California is undoubtedly a blue state, but it also has one of the largest GOP delegations in Congress, with 14 Republicans in the House. This year, Democrats are ambitiously aiming to flip 10 of those seats to blue. But it won’t be easy.
The state has a “top two” primary system, meaning Republicans and Democrats run together in the primary and the first- and second-place candidates get to duke it out in the general. In other words, there’s always the possibility that one party could get shut out of the general election altogether.
Polls close at 11 pm Eastern time. We will have live results for the Senate and key House races below, powered by Decision Desk.
Senate: Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a primary challenger
Incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein, at age 84, is the oldest US senator; she’s been in office since 1992. This year she has a challenger: state Sen. Kevin De León, the former president pro tempore of the California Senate, who thinks California might be ready to elect a younger, more progressive candidate. But Feinstein is still fairly popular in the state and has a war chest with millions. She’ll be tough to beat.
On the GOP side is James Bradley, a pro-Trump Republican with little money and almost no name recognition. He’s unlikely to make it through the primary.
California’s Fourth District: Democrats are trying to target California’s most conservative Congress member
Rep. Tom McClintock, the incumbent Republican and most conservative Congress member in California, is almost guaranteed the top spot in the top-two primary system. But there’s a heated race between two Democratic women to claim the No. 2 slot to run in November.
Jessica Morse, 35, a national security strategist whose résumé includes the State Department, Defense Department, and USAID, has gained the Democratic Party endorsement and the support of many progressive groups. She’s outraised her Democratic competitors and even McClintock and is the Democratic favorite. But Regina Bateson, an MIT professor and native of the local town Roseville, has mounted a formidable challenge.
This R+10 district is rated as Likely Republican by the Cook Political Report, but Democrats still think it’s in play. McClintock represents a district encompassing Roseville, Lake Tahoe, and down to Yosemite National Park — but he doesn’t live there.
California’s 10th Congressional District: a beekeeper, the venture capitalist behind Blue Apron, and the daughter of immigrant farmworkers
Incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, who came into Congress in the 2010 Tea Party wave, will likely be up against one of three Democrats in November: Michael Eggman, a 53-year-old third-generation beekeeper who is making his third run against Denham; Josh Harder, the 31-year-old venture capitalist who backed the meal kit service Blue Apron; and Virginia Madueño, the 52-year-old former mayor of Riverbank who has been tapped by Emily’s List. In 2016, Denham narrowly won by 3.4 percent in one of the closest House races in the country, and Hillary Clinton won the Central Valley district in 2016 by 3 points too; it’s rated as a toss-up, and is a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats.
California’s 22nd Congressional District: a safe Republican seat that’s getting attention because of Devin Nunes
Incumbent Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, friend to President Donald Trump and the author of the House Intelligence Committee’s dubious Russia investigation memo, is in a pretty safe Republican seat. But Democrats are still targeting the district, hoping Nunes’s role defending Trump in the Russia investigations will give them a boost. Andrew Janz, the Fresno County deputy district attorney, is considered best positioned to take on Nunes. He has the endorsement of the California Democratic Party and has raked in more than $1 million to challenge Nunes (mostly because Nunes is so nationally well-known/disliked). Entrepreneur Bobby Bliatout and business consultant Ricardo Franco are also running.
California’s 25th Congressional District: a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats
In this toss-up Los Angeles County district, the seat of incumbent Rep. Stephen Knight, who has been in office since 2015, is being targeted as a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats. All eyes are on attorney Bryan Caforio, who challenged Knight in 2016 and has locked up a lot of endorsements from labor and progressive groups. Democrat Katie Hill, a nonprofit policy advocate, has also mounted a formidable challenge, with the backing of Emily’s List, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and a number of California’s Democratic Congress members. Both Caforio and Hill have out-fundraised Knight so far.
California’s 39th Congressional District: in an open race, Democrats are in an absolute squabbling match
This is a heated race to fill an open seat vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Ed Royce. On the Democratic side, two wealthy candidates are in an ugly battle for a spot on the November ballot. Gil Cisneros, a former Navy officer and 2010 lottery winner (he won $266 million) is on the DCCC’s Red to Blue list, which is as close as the national campaign arm gets to endorsing a candidate. He’s up against Andy Thorburn, a health insurance executive and former teacher. It’s been a doozy of a race, including allegations of tax fraud and legal action over a voicemail. There’s also another Democrat in the running, pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran, who’s endorsed by Emily’s List.
The field of Republicans running in this race is just as deep as the Democratic side. Three stand out: Shawn Nelson, the Orange County supervisor; Bob Huff, who is the former state Senate minority leader; and Young Kim, who has served in the state Assembly. This Orange County district is prime territory for Democrats to make gains in November, but they’ve failed to get behind a single candidate, and it could result in Democrats getting shut out of the general election all together.
California’s 45th Congressional District: a hotly contested Democratic race to challenge Mimi Walters
Four Democrats are looking to earn a top-two slot and challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Mimi Walters. There’s Katie Porter, a UC Irvine law professor, who has endorsed Medicare-for-all and has the support of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Dave Min, another UC Irvine law professor, is more moderate and received the endorsement of the California Democratic Party. Brian Forde is an ex-Republican who worked under President Obama, and Kia Hamadanchy is a young Iranian American who has worked for populist Democrats like former Sen. Tom Harkin and current Sen. Sherrod Brown. This is a diversifying Orange County district, where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 5 points in 2016.
California’s 48th Congressional District: drunken bar fights, a Putin-adored Republican, and a Kasich-friendly Democrat ... what could go wrong?
There’s a highly contested race playing out in Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s coastal district. Rohrabacher, who is expected to make it past the primary, has a surprisingly formidable Republican challenger in Scott Baugh, a former Orange County Republican Party chair who is a longtime friend of Rohrabacher’s.
In a field of eight Democrats, two stand out: Harley Rouda, a DCCC and Indivisible-endorsed real estate investor who donated to Republican campaigns as recently as 2016; and Hans Keirstead, a stem cell scientist with a California Democratic Party endorsement who has spent a lot of time trying to fend off 2009 allegations that he slept with his grad students and got into a drunken fistfight. The race is a circus. Clinton eked out a 1-point win in this district in 2016, so Democrats are energized for a potential takeover, but if Baugh does well, there’s a possibility Democrats are going to get shut out of this race altogether.
California’s 49th Congressional District: Republicans are just as likely to get shut out as Democrats
This is a wide-open race to fill retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat. Four Democrats are in a dead heat: real estate investor Paul Kerr; Sara Jacobs, the CEO of a nonprofit who comes from a wealthy family; environmental lawyer Mike Levin; and retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate. There are a whopping eight Republicans on the ballot too, and no clear winner among the pack. Among the notable candidates are Rocky Chávez, a state Assembly member and retired Marine Corps colonel; Diane Harkey, who used to serve in the state Assembly and has current Rep. Darrell Issa’s endorsement; and Kristin Gaspar, an Orange County supervisor and small-business owner who has Rep. Ed Royce’s endorsement.
Issa was considered to be the most vulnerable Republican in the midterms, having won reelection by the slimmest margin in the country; then he dropped out, leaving his Orange County/San Diego County district up for grabs. Clinton won the district by 7.5 points, and with a stacked ballot on both sides of the aisle, the possibility of a Republican shutout is just as likely as a Democratic one.
California’s 50th Congressional District: incumbent Duncan Hunter is being investigated by the FBI for campaign fraud
Incumbent Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter’s San Diego district is hardly competitive. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats 42 percent to 27 percent, and Trump won by 15 points. But Hunter has been dogged by serious legal and ethics scandals, accused of having inappropriate relationships with women, drinking on the job, and other unprofessional conduct, which his office has denied. He’s under investigation by the FBI. And there are two formidable Democratic challengers: retired Navy SEAL Josh Butner, and Ammar Campa-Najjar, who worked in Obama’s Department of Labor. Real estate agent Patrick Malloy, who has run against Hunter in the past, is also in the race.