The Republican Party in California has been on life support for quite some time. There are no elected Republicans in statewide offices. Democrats have held the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature for the last eight years, and in the 2018 midterms, the party gained supermajorities across the entire legislature. 2018 was also the second straight cycle where the U.S. Senate election featured zero Republicans on the ballot.
Now, Democrats are consolidating their dominance in the U.S. House. After this election, the GOP’s federal delegation is likely to be completely wiped out in one of the few strongholds in the state that it had left: Orange County.
Before the midterms, Orange County was represented by four Republicans and three Democrats. All the Democrats held their seats, and Republicans look set to be defeated in all four of theirs. Democrat Harley Rouda has ousted Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and Democrat Mike Levin’s win over Republican Diane Harkey for the seat occupied by former Benghazi whisperer Darrell Issa has grown to double-digits since the counting of mail-in ballots began.
Katie Porter, a former law student of Elizabeth Warren who shares the Massachusetts senator’s zeal for ending corruption, has taken a nearly 4,000-vote lead over Rep. Mimi Walters, who was in line to potentially be the next chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. While the race hasn’t been called by the AP, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report projected last night that Porter would win. (Porter, as we wrote earlier this month, could be a model for progressive candidates in swing districts moving forward.)
The only Orange County race where Republicans maintain a lead is in the California 39th, but it’s by a measly 150 votes, and with thousands of ballots still remaining to be counted, Democrat Gil Cisneros is likely to overtake Republican Young Kim. (The seat is currently held by Republican Ed Royce, who’s retiring.)
Even races in other parts of the state that were called on the night of the election are getting closer and closer. Rep. David Valadao—who represents a district in central California that hasn’t been won by a Democrat in 40 years—held a commanding eight-point lead over Democrat T.J. Cox on election night, but that’s shrunk to less than 2,000 votes with thousands of ballots still out, giving Cox a real shot.
The end result of all of this is that if Cox wins, California could potentially send up to 46 Democrats to the House next year, as opposed to just 7 Republicans. One way to look at this is that Donald Trump has made California even more favorable to Democrats, but an equally important factor is the changing demographics of the birthplace of Richard Nixon, which is now a minority-majority county. (Cue Tucker Carlson losing his mind.)
Whatever the case, the GOP has lost even more ground in California than anyone really thought possible. And given what happened in this election, it’s not clear they’re going to come back anytime soon.