With all the hype over the Joe Biden versus Bernie Sanders face-off during Tuesday night’s Democratic primaries, a dirty little secret for the Democrats was revealed in California, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to like it: nine seats currently held by Democrats in California look vulnerable enough that the GOP might grab them.
Keep two things in mind. First, these aren’t nine seats that are deemed “in play” through some election miracle. These are nine seats currently held by Democrats where Republicans have the upper hand based on analysis of Tuesday’s primary votes. Second—and this is very important to understand—with only one statewide ballot measure, the main draw was the Democratic presidential primary in which Republicans may not vote. That means that even without the draw of a presidential primary choice, nine seats showed Republicans either within striking distance or outright beating Democrats.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported, “Republicans took a strong first step in the primary election toward grabbing back at least some of the seven California congressional districts that Democrats flipped in 2018. With millions of late-arriving mail ballots still uncounted from Tuesday’s election, Republicans have so far combined for a majority of the votes in six of those seven districts. GOP candidates have solid leads in two of them.”
The Chronicle noted, “In Orange County, GOP candidates were winning a majority of the votes in three of the four targeted districts.” Fred Whitaker, chairman of the Orange County GOP, stated, “On Tuesday night, the waters of the blue wave began to recede … and Republicans showed that we will take back Orange County. The pathway to restoring the House of Representatives is through Orange County.”
Here was the data at the time of Rucker’s post on Wednesday:
District 7: Although incumbent Ami Berra garnered 44.5% of the total votes cast, and his Democratic challenger Jeff Burdick gained 6.6%, their total was not significantly ahead of the total of GOP candidates Buzz Patterson (38.9%) and Jon Ivy (7.8%), and that was with a heavy turnout for the Democratic presidential primary. Rucker noted of Patterson, a former carrier of the “nuclear football” for President Clinton and former Air Force Lt. Colonel, “If he can get some wind on his back, he has a strong chance of flipping the seat and beating the incumbent.”
District 10: With 58% of precincts reporting, Dem Josh Harder had 38.9% of the vote; GOP candidate Ted Howze had 38.2%. GOP candidates had a total of 56.3% of the vote.
District 16:Jim Costa (Dem) 37.5%; the GOP’s Kevin Cookingham 38.5%. Rucker noted, “Costa is clearly in trouble with his own base; this is the first time he’s faced other Democrats for his 16th district seat. It’s also the only time he’s come in second in the primary.”
District 21: David Valadao (GOP) 54.1%; Dems total; 43.1%.
District 24: Salud Carbajal (Dem) 51.8%; Andy Caldwell (GOP) 44.5%. Rucker pointed out, “The last two elections, Democrat Salud Carbajal has easily won CA-24, defeating his opponent by over 17-points in 2018.”
District 25: This is ex-Congresswoman Democrat Katie Hill’s district; the Democrat, Christy Smith, won 30.25% while the two GOP candidates, Mike Garcia and Steve Knight, won 27.4% and 20.4% respectively. (55% of precincts reporting)
District 39: In a rematch of the 2018 election, GOP candidate Young Kim won 52.4% of the cote, incumbent Gil Cisneros won 42.6%
District 45: Democratic incumbent Katie Porter got 48.1% of the vote; GOP candidates got the rest, 51.9%
District 48: Rucker noted that the incumbent, Harley Rouda, got roughly 10% less than the GOP candidates’ total.
District 50: The Democratic candidate, Ammar Campa-Najjar, got 34.4%; the three GOP candidates totaled almost 60%