There is no blue wave in California

Getty Images

Democrats need to gain 23 seats to win the House in midterms. They have been touting the fact that there are 10 competitive seats up for grabs in California, seven of which were carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, and are currently held by Republicans. Of those, four are in the traditional Republican stronghold of Orange County, where demographic shifts purportedly favor Democrats. Making the opportunity more ripe, two of those four Orange County races are open seats with the retirement of Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, two powerful House committee chairmen.

This week’s wild jungle primary, where the top two vote getters move on to the general, was supposed to be about the huge fields of Democrats vying for a rising tide of disgusted voters ready to send President Trump a rebuke. The only fear was that they might split the vote and be shut out of the runoff despite commanding powerful anti-Republican majorities.

{mosads}The fundraisers and pundits have been telling everyone, and donors in particular, that the path to the Democratic majority runs through California. By Election Day, they had raised and spent millions to try and capitalize on the opportunity. The media has been calling it a win for Democrats because they avoided being shut out of winnable races and will have a candidate in all 10 general elections in November.

That is a very shallow and self-serving conclusion to draw. The best predictor of the November results is to aggregate the Republican versus Democratic votes into a two-party contest. What the coverage has almost universally ignored is that there was no commanding blue wave of voters for the Democrats to unify and win in November. In fact, in nine of the 10 competitive races in California, the Democratic candidates were squabbling over decidedly inadequate pools of available voters, and the Republicans maintained their traditional majority advantages.

Here are the final results in those 10 races from Tuesday’s primary elections. In the 4th district, Republican Tom McClintock won with 52 percent of the vote, and the GOP on the whole earned 59 percent. In the 10th district, Republican Jeff Denham won with 38 percent, and the GOP earned 52 percent. In the 21st district, Republican David Valadao won the race against Democrat T.J. Cox with 64 percent of the vote. In the 22nd district, Republican Devin Nunes won with 58 percent, beating three Democrats and two minor party candidates with a combined 41 percent.

In the 25th district, Republican Steve Knight won with 53 percent, beating three Democrats with a combined 47 percent. In the 39th district, Republican Young Kim won with 22 percent beating a field of 16 candidates, and the GOP earned 54 percent. In the 45th district, Republican Mimi Walters won with 53 percent, beating three Democrats and a minor party candidate with a combined 47 percent. In the 48th district, Republican Dana Rohrabacher won with 30 percent, beating a field of 15 candidates including a challenge from a popular former Orange County Republican Party chairman, and the GOP earned 53 percent.

In the 49th district, where Issa holds his seat, there was a toss-up, and Diane Harkey won 26 percent. beating a field of 15 candidates, and the GOP earned 48 percent, while four Democrats combined for 50 percent with the highest, Mike Levin, getting 17 percent. In the 50th district, Republican Duncan Hunter won with 49 percent, the GOP earned 64 percent, and the highest performing Democrat got 16 percent.

With the clarity that only election results can produce, only one district in California appears like a possible flip. Even that is far from certain. The much vaunted rising blue wave of voters assembling to sweep the Democrats to victory in November turned out to be a blue mirage. If the path to winning the next majority runs through these 10 districts in California, it looks like the Republicans will hold the House, and the Democrats will be wandering in the political desert for another cycle.

Dan Palmer is a Republican donor and conservative political strategist. He served as executive director of United We Stand, planned the potential transition of Ted Cruz, and supported the campaigns of Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump. You can find him on Facebook @RealDanPalmer.

Tags California Congress Dana Rohrabacher Darrell Issa David Valadao Democrats Devin Nunes Donald Trump Duncan Hunter Ed Royce Election Hillary Clinton Jeff Denham Kevin McCarthy Politics Republicans Ted Cruz Tom McClintock

More Campaign News

See All
See all Hill.TV See all Video