March 18, 2004 Office of Strategic Information Services
Assembly Republican Caucus
KEVIN McCARTHY, LEADER
RUSS BOGH, CAUCUS CHAIR

Vol 4 Issue 38

 

 

CALIFORNIA 2004, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This Office of Strategic Information Services report analyzes some of the key factors shaping the political landscape. The landscape is favorable for Republicans. The most salient points are:

Registration Trends

  • Registration trends are favorable for Republicans. The registration gap between the parties stands at 7.65%, the closest since the early 1930s.
  • Over the past three years, Republicans gained voter registration in 21 of 40 Senate Districts and in 39 of 80 Assembly Districts.
  • Over the past three years, Democrats have lost registration in all 40 Senate Districts and in 78 of 80 Assembly Districts.

Public Opinion Trends

  • Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is very popular. His job approval rating stands at 65% approve and 19% disapprove.
  • George W. Bush's job approval stands at 47% approve and 51% disapprove.
  • In an early match-up, Kerry leads Bush 53% to 40% - nearly identical to Gore's 53% to 41% advantage over Bush at a similar juncture in 2000.
  • Bush has improved his numbers with Latinos. In 2000, he received 23% of their vote. Today, he gets 35% of their vote. This is a chief reason his overall support among Democrats rose from 8% to 11%.

Local Ballot Proposition Trends

  • Despite the passage of 80% of local school bond measures (53 of 66), fiscal conservatism was still alive and kicking on other tax and spending issues.
  • Holding the line against special interests, local voters killed 14 of 24 emergency services tax measures; 12 of 15 library tax measures; five of eight sales tax measures; and 13 of 23 school tax measures.

"Occasionally - once every decade or two - powerful California political currents merge to create whirlpool of intersecting conflicts that force voters to make some truly fundamental decisions about the society in which they live. This year may be one of those events." - Dan Walters - Sacramento Bee March 10, 2004

California is in the midst of a citizen revolution in its politics and policies. The accumulated problems of the past several decades are finally prompting the state's citizens to take matters into their own hands. The first manifestation of this was last October 's recall of Governor Gray Davis and the recent passage of Propositions 57 & 58. This November, voters will have even more chances to re-order state priorities.

CALIFORNIA 2004, SIS REPORT OVERVIEW

This Office of Strategic Information Services report is a strategic survey of California's political landscape. It summarizes the main trends in voter registration, public opinion and primary election results.

1. Registration Trends

The big story in voter registration is that the registration gap between Republicans and Democrats has closed to 7.65%. This is the smallest margin since the early 1930s. It is a result of Republican registration stabilizing at slightly over 35%, and Democrat registration dropping to barely 43%.

Statewide Voter Registration

  % Raw #
Democrat 43.20% 6,518,631
Republican 35.55% 5,364,832
Decline-to-State 16.43% 2,480,039
Other 4.82% 727,658
Total   15,091,160

State Senate

At the Senate District level, Republicans made registration gains in 21 of 40 Districts between 2001 and 2004. The biggest GOP registration gains were occurred in:

  • SD 16 (Florez-D) +4.2%
  • SD 12 (Denham-R) +3.4%
  • SD 32 (Dunn-D) +2.6%
  • SD 40 (Ducheny-D) +2.2%
  • SD 5 (Machado-D) +2.0%

Democrats lost voter registration in every State Senate District.

State Assembly

On the Assembly District level, Republican registration increased in 39 of 80 Assembly Districts between 2001 and 2004. The biggest GOP registration gains were made in:

  • AD 80 (Garcia-R) +5.3%
  • AD 62 (Open/Longville-D) +3.8%
  • AD 31 (Open/Reyes-D) +3.2%
  • AD 63 (Open/Dutton-R) +2.9%
  • AD 30 (Parra-D) +2.0%

Over the same time period, Democrats lost voter registration in 78 of 80 Assembly District. Their biggest 2001-04 losses occurred in:

  • AD 62 (Open/Longville-D) -5.3%
  • AD 63 (Open/Dutton-R) -3.7%
  • AD 80 (Garcia-R) -3.3%
  • AD 46 (Nunez-D) -3.1%
  • AD 4 (Leslie-R) -3.0%

These registration trends have led to Republican registration gains in critical Assembly Districts. While only three Democrat-held Assembly Districts had Republican registration of 36-40% in 2003, there are now five AD's with 36%-40% GOP registration.

Republican registration has increased in the following Assembly Districts since Summer 2003.

  • AD 17's GOP registration increased by 1.5%.
  • AD 30's GOP registration increased by 1.5%.
  • AD 31's GOP registration increased by 1.5%.
  • AD 54's GOP registration increased by 1.0%.
  • AD 80's GOP registration increased by 2.0%.


2. The State of the Presidential Race

President George W. Bush's statewide job approval is slightly below his national numbers. His statewide job approval stands at 47% approve and 51% disapprove. Nationally, his job approval is 50% approve to 46% disapprove.

Nationally, the Presidential campaign has settled into a classic red versus blue states contest. Michael Barone, US News and Fox News political analyst, noted how current state polls closely mirror the 2000 election results. For example,

State Current Poll 2000 Result
  Kerry Bush Gore Bush
Michigan 51% 45% 51% 45%
Pennsylvania 50% 46% 51% 46%
Nevada 49% 48% 50% 46%

The same holds true for California. In the recent LA Times poll, Bush trails Kerry by a 53% to 40% margin. This is nearly identical to how he fared against Al Gore in November 2000 - 53% to 41%. Yet, this finding does not tell the entire story.

When George W. Bush's 2000 results are compared to his current standing vis-a-vis John Kerry, several observations spring immediately to mind.

Bush has improved his numbers with Latinos. In 2000, he received 23% of their vote. Today, he gets 35% of their vote. This is a chief reason his overall support among Democrats rose from 8% to 11%.

Bush's main weakness is that Republicans and Conservatives have yet to rally to his cause. He is running 11% behind his 2000 showing with Republicans and 5% behind with Conservatives.

If George W. Bush solidifies his base to 2000 levels and keeps his vote with Latinos, the election becomes much closer very quickly. His vote would rise from 41% to 45% - within striking distance of winning California.

3. Primary Recap

This section is devoted to a brief analysis of the March 2nd primary.

A. Voter Turnout

  • 5,700,000 Californians cast ballots on March 2nd. This number will increase as late absentees and provisional ballots are counted.
  • The voter turnout, based on preliminary Secretary of State data, was 38%. This percentage will grow as late absentees and provisional ballots are counted.
  • The voter turnout by party was:
Voter Turnout by Party
Registration Voted T/O%
Total 15,091,160 5,666,117 37.5%
Democrat 6,518,031 2,736,108 42.0%
GOP 5,364,832 2,002,206 37.3%
Independent 3,208,297 927,803 28.9%

  • This turnout mix created an electorate that was 49% Democrat, 34% Republican, and 17% Independent.
  • Voter turnout will rise in the general election. It can be expected that an additional 3-5 million voters will cast ballots. The exact turnout will depend on how close the Presidential election is and whether any statewide ballot initiatives provoke massive public interest.

B. Assembly District Impact

Despite an electorate that skewed in favor of the Democrats by a 49% to 34% margin, Republican candidates out-polled or finished within a few votes of Democrat candidates in numerous districts. They include:

  • Guy Houston, who out-polled Democrat Elaine Shaw in AD 15 by a 7,943-vote margin (45,805-37,862).
  • Nicole Parra, who barely out-polled Republican Dean Gardner by a slim 322-vote margin (16,838-16,516), only 56 more votes than the 266-vote margin she defeated Gardner by in 2002.
  • Cumulative GOP vote in AD 44 was 25,714 votes, compared to 29,561 votes for uncontested Democrat incumbent Carol Liu.
  • Betty Karnette, who has represented AD 54's areas for most of the past decade, out-polled Steve Kuykendall, who has been out of elective office for three years, by only 1,501 votes.

C. U.S. Senate Primary

  • Bill Jones won the Republican U.S. Senate Primary with 44% of the vote. Rosario Marin finished in second place with 20% of the vote, Howard Kaloogian finished third with 11% and Toni Casey finished fourth with 7%.
  • The undecided vote broke heavily for Marin. She won 50% of late-deciding GOP primary voters, improving her standing from 8% to 20%.
BILL JONES - BEST & WORST PERFORMANCE BY SUB-GROUP
Top Five Bottom Five
Group Vote % Group Vote %
Statewide Northern CA 56.0% LA County 35.0%
44.0% Bay Area 51.0% So. CA 38.0%
65 Plus 52.0% $20-39,999 39.0%
Moderates 48.0% Women 41.0%
Less than college 47.0% 18-29 Olds 41.0%
Source: LA Times Exit Poll

D. Proposition 55 - School Bond

The vote for and against Proposition 55 (School Bonds) broke down along classic Conservative versus Liberal lines. Groups generally aligned with the liberal side of state politics - Liberals, Democrats, Blacks and Latinos, drove the "Yes" vote. On the other hand, opposition came from groups associated with the Conservative side, Republicans, Conservatives and Southern California.

PROPOSITION 55 - SCHOOL BONDS - BEST & WORST SUB-GROUPS
Top Five Bottom Five
Statewide Group Vote % Group Vote %
51.0% Blacks 68% GOP 66%
  Latinos 65% Conservatives 66%
  Liberals 65% Southern CA 56%
  18-29 Old 65% Non-Catholic Christians 54%
  Democrats 63% 65 & Older 54%
Source: LA Times Exit Poll

F. Propositions 57 & 58

Proposition 57 (Economic Recovery Bonds) and Proposition 58 (Balanced Budget) passed by overwhelming margins. Republicans and Conservatives drove the "Yes" vote on both measures. This is not surprising in regards to Proposition 58 (Balanced Budget), since it reflects core GOP and Conservative beliefs. However, 75% of Republicans and 71% of Conservatives supported Proposition 57, which is surprising. These groups tend to oppose bond measures - as shown by their strong opposition (66% to 34%) to Proposition 55 (School Bond).

How can this be explained? It was the "Schwarzenegger Factor" at work. Arnold persuaded these groups of the correctness of supporting Propositions 57 and 58. This trend can be seen among voters who decided in the final week of the election - they broke strongly for both measures. Here, the "Schwarzenegger Factor" defied the conventional wisdom that late-deciders break toward the "No" side on ballot measures.

PROPOSITION 57 - ECONOMIC RECOVERY BONDS - BEST & WORST SUB-GROUPS
Top Five Bottom Five
Statewide Group Vote % Group Vote %
63.0% Republicans 75.0% Gays/Lesbians 46.0%
  Conservatives 71.0% Liberals 55.0%
  Southern CA 69.0% Bay Area 56.0%
  Non-Catholic Christians 69.0% Democrats 57.0%
  Moderates 65.0% Blacks 58.0%
Source: LA Times Exit Poll

PROPOSITION 58 - BALANCED BUDGET - BEST & WORST SUB-GROUPS
Top five Bottom Five
Statewide Group Vote % Group Vote %
71.0% Republicans 79.0% Gays/Lesbians 59.0%
  Conservatives 76.0% Blacks 58.0%
  Non-Catholic Christians 74.0% Less than $20,000 64.0%
  Moderate 73.0% 30-44 Old 65.0%
  Whites 72.0% Democrats 65.0%
Source: LA Times Exit Poll

F. Local Ballot Propositions

  • California voters were in a disgruntled mood. Evidence of this anger was twofold.
  • Firstly, on tax and spending issues, voters killed 14 out of 24 fire/police/emergency services tax measures; 12 out of 15 library tax measures; five out of eight sales tax measures; and 13 out of 23 school tax measures.
  • Interestingly, though, voter anger did not carry over when it came to the 66 local school bond measures. Voters passed 53 of them, accounting for almost $8 billion worth of long-term fiscal burden, including Los Angeles Unified School District's $3.87 billion school bond (Measure R).
  • Secondly, on growth and land use measures, voters resoundingly rejected 12 out of 16 measures, including the anti-"Box Box" measure in Contra Costa County (Measure "L"), the "San Benito County Growth Control Initiative" (Measure G) and San Diego County's "Rural Lands Initiative" (Measure A).
MAJOR TAX & SPENDING ISSUE MEASURES
Sub-Issue Total Measures Number Passed Number Failed
Fire/Police/Emergency Services Special Property Tax Measures 24 10 14
Library Tax Measures 15 3 12
Local Bond Measures 4 3 1
Sales Tax Measures 8 3 5
School Tax Measures 23 10 13
Other Special Parcel Tax Measures 5 2 3
Transportation Tax 1 1 0
Transient Occupancy Tax Measures 10 8 2
Utility User Tax Measures 3 2 1
Other Tax & Spending Measures 5 4 1
Total 98 46 52

SCHOOL BOND MEASURES
Total Measures Number Passed Number Failed
66 53 13

GROWTH & LAND USE MEASURES
Total Measures Number Passed Number Failed
18 6 12

OTHER MAJOR LOCAL ISSUE MEASURES
Sub-Issue Total Measures Number Passed Number Failed
Annexation Issues 2 1 1
Local Officials - Appointment Process 2 2 0
Local Elections Process Issues 15 11 4
Local Fire & Police Issues 4 3 1
Local Fireworks Regulations 2 1 1
Miscellaneous Issues 13 13 0
Total 38 31 7

5. The November Landscape

A. The "Arnold" Factor

Arnold Schwarzenegger is very popular with the public. His job approval rating stands at 65% approve and 19% disapprove. He showed his ability to mobilize the public behind his agenda with the overwhelming vote for Propositions 57 and 58.

What Arnold is able to do is use his celebrity status to focus public attention on one or two issues and, thereby, making those issues the dividing line between the parties. Which issues he chooses will help determine what issues the public focuses on.

B. November Ballot Propositions

California voters will potentially have numerous statewide ballot propositions to choose from in their desire to shake up the public policy - from worker's compensation to establishing a new election system. They include the following listed below:

MEASURES QUALIFYING FOR THE NOVEMBER 4, 2004 GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT
Measure # Author Session Assembly Vote Senate Vote Subject
SB 1856 Costa 2001-02 59-16, 8/29/02 27-6, 8/30/02 High Speed Rail Bonds
SCA 1 Burton 2003-04 78-0, 1/12/04 34-0, 6/30/03 Expanded Public Access to Government Information
SB 2 Burton 2003-04 46-32, 9/12/03 25-15, 9/12/03 Small Businesses: Health Care Mandate (Referendum)

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT & STATUTE INITIATIVES IN CIRCULATION - 598,105 SIGNATURES
SOS Ref. # Circulation Deadline Subject
1009 4/12/04 Abortions for Minors: Parental Notice
1010 4/12/04 Three Percent Telephone Use Surcharge: Emergency & Medical Services Funding
1018 5/17/04 Abortions for Minors: Parental Notification or Judicial Waiver
1021 5/28/04 Stem Cell Research: Funding, Bonds
1022 6/1/04 Two-Thirds Legislative Vote & Voter Approval Requirement: Shifting Local Sales & Property Taxes to the State (CSAC, League of Cities)
1024 6/10/04 K-12 & Voluntary Universal Pre-School Funding, Tax Hike on Real Property and Income-Producing Commercial Residential Property
1027 6/24/04 Tribal Gaming Compact Renegotiation, Non-Tribal (Card Rooms, Horse Race Tracks) Gaming Expansion ("Gaming Revenue Act of 2004", Sacramento Sheriff Lou Blanas, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca)
1046 8/9/04 "The Indian Gaming Fair Share Revenue Act of 2004"

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT INITIATIVES IN CIRCULATION - 598,105 SIGNATURES REQUIRED
SOS Ref. # Circulation Deadline Subject
1004 3/4/04 Preferential Voting, Terms of Office, Redistricting
1014 4/29/04 Government Benefits: Driver's License Eligibility, Immigration Status & Identity Verification
1017 5/17/04 Optional, Private, Alternative K-12 School System
1020 5/24/04 Authorized or Kings Bible: Grade 1-12 Textbook Use
1023 6/1/04 Redistricting Reform (Ted Costa)
1026 6/18/04 Right-to-Bear Firearms (" The Self-Defense Initiative")
1031 7/5/04 "Local Taxpayers & Public Safety Protection Act"
1032 7/5/04 Redistricting Changes: Criteria/Methods, State Demographer Position: Creation, San Francisco Bay Area Regional Authority Board: Creation
1033 7/12/04 Unicameral Legislature
1034 7/12/04 Cities of Barstow and Oakland: Legalized Casino-Type Gambling, Pilot Basis
1036 7/19/04 Minor Girls, Abortions: Waiting Notice/Parental Notification
1047 8/13/04 "The California Budget Deficit Prevention Act" (John Campbell, Jon Coupal, Larry McCarthy)
1048 8/13/04 "Tribal Fair Share Act of 2004"

STATUTORY INITIATIVES IN CIRCULATION - 373,816 SIGNATURES REQUIRED
SOS Ref. # Circulation Deadline Subject
1006 3/4/04 State Agency Internet Website Posting: State Revenue & Expenditure Information
1011 4/16/04 Campaign Finance, Oil Severance Tax (Arianna Huffington)
1012 4/19/04 Sexual Offender Punishment & "Megan's Law" (Jay La Suer, Dennis Hollingsworth)
1015 5/13/04 Limitations on "Three Strikes"
1016 5/13/04 Unfair Competition Lawsuit Reforms (Allan Zaremberg, John Sullivan)
1019 5/21/04 Allow cities/counties to increase traffic violation fines in school zones.
1025 6/18/04 Workers' Compensation Reform
1028 6/28/04 STRS Retirement: Members Retiring At Age 55
1029 7/2/04 "DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime & Innocence Protection Act"
1030 7/5/04 Auto Sales: Right to Cancel Purchase, Seller Disclosures ("Car Buyer's Bill of Rights Act")
1035 7/12/04 Legislators: Denial of Salary for Being Present But Failing to Vote, 24-Hour Online Campaign Disclosure Requirement ("The Politician Reform Act of 2004"
1037 7/23/04 Identity Theft Protection: "California Privacy Protection Act" (Version #1)
1038 7/23/04 Identity Theft Protection: "California Privacy Protection Act" (Version #2)
1039 7/23/04 Identity Theft Protection: "California Privacy Protection Act" (Version #3)
1040 7/23/04 Identity Theft Protection: "California Privacy Protection Act" (Version #4)
1041 7/23/04 Identity Theft Protection: "California Privacy Protection Act" (Version #5)
1042 7/23/04 Identity Theft Protection: "California Privacy Protection Act" (Version #6)
1043 7/23/04 Identity Theft Protection: "California Privacy Protection Act" (Version #7)
1044 7/26/04 Workers' Compensation Reform: "California Jobs Protection Act" (Ted Costa)

INITIATIVES PENDING SIGNATURE VERIFICATION
SOS Ref. # Subject
1003 Children's Hospital Projects: Bonds
1005 Open Primary (Richard Riordan, Steve Westly, Garry South)
1007 Mental Health Services: Expansion & Funding, 1% Tax on $1 Million+ Incomes

INITIATIVES PENDING WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL
AG Ref. # Due Date to SOS Subject
SA03RF0002 3/3/04 "Workers' Compensation Reform & Accountability Act" (Joel Fox)
SA03RF0006 3/18/04 "California Home Rule Amendment of 2004"
SA03RF0011 4/5/04 "Local Government Property Tax Protection Act"
SA03RF0012 4/7/04 "California Scholarship Opportunity Act"
SA03RF0013 4/16/04 "Child's Day"
SA03RF0014 4/16/04 "The Thomas Lomax Taxpayer's Protection Act"
SA03RF0015 4/21/04 "Humane Economic Liberty Program for California"

Conclusion

When taken together these various trends portent a favorable environment wherein California Republicans can push their policy agenda.


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