Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Keys to Forecasting the Election

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Want to know who's going to win Tuesday? Each race has its own unique elements, of course. But there are a few factors that will weigh heavily on which political party's candidates will fare best in California. Watch for the following five trends on election day:

    Turnout--Most experts predict a turnout in the range of 45 percent. The more the turnout extends beyond that percentage, the more likely the Democrats will benefit.

    The more turnout dips below 45 percent, the more likely the Republicans will  prevail. Why? Republicans tend to vote with greater regularity than Democrats. At the same time, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 44 percent to 31 percent. If Democrats come out in high numbers, Republicans will be in trouble. If Democrats stay home, Republicans will thrive.

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    Independent Voters--Independents are notoriously unpredictable and fickle. They account for about 20 percent of the vote in California and are extremely important to Republicans. Because they own a smaller percent of the electorate, Republicans
    need to capture about 60 percent of the Independent vote to make up the difference.

    If that happens, it could be good news for Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina and others of their party down the line.

    The Latino Vote--Although 38 percent of the state's population, Latinos will comprise about 20 percent of the vote on November 2nd--the largest percentage ever recorded. Of late, Latinos have voted disproportionately with the Democrats, but only a month ago, polls showed that Latinos were fairly evenly divided. In the most recent surveys, Latinos are swinging to the Democrats by a margin of at least two-to-one, and perhaps more. Should this trend continue, this outcome could be beneficial to Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer and others of their party seeking elective office.

    A Last Minute Gaffe--Even with the huge growth of mail-in ballots, about half the voters will cast their ballots on election day. An unexpected faux pax between now and then could change everything. Already we've seen both major candidates for governor land in hot water, but at this late date there will be no time to rehabilitate and put distance between any unexpected event and the election. In a close race, the last 48 hours can be fraught with danger.

    National Trends--Voters in the west are among the last to weigh in with their ballots. Most will vote late in the day, after the polls have closed in the eastern two-thirds of the nation. If the Republicans surge there beyond expectations, that outcome may discourage Democrats here. If Democrats keep more seats than previously expected, that hope may discourage Republicans who have not yet voted here.

    There you have it. Keep your eyes on these five elements and you may know well in advance of the 8 PM close how your candidates are doing. And even if you're not paying attention, you can bet that the various campaigns will be, that's for sure. 

    Happy voting.