House races in the US began with Tuesday’s midterm elections, with 84% of the GOP expecting to retake Congress. However, with Republicans needing 30 of the competitive seats to take control and Democrats needing 53 competitive seats to retain control, larger states like California have become extraordinarily important in Tuesday’s general election, with even President Joe Biden skipping traditional battleground states to blunt in California less than a week before Election Day.
According to the Cook Political Report, of the 64 seats ranging from crooked Republican to crooked Democrat, 9 seats are in play in California according to current projections. When crossed with the aggregate projection page 538, these 9 house races either become clearer about who is likely to win, or just become even more of a coin toss. If you go through them in order, it’s a mixed bag for both parties.
CA-9 Congressman Josh Harder (D-CA) vs. San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti
While the race is leaning towards the D, according to Cook, polls show Harder has a large lead. Patti, who funnily was boxer Mike Tyson’s manager and trainer for a time, currently has 18% to back a win but has seen a small surge a few weeks ago, as have most GOP contestants. Still, Dems are banking on this one going in and appear to have a decent shot.
CA-13 MP Adam Gray (D-Merced) v Businessman John Duarte
This one is much closer and Duarte makes a strong push in the fall. Cook calls this a Toss Up, with 538 giving Gray slightly favorable odds with a 67%-33% chance of winning. This is the seat that worries Dems most outside of SoCal, and they don’t want to give up a seat in an area that’s considered bluer.
CA-22 Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) vs. Congressman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)
For the longest time, Salas was ready to take the seat from Valadao, even if Red Wave support arrived. Then Team Salas threw a fit over an ad and broke up a debate, with a car battery falling on his support. Cook now sees that as a throw in Valadao’s favour, with 538 giving the congressman a slim 61% to 39% lead. If Salas loses, he will really regret not going to this debate.
CA-26 Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) vs. Attorney Matt Jacobs
Once solid for longtime incumbent Brownley, Jacobs has seen glimmers of hope with the GOP boost this fall. Cook says he’s now leaning towards the Democrats, but 538 gives Jacobs only a 4 percent chance of winning. Not a full wash like most races, though. So if everything goes right for Jacobs and everything goes wrong for Brownley, we may be in for a big surprise. Probably not, but crazier things have happened.
CA-27 Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA) versus former Congressman Christy Smith
This is the third time this has happened for the good people of this Ventura County/LA County district. Smith lost both previous times. The publicity for this race is really high, especially since Cook refers to it as a Toss. Dems really want this seat because any elephant outside of the LA Zoo is considered undesirable by them in the county. Smith looked like she would too, but then Garcia shot up in the polls in October and hasn’t looked back. Looks like a Garcia win, but a 67% to 37% chance is still pretty close.
CA-41 Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA) v Attorney Will Rollins
Pretty solid R Inland Empire District, this is only included because Cook calls this a leaning Republican. 538 credits this race as a solid 95%-5% Republican victory. Unlikely for Rollins to really come close, but still technically statistically possible. Hey, a 16th seed has won in March Madness before. Once.
CA-45 Congresswoman Michelle Steele (R-CA) v. President of the Board of Trustees of Mt. San Antonio College Jay Chen
Chen was doing well in that Orange County race until around late September, a double whammy of a Republican wave 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 an 81%/19% split very quickly. Cook says this leans R, with 538 saying probable R.
CA-47 Congresswoman Katie Porter vs Former Rep. Scott Baugh
Once seen as an escape for Porter, a flagging economy and, you guessed it, a surge in October’s GOP propelled Baugh significantly. Porter fell 8 points in just a few weeks, with the GOP pushing many late displays. Cook now has that race as a toss-up, with 538 signaling that Porter is likely to retain the seat. It all depends on what the surge does, and even if Porter wins, a close pick doesn’t bode well for her in the realigned district
CA-49 Congressman Mark Levin (D-CA) vs Former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott
Another OC race that has long been seen as a Democratic shoo-in but is now largely supplanted as Republicans made gains in recent weeks. Cook moved the race from Levin to Toss up just last week. 538 still thinks this is a likely win for Levin, with an 82% chance compared to Maryott’s 18% chance. But the seat is still in play now.
Let’s get to the wire
Policy experts have said that if the GOP gets just 4 or 5 of those 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), who is poised to become the new House Speaker, the national GOP, California is beginning to draw increasing attention,” explained Gina DeSimone, a Washington-based analyst, which it is focusing on close congressional races in the western states in 2022 through the Globe on Tuesday. “They really haven’t given that much importance to the California races in a while, but now they’re critical. Even if the GOP only keeps the seats it has, it still prevents Democrats from taking the coveted seats. And since California is on the west coast, it could be California that makes the difference between success and failure for both parties when it comes to home control. For many of them it’s the wire.”
The results of the house race are expected to be available later in the evening.