A Look at the Attorney General race--Kamala Harris

November 3, 2010 at 7:56am







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 Bernardino, Riverside, Kings, and Yolo.  These counties are still counting.


I looked at the percentages remaining in each of these counties--San Bernardino 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 Bernardino (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 Bernardino 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.


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.








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 Bernardino 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 Bernardino (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!








With 99.2% reported, there is only Riverside awaiting some precincts to be counted.  The final San Bernardino 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 16,000-20,000 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.







With 100% reported, Kamala has a 14,838 vote lead.  This is good news and a fairly strong number, but there are probably 800,000-1 million outstanding ballots to be counted.  Stay tuned as counties begin to sift through these.









Since the afternoon, another 24,578 votes have been counted, and Cooley went from 14,838 behind to just 9,040 votes behind.  That means that Cooley beat Harris in these ballots (assuming 8% went to other candidates) 58% to 34% (approximately 14205 to 8407 votes).  So, while this might seem worrying, this must be ballots from a county or from counties that were disproportionately pro-Cooley (since these come so close to the San Bernardino/Riverside numbers, they might be ballots added from those counties late in the day).  We can expect these kinds of swings for the next few weeks as different counties come in.  In general, Cooley did better in smaller counties than he did in larger counties (even the ones he carried), and these counties may be able to get through their ballots more quickly than some of the larger counties.  So, Kamala's lead is just 0.1% tonight, but expect this to go back and forth quite a bit, with the biggest jumps coming as the big counties, like LA, come in. 



There are a staggering amount of ballots still out there in some places.  News reports say that there are an estimated 400,000 uncounted ballots in Los Angeles, 135,000 ballots are uncounted in Santa Clara County (where 350,000 votes were counted from all precincts and early absentees--this means that 28% of the ballots are outstanding!), 100,000 in Contra Costa are uncounted, etc.  The outstanding ballots in Los Angeles may seem like great news, but remember that these ballots may not break as well for Harris as did election day results in Los Angeles, though they will be much closer to election day results than early absentee numbers from Los Angeles.  At a minimum, Harris should yield another 32,000 votes in Los Angeles.  Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa and San Francisco Counties probably have at least another 400,000 uncounted ballots, that should net Harris about 65,000 votes, since she did very well in these counties. 


On the other hand, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, and San Bernardino Counties went for Cooley by between14 and 30 points. There could be about 450,000 outstanding votes there.  Expect Harris to lose about about 85,000 votes when the extra ballots are counted from these counties, canceling out the impact of the more liberal counties listed above.  There are many other counties, so you can see how unpredictable this will be.  Tomorrow, I will try and find the numbers of some races over the years to see how much they shifted after the polls closed.


A FINAL NOTE ABOUT HOW MANY BALLOTS ARE LEFT (11:30 PM): So, looking at past elections, there are definitely a lot of ballots still out there.  These fit into four categories (thanks to the excellent Placer County Registrar for this info):

  1. Vote By Mail Ballots returned on election day to our office and dropped off at polling locations. These ballots do not arrive in sufficient time to be individually signature-verified, opened and prepared for tabulation on election night.
  2. Damaged Ballots that are unable to be processed through the election tally system and, therefore, must be manually duplicated prior to tabulation.
  3. Provisional Ballots issued at the voting locations on election day must be individually researched to determine eligibility and is a time consuming process. Provisional ballots are issued at polling locations when a person's voter registration cannot immediately be authorized.

     On election day, each voted provisional is placed in a special blue envelope so that they can be separated from the regular voted ballots. On election night they are transported to the tally center in Auburn, with all the other ballots. During the canvass period after election night, each provisional ballot is researched to determine eligibility of the voter. Since there may be several hundreds involved, it takes time to carefully check each one through the computer registration files. After the determination is made and if the voter is qualified to vote, their ballots are added to the overall total for the election.

  4. Write-In Ballots must be individually reviewed to determine if the write-in vote is for a qualified or unqualified write-in candidate and whether or not the voter also voted for a candidate listed on the ballot for the same office (i.e. overvoted the ballot.)  (from Placer County Registar: http://www.placerelections.com/what-happens-after-the-election.aspx)

So for the last general midterm election in CA in 2006, at 8am the morning of November 7th (the day after the election), 6.9 million votes had been counted, but on December 5th (the end of the 28 days period allowed to certify the other votes), 8.8 million votes were counted.  That said, we have already added hundreds of thousands of votes today, so while I predicted around 800,000-1 million additional ballots, there are probably more than that still outstanding.  That said, they will not be all counted.  On average, 12-18 percent of provisionals will be thrown out.  Ballots with write-in candidates for Attorney General won't affect the outcome.  And a high percentage of the damaged ones will be thrown out.  Since 2006, registrars in the state have become more efficient in counting absentee and provisional ballots, but there are still as many as 1.9 million+ ballots still awaiting assessment of which as many as 1.5 million+ will have valid votes that have an effect on the outcome.







I am looking everywhere for data to see what the difference between Election Day and final certified results are in past elections.  There is very little data and it is tough to get (will someone please do a study of this?). That said, I found two pieces of information.  First was from the recall election of 2003, in which the recall percentage was .1% more for the recall when provisionals and late absentees/VBM ballots were counted a month later.  In 2008. a similar percentage shift happened with Proposition 8, in which the Yes on 8 vote increased by 0.1% when these ballots were included.  So if we extrapolate that the ballots that are counted after the initial precinct vote are slightly more conservative voters, we could see the AG race shift by about 0.1%.  Since Kamala ended that vote 0.2% up, she should be able to hold on if this is a dependable trend.  I will keep looking for more information, especially looking for individual candidates as opposed to ballot measures to assess this hypothesis.  Good night.







So now that it is Thursday, some things are coming into focus.  I just heard on the radio a commentator saying how off-base the prediction of 9.5 million voters was, since only 7.6 million voters have been counted.  Looking again at the difference between the morning after election day and the final vote count in 2006, we can expect as much as 2 million extra ballots to be counted, making the 9.5 million prediction pretty spot-on.  I have been mining the Internet to see how much past candidates have changed between the results the day after election day and the final vote tally.  Here are two past scenarios:


In 2003, during the recall election, the top two candidates (Schwarzenegger & Bustamante) increased by 10.6% for Bustamante and 12.3% for Schwarzenegger.  While this might lead us to think that the more conservative candidate (Schwarzenegger) had an advantage in the provisional and late absentee ballots, look at the next two finishers, more conservative McClintock and more liberal Camejo, who saw their vote totals increase by 11.5% and 12% respectively.  This may mean that the provisional and late absentee votes are not necessarily more "conservative". 


A second case reinforces this.  During the 2006 Gubernatorial race, Schwarzenegger saw his vote total increase by 20.6 percent between the day-after precinct and early absentee count and the final certified count that included the damaged, late absentee and provisional ballots.  Angelides saw his vote increase by slightly more, however, from 2,787,531 to 3,376,732, an increase of 21.1 percent.  So in this scenario, the Democrat was not at any disadvantage and actually closed the gap slightly.


If we took the 2003 numbers and added 12.3% more votes to Cooley and 10.6% more to Harris (mirroring the Schwarzenegger and Bustamante numbers), this would represent a net gain for Cooley of about 55,000 votes, enough to turn around the roughly 15,000 vote advantage enjoyed by Harris at the end of the precinct counting handily. 


However, if we use the 2006 numbers, and give Harris Angelides post-election bump of 21.1% and Cooley Schwazenegger's 20.6% increase, we would see Harris win the entire race by 27,400 votes.


As you can see, we have little conclusive evidence one way or the other.  The recall campaign is most likely an outlier, but we will keep looking for more evidence to guide us.  I am very suprprised no one across the country has ever analyzed the impact of provisional and late absentee votes by party and voter proclivities.





With new numbers in with a late morning update, Harris leads Cooley by just 8,817 with 6,595,961 votes cast between the two top candidates.  Looking at the numbers, this is an update of just 549 votes (for the two candidates), but they went overwhelmingly for Cooley (386-163), so this must have come from a Cooley stronghold.





Another set of votes have come in and of the 9,873 votes for Cooley or Harris, they split 5,210 for Harris and 4663 for Cooley, adding 547 votes to Harris' column, so she is now up by 9,364.  If they come this slowly, I don't think I'll be able to keep these updates up :)





‎77,477 new votes from this morning in AG race for Cooley and Harris, broke 44-56 for Harris, boosting her current lead from 9,364 votes to 17,015 votes.  These votes come from Riverside, Ventura, Glenn, and Santa Clara counties.  Harris only won Santa Clara of these, with a margin of 55-37 (Santa Clara County has had about 400,000 voters so far).  As I note before, Riverside went for Cooley 55-37 (and has about 413,000 voters so far), Ventura went for Cooley 54-39 (about 220,000 voters so far) and Glenn went for Cooley 62-26 (about 8,000 voters so far).  This is good news, if Harris was able to pull in that many more votes with these counties.  This could be that they were disproportionately from Santa Clara (most likely), or that these particular voters were more for her, but the strong break her way probably means that they were mostly from Santa Clara.


The estimated remaining votes are available here: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/2010-elections/2010-election-information/november-2010/total-unprocessed-ballots.pdf and they tell this story: higher than I estimated above, an estimated 2,333,971 million votes are left to count, of which an estimated 1,723,643 (or 74%) are absentees, about 451,000 are provisional ballots, and the rest are damaged or write-in ballots.  By the way, this would make turnout higher-than-expected (remember it was going to be about 9.5 million, but if we add the 2,333,971 to the tally, we would get to over 10 million ballots cast).


These are pretty evenly split into Harris and Cooley strongholds.  Here's a quick run of the numbers:


If you take the counties that are about 50,000 and over in ballots remaining to be counted, they split into the following--

Harris strongholds--Los Angeles, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, which voted for Harris by 12-50 point margins; Cooley strongholds--Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Orange, Kern, Frenso, which voted for Cooley by 14-36 point margins.  Sacramento is the only large county with an almost even split in the vote (47% Cooley to 45% Harris).  If the remaining votes to be counted split by the current spreads in each of the counties, the 1.62 million votes in the large counties would yield 175,279 votes for Cooley and 166,532 votes for Harris.  This would give Cooley an additional 8,747 votes.  If the votes reflected more of an "election day" split (which Harris won by closer to 3%), then Cooley would get 172,650 votes and Harris would get about 169,030 votes, yielding a net of 3,620 for Cooley.


Now, there would still be about 700,000 votes to be counted in "smaller" counties.  Though you might think that these are more conservative counties, that is not necessarily the case.  While there are smaller counties that went for Cooley like San Joaquin (margin for Cooley: 48-41), Tulare (62-30), Shasta (62-27), Nevada (53-38), and Placer (61-30), there are also many smaller counties squarely behind Harris like Sonoma (margin for Harris: 57-33), Napa (50-41), Marin (62-31), Mendocino (54-32), Humboldt (50-37), Santa Cruz (62-27), Monterey (54-37), San Mateo (57-36), and Solano (50-41).  I think that Kamala went into the late absentee, damaged ballot, and provisional ballot phase with enough of a cushion to win this.  But her margin remains razor-thin, even in a victory.





Sorry for the delay--I had a long work day yesterday (congrats to the Bradley family on the dedication of a new Tom Bradley post office on Crenshaw, and Selma Avenue Elementary School in Hollywood on its centennial).  As folks know and as has been reported, Cooley has swung into the lead by about 22,000 votes.


Since late Wednesday, when Harris was up just 9,000 votes, about 661,000 votes from medium to large counties have been counted.  Of these, 323,000 are from Cooley strongholds--Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange (some 114,000 from here alone, which was a 61-31 margin for Cooley), San Diego, Fresno, Santa Barbara (at 48-43 for Cooley, a marginal stronghold), and Stanislaus counties.  Harris-leading counties added some 239,000 votes to the tally.  These counties are San Francisco, Los Angeles, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and Marin.  So about 84,000 votes came from Cooley strongholds.  Of these, some 76,440 votes on average would be cast for either Cooley or Harris and Cooley had a roughly 18-point advantage in these counties on average.  Thus, he should be expected to pick up about 15,000 votes, placing him about 6,000 votes in the lead.  Since he is 22,000 votes ahead, this means that Cooley did better than his election day average in the latest batch of ballots.


As I have said earlier, there will be wild swings in the votes for the entire duration of the counting, since they are only counted as they come in, and these can be very uneven depending on geography.  That said, the race moved definitively in Cooley's favor at the end of the week, but there are still more than a million and a half votes left to count (probably closer to 1.7 million) and these swings are the result of only the first 600,000 votes or so being counted after Election Day.  Stay tuned....





Cooley is now up by almost 37,000 after an additional 46,000 votes from Orange County have come in.  These are regular absentee ballots in a very strong pro-Cooley county, which should be about the best numbers that Cooley will get during this recount.  He picked up 68% of the votes going to either Cooley or Harris.  Since Orange County went 61-31% to Cooley overall, this is not necessarily bad news.  Think of it as the worst news coming first.  While there will be other bad counties, none will have as bad an impact as Orange County (especially its absentee votes).  If Harris' numbers are similarly strong in her counties (which they will be), this will still be a race in which she should have a slight edge, but all within a margin where it could go either way.


P.S. Thanks to Max Kanin, for his detailed analysis of the Orange County numbers in the comments, pasted in here:


"The Orange County Registrar's website claims that there are 94,955 ballots left to process and that they have processed 186,060 ballots thus far.


They break down their numbers this way:


Out of vote by mail ballots, there are 3,175 left to count, they have counted 95,720 ballots. Out of vote by mail ballots returned to precincts, there are 36,030 ballots left to count and they have counted 76,290. Out of paper ballots cast on election day, they report there are 10,950 left to count and they have counted 14,050 ballots. They claim there are 44,800 provisionals left to count (I have a feeling they are rounding) and they have not counted any. Unfortunately, Orange County seems to be alone in providing extraordinarily detailed information about what's left to be







The LA Times reports that the Secretary of State's web site is lagging the reported numbers by county.  I can assure you I won't have time to check out the numbers of th 58 counties in CA manually, so thank you to the LA Times for doing the counting.  The latest numbers that they cull (presumably) directly from the county web sites have Harris behind by less than the Secretary of State reports:


"As of 4 p.m. Sunday, the total vote reported by the state's 58 counties was 3,674,137 for Cooley and 3,647,682 for Harris."


This makes Cooley's lead 26,455 votes.  Since I do not know what counties these came in from, I cannot analyze them any further.  The LA Times reports nearly 180,000 more votes in than the Secretary of State's site.  Besides the crash on Election Night (caused by the web vendor used by the Secretary of State's office), we should be getting better information from their numbers than we are.


About 1.4-1.5 million left to count....





Make that 2.2 million left (according to Secretary of State estimates, updated late morning).  Of these, probably about 1.7/1.8 million are left to count that will have Cooley or Harris selected on them.  Cooley up 19,189, so Harris gained more than 7,000 this morning (I will analyze from where tonight).





So SoS web site has Cooley up 51,500 votes, a 0.6% margin, and Cooley's biggest lead since the end of Election Night.  Expect a bump for Harris when LA County reports later today (they are reporting on a Tuesdays and Fridays schedule).  

Yesterday's counties included San Diego and Ventura, both Cooley counties, but also some from Santa Clara, a Harris county.  LA County's numbers probably won't be high enough to erase Cooley's lead by more than about 10-15,000 today, depending on the number of ballots.  LA County will be releasing the count of most absentee votes that arrived at the precincts on Election Day.  Then the provisionals (more than 170,000) will start, with many of them reporting on Friday.  Expect LA to be mostly done a week or so from today.  By then, we should have a clear idea of a winner.  Orange and San Diego have very few ballots left, so I think Harris will end today or tomorrow with about a 15-20,000 deficit.


Also, Alameda has not reported an update since Friday and may release some more numbers today in what was one of Harris' best counties.  Their ranked-choice-voting excitement has caused a lot of resources to be diverted, but they should announce soon...





The current SoS stats have Cooley up by 43,000+ votes.  The LA bump did what we expected, with a bump of about 10,000.  Harris's gap was narrowed, but a 7:30 update widened it back to where we started yesterday.  While many of the votes came in from more conservative places, this is still a sizable gap and many of the votes came in from more liberal counties.  These should be the end of the VBMs prior to election day and the last VBMs and provisionals should be more for Harris, but by a narrow margin.  If the rest break at a 2% margin for Harris (she won election day by about 3%, but this factors in the VBM dynamic), Harris would gain about 25,000 votes in the remaining ballots, not enough to close the gap.  But since Cooley has gained so much in the last couple of days, she may gain as much as 4-5% on these remaining ballots.


Max Kanin's 8PM update last night was the best, so I will reprint it here from the comments section:


"I looked at the updates today. Harris only net gained 9,971 votes out of LA County. She also net gained only 322 in San Francisco. Cooley appears to have net gained 4735 votes in Sacramento County. However, ther was some excellent news ...today. Another 16k ballots were counted in San Diego County and Cooley was held to a net gain of 2570 votes. In Ventura County, Cooley was held to a net gain of 378 votes. Harris picked up a netgain of 5,285 votes in San Mateo County, 177 votes in San Benito County, and amazingly net gained 1276 votes in Orange County today!


What is striking about Orange County is where the ballots are coming from. 3185 of the ballots counted today were VBMs returned at the precinct on election day. 4,723 of the ballots were provisionals. And 1,343 of the balltos counted today were paper ballots. For whatever reason, they did not finish the 1,175 remaining regular VBMs. I wouldn't expect Harris to gain votes out of Orange County but I do think that the results bode well for her in that the new round of ballots counted today were those cast in some form on election day.


As for what's left to count in Orange County:3,239 Paper Ballots1,175 Regular VBMs12,763 VBMs returned at the precincts.37,139 Provisionals."


Look for Alameda County and Los Angeles to close this gap (some of LA's vote isn't on this morning's SoS web site), probably by about 15-20,000 votes.





Wow!  Looks like a big bump back in Harris' direction with Alameda and Ventura being reported on the SoS web site as reporting in today so far.  This takes Harris to less than 10,000 votes behind Cooley (9555 to be exact).  I'll try to see how much is left in LA and in some of the other big counties, and we'll have a better sense of that when the SoS puts out its Unprocessed Ballots Report at the end of the day. (http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/2010-elections/2010-election-information/november-2010/total-unprocessed-ballots.pdf)





Sorry for the radio silence--day job and all :)  So, it was a very exciting couple of days with Cooley's lead cut to under 10,000, then jumping up to almost 20,000, then Harris taking a lead again in the late Friday ballots (remember that LA County is doing late Friday and Tuesday updates).  Harris now leads by 5,576 votes (UPDATE: 3609 votes).  So here is the quick and dirty of what is left:


1. There are an estimated 900,000 votes left, so don't get too excited yet. 

2. Of these votes, the biggest chunk is in Los Angeles County--209,000

3. The next two biggest chunks are in San Diego (72,000) and Orange County (54,000).  Combined these are 126,000.

4. The other Cooley-leaning counties that still have at least 10,000 votes outstanding are: Kern, Fresno, Riverside, San Bernadino,  San Joaquin (a smaller Cooley margin), Butte, and Ventura (also a smaller Cooley margin).  These add up to a total of 172,886 more votes (combine with San Diego and Orange and you have about 299,000 votes in pro-Cooley counties)

5. The other Harris-leaning counties with about 10,000 or above votes outstanding are: Yolo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Napa, Monterey, Mendocino, Marin, Humboldt, Contra Costa, and Alameda.  Together, they have about 302,539 votes left, which together with Los Angeles means there are about 512,000 votes in pro-Harris counties.

6. The remaining votes are scattered in smaller amounts, some in pro-Harris counties and some in pro-Cooley counties.

7. I expect the remaining votes to break in Harris' favor by about 25,000 votes if they reflect the percentages in these counties on the day after Election Day.  But since there is ample reason to believe that the remaining votes (late VBMs and provisionals) will break a few percentage points more in Harris' favor, she could pick up an additional 2-5% of this vote, giving her another 4-10,000 votes.  This would leave Harris with a win of about 40-45,000 votes in the end. 


In conclusion, things are looking very good for the Harris camp.





From the LA Times last night:


"Updated numbers from several counties put Harris ahead by 3,609 votes.


Harris, the Democratic candidate, was buoyed by updated vote counts from several counties where she had outpolled Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, the Republican, on election day, including Los Angeles, Contra Costa, Marin and Santa Clara.


As of 6:30 p.m. Friday, Harris had 4,117,728 votes compared to 4,117,425 for Cooley, according to a Times review of website updates by all 58 counties.


[Updated at 8:25 p.m.: The numbers give Harris 4,131,847 votes to Cooley's 4,128,238.]

The secretary of state reported late Friday that Harris was leading by about 5,500 votes, but its count lagged more than 150,000 votes behind the most recent figures provided by each county."


That said, the SoS web site has only 4,083,742 votes for Harris and only 4,069,699 for Harris.  This would be about a 14,000 vote lead, but notice these are lower numbers of votes for both candidates than the LA Times' numbers, which should thus be more accurate.





Thanks again Max Kanin for an update on today (from my comments section on this note)--

"Most counties were not counting (or not updating) today but a few counties did update their numbers. Cooley net gained 2189 votes in Orange County today. Though going by the LA Times numbers, Harris would still lead statewide by 1420 votes. The good news is that Orange County is nearly done processing ballots. They estimate 11,089 left overall to process including:


175 Regular Vote By Mail ballots

4665 Regular Vote By Mail ballots returned at polling precincts

6,198 Provisional ballots

51 Paper Election Day ballots


Cooley was able to regain the lead last week largely on the strength of Orange County reporting its Vote By Mail ballots. But this week, the number of gains has dropped to a mere trickle. Harris has retaken the lead and there's not that much left to count.


Also, Harris gained 351 votes in San Francisco today. Cooley gained 77 votes in Ventura County today."





The Secretary of State web site now has more votes counted than the LA Times' analysis and has Harris at 4,094,756 votes and Cooley at 4,080,667 votes for a lead by Harris of 14,091 votes.  This is a difference of 1 voter among every 500 that voted.  Incredible.  Looks like the new votes came in from Nevada County today and there were votes from San Bernardino, Contra Costa, and Orange reported yesterday (Saturday).





 I missed a Secretary of State update at 5PM last night that puts the totals at 4,095,203 for Harris and 4,081,407 for Cooley, with Harris continuing to lead by almost 14,000 votes (13,796 to be exact).  These votes came in from Orange County, which accounts for why Harris lost about 300 votes among 1300 votes counted from there.





First SoS numbers of the day have Harris up now by 15,199 votes (4,100,656 to 4,085,457), so about 9,000 more votes and Harris picked up a lead of more than 14000 from those.  Expect this to be more of the trend as we move forward.  These votes came from Ventura, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties.  More provisionals than VBMs are now outstanding, and these will break for Harris most likely.





Jump for Harris--up by 31,483 (4,127,981 to 4,096,498).  These came at least partially from Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Del Norte, and Siskiyou.  Trends continue upward for Harris. 





So a the SoS web site has about 774,000 votes outstanding.  437,000 of these are provisional, of which about 85% will count.  There are 44,558 damaged ballots, of which about a third can be discounted.  With VBMs, that leaves about 693,000 ballots.  If you discount the percentage that didn't vote for anyone for AG and those who voted for someone else besides Harris and Cooley, you have about 610,000 votes left with a 31,483 vote lead for Harris.  The remaining votes that are going to one of them would have to break with a more than 5% vote margin for Cooley--highly unlikely, given both the county mix and the high percentage of provisional ballots, which will reflect Harris' 3% Election Day margin more accurately.  Expect Harris to win by 50-100,000 at this point.





Last night, SoS updated numbers and Harris lost a bit, but not much (4,138,170 for Harris vs. 4,107,173 for Cooley). She is still up by 30,997 votes.  They seem to have come from Colusa, Orange, and Riverside.  Expect a big bump by end of day or tomorrow morning, when LA's Tuesday count comes in.  She might be leading by as much as 40,000 or more by day's end.





So mid-day, Harris' lead had dropped to 18,064 when some smaller counties came in, together with Imperial, Ventura, and a couple of others.  Looks like some LA ones dropped around 3PM, giving Harris a boost back to 29,738 votes (4,189,949 for Harris versus 4,160,211 for Cooley).  There may still be an update later today.  Stay tuned....







Approximately 761,000 votes are left to count.  Of these, nearly 157,000 come from LA, but there are still a lot from both pro-Cooley and pro-Harris counties. About 600,000 of these will have a vote for either Harris or Cooley that gets counted.  Cooley will need to win by a 5% margin to tie things up, which is unlikely, given the geographic distribution and the later nature of the ballots left.






Harris up by 30,730 at the end of the day (4,203,346 votes for Harris versus 4,172,616 for Cooley). 672,000 left to count.  There are still a lot of votes left to count from Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego (about 185,000 in those counties), strong pro-Cooley counties.  Add in San Joaquin (a milder pro-Cooley county), and the big chunks of pro-Cooley votes add up to about 225,000.  LA is down to only 94,000 left, but combined with Marin and San Francisco, Sonoma, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Napa (146,500 combined), there are about 240,500 in pro-Harris counties.  Will continue to be a nail-biter, but Cooley now needs to win by a margin of about 6% in the remaining votes to close the gap.  This is still highly unlikely.



Max has a good detailed update and agrees with my conclusion:


"Fresno County: Harris + 84

Nevada County: Cooley + 2

Santa Clara County: Harris + 2626

San Diego County: Cooley + 371

San Francisco: Harris + 2185

Orange County: Cooley + 126

Riverside County: Harris + 138

Ventura County: Harris + 93

San Mateo County: Harris + 2799


Alameda County and San Mateo County have finished. The San Diego Registrar/County Recorder estimates that it has 27,000 ballots left to count. Orange County has 912 ballots left to process. This includes 72 Provisional ballots and 840 Vote By Mail Ballots dropped at election day precincts. There are 18,400 Provisional Ballots left to be processed in Riverside County. The next updates out of San Bernardino County, San Diego County, and Los Angeles County are scheduled for Friday.


Frankly, I think Kamala Haris has won this. I mean I don't want to jinx it and I'm unfortunately not great at mathematics/statistics. But I think the only question now is the margin. The small rural NorCal counties that went heavily for Cooley have mostly finished counting (and this week, the SOS website updated their numbers to include new returns). The few that haven't reported have small numbers to report at best. Provisionals, as expected, are breaking heavily in Harris's favor and she's winning them in Southern California counties that voted overwhelmingly for Cooley. Those counties have pretty much finished their counting of Vote By Mail ballots (which broke to him by far less than expected). The Central Valley counties that Cooley won big are pretty much the same story. Their Vote By Mail ballots did boost Cooley but by the same margins as before and the Provisionals broke to Harris. The Central Valley counties are pretty much done as well.


The only counties with significant outstanding totals are San Diego County with roughly 27k to count and Los Angeles County with 93k to count. With a 30k vote lead statewide, if every ballot in San Diego County went to Cooley, he'd still trail. And he's gained little in San Diego County. Yesterday, he net lost votes down there. And LA County has continued to move strongly in Harris's direction. While the number of votes left to count exceeds Harri's lead, I think statistically, it's almost impossible for Cooley to win at this point.





Early morning reports have Harris expanding her lead slightly based on new returns from Glenn County and possibly some late returns from yesterday from San Mateo and Riverside.  The current count is 4,220,378 for Harris to 4,187,683 for Cooley, a lead of 32,685 for Harris.









About 10,000 more votes reporting: 4,224,230 for Harris and 4,193,990 for Cooley--a lead of 30,240 for Harris.  These results seem to have come in from Calaveras, Colusa, Shasta, and Ventura counties.







Harris up 29,399 (4,245,849 to 4,216,450) with another 47,000 votes in from Sacramento, San Fancisco, Placer, Mono, and Alpine.





Harris up 29,406 votes with another 10,000 or so in (4,250,391 to 4,220,985).  Max has a mini-update from yesterday, which includes the stat that Orange County only has 464 ballots left, so my estimates (which have been based on the SoS outstanding ballots estimate (which is quite old for most counties) have been too big.  There are probably only about 200,000-220,000 ballots left (and possibly as few as about 130,000).


Here is Max's update: "An update to the Placer County website showed Cooley gaining 10256 votes. The update has been included with the SOS numbers but Harris still has just under a 30k vote lead. Placer County has finished counting and ...that this is their last update and the gain is relative to election day. Harris gained 46 votes in San Benito County, another 1164 votes in San Francisco County, and 314 votes in Stanislaus County. Harris also had a large gain out of Sacramento County today. Unfortunately, I lost track of the numbers and they updated very quickly. It seems like if my memory serves me correctly, she gained about 3000 votes today or so. Given how many Provisionals they had left to tabulate when they last updated, I'd have to believe that Sacramento County has either finished counting or is very close to the end. Cooley net gained 72 in Riverside County , 139 in Tehama County, and 92 in Orange County. Riverside County has 14,000 Provisional Ballots left to count. Orange County has 464 ballots left to count. Ventura County did not update today and I think they might be done (they've been updating even on weekends)."


That said, I am calling this for Kamala Harris.  There is no way (especially with the bulk of provisionals left coming from Los Angeles), that Cooley is going to see the last 200,000 ballots (of which only about 95% will have an AG choice, of which only 91% will choose either Cooley or Harris, and for the provisionals of which only about 82% will be counted, leaving a universe at best of around 142,000, of which Cooley would have to win these by 21%, which given the distribution, has less than a 1% chance of happening.


I know that those of you who have been following know that I have said a lot could happen and I have been wary to declare this one way or the other, but I have close to 100% confidence that she has won the race.  Even if the outstanding ballots are wrong and there are twice as many ballots hiding somewhere, Cooley would still have to win these by more than 10%, which there is a less than 2% chance of him doing.


Any news organizations with a statistician can run the same "odds of" formulas, and they usually declare with much less data than what we have, but I think they should declare this one today, pending the SoS' confirmation that there are less than 500,000 votes left to count and given the geographic distribution.


I would expect her final margin of victory to be about 40-45,000 votes, possibly as high as 50,000 if the remaining ballots are mostly LA.


Congrats to Kamala!  She is going to make a great Attorney General.  Congrats to Steve Cooley for a close race, but we can now wait for what the numbers unmistakably show, Kamala Harris will be the next Attorney General for the State of California!




Harris is up 33,484 at 1:50pm (4,260,135 for Harris to 4,226,651 for Cooley) with another 16,000 votes in, probably from Monterey County mostly.  Los Angeles votes if they come in on their own should put her above 40,000 votes, but will be counterbalanced from other places most likely.





Harris is up 43,040 votes after Los Angeles came in, as expected.  4,291,854 votes for Harris, and 4,248,804 for Cooley, so about 55,000 more votes were counted between 2 and 4 pm today.  Tehama, San Francisco, San Benito, Nevada, Los Angeles, Fresno, and Del Norte all reported new numbers during this period.  We will try and find out how many ballots are still out there at the start of next week.  Expect some numbers to trail in tomorrow.






This thread has been posted on the Daily Koz by Arthur Levine (thanks, Arthur): 



LA Times has good numbers (still more up-to-date than SoS web site)--in this morning's paper they say the following:


"Harris, the Democratic candidate, led by 42,114 votes, with 305,004 uncounted ballots left to be processed across California, according to a Times review of updated vote counts in all 58 counties. Of those ballots, 185,937 are in counties Harris carried on election day, and 119,067 are in counties that Cooley, the Republican, carried."  56,000 of these are in LA, the Times also says.


They also go on to say that "Cooley would have to win the statewide pool of remaining votes by about 13.7 percentage points to overcome Harris' lead."  This number is a little off, since about 80% of the remaining ballots will actually count (provisional and damaged percentages on average), only 91% of the votes for AG will be for Cooley or Harris, and there is a dropoff of folks who don't vote for anyone for AG.  That will bring the number of ballots that are counted for Cooley or Harris down to about 215,000.  With a 42,000 vote margin, Cooley needs to win by a 19.6% margin, not a 13.7% margin.  Either way, it's splitting hairs, since the odds of Cooley making a 13.7% margin is a little over 1% and making a 19.6% margin is well below 1%.  Thanks to the Times for better numbers than the SoS' web site.  Why the SoS counters can't do what one newspaper has been doing consistently is a little beguiling.


I'm surprised no media outlet has called this, but with it so close for so long, I guess they don't want to be the first to declare what is mathematically true at this point.  As I mentioned before, this is done with a lot less certainty (75-80% certainty in many cases) a lot on election night, but for some reason, not here.  Expect this to be called by Tuesday.  Then the maneuvering over methodology, consideration of recount, etc. will begin.





SoS site has Harris ahead by 42,513 votes (4,311,121 to 4,268,598).  Most of these are from Riverside, and Cooley did not gain, mirroring a trend we will continue to see.


Max's update in comments is much more extensive and detailed (thanks as always, Max!):


"Also, according to the LA Times report, it seemed that Cooley is hoping for updates in the Central Valley counties next week to give him the lead. I don't see where the votes would come from. We know that the following counties in the Cen...tral Valley have definitely completed their counts according to the SOS website:



Sacramento CountyStanislaus CountyKings CountyMerced CountyYuba County


Fresno County reports having given a final report on its county website. So does Yolo County (though I'm not sure if this is a Bay Area County or a Central Valley County). San Benito County (again, not sure if this is a Bay Area County or Central Valley County...maybe both) has also completed its count.


With the most recent update in Tulare County yesterday, I would think that they have completed their ballot count as well (they estimated 3350 ballots left to process on November 13th)).


The numbers of outstanding ballots in Kern County (10202), San Joaquin County (39,717) were given on November 8th. Both counties have both updated twice since that time. I admit that I don't have exact numbers but the amount of ballots that both counties have left to process is far less the reported numbers.


That leaves Madera County, which is still unchanged from election night on the SOS website and estimated on November 8th having 5806 ballots left to process. Their county website is unchanged as well.


Unless my geography is off, I think I've covered the Central Valley. Does anyone remember the SNL sketch from the early 90's, Da Bears? There's a great line from that sketch I remember that I think somes up this AG race: "The Bears have been technically mathematically eliminated but DON'T count them out yet!""





This race is over, and the numbers confirm it (another 50,000 votes in and Harris up 4,340,454 to 4,288,568, a 51,114-vote lead).  Not sure how many more there are left to count, but today's came in from Imperial, Los Angeles, Marin, Monterey, Orange, Sacramento, Santa Clara, and Ventura counties.  Talking to observers at county registrars throughout the state, the remaining ballots are mostly provisional ones where they are taking a second, third, or fourth look at them and trying to determine with they will count. 





Another 22,000 votes posted at the end of the day, giving Harris a 4,352,280 to 4,298,699 lead (53,581 votes ahead).  She should be able to finish in the 60-70,000 vote range at this pace, since these votes continue to break aggressively her way.  These late-day returns all came from Orange, Riverside, and San Diego, each of which is a Cooley stronghold, yet, she went up by almost 2,500 votes.




Quick update: Harris up by 53,756 (4,362,484 to 4,308,720) after about 20,000 more ballots.  Kern, Madera, Napa, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and Sierra counties reported new numbers today to SoS.





A few more numbers came in later yesterday which gave Cooley a couple thousand votes back in the margin, which now stands at 51,585 (4,376,509 to 4,324,924).  Mendocino, Riverside, San Diego, Tehama, and San Francisco counties were the source of these additional 30,000 votes.  SoS web site has about 150,000 votes outstanding in counties, though the number is probably lower than that, since the SoS site lags behind the county totals.  Even if there were that many votes left, I don't understand why no news source has called this race yet.  The biggest chunks are in Sonoma, Riverside, Fresno and Contra Costa.  Los Angeles has less than 5,000 votes left to count.  Cooley would have to win the remaining votes (if you pick the more generous SoS web site estimate) by a staggering 2 to 1 margin.  This simply isn't going to happen.  I'm sure if I ran the statistical probability of this, it would be less than a tenth of a percent likelihood of happening.  Time to declare this race media!





Cooley conceded the race this morning, based on the same analysis highlighted above.  I want to congratulate Kamala on a great victory and an incredible race and thank Steve Cooley for his commitment to public service and his recognition that a recount/ongoing fight serves nothing in the public interest. 


The latest SoS numbers show Harris with a 54,132 vote lead (4,387,651 to 4,333,519) with another 20,000 votes in this morning. 





New numbers from SoS show Harris up 58,224 votes (4,396,359 to 4,338,135 votes).  Cooley released this statement:


"While the margin is extremely narrow and ballots are still being counted, my campaign believes that we cannot make up the current gap in the vote count for Attorney General. Therefore, I am formally conceding the race and congratulate Ms. Harris on becoming California's next Attorney General.


"We started this campaign late but we won an exceptionally tough Republican primaryby a decisive margin. In the general election, we emerged as California's top Republicanvote getter and carried 39 out of the state's 58 counties. We also cut by more than half the margin of loss by the GOP ticket in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County. It was gratifying to have received the votes of over 4 million Californians.


"It is unfortunate that someone who is a non-partisan non-politician could not overcomethe increasingly partisan tendencies of the state, even for an office that by its nature necessitates a non-partisan approach.


"I take great pride in the fact that I received the endorsement of every law enforcement organization in this race as well as that of every major daily newspaper in California but one. I was particularly gratified to receive the support of so many fellow district attorneys. While my campaign team tells me that endorsements do not necessarily win elections - and the results confirm that - it still means a great deal to me on a personal level.


"I thank my supporters and my campaign team for all they did and the sacrifices they made during this past year. We had many old friends - and made many new ones across the state - who stepped up to help our campaign. My campaign team did an exceptional job guiding someone who had never previously thought of running for statewide office through two very difficult elections.


"I will complete my third term and finish my career as a professional prosecutor in the office where it began over 37 years ago. I take great satisfaction in being able to still work with the tremendous professionals who do such an outstanding job in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Los Angeles County as District Attorney with the same commitment and enthusiasm I have always demonstrated.


"The campaign was a fascinating and very positive experience. I advocated for the issues in which I believed in and proposed reforms California needs during these difficult times. I will continue to do the same as District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles."


The Harris camp then said: 


"District Attorney Harris thanks District Attorney Cooley for a spirited campaign and looks forward to working together on the critical public safety challenges facing California. The counties continue to tabulate votes, and District Attorney Harris believes it is only appropriate to wait until all the votes are counted before making a public declaration. She will be holding a press conference on Tuesday, November 30, the deadline for counties to report final counts to the Secretary of State."




Max Kanin wrote in the comments a couple days ago some great info:


"I'm glad Cooley finally conceded. But it's clear that he's been mathematically eliminated. There were at most 110000 ballots left to be counted. For what it's worth, Kamala Harris gained the following number of votes in the following counties today:


Los Angeles County: Harris+1473 votes

San Francisco: Harris+856 votes

Santa Cruz County: Harris+1946 votes

Solano County: Harris+1218 votes

Sonoma County: Harris+10674 votes

San Diego County: Harris+10674 votes

Riverside County: Harris+3 votes

San Bernardino County: Harris+491 votes

Monterey County: Harris+1726 votes


The only counties with ballots left outstanding (the only counties that haven't finished completing their counts are those who need to certify their results):


San Diego County: 500 ballots

Lake County: 5372 ballots

Contra Costa County: 16982 ballots

Humboldt County: 5919 ballots


By my count, that's 28773 ballots left remaining to count (with some stragglers here and there). The current lead for Harris on the Secretary of State's website is 58224 votes. That doesn't factor in a number of Harris's gain's today, where her lead is 71483 votes. Last week he was statistically eliminated. That much was clear. He refused to concede. But now he's been mathematically eliminated."