Democrats Avoid Chaos in California Primary

In the state of California the top two vote getters in the primary, regardless of political party, advance to the general election. Due to the large number of Democratic candidates in a number of Californian districts, there were worries that the top two vote getters would be Republican meaning no Democrat could run for the general election. With millions of additional funding from the Democratic National Committee, Californian Districts 39 and 48 nominated Democratic candidates Gil Cisneros and Hans Keirstead, respectively. Californian Democratic voters tended to nominate mainstream candidates for the upcoming District races according to a study by Adam Bonica, a professor of political science at Stanford University. Bonica reasoned that the “top two” system of open primaries in California contributed to the electorate’s likelihood to vote for mainstream candidates rather than left-wing activists; emphasizing tactics over ideology.

Primary Leaning
Political ideology leanings of California House candidates. Source: NYT

Democrats need at least 24 seats to retain control of the House from the Republicans, something they haven’t done since 2010. According to experts, there are three ways in which Democrats can take the House.

  1. Win districts Hillary Clinton won during the presidential election. Democrats have the opportunity to flip 23 districts won by Clinton during the 2016 election that are currently represented by Republicans in the House. On the other hand, Democrats will be on the defensive in 12 districts that voted for Trump in the election.
  2. Capitalize on retirements. For the upcoming midterm elections, there will be twice as many Republican incumbents retiring compared to their Democratic counterparts. This will be a bonus for Democratic challengers in these districts as
    Close Districts
    Districts up for grabs in 2018 midterm elections. Horizontal axis-2016 House vote margin. Vertical axis-2016 presidential vote margin. Source: NYT

    incumbents are more likely to be re-elected, known as the “incumbency bonus.”

  3. Target the districts where House races were closest. Only 30 districts in the 2016 House races were decided by less  han 10 percentage points, providing possible areasfor a Democratic win.

Source: The New York Times and Washington Post

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