. According to polls, he seems to have as much Republican support as Kaloogian, and almost as much Independent support as Bilbray. Lots of money and potential cross over might make him dangerous. Still, as I already said, if he isn't ahead with the amount of money he has spent, he might just be a bad candidate. Trial heats show Busby and Roach statistically tied.
So there is a lot to look for tonight. 44%+ is great. 40-44% is alright. 37-39%, disappointing. Sub 37%, terrible. Oh yeah, and we get to find out who Busby's main opponent on June 6th will be. Be sure to tune in tonight.