House races across the U.S. began in Tuesday’s Midterm Election, with the GOP expected by 84% to retake Congress. However, with the Republicans needing 30 of the competitive seats to take control, and Democrats needing 53 competitive seats to stay in control, larger states like California have become extraordinarily important on Tuesday when it comes to House elections, with even President Joe Biden skipping over traditional battleground states to stump in California less than a week before election day.
According to the Cook Political Report, out of the 64 seats ranging from Leaning Republican to Leaning Democrat, 9 seats in California, according to current projections, are in play. When crossed with the aggregate projection site 538, those 9 House races either become more clear on who will probably win, or just becomes even more of a coin flip. Going through them in order, it’s a mixed bag for both parties.
CA-9 Congressman Josh Harder (D-CA) v. San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti
While the race is leaning D according to Cook, polls are showing Harder with a large lead. Patti, who, fun fact, was boxer Mike Tyson’s manager and coach for awhile, currently has an 18% to pull off a win, but did get a bit of a surge a few weeks ago like most GOP candidates. Still though, Dems are banking on this one going in and seem to have a decent shot.
CA-13 Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) v. Businessman John Duarte
This one is much closer, with Duarte making a strong push in the fall. Cook is calling this a toss up, with 538 giving Gray slightly favorable odds with a 67%-33% chance at winning. This is the seat that is worrying the Dems the most outside of SoCal, and they do not want to give up a seat in what is considered a bluer area.
CA-22 Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) v. Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)
For the longest time, Salas was poised to nab the seat from under Valadao, even with red wave support coming in. Then team Salas threw a hissy-fit over an ad and dropped out of a debate, dropping a car battery on his support. Cook considers this a toss up now in favor of Valadao, with 538 giving the Congressman a narrow 61%-39% edge. If Salas loses, he is really going to regret not going to that debate.
CA-26 Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) v. Lawyer Matt Jacobs
Once solidly for longtime incumbent Brownley, Jacobs has seen glimmers of hope with the fall GOP boost. Cook says this one is now leaning Democrat, but 538 is only giving Jacobs a 4% chance of winning. Not a complete wash like most races though, so if everything goes right for Jacobs and everything goes wrong with Brownley, we may see a big upset. Probably not, but crazier things have happened.
CA-27 Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA) v. former Assemblywoman Christy Smith
This is the third time this is happening for the good people of this Ventura County/LA County district. Smith lost both previous times. Ads are really going full throttle on this race, especially with Cook calling it a toss up. Dems really want this seat, as any any elephant outside the LA Zoo is seen as unwelcome in the County by them. Smith was looking like she would do it too, but then Garcia shot up in October in the polls and hasn’t looked back. Looking like a Garcia win, but a 67%-37% chance is pretty close still.
CA-41 Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA) v. lawyer Will Rollins
Pretty much a solid R Inland Empire District, this is only included because Cook is calling this as leaning Republican. 538 puts this race down as a Solid 95%-5% Republican win. Unlikely Rollins will or even get close really, but still technically statistically possible. Hey, a 16th seed has won in March Madness before. Once.
CA-45 Congresswoman Michelle Steele (R-CA) v. Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees President Jay Chen
Chen was doing ok in this Orange County race until about late September when a double whammy of a Republican surge and a new campaign highlighting Chen’s support of a Chinese backed institution threw his campaign off a cliff. Steele went from a 63%-37% split to a 81%-19% split very quickly. Cook is saying this leans R, with 538 saying likely R.
CA-47 Congresswoman Katie Porter v. former Assemblyman Scott Baugh
Once considered a shoo-in for Porter, a weakening economy and, you guessed it, a GOP October surge boosted Baugh considerably. Porter fell 8 points in only a matter of weeks, with the GOP pushing forward a lot of late ads. Cook now has this race as a toss-up, with 538 signaling Porter is likely to keep the seat. It all depends what the surge does, and even if Porter does win, a close election doesn’t bode well for her in the newly realigned district
CA-49 Congressman Mark Levin (D-CA) v. former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott
Another OC race long considered a Democratic shoo-in but now largely displaced due to Republicans making gains in the final weeks. Cook shifted the race from leaning Levin to toss up just last week. 538 still pins this as a likely victory for Levin, with an 82% chance compared to Maryott’s 18% chance. But the seat is now in play regardless.
Coming down to the wire
Political experts have said that if the GOP only gets 4 or 5 of these seats by the end of election day, it will help secure the GOP in Congress, although more would certainly be welcome.
“Between these races, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) poised to be the new House Speaker, the national GOP is starting to give more and more attention back to California,” explained Gina DeSimone, a Washington-based analyst who is focusing on close Congressional races in Western states in 2022, to the Globe on Tuesday. “They really haven’t given this much importance to Californian races for some time, but now they are critical. Even if all the GOP does is keep the seats it has, it still blocks the Democrats from taking over much sought after seats. And since California is on the West Coast, as results come in, it may be California that makes or breaks it for either party in terms of House control. It’s down to the wire on a lot of these.”
House race results are expected to come in beginning later tonight.
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