Exit poll: The down-ballot races

Voters in Ventura County cast ballots during a recent election. (Photo: Spirit of America, Shutterstock)

Will Orange County, along with its San Diego and Inland Empire neighbors, look a little bluer on Wednesday?

If so, is it a harbinger of things to come? Or is it just the impact of the Democratic presidential primary still being contested while Donald Trump has the GOP nomination wrapped up?

These are the questions raised by the down-ballot results of our absentee voter exit polling Here are the complete infographics for the Congressional, Assembly and Senate races.

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This polling, conducted by emails sent to voters who have returned their ballots, is not designed to predict the outcome in each race.  The fact is that absentee voters are, in some districts, significantly different than poll voters.  And these differences could be made greater if we have a surge of young voters on Tuesday.

Obviously, as we move into smaller jurisdictions, the sample sizes can be fairly small, which, as we have pointed out in other #CA120 articles, can taint the results.

In other words, take these results with a grain of salt. However, in most cases where we’ve had actual polling to compare to, we’ve found more similarity than not.

Are Democrats “peeling the Orange?”

Ordinarily, in Orange County and neighboring areas, we find Republicans well ahead of Democrats in the primary, even in districts that are competitive in November.

A case in point is the 65th Assembly District. In that election, then-incumbent Republican Chris Norby had only one challenger, Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva. Norby “won” the June primary by 18 points, 59%-41%. In a big November surprise (guided by some brilliant polling), Quirk-Silva ultimately defeated Norby 52%-48%.

After losing her seat in 2014, Quirk-Silva is running again in a one-on-one matchup with incumbent Republican Young Kim.  Our absentee vote exit poll has the two candidates tied.  Assuming it remains close, it stands in stark contrast to the primary four years earlier.

In the 29th Senate District, we find the combined absentee votes for Democrats Sukhee Kang and Josh Newman (both at 25%) equivalent to the vote for Republican Assemblymember Ling Ling Chang (50%).

More surprising is that Republican Sen. John Moorlach actually trails his lone Democratic opponent, Ari Grayson, in the absentee vote by two points (49-51).

At the Congressional level, in the 42nd CD, we find Rep. Ken Calvert entering election day only seven points ahead of Democrat Tim Sheridan. In the 45th CD, we see Republican incumbent Mimi Walters and her one GOP opponent combining for 53% of the absentee votes, while two Democrats combine for 47%.

Just a little further down the 5 (that’s ‘I-5’ to those up north), we find Rep. Darrell Issa in the 49th in a dead heat with Democrat Doug Applegate.  These results are far more compatible historically with general election turnout in these regions than the Primary.

In in the marquee race in that area, the 46th Congressional District, we find Democrat Lou Correa with a comfortable lead among the absentee voters with Democrats Joe Dunn and Bao Nguyen, and Republican Bob Peterson, all with an opportunity to finish in the top two.

Looking at this absentee vote polling in some hotly contested Congressional races:

  • CD 7 – Rep. Ami Bera (D) and Scott Jones (R) are in a near tie.
  • CD 8 – Rep. Paul Cook (R) is comfortably ahead, while Tim Donnelly (R) trails Rita Ramirez (D) by a small margin for second place.
  • CD 17 – Rep. Mike Honda (D) and Ro Khanna (D) are far ahead of the rest of the field.
  • CD 21 – Emilio Huerta (D) has a small lead over Daniel Parra(D) for a distant second place behind Rep. David Valadao (R).
  • CD 24 – Salud Carbajal (D) has a strong advantage in the absentee vote, with Katcho Achadjian (R) in second. It seems unlikely that Carbajal can be dislodged from first overall.  Achadjian is closer to third place Justin Fareed (R) and fourth place Helene Schieder (D) than Carbajal.
  • CD 25 – Bryan Caforio (D) has an advantage over Lou Vince (D) for second place to Rep. Steve Knight (R).
  • CD 44 –Isadore Hall, III (D) has a big lead while Nanette Barragan (D) and Ronald Siegel (R) both have an opportunity to finish second.

Among closely watched State Senate races:

  • SD 3 – Bill Dodd (D) starts with a lead while Mariko Yamada (D) will need to outpace the lone Republican in the field to finish second.
  • SD 11 – Scott Weiner (D) looks to have a big lead in absentee votes over Jane Kim (D)
  • SD 15 – incumbent Sen. Jim Beall, Jr. (D) leads comfortably in early vote while Nora Campos (D) is in a close contest for second with Republican Chuck Page.
  • SD 25 – Anthony Portantino (D) has a solid advantage over the other four Democrats to face lone Republican Mike Antonovich.
  • SD 27 – Janice Kamenir-Reznik has a small advantage over Henry Stern (D) to finish in the top two with Republican Steve Fazio comfortably in the first spot.

In Assembly races of note:

  • AD 4 – Republican Charlie Schaupp and Democrats Cecilia Aguilar-Curry and Dan Wolk are tightly bunched at the top.
  • AD 6 – Brian Caples (D) looks to have a small advantage over a group of three Republicans: Kevin Kiley, Christi Nelson and Andy Pugno.
  • AD 14 – Democrats Mae Torlakson and Tim Grayson and Republican Debora Allen are all close atop this field.
  • AD 24 – Marc Berman (D) holds a lead over the other Democrats and lone Republican Peter Ohtaki is second.
  • AD 26 – Devon Mathis (R) and Ruben Macareno (D) have an advantage over Rudy Mendoza (R).
  • AD 27 – Madison Nguyen (D) has a big advantage with Van Le (R) slightly ahead of Ash Kalra (D).
  • AD 30 – Anna Caballero (D) has a lead over Karina Cervantez Alejo (D). Two Republicans are evenly splitting the third place vote, making a Dem vs. Dem general election likely.
  • AD 39 – Raul Bocanegra (D) has a large lead over Asm. Patty Lopez (D)
  • AD 43 – Laura Friedman (D) has a solid lead with Ardy Kassakhian (D) in second and Republican Mark MacCarley within striking distance.
  • AD 47 – incumbent Cheryl Brown (D) holds a lead with Republican Aissa Sanchez and Democrat Eloise Reyes in a close race to finish second.
  • AD 48 – Cory Ellenson (R) leads while Democrats Blanca Rubio and Bryan Urias are in a very tight race for second.
  • AD 55 – Lone Democrat Gregg Fritchle has a lead while Republicans Phillip Chen and Mike Spence are in a close race for second.

    Ed’s Note: Pollster Jonathan Brown, a regular contributor to Capitol Weekly’s CA120 column, is the president of Sextant Strategies. Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., and Alan Nigel Yan, an intern from UC Berkeley, assisted with this story.

    In 11th graf, corrects identification of Ling Ling Chang as Assembly member, sted Senate incumbent.

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