We Promised a Shahatit Accounting, So Here It Is; We Also Found That Familiarity With Harkey Breeds Comtempt




This was going to be your Weekend Open Thread, but I’ll come up with a new one, because this can stand by itself.

Orange Juice Blog promised you, in a moment of weakness and perhaps desperation, that we would follow up after the election with news of which jurisdiction within the County had the highest proportion of its voters supporting Nader Shahatit — and then we would reward the winner by writing a story about its role in the election or a future one.

Well, we have a winner. Any guesses? Look under the photo of the only publicly available photo in the galaxy of Nader Shahatit for the result:

Nader Shahatit

The winner is: THE UCI CAMPUS PRECINCTS!  By a mile!

Area # Reg #Turn % Turn # BOE % BOE # Hark # Sha % Har % Sha
UCI.Campus.precincts 8054 1844 22.90% 1664 90.24% 276 1388 16.59% 83.41%

That’s right, the UCI Campus Precincts gave over 5/6 of their vote to Nader Shahatit in this election, soundly rejecting State Senator, accused crime-doer, possibly estranged wife of other crime-doer, and in any event now Board-of-Equalization-Member-elect Diane Harkey.

Those columns, by the way, show the area being tabulated followed by the number of people registered, the number that turned out to vote, the percentage that turned out to vote, the number that voted in the BOE race specifically, the percentage that voted in the BOE race specifically, and then the raw vote totals and percentages for Harkey and Shahatit.

I think that it’s fair to say that virtually no one actually voted for or against Nader Shahatit in this race: he didn’t campaign, nobody knew him.  This was pretty much “do you support Diane Harkey or don’t you?”  The default was, pretty much, to vote for Harkey — the only officeholder running, the only person with a ballot statement, the only name that would be recognized.  To vote for Shahatit, you’d have to (1) know who Harkey was (or at least her party, etc.) and (2) dislike what you know about her.  So this is a pretty good guide to where in the county people knew enough about Diane Harkey to oppose her.

My hypothesis — which I’m not really going to test here, but I’ll show enough work to give a head start to whatever UCI or CSUF Political Science student wants to finish the task — is that to know Harkey better was to love her less.  People in South County were more likely to be aware of her ethical problems.  They’d be more likely to vote for her than people in other parts of the county because South County is the most conservative and Republican region of the county, even if it it outdone in this respect by specific locations like Villa Park, Newport Beach, and Yorba Linda.  But their general tendency to vote Republican in this election would be less than in other elections, such as, say, State Treasurer.  (I don’t use Governor as the comparison point because the Republican nominee, some guy named Neel Kashkari, actually lives in South County.)  This could be reflected either in voted for Shahatit or in simply more voters skipping this race altogether.

So let’s take a look at the other areas where Shahatit got more than 50% of the vote (rounded off).  Coming in second place and a bit beyond: mostly various iterations of the City of Santa Ana, with a little bit of Anaheim and such thrown in:

Santa.Ana.Ward.2 10465 3674 35.11% 3355 91.32% 989 2366 29.48% 70.52%
Santa.Ana.Ward.5 7894 2921 37.00% 2690 92.09% 887 1803 32.97% 67.03%
Rancho.Santiago.CC.3 22485 8371 37.23% 7670 91.63% 2976 4694 38.80% 61.20%
Santa.Ana.Ward.1 12602 4567 36.24% 4233 92.69% 1653 2580 39.05% 60.95%
Rancho.Santiago.CC..1 23614 8762 37.11% 8062 92.01% 3289 4773 40.80% 59.20%
Santa.Ana.Unif.Schl.Dist 72270 27398 37.91% 25197 91.97% 10364 14833 41.13% 58.87%
Santa.Ana (overall) 94758 36735 38.77% 33625 91.53% 15031 18594 44.70% 55.30%
Santa.Ana.Ward.4 14518 5521 38.03% 5090 92.19% 2289 2801 44.97% 55.03%
Rancho.Santiago.CC..2 22849 8454 37.00% 7829 92.61% 3539 4290 45.20% 54.80%
69th.Assembly.District 136587 51107 37.42% 47007 91.98% 21783 25224 46.34% 53.66%
Santa.Ana.Coll.Imp.Dst.1. 107306 41695 38.86% 38130 91.45% 17792 20338 46.66% 53.34%
Anaheim.Union.H.S.Dst.1 23034 7935 34.45% 7323 92.29% 3635 3688 49.64% 50.36%
Santa.Ana.Ward.6 14499 5787 39.91% 5235 90.46% 2630 2605 50.24% 49.76%

This gives us an ideological ranking of the wards of Santa Ana on what we can call the “Shahatit Scale.”  Ward 2 (Martinez) was over 70% for Shahatit.  Ward 5 (Reyna) was over 67%.  Ward 1 (Sarmiento) was a tad under 61%.  Ward 4 (Benavides) was a tad over 55%.  Ward 6 (Tinajero) was about 49-3/4%.  Ward 3 (Amezcua) isn’t shown here, but it was 44-1/3%.

Before moving on, note something about turnout: Santa Ana turnout overall was a little under 39%.  Now look back up there at the UCI turnout: 22.9%!  And these were people who were highly aware and motivated, because they knew enough about Diane Harkey to oppose her.  What’s the story with UCI turnout?  Well, I’m told that there IS one — and I will be looking into it.  For now, just be surprised that UCI turnout was a dozen points below even the ward with the lowest turnout in Santa Ana.

Note also that, in every area noted above, if you came out to vote you were at least 90% likely to vote in the BOE race.

What city do you think came in second to Santa Ana in support for Shahatit?  Stanton?  Buena Park?  Nope — try Laguna Beach!  This South County City gave 47.31% of its support for Shahatit.  And it is the only city in Orange County — the only residential grouping of any kind other than Midway City, in fact — where fewer than 90% of the people who voted chose a candidate in this race.  It’s 89.24% vote total among those who filled out ballots — compared to 93.56% in adjoining Dana Point and 91.55% in Newport Beach — suggests that another 2-4% of its residents couldn’t bear to vote for Harkey, although they also wouldn’t vote for Shahatit.

Let’s get the Shahatit Scores for each of OC’s 34 cities, along with some of the larger or otherwise noteworthy, unincorporated areas — I don’t know why they don’t break down votes for Coto de Caza and Las Flores, but they don’t — and let’s compare them to the percentages that they gave to incoming State Treasurer Democrat John Chiang in his race against Republican Greg Conlon.  Chiang did about 9.4% better countywide than Shahatit.  I’ve put the names of the cities that Harkey has been representing in BOLD RED, other residential areas in or near South County in BOLD BROWN; and the averages for both the county and her 36th State Senate District in BOLD ORANGE.  Then, I took the difference between the Chiang and the Shahatit vote shares and subtracted 9.4% from it, to see if it was above (in BOLD GREEN) or below (in BOLD MAGENTA) the average county difference.  The lower the number, the better Shahatit did compared to his party’s Treasurer candidate — and the worse Harkey did compared to hers — in that area compared to the county as a whole.

I formulated this hypothesis BEFORE looking at the data, which I’ve done just now as I prepared this story.

UCI Campus: 83.4% Shahatit; 86.8% Chiang;  Difference = 3.4%, 6.0% below OC average

Santa Ana: 55.3% Shahatit; 65.8% Chiang; Difference = 10.5%, 1.1% above OC average

Laguna Beach: 47.3% Shahatit; 54.5% Chiang; Difference = 7.2%, 2.2% below OC average

Silverado: 43.4% Shahatit; 49.8% Chiang; Difference = 6.4%, 3.0% below OC average

Stanton: 43.2% Shahatit; 55.3% Chiang; Difference = 12.1%, 2.7% above OC average

Laguna Woods: 43.2% Shahatit; 51.1% Chiang; Difference = 7.9%, 1.5% below OC average

Irvine: 39.8% Shahatit; 50.7% Chiang; Difference = 10.9%, 1.5% above OC average

Anaheim: 39.2% Shahatit; 48.8% Chiang; Difference = 9.6%, 0.2% above OC average

Buena Park: 39.0% Shahatit; 49.6% Chiang; Difference = 10.6%, 1.2% above OC average

La Habra: 36.6% Shahatit; 44.5% Chiang; Difference = 7.9%, 1.5% below OC average

Costa Mesa: 36.4% Shahatit; 44.6% Chiang; Difference = 8.2%, 1.2% below OC average

Aliso Viejo: 36.2% Shahatit; 43.8% Chiang; Difference = 7.6%, 1.8% below OC average

Fullerton: 35.9% Shahatit: 45.5% Chiang; Difference = 9.6%, 0.2% above OC average

Tustin: 35.9% Shahatit; 44.8% Chiang; Difference = 7.9%, 1.5% below OC average

Dana Point: 35.7% Shahatit; 38.7% Chiang; Difference = 3.0%, 6.4% below OC average

La Palma: 35.4% Shahatit; 49.3% Chiang; Difference = 13.9%, 4.5% above OC average

Garden Grove: 35.3% Shahatit; 49.8% Chiang; Difference = 14.5%, 5.1% above OC average

Seal Beach: 35.0% Shahatit; 44.6% Chiang; Difference = 9.6%, 0.2% above OC average

Midway City: 34.9% Shahatit; 48.8% Chiang; Difference = 13.9%, 4.5% above OC average

ORANGE COUNTY: 33.8% Shahatit; 43.2% Chiang; DIFFERENCE = 9.4% = COUNTY AVERAGE

Cypress: 33.2% Shahatit; 44.8% Chiang; Difference = 11.6%, 2.2% above OC average

Los Alamitos: 32.7% Shahatit; 41.7% Chiang; Difference = 9.0%, 0.4% below OC average

Westminster: 32.1% Shahatit; 48.0% Chiang; Difference = 15.9%, 6.5% above OC average

Orange: 30.9% Shahatit: 39.5% Chiang; Difference = 8.6%, 0.8% below OC average

Laguna Niguel: 30.8% Shahatit; 38.9% Chiang; Difference = 8.1%, 1.3% below OC average

Huntington Beach: 30.0% Shahatit; 38.9% Chiang; Difference = 8.9%, 0.5% below OC average

Lake Forest: 29.8% Shahatit; 38.0% Chiang; Difference = 8.2%, 1.2% below OC average

Placentia: 29.8% Shahatit; 39.4% Chiang; Difference = 9.6%, 0.2% above OC average

36th STATE SENATE: 29.5% Shahatit; 36.8% Chiang; Difference = 7.3%, 2.1% below OC average

Laguna Hills: 29.2% Shahatit; 37.5% Chiang; Difference = 8.3%, 1.1% below OC average

San Juan Capo: 29.1% Shahatit; 35.3% Chiang; Difference = 6.2%, 3.2% below OC average

San Clemente: 28.8% Shahatit; 35.6 Chiang; Difference = 6.8%, 2.6% below OC average

Mission Viejo: 28.7% Shahatit; 36.9% Chiang; Difference = 8.2%, 1.2% below OC average

Brea: 28.6% Shahatit; 37.6% Chiang; Difference = 9.0%, 0.4% below OC average

Rossmoor: 27.8% Shahatit; 38.3% Chiang; Difference = 10.5%, 1.1% above OC average

Fountain Valley, 27.6% Shahatit; 39.9% Chiang; Difference =12.3%, 2.9% above OC average

R. Sta. Margarita: 26.4% Shahatit; 35.3% Chiang;; Difference = 8.9%, 0.5% below OC average

East Tustin: 25.2% Shahatit; 32.8% Chiang; Difference = 7.6%, 1.8% below OC average

Ladera Ranch: 24.6% Shahatit; 30.6% Chiang; Difference = 6.0%, 3.4% below OC average

Newport Beach: 23.1% Shahatit; 30.0% Chiang; Difference = 6.9%, 2.5% below OC average

Yorba Linda: 20.5% Shahatit; 29.4% Chiang; Difference = 8.9%, 0.5% below OC average

Trabuco: 18.1% Shahatit; 25.0% Chaing; Difference = 6.9%,  2.5% below OC average

Villa Park: 16.8% Shahatit; 24.6% Chiang; Difference = 7.8%,  1.6% below OC average

Emerald Bay: 15.7% Shahatit; 21.3% Chiang; Difference = 5.6%,  3.8% below OC average

At least two effects, clearly, are taking place here.  One is that cities with large Asian populations tended to be comparatively more likely to vote for Chiang than for Shahatit.  (And we can probably presume that these were votes for Chiang; his opponent Conlon didn’t have much presence here.)  The other is that the closer you get to Harkey’s home in Dana Point, the more Shahatit did comparatively better than Chiang compared to the county average — which, since Shahatit himself was driving almost no votes, is another way of saying that Harkey did worse than expected the more familiar voters were with her.

You expect a certain amount of statistical noise in any such sample, and as I’m not trying to spiff this up for research publication I’m just going to use a rule of thumb: less that 1% deviation from the Orange County average is probably just “statistical noise.”  That means that we can put both cities that exceeded the county average by less than a point (Anaheim, Fullerton, Seal Beach, and Placentia) and those that trailed it by less than a point (Los Alamitos, Orange, Huntington Beach, Brea, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Yorba Linda) in pretty much the same category of “roughly the same as the county average” in terms of how much better John Chiang did than Nader Shahatit.  As indicated, among this group only RSM is in or near South County.

Increase the range that you’ll consider “neutral” to 2.0 points away from the county average and you sweep in many more areas — some that exceeded the county average between 1% and 2% (Santa Ana, Irvine, Buena Park, Rossmoor) and some that trailed it by that amount (Laguna Woods, La Habra, Costa Mesa, Aliso Viejo, Tustin, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, East Tustin, and Villa Park.)   As you can see, as we expand his “neutral” area, we sweep in exactly one borderline South County city, Irvine, on the side where Chiang outperformed Shahatit relative to their county average and we now have eight cities — three borderline (in brown) and five in Harkey’s district — where Shahatit outperformed Chiang relative to their county average — which is another way of saying that Harkey underperformed her fellow Republican Conlon in these areas.

We’ll find some serious commonalities among citiies where Chiang outperformed Shahatit compared to their county average.  These include Cypress (2.2%), Stanton (2.7%), Fountain Valley (2.9%), La Palma and Midway City (both 4.5%), and Garden Grove (5.1%) and Westminster (6.5%).  None are in or near South County; all, if I’m not mistaken, have had significant growth in their East Asian populations (and, if not, then in their South Asian populations.)  This may also be why Santa Ana, part of which is considered within Little Saigon, is in the second category above rather than the first.)

What about the area where Shahatit outperformed Chiang compared to their county average — in other words, where Harkey did worse than you’d have expected?  Here’s the list: Laguna Beach (2.2%), Newport Beach and Trabuco (both 2.5%), San Clemente (2.6%), Silverado (3.0%), San Juan Capistrano (3.2%), Ladera Ranch (3.4%), Emerald Bay (3.8%), and Dana Point at a whopping 6.4%.  (I omit UCI because Chiang had so little room to increase his total there — what we call a “ceiling effect.”)  In her own State Senate District, Harkey underperformed Conlon, compared to the County average, by 2.1%.

You may say, “well, these are conservative areas, which would be less well-disposed towards Chinese than other parts of the county.”  Really?  Wouldn’t you expect that sort of prejudicial effect to be greater with a Muslim Iranian?

There are other possible explanations that would need to be rules out, which perhaps some enterprising social scientist will decide to do.  (Foremost among the to-do list would be to compare Harkey’s race to other races beside’s Chiang’s.)  But looking at all of that red and brown in the “Harkey underperforms” categories, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that those voters that knew Harkey best liked her, relatively, the least after you control for her Republican credentials.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)