Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Impact of New Registration Numbers on Upcoming Legislative Races

The numbers in every district are important for statewide races, and I will address those concerns in another post. For now, here is what the new numbers mean for the legislative races of the near future.

LD5 - Rep. Jack Brown is still very much in trouble. This district is now 39.8% Democratic, 39.3% Republican, and 20.5% Independent. Of course, many of those Democrats are ancestral and vote Republican.

LD9, LD10, LD11 - These swing districts have been bleeding Republicans over the last 4 years. Independents continue to dominate the new numbers, with more Independents than either Democrats or Republicans in each district since October '08. Total registration numbers are fairly stagnant since Jan. '05, growing only 3.8% in LD9 and 0.7% in LD11, and shrinking by 2.4% in LD10. The totals: LD9 - 42.4% R, 31.2% D, 25.9% I; LD10 - 36.4% R, 34.7% D, 28.0% I; LD11 - 44.3% R, 32.0% D, 23.0% I.

LD12 - This west side district has exploded, growing by 37.1% since Jan. '05 and adding 39,854 voters (15,458 Independents, 13,687 Democrats, 10,478 Republicans). Due to that growth, this district will be carved up before the 2012 election, and there's hope that there will be a genuine swing district in the west side. For now, we've got a real shot at a House seat here if we have a candidate that can raise the kind of money you need in a district with 147k+ voters. The numbers here: 36.1% R, 33.2% D, 30.1% I.

LD17 - We all know about this shift. Until this district's Independents start voting Republican, this is a safe seat.

LD18 - I'm not going to pretend that we can win here yet, but we are seeing the eventual browning of west Mesa start to take hold. Not only is this district bleeding Republicans, it is adding Democrats, even while the overall registration numbers have shrunk by 2.1% since Jan. '05. In other words, it's registration numbers are starting to shift in the direction of a South Phoenix base district. We might be able to win the seats in this area come 2012 depending on what the districts look like. For now: 42.3% R, 28.9% D, 28.0% I.

LD20 - We all know about this too. I just wanted to point out the size of the Democratic shift here. Democrats have gained 2.4% since Jan. '05, while Republicans have lost 4.9% (Independents have gained 2.5%). Right now: 39.7% R, 30.8% D, 28.8% I.

LD21 - Since Jan. '05, this district has gained 11,588 Independents, 7,926 Democrats and 7,047 Republicans, making it one of the fastest-growing in the state. That hasn't been quite enough to make it a genuine swing district, as our close losses in 2006 and 2008 attest. For now: 42.4% R, 27.7% D, 29.2% I.

The rest later.

Some Quick Facts on the Jan. '09 Registration Numbers Compared to Jan. '05

Greatest Increases

- 58,317 (72.4%)
LD12 - 39,854 (37.1%)
LD4 - 35,941 (28.9%)
- 28,438 (23.1%)
LD21 - 26,713 (24.4%)
- 24,247 (21.0%)

Greatest Percentage Increases

- 72.4% (58,317)
LD12 - 37.1% (39,854)
LD4 - 28.9% (35,941)
LD16 - 28.9% (18,048)
LD24 - 24.9% (14,886)
LD21 - 24.4% (26,713)

Greatest Decreases/Smallest Increases

LD17 - -3,580 (-4.0%)
LD10 - -1,805 (-2.4%)
LD14 - -1,482 (-3.7%)
LD15 - -1,403 (-2.3%)
LD18 - -1,371 (-2.1%)
LD28 - -138 (-0.2%)
LD11 - 770 (0.7%)
LD2 - 1,533 (1.5%)

Greatest Gains in Democratic Percentage

from 34.2% to 36.9% (2.7%)
from 28.4% to 30.8% (2.4%)
LD28 from 43.3% to 45.3% (2.0%)
LD15 from 43.4% to 45.2% (1.8%)
from 27.1% to 28.9% (1.8%)

Greatest Losses in Democratic Percentage

LD23 from 45.0% to 37.6% (7.4%)
from 42.6% to 38.1% (4.5%)
LD25 from 45.4% to 40.9% (4.5%)
LD5 from 43.7% to 39.8% (3.9%)
LD16 from 56.3% to 52.8% (3.5%)
LD3 from 29.2% to 26.5% (2.7%)

Only Gains in Republican Percentage

from 29.6% to 31.3% (1.7%)
LD5 from 38.0% to 39.3% (1.3%)
from 30.7% to 31.2% (0.5%)

Greatest Losses in Republican Percentage

LD20 from 44.6% to 39.7% (4.9%)
LD9 from 47.1% to 42.4% (4.7%)
LD18 from 47.0% to 42.3% (4.7%)
LD4 from 51.6% t0 47.1% (4.5%)
LD8 from 51.2% to 46.7% (4.5%)
LD22 from 50.7% to 46.3% (4.4%)
LD7 from 49.5% to 45.3% (4.2%)

Greatest Gains in Independent Percentage

from 21.7% to 28.5% (6.8%)
LD23 from 24.9% to 30.5% (5.6%)
LD3 from 26.2% to 31.5% (5.3%)
from 21.6% to 25.9% (4.3%)
LD7 from 24.8% to 28.9% (4.1%)
LD4 from 23.0% to 27.0% (4.0%)

Greatest Partisan Shifts toward Democrats

LD20 from 16.2% R lead to 8.8% R lead (7.4%)
LD18 from 19.9% R lead to 13.4% R lead (6.5%)
LD17 from 1.3% R lead to 5.1% D lead (6.4%)
LD22 from 27.5% R lead to 21.8% R lead (5.7%)
LD8 from 27.9% R lead to 22.5% R lead (5.4%)
LD15 from 15.1% D lead to 20.5% D lead (5.4%)
LD11 from 17.4% R lead to 12.3% R lead (5.1%)
LD9 from 16.2% R lead to 11.2% R lead (5.0%)

Partisan Shifts toward Republicans

from 15.4% D lead to 6.3% D lead (9.1%)
LD5 from 5.7% D lead to 0.5% D lead (5.2%)
LD25 from 14.7% D lead to 9.7% D lead (5.0%)
LD16 from 39.6% D lead to 36.3% D lead (3.6%)
from 7.2% D lead to 5.4% D lead (1.8%)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Culturally Moderate Majority Part 2a: More From that Newsweek Poll On Gay Rights

The Newsweek poll also tests a whole slew of gay rights, including some that already exist and some that would be part of civil unions. Let's delve into them some.

First, some good news: we seem to acknowledge that gays are people, too. We want them not to suffer discrimination in housing and employment by 82%-13% and 87%-10%, respectively. As understanding as I try to be of cultural conservatives, anyone under 60 who is part of those 13% or 10% is just plain evil. We are also in favor of gays serving openly in the military by 66%-29%. Here I can be more understanding. I imagine some people worrying about unit cohesion (whether those concerns are valid or not) more than discrimination. Also, gays are just too precious:

Four different domestic partner benefits earn widespread support. 86% are for hospital visitation rights, 74% for inheritance, 73% for employee benefits like health insurance, and 67% for Social Security benefits for gay partners (although that might be less should it be proposed in this economy). All of these score higher than civil unions as a package, whether you use the 55% number in the "civil unions, yes or no?" question or the 63% sum of those who prefer marriage and those who prefer unions. So what's the deal here? Why do more people support every element of civil unions than actually support unions themselves?

As it turns out, that's not the case. There is one right that we are still very anxious about: adoption. We only favor adoption by 53%-39%, a little lower than our support for unions at 55%-36%. The closeness of these numbers (they even correlate closely within each age group), and the large gap compared with the other rights, suggest that adoption rights might actually drive our opinions on civil unions. Supposing that we viewed each of the 5 rights tested as of equal importance, we should expect our support for civil unions to be an average of the 5. Instead, it seems that adoption is a deal-breaker for those who oppose it, which is reasonable if you believe that gays are inferior parents to straight people.

The lessons here are clear. First, domestic partner benefits are not extreme. We should not assume that the Phoenix city council and now Dennis Kavanaugh find themselves holding minority positions among their constituents. And many suburban (especially) politicians could use domestic partner registries to make themselves look ahead of the curve without actually standing in the face of public opinion. Second, the gay rights movement will never achieve success as long as most Americans are against gay adoption.

Culturally Moderate Majority Part 2: That Newsweek Poll On Gay Rights

Last month, Newsweek did a great poll on gay rights issues. The poll gives us the most detailed picture of Americans' views on these issues that I've ever sBlogger: By The Time I Get to Arizona - Edit Post "Culturally Moderate Majority Part 2: That Newsweek..."een. And what it depicts is a large moderate majority. To the numbers!

The top-line issue, full marriage rights, is still a hard sell. Respondents turn down "legally-sanctioned gay and lesbian marriages," 39%-55%. "Legally-sanctioned gay and lesbian unions or partnerships," however, win approval by 55%-36%. Now, here's where the numbers get a little odd. When respondents are asked which comes closest to their views: "full marriage rights," "civil unions or partnerships, BUT NOT marriage rights," or "no legal recognition," responents are split into even thirds (31% for marriage, 32% for unions, 30% for no recognition).

So 63% favor AT LEAST civil unions and only 31% prefer marriage to all other options. Yet when the question is just "unions, yes or no?" or "marriage, yes or no?" the numbers are 55% and 39%, respectively. What's going on here? Is it just some error inherent in this poll? A cursory look at says otherwise. These questions yield similar results in other polls.

What appears to be going on is that unions have become a unifying, moderate position. Only 55% prefer unions to not-unions, when that is the question. But when unions are offered as the "moderate" position, between marriage and no recognition, 63% support At LEAST unions. Opposition to unions is 36% when that is the question, but when no recognition is the most conservative of three options, only 30% oppose any legal recognition.

This poll allows us to rank the preferences of groups of respondents. To do so, we make some simple assumptions. Anyone who ranks gay marriage first, will also prefer unions to no recognition. Likewise, anyone who prefers no recognition will prefer unions to gay marriage. We also assume that no one changes their position from one question to the next. And for simplicity, we assume that the very small "no position" group is composed of the same respondents for each question.

The profile of the 32% plurality for unions is interesting. As stated above, 8%, or one quarter of them, favor marriage to no recognition, but also prefer unions to marriage. Depending on which question is asked, they are the most moderate 20% of marriage supporters, or the most gay-friendly 25% of union supports. They are okay with supporting gay marriage, but would prefer not to. Another group of about 8% marks the most conservative quarter of union supporters. This group is the most interesting because they oppose unions when it's a simple yes or no question, but support it as one of three options. Perhaps when the question was "legally-sanctioned partnerships," they heard "marriage" and got nervous. Then the three choice question made their choices clear and they were comfortable supporting unions. Whether this because of a real position "in defense" of marriage or simply an instinct for moderation, it looks like about 8% of Americans can be moved to support unions if they are presented as a compromise position.

Perhaps the lesson here is that unions should be presented as a moderate, "compromise" position until demographic changes and evolving cultural views give full marriage a solid majority (18-34 year olds favor marriage 51%-40%). The poll numbers suggest some risk to that strategy, however. When asked just about marriage, 39% of Americans are willing to support it. And this number is steadily climbing. Offering unions as a compromise, splits off 8% of Americans and might make marriage a minority position forever by salving the consciences of Americans who want gay couples to have rights but are uneasy about democratizing marriage.

Finally, some mention has to be made of the approximately 16% of respondents that are consistent in their support of unions and their opposition to both marriage and non-recognition. This group is well-versed in the debate, they are not confused by questions that eliminate one of the three options. More polling is necessary to determine if this group is shrinking (and, presumably, turning towards full marriage), expanding (as marriage opponents become persuaded by the rights argument) or holding steady.

World Mission Society Church of God

Two missionaries (young white dude, middle-aged Asian woman) just came to my door. Check out their wikipedia page.

DNC's Post-Mortem

Worth the read.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Reason to Worry

Here are two reasons from Arizona history that should worry us about Brewer v. Goddard.

1) We re-elect incumbent governors, even if they were never elected to the job in the first place. Since the switch to four-year terms, five governors have run for reelection. All have been reelected. Assuming office only 8 months before his first election, Bruce Babbitt beat Evan Mecham 52%-44% and Leo Corbet 62%-32% in 1978 and 1982, respectively. Fife Symington beat Eddie Basha 53%-44% in 1994. A little more than a year after Symington's resignation, Jane Dee Hull crushed Paul Johnson 61%-36%. Janet Napolitano's reelection over Len Munsil was an even bigger blowout, 63%-35%.

2) We don't elect governors of the president's party. Now this is less of a hard-and-fast rule than 1) but it's still a clear trend. The president's party has lost six of our nine elections in the four-year term era (Castro/Ford, Babbitt/Reagan, Symington/Clinton, Hull/Clinton, Napolitano/Bush twice). The three exceptions are somewhat explanable. Babbitt's 1978 (during the Carter administration) falls under the reelection rule. Mecham's 1986 win was a fluke, as Carolyn Warner (D) and Bill Schulz, who had dropped out of the Democratic primary to run as an independent, split 60% of the vote. And Symington's win over Terry Goddard in 1990 was one of the closest elections in Arizona history, going to an eventual run-off (although his loss in that election is perhaps another reason to worry).

History is obviously not determinate of future elections. Our first 55 presidential elections resulted in white presidents, after all. But given that we'll be running against an incumbent governor, two years into a Democratic presidency, we should be very worried.

Another bit of history, Goddard has out-polled Brewer in both percentage and raw votes in both their 2002 and 2006 races. That's a good sign. So's this 2007 Rocky Mountain Poll matching Terry against Andy Thomas.

At this point, I call it a toss-up. We'll see how the new governor does.

Why Race Makes Us a Red State and Why That's Changing

Few Black voters. White Arizonans voted* almost exactly the same way as white Americans as a whole, giving Bush 59% of the vote (he won 58% nationally). Latino Arizonans held suit, giving 43% to Bush (he won 44% nationally). And lest we forget, the electorate, both in Arizona and nationwide, is overwhelmingly white. Arizona's electorate was only 12% Latino - noticeably higher than the 8% nationwide but not enough to make a dramatic difference in election results.

What we are missing is black voters. Those voters cast 11% of the votes nationwide, but only 2% in Arizona. Since black voters vote nearly as a bloc (88% for John Kerry), we really miss out by not having them. Indeed, that deviation is nearly 20 times as influential as our higher-than-average Latino population.

The black vote was up in Arizona as well as nationwide in 2008 (13% and 4% respectively), but it's not like black people are flocking to Arizona. Latinos are, though. In 2008 their voting share only increased marginally nationwide (8% to 9%), but it surged from 12% to 16% in Arizona. However, Latinos (and whites) supported the "favorite son" McCain at higher rates than their racial compatriots nationally. Had they not done so, and instead matched their racial group nationally (like Arizonans did in 2004), Obama would have won Arizona 50%-48%. That still would have been 5 points worse than Obama's 7-point win nationally, but that's certainly better than 2004 in which we were 10 points worse than the country. The Latino-led shift is on.

* - all quoted polls numbers are from 2004