OK, I get it. Today is May 22 and the primary election is still two weeks away, on June 5. You might ask how anyone can know anything about the election results so far. Fair question, but the fact is that mail-in voters have already started this election process. And although we won't know who any of them voted for until shortly after 8 p.m. on election night, we do know how many ballots have been turned in so far and who they came from.
Here's what we know, based on information compiled by Political Data Inc. and Redistricting Partners: In the 26th Congressional District, 7 percent of the ballots sent to the district's 151,515 permanent mail-in voters have already been returned. Of them, 40 percent have come from Democrats, 45 percent from Republicans and 11 percent from nonpartisans.
This suggests that, as expected, even though a plurality of district voters are Democrats, the primary electorate is likely to be skewed toward Republicans because of superior turnout.
The bigger the differential between the higher Republican turnout and the lower Democratic turnout, the more difficult the challenge will become for Democrat Julia Brownley to finish second, ahead of independent Linda Parks and the three other Democrats on the ballot. That is because Parks -- as a former Republican, someone well known in the GOP heart of the district (the Conejo Valley), and the only candidate other than Republican Tony Strickland who doesn't have the words "Democratic Party" beneath her name on the ballot -- is likely to pick up most of the GOP votes that don't go to Strickland.
Still, as the scenario tool created by David Maron that I posted here last month shows, Parks' challenge as an independent is steep. If the partisan breakdown of the early turnout were to hold, Parks would need to capture 35 percent of the Republican and nonpartisan votes and 22 percent of the Democratic vote in order to barely squeak by Brownley for second place behind Strickland. All of those numbers seem pretty ambitious for an independent running in a primary, because historically primary elections have been partisan affairs.