Bao Makes His Move — Deficit for CA-46 Runoff Spot Falls from 550 to 236, and Projections are Optimistic

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Alan Lowenthal and Bao Nguyen at the parade

Congressman Alan Lowenthal and Current Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen at 2014 Tet parade

UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE 46th District
Completed Precincts: 226 of 226
Vote Count Percentage
LOU CORREA (DEM) 27,734 41.7%
BOB PETERSON (REP) 9,652 14.5%
BAO NGUYEN (DEM) 9,416 14.2%
JOE DUNN (DEM) 8,252 12.4%
LYNN SCHOTT (REP) 5,741 8.6%
LOUIE A. CONTRERAS (REP) 2,482 3.7%
NANCY TRINIDAD MARIN 2,087 3.1%
RODOLFO RUDY GAONA (REP) 1,130 1.7%

How Much is Left to Count Countywide?

Total Ballots Left to Count

Total estimated number of ballots to count (after Election Day): 235,898

Total estimated number of ballots counted (after Election Day): 62,534

Total estimated number of ballots left to count: 173,364

Vote-by-Mail Ballots Left to Count

Total estimated number of vote-by-mail ballots to count: 58,000

Total vote-by-mail ballots counted: 58,000

Total estimated number of vote-by-mail ballots left to count: 0

Provisionals Left to Count

Total estimated number of provisionals to count: 61,370

Total provisionals counted: 0

Total estimated number of provisionals left to count: 61,370

Vote-by-Mail Ballots Returned at the Polls Left to Count

Total estimated number of vote-by-mail ballots returned at the polls to count: 91,500

Total vote-by-mail ballots returned at the polls counted: 4,534

Total estimated number of vote-by-mail ballots returned at the polls left to count: 86,966

Election Day Paper Ballots Left to Count

Total estimated number of election day paper ballots to count: 11,200

Total election day paper ballots counted: 0

Total estimated number of election day paper ballots left to count: 11,200

Eligible Vote-by-Mail Ballots received after Election Day Left to Count

Total estimated number of eligible vote-by-mail ballots received after Election Day left to count: 13,828

Total eligible vote-by-mail ballots counted: 0

Total estimated number of eligible vote-by-mail ballots left to count: 13,828

Analysis

The most striking thing here is that Bao has more than halved his deficit based on a category of votes that would not necessarily be thought to be good for him: absentee ballots.

Bob Peterson’s lead over Bao at the beginning of Election Day — we’ll actually use the 9:30 p.m. “Run 2” rather than the 8:00 “Run 1” of the numbers as the latter appears to have swept in a few more absentee ballots — was 1333 votes; the margin in raw numbers — all of them absentees counted before the end of Election Day — were 5,275 to 3,942.

The report at end of Election Day, the 1 a.m. report “Run 9,” had Peterson’s lead at 8333 to 7781, or 552 votes.  That was entirely due to ballots cast at the precinct, so that means that Bao exceeded Peterson on Election Day itself by a margin of 781 votes.

Wednesday’s “Run 10,” which seems to have been mostly mop-up work that hadn’t been completed the previous day — the final 4,000 precinct ballots and 15,000 more vote-by-mail ones, had Peterson’s lead down to 8,778 to 8,332, or 446 votes.

Thursday’s “Run 11” bumped Peterson’s lead back up to 9,214 to 8,715, or 499 votes.  That was after the addition of the final 234 precinct ballots countywide (a small percentage of which would have been in CA-46), 65 early ballots (one of them being my daughter’s, who voted in person before going off to a week of naval reserve training), and a little under 22,000 more VBMs.

On that basis, there was not much reason to expect big changes in Friday’s “Run 12” — in which almost 26,000 ballots were added.  As indicated above, this was the rest of the regular mailed-in-to-arrive-by-Monday-or-Tuesday VBMs and the first 4,500 of those turned in at the polls.  And now it’s 9,652 to 9,416 — or 236 votes.

The best explanation for this is that Bao “closed well.”  Peterson got a lot more early VBMs, which were counted early, and Bao got more late ones — perhaps from people waiting to decide between Bao and Joe Dunn.  (This suggests that the late pseudo-poll that arrived in the days before the election — which Bao touted and earned criticism from the Dunn campaign — may have made a significant difference.)

That leaves us with the question of “what’s next”?  I’m not sure of the order in which they will be counted — and there’s usually some overlap at the end — but this is what I recall from previous years:

FIRST: Continue with VBMs turned in at the polls: 86,966.  Probably about 10% in CA-46, which has fewer voters and usually lower turnout than our other districts.  (Note: there is data that would allow me to refine that and other estimates here, but I haven’t checked it yet.)  Let’s estimate 8,700 in CA-46.  These would, given today’s numbers, probably slightly favor Bao.

SECOND: Vote-by-Mail Ballots received after Election Day: 13,828.  My guess is about 2,000 in CA-46.  As late deciders, these would likely more strongly favor Bao.

THIRD: Election Day Paper Ballots — 11,200.  This is a weird category, composed of people who are paranoid about machines.  Could be Republicans, could be younger voters — let’s say about 1,300 expected in CA-46.

LAST: Provisionals — 61,370 left.  These should strongly favor Bao, to the extent that they are counted — I don’t think that Peterson voters are likely to be transient enough to be casting provisionals.  My guess is that about 1/6 will come from CA-46 — it has fewer voters and they turn out less, but when they do turn out they are more likely to have to vote using provisional ballots — so let’s estimate about 10,000 provisional ballots.  How many will be counted?  Anybody’s guess.

So that’s an estimate of about 22,000 ballots potentially left to be counted in CA-46.  Estimate that 70% of the provisionals will be thrown out, and that gives us 15,000 ballots.  Let’s presume that 40% — go to Correa.  That leaves 9,000 votes to be divided up among the other seven candidates.  Peterson won’t get many provisionals but should get ; Contreras, Marin, and Gaona won’t get likely much because they didn’t haven’t gotten much at all up until this point.

Can Bao advance by about 250 or more votes based on what happened today?  Let’s use today for our estimate.

Correa picked up 42.4% of today’s vote.
Peterson picked up 12.4%
Bao picked up 19.9%.
Dunn picked up 10.0%
Schott picked up  7.7%.
The rest picked up 7.6% combined.

The difference between Bao and Peterson in this tranche of votes is 7.5%.  7.5% of 9,000 votes — putting aside that Bao will outperform Peterson greatly in provisionals — is 675 votes.  If you instead compile votes starting from run 9 at the end of Tuesday’s counting, Bao’s advantage is only 4.4%.  That would change the estimate to 396 votes.  Of course, some of the assumptions spelled out above may be wrong — but even a more conservative assumption looks goof for Bao.

Orange Juice Blog isn’t say that Bao will necessarily win the second spot — but it we were the Associated Press, we’d already be calling it for him.  The portents are in his favor.


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.)