Republicans Take San Diego’s Mayor Race Despite Obama Endorsement
Looks like an Obama endorsement isn't carrying as much weight as it used to carry. Alvarez got a last minute endorsement from the President, but to no good. No doubt the endorsement was to drive people to the polls on election day, Alvarez' strong suit.
Anyway back to my point: Not so fast Joel.
San Diego, and every other locality be it city, county, or congressional district, is unique. What works there will not work in other campaigns and it is dangerous to think it will. One mistake the pundit class tends to make is generating rules based on one or two specific instances and applying it across the board for elections and campaigns. It doesn't work that way.
Alvarez lost because he was not as good of a candidate as Faulconer, namely he was pretty young and inexperienced and also a close Filner ally. He didn't have the benefit of Obama at the top of the ticket this time, which has helped down ballot races in past elections. However, even with Obama at the top of the ticket in 2012, DeMaio lost to Filner by 53-48, where Obama won over Romney in the city by a larger margin. (City of San Diego, not County...) Alvarez also had name recognition issues, relative to his predecessor Filner, while Faulconer has been around a while.
The Democrats have a registration advantage in the city, but they haven't won the mayorship for a long time prior to Filner's election. Faulconer, like Jerry Sanders, is more of a "moderate" Republican and that works for San Diego. San Diego is not a socially conservative city, and a race that focused on socially conservative issues would have handed the race right over the Democrats. REALLY. This did not show a mandate for a fire and brimstone tea-party candidate to take over the party. REALLY.
1. The demographics of San Diego haven't changed THAT much since Filner was elected in 2012. One may think this would help Alvarez, but not that much more than it helped Filner who depended strongly on area south of I-8 for his support as Alvarez did. In fact, Filner was beloved in that area for his years of "help."
2. Some polls were wrong, but one poll was right. Pollster John Nienstedt at Competitive Edge had a 13% spread on the race, in Faulconer's favor. The others, not so much. "A new U-T San Diego/10News poll conducted by SurveyUSA [I call them SurveyLOL, this is why] shows Alvarez closing the gap in the general electorate. Alvarez's surge is contributed to a renewed political awakening of his base — voters who reside south of Interstate 8." PPP had them tied: David Alvarez holding a slight lead over Kevin Faulconer at 46/45. 9% of voters remain undecided with a little bit over three weeks to go until the election." Beware of listening to polls when they have a history of being WRONG.
3. Race wasn't a huge issue within the campaign but on the ground moreso. The strongly Hispanic I-8 corridor was an important battleground. Obama came in with an endorsement of Alvarez. Didn't matter. The unions spent around $4m , although Faulconer was endorsed by the coveted Police Officers Union. The fact is that San Diego has some serious financial problems and that, not race, is what people care about.
4. Early voting does matter and in San Diego it has for a long time. But rules for absentee ballots, early voting are different all over the country and some times it benefits the GOP and sometimes it doesn't. Again: early voting does not always favor the GOP. Obviously, "election day" is really a month long now.
5. San Diego County GOP has one of the best operations out there. And they did a great job, since conventional wisdom indicated Alvarez was going to have an advantage at the polls on election day, as opposed to the VBM folks. With all the sh!t talking of the "establishment," the "establishment" kicked ass in this election and rocked the ground game.
Congrats to Mayor Faulconer and Jason Roe et al. for running a great campaign.