The blue wave failed to materialize in California’s “jungle primary” Tuesday, where candidates of all parties competed against each other and the top two finishers won spots on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
Democrats thought that the blue wave would run through California. But so far the wave has been blocked, if not sent on a detour.
That’s bad news for Democrats nationally, who saw the California primary as a litmus test for the Democratic Party’s prospects of picking up the 23 seats needed to take back control of the House of Representatives in the November election.
It is certainly possible that the Democrats will have major pickups in California House races this fall. But based off the results from Tuesday, it seems unlikely that it is going to happen.
"By no means can one rationally conclude that Tuesday was anything resembling a blue victory."
At the gubernatorial level, California Republicans avoided the doomsday scenario of having two Democrats securing the most votes – leaving them without a Republican at the top of the ticket in the general election.
Republican winner John Cox finished within 7 points of Democrat Gavin Newsom. Having a Republican candidate for governor of California on the ballot will be critical for Republican turnout this fall.
Moreover, when you combine Cox’s share of vote – which was undoubtedly boosted by President Trump’s endorsement last month – with fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen, you have a core constituency of 36 percent of California voters who will come out to vote.
It was also a good night for Republicans at the congressional level in California.
In the 22nd District, Republican incumbent Devin Nunes advances with 58 percent of the vote. This is remarkable, given harsh Democratic attacks against him because of his prominent role in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
And in the 10th District, Democrat Josh Harder is holding onto second place by a thread of less than 1,000 votes – making a Democratic shutout in the district a very real possibility once all of the votes are tallied.
Meanwhile, the Republicans avoided shutouts in every California congressional race Tuesday – including all seven of the hotly contested districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
In California’s 45th District, Republican incumbent Mimi Walters – who faced a crowded field of Democratic challengers – advances to November with a solid 53 percent of the vote.
Republicans similarly performed well in the 39th, 48th and 49th Districts.
Republican former state Assemblywoman Young Kim placed first in the 39th District, where combined Republican and independent candidates accounted for over 55 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, in the 48th District, Republican incumbent Dana Rohrbacher advances to the general election in a district where Republican, independent and Libertarian candidates secured 54 percent of the vote, while non-Democrats secured 49.7 percent of the vote in the 49th District.
And in each of these California districts, the Republican frontrunners head into the general election race with a clear advantage in finishing first.
To be sure, I am not suggesting that the Democrats’ chances of winning back the House are doomed. The midterms will be undoubtedly be competitive in the fall.
But by no means can one rationally conclude that Tuesday was anything resembling a blue victory.
And as they head into November with a solid arsenal of voter support and a Democratic Party that is deeply divided, Republican prospects are looking a lot rosier than they did heading into Tuesday’s primaries.