Friday Update: Assessing the changing DeMaio-Peters vote count

Barry Jantz Barry Jantz 40 Comments


Update: 5:00 p.m. Friday:

  • Scott Peters’ 50.27 percent yesterday increased to 51.25 percent today.
  • Raw votes are now at Peters with 92,410 and DeMaio with 87,919.
  • Peters’ 861 vote lead yesterday increased to a lead of 4,491.
  • Total ballots counted increased from 156,813 to 180,329.
  • Thus, that’s 23,516 additional ballots counted. Peters added 13,573 votes to his total. DeMaio added 9,943 votes to his.
  • That means Peters took over 57.7 percent of the additional ballots counted.
  • It’s estimated that between 10,000 and 18,000 votes remain to be counted in the district.

If it wasn’t clear yesterday, it clearly is now. Congratulations to Congressman Scott Peters.

Update: 6:00 p.m. Thursday: In the time since I posted the column below late this afternoon, the Registrar did indeed update the results:

  • Carl DeMaio’s lead with 50.26 percent changed to Scott Peters now leading with 50.27 percent.
  • Raw votes are now at Peters with 78,837 and DeMaio with 77,976.
  • DeMaio’s vote margin of 752 votes disappeared, with Peters now leading by 861 votes.
  • That’s a 1,613 vote swing in Peters’ favor.
  • Total ballots counted increased from 144,110 to 156,813.
  • Thus, with 12,703 additional ballots in the mix, Peters added 7,158 votes to his total. DeMaio added 5,545 votes to his.
  • That means Peters took over 56.3 percent of the additional ballots counted.

Those numbers do not in any way reflect good news for the DeMaio campaign. Tomorrow’s update, if the vote trends additionally in Peters’ direction, will mean we have answers to the questions posed at the end of my original post below. Many are calling it for Peters now. I can’t disagree with them, statistically.

5:00 p.m. Thursday…

With approximately 180,000 mail and provisional ballots left to tally county-wide, and maybe 30,000 to 45,000 of those in the 52nd Congressional District, where does this crazy Scott Peters vs. Carl DeMaio battle end up?

Let’s start with some political givens, as well as the direction the vote count took on election night.

Mail and “day of” ballots

In a partisan battle, so the adage goes, those who vote by mail tend to be older and more conservative.  Those voting on election day tend to be more liberal. This often correctly translates into a common belief that Republican candidates have an advantage among those who vote by mail, whereas Democrats fare batter with those voting on election day. This means something in a close race; in a blow out it’s meaningless.

Yet, what the adage doesn’t address is whether the level of advocacy on the part of the competing campaigns and/or any increased media attention on the race has changed any voting sentiments in any way between the time mail ballots started being cast — a month before the election — and election day itself.  We’ll get there in a bit.

Tallying the votes: Trends and voter sentiment

As a count progresses, although the typical thought is to look at raw numbers of votes (i.e. “DeMaio leads by 752 votes”), it’s so much easier to simply look at the leader’s percentage of the vote and how it changes, up or down.

Slightly after 8:00 p.m. on election night, the release of vote data based on mail ballots received showed Carl DeMaio with over 51 percent of the vote.

The DeMaio campaign and the Republican Party were not comforted in the least by an over two point lead. Many believed DeMaio would have to be ahead by over four points in this first count among mail ballot voters, as a buffer to what could very well be election day voters favoring Scott Peters.

The further interesting twist, in this case, is that the mail ballots were made up of a mix of those voting three to four weeks prior to the election and those ballots filled out and mailed in the last couple of weeks. Regardless of what anyone may think of the allegations-against-DeMaio storyline, it’s fair analysis to wonder if any of those voting by mail towards the end of that time frame were affected by the story in any way and thus less inclined to support the Republican. Even a small percentage of voters thus swayed could impact a close election.

Yet, no one could possibly know the motivating sentiments in those thousands of mail ballots, only that DeMaio’s lead was closer than might have been expected at the 8:00 p.m. mark.

Between 8:00 p.m. and about midnight, as “day of” ballots were added to the mix, the DeMaio number dropped from the initial over 51 percent, first to just below 51 percent, then to a hair-thin 50.17 percent of the vote (a couple of hundred votes, in raw numbers). This was with about 70 percent of the vote counted throughout the district. That kind of trend did not look good for DeMaio, especially with 30 percent of the election night vote to count.

A DeMaio Uptick

But then, a slight uptick as the count moved towards 100 percent of the ballots. The final election night update (1:08 a.m Wednesday and as it currently stands), has DeMaio at 50.26 percent (a 752 vote lead).

So, if election day votes are supposed to trend in favor of Peters, why the slight swing back in DeMaio’s direction between midnight and 1 a.m.? Geo-demographics, which only a wonk would notice, perhaps. At midnight, although 70 percent of the vote was counted district-wide, only 41 percent of the vote was tallied in the City of Poway, considered a more conservative DeMaio stronghold with other northeast areas of the district. A significant portion of the final election night vote likely consisted of areas that “leaned” DeMaio.

Where now?

So, where does the leader’s percentage go from here, up or down? Does the leader change from DeMaio to Peters along the way?

I’d like to leave it at “Who the heck knows!?” But any conjecture has to include an analysis of mail ballot voters.

The remaining ballots typically consist of two components. Late mail ballots are those walked into a polling place on election day, usually by those who just didn’t get around to mailing it on time. Yet, such a voter takes the responsibility seriously enough to ensure the ballot is still cast.

Provisional ballots are potentially problematic in some way and must be set aside for analysis by the Registrar of Voters office. For instance, often a provisional ballot is cast by someone having requested a mail ballot, but then instead shows up at the polling place to vote in person with no mail ballot in hand. Since the poll workers have the person listed as a mail voter, the Registrar’s office has to ensure a mail ballot wasn’t sent in first, with the voter subsequently attempting to vote a second time. Such individuals are of course allowed to vote, but their ballots are set aside. Once all such ballots reach the Registrar, assurances are made to ensure no duplicate ballots have been cast.

As noted, those who vote by mail tend to be more conservative. All things being “equal,” those who typically vote by mail will lean Republican, even if they requested a mail ballot and ultimately waited until election day to drop it off. Right?

Wrong. Or…well, the supposed political adages may very well end here.

Will mail ballot voters who waited until election day be reflective of the “leans more conservative” stripe, like the mass of those giving DeMaio an initial two-point lead? Or, since they likely waited until Monday or Tuesday to fill out their mail ballots on the way to the polls, will they in any way have turned a jaundiced eye towards DeMaio, at least partly as a result of negatives associated with the increased media coverage and political advertising in the final weeks of the campaign?

Who the heck knows!?

Track the count here, which could change at any minute tonight. Remember, this now starts with DeMaio’s 50.26 percent.


Comments 40

  1. This should not be overly surprising. In 2012, Peters turned a scant 600 vote election night lead into a 7,000 vote victory over Bilbray. Also, looking at this years tally: Governor Brown actually trailed by about 300 votes (San Diego County) election night and now leads by approximately 2,500 votes.

  2. “As noted, those who vote by mail tend to be more conservative. All things being “equal,” those who typically vote by mail will lean Republican, even if they requested a mail ballot and ultimately waited until election day to drop it off. Right?”

    Not the group DeMaio was targeting right? He is the New Republican that was aiming to appeal to new voters and independents. Meanwhile my email was bombarded by the National Organization for Marriage that wanted Republicans to vote for Peters. They were trying to target the social conservatives to reject the party’s new approach.

    So the question would be if the mail in Republicans voted the party line or were hardcore social conservatives that rejected the expanding party. I guess we’ll see.

  3. Sadly, it shows that we need to work on building a more cohesive and more disciplined team and we have not learned the lessons of the past.
    That is why we have a primary!!! and we should adopt the slogan:
    “The primary is for the agenda and the General is for the team.”

    We are not disciplined enough and it costs us elections.
    What bothers me the most is the failed logic of some of our most conservative friends that say that they can’t vote for Carl because of his stance on Marriage and Abortion. Guess what, that is the same philosophy as the Democrats, so its a tie on those subjects, tie-braker should go to Fiscal Conservativeness that Carl brought. I could see it if the Democrats had a Social Conservative but they didn’t and they don’t have one.

  4. Is it likely that a disproportionate number of yet-uncounted mail-in votes came from Coronado and/or Poway, as on election eve, so that DeMaio’s numbers will now shoot up again by enough to give him the victory?

  5. Since the number of absentee ballots received was roughly equal between Democrats and Republicans but those who turned in ballots early were predominantly Republicans, perhaps the simplest explanation is that the majority of those who turned in absentee ballots on election day (the votes currently being counted) were Democrats.

  6. “That is why we have a primary!!!”
    “The primary is for the agenda and the General is for the team.”

    Hector, agreed! I only wish the SDCRP agreed too. Instead the party decided to endorse before the primary. The SDCRP decided that the primary wasn’t for agenda, otherwise they would have just let the voters decide that. Thanks Tony!

  7. Yes, HQ, and independents. Reps’ mailed ballots, as a proportion of the total received going in to election day, stood at about ten points higher than registration, while Dems’ mailed ballots were fairly close to registration numbers. Decline to states were being mailed well below their registration numbers. So, even if Dem turnout was lower than Rep turnout (we’ll see on that one; I’m not so sure it was), it could be that the ballots left to count include more Ds and a higher proportion of indies then their registration. The lesson at the end could be that indies may have swung Peters, while some Reps sat it out.

  8. “The SDCRP decided that the primary wasn’t for agenda, otherwise they would have just let the voters decide that.”

    California doesn’t have primaries and hasn’t for the past two elections

    “Thanks Tony!”

    Your blame is misplaced. Over 2/3 of the Committee voted to endorse DeMaio. While I think our endorsement rules need to be overhauled, to endorse after all the candidates have pulled papers, RPSDC should tell voters who the candidate they overwhelmingly prefer is.

    Stated differently, blame the Committee rather than the Committee Chairman.

  9. Hector: Agree with what you said and I have said the same thing many, many times to the conservatives I talk with on a regular basis.

    Since appealing to certain groups happens in politics all the time, is there a reason why Carl couldn’t appeal to the social conservatives and moderate his views? This would have won back some of them, maybe enough to defeat Scott Peters. There are a lot of them and they are high propensity voters. But he didn’t do that. A big campaign strategy mistake in my opinion.

    Another thing. Carl allowed himself to be “Filner-ized” in this campaign, one of the worst things that could happen. The Dems trotted out not one, but two ex-Carl staffers to hammer Carl on sexual harassment. How do you fire these people and not settle with them and get them to sign mutual release documents? We do this in private industry all the time knowing that it needs to be done to keep ex-employees from bad-mouthing you to customers and the world in general. Apparently this was not done because they sang like birds. How many votes did that cost Carl? We need to learn from this.

  10. “California doesn’t have primaries and hasn’t for the past two elections”

    Pretty sure we do, it says Gubernatorial Primary Election right on the ballot. I’m guessing you’re talking about the top-two format. However, when you’re running against an incumbent who clearly will not be challenged by anyone in his own party, it result in essence the same situation as the old primary system. So again, I think it’s fair to say the SDCRP pushed the candidate they wanted on San Diego Republicans.

    “blame the Committee rather than the Committee Chairman”

    Yes, I’m sure Tony had no pull in securing those last couple votes needed to endorse. And I’m not sure I agree that I’d like RPSDC push on voters the candidate they want to win. I think that’s more the kind of thing that voters are probably better off determining themselves.

    But you are right, it’s not all on Tony. So thanks Central Committee! In a midterm where across the nation Republicans mounted huge gains (many in much more of Democrat strongholds), you managed to nominate such a flawed candidate that we weren’t able to get back what in hindsight should have been an easy seat to take.

  11. Definition: “A primary election is an election that narrows the field of candidates before an election for office. Primary elections are one means by which a political party or a political alliance nominates candidates for an upcoming general election or by-election.”

    For state legislative and higher offices (except President), we still have what is described in the first sentence. We no longer have the second.

  12. Timing is everything: Peters manager met with fired DeMaio aide: “The records — affidavits for eight search warrants police obtained for their investigation — show that in mid-June police had concluded that Bosnich was responsible for the break-in.”

  13. Why haven’t they prosecuted Bosnich and what is the recourse against Pintar and Peters? totally unethical!

  14. “Think horses, not zebras.” The late vote count in the Peters- DeMaio race tracks very closely with the late vote count (San Diego) between Brown and Kashkari. It really could be as simple as the late absentee voters broke overwhelmingly Democrat.

  15. As I noted above… Yes, HQ, and independents. Reps’ mailed ballots, as a proportion of the total received going in to election day, stood at about ten points higher than registration, while Dems’ mailed ballots were fairly close to registration numbers. Decline to states were being mailed well below their registration numbers. So, even if Dem turnout was lower than Rep turnout (we’ll see on that one; I’m not so sure it was), it could be that the ballots left to count include more Ds and a higher proportion of indies then their registration. The lesson at the end could be that indies may have swung Peters, while some Reps sat it out.

  16. Barry,

    My point was that we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on the effect that the sexual harassment scandal had because that certainly didn’t affect Kashkari. I think the more likely explanation for Peters’ late surge is that the Democrats had a better GOTV effort, just like they did in 2012 when Peters increased his lead by more than 6,000 votes with the late absentees and provisionals.

  17. I know Republicans that chose to send in their absentee ballots late and sadly they voted for Peters — the same way they voted for Filner. There is a part of our conservative community that is against the gay agenda and choice. We must find a way to unite. Carl is not a RINO and neither is Neel. We must find a way to unite conservatives well before the next election cycle. This pattern is getting old! I for one know we have the capability to stop arguing among ourselves and find the solution for the greater good of the Republican party.

  18. Many of these ads caused me to hit the mute button or change the channel. But there was one ad that worked for me. That was the Vietnam war vet who said that Peters helped him out, then revealed he was a Republican voting for Peters. It’s unfortunate that Demaio couldn’t get a Democrat constituent to say nice things during his time in the city council.

  19. The bottom line with Bosnich, the other guy that accused him of sexual harassment, and all the former staffers that threw DeMaio under the bus in the VoSD is that DeMaio couldn’t keep his house in order. If all those people are bad people, then Carl was wrong to put them on his team. If they weren’t (the more likely scenario), then the constant in all of these cases is Carl. Politicians who lead their teams earn victory and make it far. Those who don’t play Machiavellian games at county-level central committees.

    And another point. While the victories of Zane, Vaus, et al. were well fought and a bright spot, a great year for the RPSD they do no constitute. Ten years ago this committee celebrated congressional and assembly victories, including some key south county elections. Poway municipal/school elections were a walk, and there was a republican majority in Chula Vista. This year, the party laid everything out (again) for DeMaio, burned a ton of bridges, and came up empty handed on the big prize despite a Republican wave year. The only thing worse that could have happened is if we send a walking scandal to represent CD-52 in DC.

  20. Another point on the T.J. Zane “victory.” He finished second and earned a spot on the Poway Unified Board because he was endorsed by the Teachers’ Union, a fact that he proudly displayed on his campaign signs.

  21. Hypocrisy: Don’t be a bitter clinger, clinging onto your belief that Americans like the things you Democrats and Obama have done to the country. The country completely rejected you. Do you understand that? How do you spin this Hypocrisy?

    Leave Steve Vaus and T.J. Zane alone. They earned their victories. Be gracious enough to congratulate them on clean, well-run races.

  22. Elisa:
    “Carl is not a RINO and neither is Neel.”

    I certainly agree that Carl is not a Rino. You are also correct about Neel, he does not even meet the Rino Standard, he is to the left of that. Anyone who votes for Obama is certainly not a Rino, lol.

  23. Dan,

    I consider T.J. a friend and I do congratulate him and expect that he will be a great school board member. That said, the fact remains that he was elected, in no small part, due to the fact that he was endorsed by the Teachers’ Union. I can’t help it if that fact bothers you.

    As for your contention that country rejected the Democrats in this election, that fact is indisputable. However, the same thing happened in 2010 and we all know what then happened in 2012. I expect a similar result in 2016. What I really found fascinating about election night is that San Diego voters certainly didn’t reject the Democrats. In fact, a good argument could be made that, despite the national wave that was all red, San Diego had a mostly blue night.

  24. Hypocrisy: I don’t care who supported T.J. A Republican won. That’s all that matters.

    I think you’re a little delusional about the meaning of the national elections. We have treatments for that but they’re not covered by Obamacare. The country didn’t reject Democrats. It rejected Democrat policies of EPA overreach, IRS persecution of conservatives, people losing their healthcare plans and paying outrageous prices because of Obamacare, the government persecution of Christians, Hillary and Obama allowing the killing of the Ambassador in Benghazi, the inept handling of the Ebola problem, the Democrat incompetence in Iraq that led to ISIS, the coddling of illegal foreigners to the detriment of American citizens, and allowing Sgt. Tahmarossi to rot in a Mexican jail.

    As to the blueness of San Diego, Lori and Chris have won the last 2 City Council elections. Look at Escondido where Republicans swept every office. Even in San Ysidro, 2 Hispanic Republicans won school board seats. Looks kind of red to me Hypocrisy.

  25. TJ Zane’s didn’t get the endorsement from the Teacher’s Union we hate (CTA), his endorsement came from the ‘separate’ Union of Poway Teachers, that is a big difference.

    Congratulations TJ Zane!!!

    On a lighter note, how will sdrostra survive once the common core goes into effect? the new generation will not be able to answer 6+9=

  26. Hector,

    The “Union of Poway Teachers” (real name: Poway Federation of Teachers) is not a teachers’ union? That’s quite a creative spin especially since they are affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union in the country.

    And by the way, two of the three elected to the Poway Unified School Board, including the top vote getter, were Democrats.

  27. Dan,

    We will see what happens nationally in 2016.

    As for San Diego County 2014, its largest city still has a Democratic majority on the City Council, its second largest city now has a Democratic supermajority on the City Council, including a Democratic Mayor and the largest school district has a Board comprised entirely of Democrats as does the largest Community College District Board.

    The second largest school district just elected five new members and four are Democrats and the third largest school district has a Democratic majority on its Board for the first time in history.

    The only “charter city” proposition on the ballot was decisively defeated, the majority of school bonds were passed and the only tax increase (extension) on the ballot passed overwhelmingly.

    Today, however, is not a day for fighting fellow Americans so if you believe all of the above “looks kind of red,” I won’t disagree. I will simply wish you and all Rostrafarians a Happy Veterans Day.

  28. Dan,

    One other point: “Lori(e) and Chris” didn’t win the last two City Council seats. They did win two seats that were also won by Republicans in the previous election. However, in this election cycle, Democrats Myrtle Cole and David Alvarez also won seats on the San Diego City Council.

  29. Hypocrisy: No, that union hack Ed Harris won the temporary D2 seat. Also, Dan Sullivan just won the Senate seat in Alaska. Further proof that the Americans realize “Hope and Change” meant “No Hope, No Change”, and have thoroughly rejected the Democrats big government socialization of America.

    A sincere question Hypocrisy, with all the proof of bad results of Democrat policies, why are you still a Democrat? Big government never works, and never makes people’s lives better.

  30. This bickering and splitting of hairs is really boring. Lorie Zapf won election in a seat that was previously won in an election by a Republican. The temporary appointed office-holder is decided by the city council, not by the citizens.

  31. T.A.,

    My apologies. I will endeavor in the future not to correct easily refutable statements.


    The answer to your sincere question:

    Minimum wage laws, 40-hour work week, Overtime, Food safety, Clean air, Clean water, Anti-Discrimination laws, Work place safety standards.

    More recently (Since Obama took office); Stock Market up 150%, Millions more covered by health insurance, No (or at least few) American soldiers dying overseas for no good reason, Unemployment rate significantly lower than when he took office, U.S. is now a net exporter of oil…

    Do I need more reasons?

  32. One more comment on T.J. Zane’s election and what that means in terms of San Diegans embracing the Republican brand. The Republican Party endorsed two candidates for the Poway Unified School Board. One, Mr. Zane also had the endorsement of the teachers’ union and finished second, winning one of the three available seats. The other, Jeannie Foulkrod did not have the endorsement of the teachers’ union and finished dead last among eight candidates. And remember, this was in Poway, certainly one of the most conservative regions of San Diego County.

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