Even When They Lost, California Democrats Made Big Gains in Republican Districts

Check out this chart.

This year, the Democratic Party targeted 10 Republican-held California congressional seats it felt it had a pretty good shot at flipping. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in seven of these districts, including some reliably Republican ones Southern California. The decision to focus on those races partly paid off, though the final results aren’t in yet: three seats flipped, four stayed red, and three races are still too close to call.   

The results from those 10 districts already show that Democratic candidates improved their party’s performance across the board. In the seven decided races, this year’s candidates’ vote share was an average of eight percentage points higher than that of the 2016 Democratic candidates in their districts.

Democrats increased their vote share in all 10 of California’s hottest races


Some gains were impressive: Harley Rouda, who defeated Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, got 52 percent of the vote; the previous Democrat to challenge the 15-term incumbent got just 42 percent. Ammar Campa-Najjar also did 10 points better than his predecessor. The biggest jump was in the 22nd District, where Andrew Janz pulled in 12 points more than the Democratic candidate two years ago.

Though Campa-Najjar and Janz lost to Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Devin Nunes, respectively, their performance illustrates the gains California Democrats made in heavily conservative districts. The Democrats in the four races where Republicans retained their seats improved their party’s vote share by an average of 8.9 points. 

The three Democrats who have won their races (so far) expanded their party’s vote share by an average of 6.8 points. Based on the most current vote tallies from the California secretary of state, Democrats in the three uncalled races have outperformed their predecessors by an average of 5.7 points.

A more complete assessment of how well the Democrats’ California strategy fared could take a little while: The final results in those last three races may not be known until Thanksgiving

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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