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An Early Morning Look at Attorney General–Kamala Harris: UPDATED

Eric Garcetti: Kamala ended the night/early morning with a 40,382 vote lead statewide, with 96.2% of the precincts statewide reporting. This is only a 0.6% margin, but she is ahead. The outstanding precincts are located in four counties: San Bernadino, Riverside, Kings, and Yolo. These counties are still counting.

Will Kamala Harris be the First African American Attorney General

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While last night was a tough night for Democrats around the country, Californians overwhelmingly supported the Democrats who were running for our constitutional statewide offices. All the Democrats who were running were elected, with the exception of Kamala Harris, the Democratic candidate (and my dear friend), who this morning is ahead by a slim majority, with many votes outstanding. She had millions of dollars in independent expenditures spent against her, including money from outside California from groups affiliated with Karl Rove. We had an intense, grassroots campaign with a strong get-out-the vote component that helped Kamala not only stay competitive and bridge a deficit, but possibly win election as California's number one law enforcement official.

This morning, I took a close look at the numbers to see where Kamala is. Here's my take:

Kamala ended the night/early morning with a 40,382 vote lead statewide, with 96.2% of the precincts statewide reporting. This is only a 0.6% margin, but she is ahead. The outstanding precincts are located in four counties: San Bernadino, Riverside, Kings, and Yolo. These counties are still counting.

I looked at the percentages remaining in each of these counties--San Bernadino still has 38% of its votes left, Riverside has roughly 33% left to count, Kings has 8% left to count, and Yolo county has about 28% of its votes left to count. While extrapolating numbers from these counties is a speculative undertaking, I took the remaining vote expected to come in and divided those votes by the same percentages that Harris and Cooley split the votes in those counties. Cooley was stronger in three of these counties: San Bernadino (where he is winning by a 53-37 margin), Riverside (where he is winning by a 55-37 margin), and Kings (where he is winning by a 62-30 margin). In Yolo, Harris is winning by a 52-39 margin. I then counted the vote swings in each county if these percentages held for the outstanding votes and added together these vote swings. The numbers are incredibly close.

If these trends bear out:

  • San Bernadino will net Cooley approximately 25,280 more votes
  • Riverside will net Cooley approximately 16,332 more votes
  • Kings County will net Cooley approximately 700 more votes
  • Yolo County will net Harris approximately 1854 more votes

Put these together, and Cooley will pick up 40,458 more votes than he has now. Since the gap separating these two is 40,382, this would mean that Cooley would be up by 76 votes for the entire state of California! This would be a gap of .001% or one one-thousandth of a percentage point of the entire electorate.

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A couple of disclaimers and additional information. It is unlikely that the numbers will split exactly the way the projections I have made, since I have no information about the particular precincts in the neighborhoods or towns in these counties still have not reported. These can swing depending on the demographics, registration, etc. Secondly, there will be absentee votes still remaining to be counted and provisional ballots. Traditionally, absentees are a bit more conservative than election-day votes, but the absentees that usually are outstanding are ones that folks deliver to the polling place in person or that arrive on election day, and these tend to be less conservative than the absentees that arrive early. Provisional ballots are more likely to mirror the actual results, but can be unpredictable. Since Kamala was still pretty competitive on absentees (the first results of the night), this is going to be a nail-biter.

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard on the campaign--making phone calls, visiting voters, raising money, etc. It may be a couple of weeks until we know the outcome, but keep your fingers crossed.

8:12 AM UPDATE: With an additional .7% reporting, Cooley netted about 1700 votes (excuse my rounding). Harris is up by just 38,519 votes. If the remaining 3.1% was to yield the same trends, Cooley would gain another 7529 votes, leaving Harris still ahead by about 30,990 votes. HOWEVER, closer analysis shows that these votes came from Kings (now done), Yolo (now done and Harris' strongest county of the remaining ones), and Riverside primarily. That leave just San Bernadino and Riverside left. Riverside is trending slightly more to Cooley after the new numbers (55.5% to 36.5%). Crunching the earlier model, that would mean that if trends in those two counties hold, that:

  • Cooley should pick up another 25,280 votes in San Bernadino (unchanged from before)
  • Cooley should pick up another 9344 votes in Riverside

This would leave Harris finishing the count (before provisionals and outstanding absentees) with a lead of 3895 votes. While this would be an extremely close number (just .05%), it would be a better cushion than expected earlier. Stay tuned!

11:47 UPDATE #2: With 99.2% reported, there is only Riverside awaiting some precincts to be counted. The final San Bernadino numbers and the new Riverside ones must have come from slightly more pro-Harris (or less pro-Cooley) parts of the county, as Cooley only netted 16,220, instead of what would have been closer to 30,000 for Cooley. This is very very good news for Kamala. There are only 22,338 votes left in the state of California outside of absentees and provisionals.

With Kamala holding onto a 22,299 lead, she is assured of finishing ahead for this round. In fact, she should enjoy about a 18,000-20,000 vote lead at the end of counting. Now the longer wait for absentees and provisionals begin. These will come in in chunks this week and quite possibly next week as well, but we should be able to declare this race by the end of the week one way or another. Rumors about a big amount of Orange County absentees, the fire in Riverside that caused some problems, and Alameda County absentees abound, but they are just those, rumors.

Eric Garcetti
President, LA City Council

Disclaimer: These are early-morning calculations, done before Eric had to rush off to his day job at the LA City Council.