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California’s June Primary

Independent Candidates Show 76% Improvement

Independent candidates in California’s recent primary election did far better as a whole than similar efforts in the previous three election cycles. Although a few of the candidates that icPurple endorsed for California’s first use of the new Top 2 Open Primary system were not successful in getting onto November’s general election ballot, our preliminary analysis shows some surprising and encouraging results. The vote share of the top independent and third party candidates against those from the major parties increased by over 76% compared to the averages in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 elections.

Office 2012 Results 2006-2010 Average % Change
US House 21.18% 12.01% 76.40%
CA State Assembly 21.24% 12.03% 76.60%
CA State Senate 10.50% 8.59% 22.19%

In order to get the comparison of voter preferences, we used the vote share in each of the general elections of 2006, 2008 and 2010.  These were compared to the vote share of candidates for the same offices in the 2012 open primary. Initially, this may seem to be an apples to oranges comparison. Typically, primary election voters tend to have a different profile, both more partisan and more activist.   They are also substantially outnumbered by general election voters. The path to this analysis requires making a few assumptions and comparisons that, while imperfect, do show what may be a significant shift in election behavior.

Since the Top-2 open primary is new, getting a comparison from the standpoint of voters is a challenge but, is also of great importance. To understand if independent candidates have a greater or lesser chance of success in this new environment, finding a way to compare 2012 with the past is critical.

This year’s open primary was the first time that voters actually chose from a combined slate of candidates from all potential parties and preferences.  In the past, the point where voters choose between Democrats, Republicans, independents and third parties has always only been in the general election.

The candidates included were those that were not listed as either Democrats or Republicans.  For 2012, party preferences were No Party preference (NP) as well as a variety of 3rd party candidates.  For the election cycles of 2006, 2008 and 2010, included party affiliations were either the various third party or independent candidates.  The order of each list was determined by their reported vote share in their respective elections. Use of relative vote share rather the number of votes helped to eliminate the variations caused by different district sizes and election turnouts. The data used for this analysis was sourced from the California Secretary of State’s website.

US House Races

Eight candidates for federal office achieved double digit vote share results in this past election, including three who made the Top 2 cut and are moving onto the general election.

In the 33rd Congressional district, Bill Bloomfield will running against Henry Waxman, in Congress representing much of this district since 1975. However, redistricting has changed the voter profile that Bloomfield and Waxman will be facing in November. While Democrats outnumber Republicans in the 33rd district by a substantial margin, NP or Decline to State registrations even the count. Despite having served the general region for 37 years, Waxman was unable to get 50% of the open primary vote and will enter a general election in which over half of the primary voters voted for someone else.

2012 Candidates Vote % Party District 2010 Candidates Vote % Party District
Bill Bloomfield 24.6% NP 33 Nicholas Dibs  8.4%  Ind  37
Christopher J Pareja 22.2% NP 1 Carlos Rodriquez  8.0%  Lib  28
David Hernandez 21.8% NP 29 Edward Rodriquez  7.8%  Lib  16
Anthony Vieyra  18.8%  Grn  35 Cecilia Iglesias  7.7%  Ind  47
Linda Parks*  18.5%  NP  26 Benjamin Emery  7.2%  Grn  4
Terry Phillips  17.5%  NP  23 Nill Lussenheide  6.3%  AI  45
Chad Condit*  15.0%  NP  10 David L. Miller  6.1%  AI  26
Marilyn Singleton  12.7%  NP  13 Mark Lambert  5.9%  Lib  42
Dick Eiden  6.7%  NP  49 Herb Peters  5.6%  Lib  36
Howard Johnson  6.4%  P&F  34 David Christensen  5.1%  AI  11
Top 5 Average  21.18% Top 5 Average  7.82%
Top 10 Average  16.42% Top 10 Average  6.81%
2008 Candidates Vote % Party District
2006 Candidates Vote % Party District
Nicholas Dibs 24.4% Ind  37 Herb Peters  17.60%  Lib  37
Christopher Agrella 18.2% Lib  38 Leland Feagre  17.0%  Lib  32
Cindy Sheehan 16.2% Ind  8 Camden McConnell  16.0%  Lib  7
Carol Wolman  8.5%  Grn  1 Gordon Michael Mago  8.5%  AI  35
Ted Brown  6.9%  Lib  27 Paul T. Ireland  7.7%  LIb  35
Tim Denton  6.6%  Lib  27 Krissy Keefer  7.4%  Grn  8
Robert Lauten  5.0%  AI  47 William Paparian  5.7%  Grn  29
Peter Myers  5.0%  Grn  15 Dan Warren  5.0%  Lib  4
L.R. Roberts  4.8%  P&F  5 Jeff Kravitz  4.3%  Grn  5
Steven Wells  4.6%  Lib  16 David Erickson  4.3%  Lib  25
Top 5 Average  14.84% Top 5 Average  13.36%
Top 10 Average  10.02% Top 10 Average  9.35%

*Received an endorsement and support from icPurple.

California State Assembly Races

Five elections in the primary produced double digit results for independent candidates, another big improvement compared to previous elections.

The standout in this field is Chad Walsh* from the Silicon Valley area. Up against an incumbent, albeit in a redrawn legislative district, the first-time candidate earned 46.5% of the vote and will face Assemblyman Paul Fong as a very strong challenger.

2012 Candidates Vote % Party District 2010 Candidates Vote % Party District
Chad Walsh*  46.3%  NP  28 John Paul Lindblad  21.6%  Grn  39
Mark Green  20.9%  NP  20 Cynthia Santiago  18.3%  Grn  51
Len Augustine  15.2%  NP  11 Gary Bryant  9.2%  Lib  3
Greg Laskaris  12.8%  NP  77 Daniel Costa  7.0%  P&F  9
Mike Meza  11.0%  NP  48 Paul King  6.4%  Lib  74
Pamela Elizondo  8.6%  Grn  2 Jane Rands  6.1%  Grn  72
John Paul Lindblad  7.5%  Grn  39 Peggy Christensen  6.0%  Lib  38
David Edwards  5.8%  Grn  1 T.J Campbell  5.8%  Lib  22
Charley Hooper  5.3%  Lib  1 Daniel H. Baehr  5.1%  Lib  76
Freddy De Leon  4.6%  NP  61 Paul K. Polson  4.8%  Lib  33
Top 5 Average  21.24% Top 5 Average  12.5%
Top 10 Average  13.80% Top 10 Average  9.03%
2008 Candidates Vote % Party District
2006 Candidates Vote % Party District
 Pamela Brown  14.76% Lib  40 Andrew Favor  26.6%  Lib  73
 Lucilla Esguerra  12.92%  P&F  48 Barry Hermanson  12.6%  Grn  12
Mark Hinkle  9.05%  Lib  27 Edward Ytuarte  9.8%  P&F  16
Paul King  9.05%  Lib  74 Laura Brown  7.8%  Lib  49
Maureen Keedy  8.23%  Lib  26 Steve Myers  7.1%  Lib  43
John Paul Lindblad  8.06%  Grn  39 Jill Stone  6.4%  Lib  59
Janice Bonser  6.93%  Lib  10 Peggy Christensen  5.7%  Lib 38
Timothy Hannan  6.6%  Lib  6 Michael Dell’Orto  4.7%   Lib 25
Michael Mendez  6.46%  Lib  61 Colin Goldman  4.7%  Lib  43
John Murphy  6.19%  LIb  74 Cat Woods  4.3%  Grn  6
Top 5 Average  10.8% Top 5 Average  12.78%
Top 10 Average  8.82% Top 10 Average  8.97%

*Received an endorsement and support from icPurple.

California State Senate Races

The small number of candidates not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties makes comparisons most difficult here. The average of the Webster and Ambrozewicz  vote shares yield an average greater than what has been seen in the last three election cycles. The low number of number of independent candidacies for this office makes a different point, highlighting the strength of the political parties.

2012 Candidates Vote % Party District 2010 Candidates Vote % Party District
John Webster  15.9%  Lib  13 David Ruskin  6.0%  Lib  28
Bogden Ambrozewicz  5.1%  NP  1 Ivan Chou  5.6%  AI  10
Kristi Stone  5.3%  Lib  38
Steve Torno  4.9%  Lib  6
Adrain Galysh  4.5%  Lib  20
Michael Metti  3.8%  Lib  36
Bob Weber  2.6%  Lib  26
Lanric Hyland  2.6%  P&F  6
Cindy Varela Henderson  2.3%  P&F  26
 Average  10.5% Top 2 Average  5.8%
Top  5 Average  5.26%
2008 Candidates Vote % Party District
2006 Candidates Vote % Party District
Steve Myers  7.7%  Lib  21 Brian A. Klea  25.60%  Lib  38
Marsha Feinland  7.6%  P&F  9 Pamela Brown  25.10%  Lib  20
Jill Stone  6.7%  Lib  29 Bud Raymond  10.90%  Lib  26
John Webster  6.5%  Lib  13 Murray Levy  3.7%  Lib  22
Colin Goodman  5.3%  Lib  23 Peter DaBaets  3.5%  Lib  28
Jesse Thomas  3.6%  Lib  39 Joe Shea  3.4%  Lib  36
Tony Munroe  3.1%  Lib  4
Jesse Thomas  2.9%  Lib  40
Robert Vizzard  2.8%  Lib  4
C.T. Weber  2.8%  Lib  6
Top 5 Average  6.76% Top 5 Average  13.76%

Top 10 Average  8.38%