Monday, June 24, 2024

California’s fall election could sway power in Congress. Here are House races to watch

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Days after ballots were cast in California’s midterm election, 10 of the congressional races deemed most at risk of flipping remained too close to call.

Those hotly contested races could determine control of Congress or, at a minimum, influence the margin of power. Republicans need to pick up a net of just five seats across the nation to gain a majority in the House of Representatives.

“It will absolutely come down to California,” said David Wasserman, a House campaign analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walter. “It’s the single largest cluster of races that are too close to call. It could remain that way for several days.”

For Democrats to have any hope of holding the House, they would need to oust GOP Reps. Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita or Ken Calvert of Corona, Wasserman said.

Rob Pyers, research director for the nonpartisan CA Target Book, said “the math looks bleak for Christy Smith,” a Democrat challenging Garcia in a northern Los Angeles County district.

“She has to win [nearly] 60% of what’s left and in past election updates, she’s never delivered that kind of performance,” Pyers said.

Other contests being closely watched are districts represented by Republican David Valadao of Hanford and Democrats Katie Porter of Irvine and Mike Levin of San Juan Capistrano, as well as an open seat in the Central Valley.

For many races, such as Porter’s and the open Central Valley seat, the result will be determined by the partisanship of late mail ballots. The speed at which ballots are counted varies wildly around the state. Some races might not be called until Thanksgiving, Pyers said.

The Cook Political Report, which has tracked House and Senate races for decades, had rated five of California’s congressional races as toss-ups and six as particularly competitive.

Ten of those remain in play after GOP Rep. Young Kim defeated her Democratic challenger, Dr. Asif Mahmood, in a largely Orange County district. The outcome was called by the Associated Press on Thursday evening, though final results will still take some time.

Five additional House races in California have yet to be called. Of those, two are guaranteed for the Democrats because only candidates from that party are running, and the other districts are not expected to change party hands.

Here’s where the key races stand:

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