Editor’s Note: With so much heat rather than light in the media world today, Liberty Nation presents the following series on the crucial midterm elections that will be taking place. These elections will likely determine the course of the Trump presidency and as such should be looked at with in-depth analysis. Thus, each week LN author Graham Noble will be giving our readers a state-by-state look at the upcoming elections. This week, he covers Arkansas and California.
President Donald Trump carried the state of Arkansas in 2016, with 51.3% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 36.6%. California, one of the bluest states in America, was won by Hillary Clinton by a margin of 61.7% to 31.6%. Even though Clinton lost the election, this was the largest margin of victory in that state for any Democratic Candidate or president since 2004, when John Kerry won 54.4% of California’s votes.
Neither of the two Republican Senators from Arkansas, John Boozman and Tom Cotton, are up for re-election this November. The state’s four Representatives, who are all Republicans, are not projected to face serious challenges in the midterm elections.
California has been moving steadily to the left since the early nineties. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry the state was George H.W. Bush in 1988. California’s Senior Senator, Diane Feinstein, has held her seat since 1992. Her current term ends in January 2019 but there seems little doubt that she will be re-elected in November. Feinstein does face a primary challenge from two progressive candidates but, as of this writing, but her seat is still considered very safe. Senator Kamala Harris won her seat in 2016 and her first term ends in January 2023. Harris is widely considered to be a potential presidential candidate for 2020.
Although California will not really be a factor in the race to control the U.S. Senate, it is the one state that may determine whether the Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives. Of the state’s 53 Congressional Districts, 14 are currently held by Republicans. Two Republican incumbents are not seeking re-election. Edward Royce, who represents the 39th district, will leave a seat that Democrats feel they could win. That district voted overwhelmingly for Clinton in 2016 and is one of seven Republican seats in California being targeted by Democrats in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is targeting Republican districts all won comfortably by Clinton.
Darrell Issa is also retiring from the House. His 49th district seat is not one of those considered vulnerable by most projections but it is on the DCCC’s list. The 48th district, represented by Dana Rohrabacher, is vulnerable; generally considered a toss-up or marginally Republican. Mimi Walters’ 45th district, which includes part of Orange County, went to Clinton by more than five points. It is not a safe seat for Republicans but neither is it considered a distinctly likely win for Democrats. Republican Steve Knight has represented the 25th district since 2015. Like Walters, his seat is neither safe nor is certain to flip Democrat. The remaining two Republican districts the DCCC hope to flip are the 10th, represented by Jeff Dunham and the 21st, represented by David Valadao.
There are no strong indications that Republicans will flip any California districts their way. Ultimately, the fate of the Republican congressional delegation may come down to voter turnout. Given the historical trend of the party in power losing seats in the first election after taking the White House – and given California’s leftward drift – Democrats could reasonably expect to pick up a seat or two in the state. Of course, the last two years have shown that normal trends and expectations are not necessarily guarantees of future outcomes.
Although a midterm landslide for Democrats in California is not altogether out of the question, failure to pick up at least two additional House seats in that state would, surely, be considered a bad sign for a party that is fired up but still struggling to reconnect with the average voter. If Democrats are unable to put up a strong showing in the bastion of west coast progressivism, where do they go from there?
Join us next week as our series focuses on House and Senate Races in Colorado, Connecticut, and Delaware.