California provides an illustrative example of the complexities of interpreting early returns. According to data gathered by the Atlas Project, a private Democratic consulting firm, 43 percent of California early voters have been Democrats, while 39 percent have been Republicans. Considering the Democrats’ current 44-31 registration advantage in the state, the GOP appears to be outpacing its share of the electorate, while Democrats appear to be staying home. Then again, in the 2006 early vote — a great year for Democratic candidates — each party drew 41 percent, a performance that was below Democratic registration and well above the Republican share.It’s important to add a bit more context here. The last midterm was indeed good for Democrats nationwide –- but here in California, Arnold Schwarzenegger won 56 percent of the vote. True, downballot Republican candidates did not fare nearly as well, but Schwarzenegger had given them little aid. Whitman has been much more generous to the party and her running mates.