California: Will moderate Democrats flip Republican-held House seats?

Democrats avoided being shut out of any Congressional races in Tuesday's primaries in California. Democrats are looking to flip several Republican-held House seats in November. In the governor's race, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will face Republican John Cox, who has the backing of President Trump.

In six of the seven Republican-held districts rated as most competitive in the state, Democrats on Tuesday secured a ballot position for the general election or were poised to do so under California’s unusual open primary that advances the top two vote-getters, regardless of party. Final tallies, including absentee and provisional ballots, may not be known for days.

Democrats got a clearer outcome in New Jersey, where their favored candidates won in three districts that they hope to flip from Republican control. The party needs a gain of at least 23 House seats nationally in order to take power, and California and New Jersey offer major opportunities for Democrats to hit that goal.

Voters in Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota also cast ballots Tuesday, which was the biggest round of voting in the 2018 primary season and covered almost a fifth of all U.S. House districts.

Female candidates made gains in primary races with 41 of the 92 women on Tuesday’s ballots for the House and Senate being declared winners by early Wednesday. A record number of women, many of them Democrats motivated by anger with President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies, are running for Congress this year.

California attracted the most attention of all of Tuesday’s contests because of the large number of potential Democratic pickup opportunities there. The state is home to seven of the 23 House districts nationwide represented by Republicans that were won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

The state’s unusual system complicated the primary, especially for Democrats. Their enthusiasm about the first electoral test of Trump’s presidency produced an abundance of candidates in multiple districts, putting them at risk of splitting the vote and allowing two Republicans to advance.

The prospects of that happening were greatest in three Republican-held districts that are rated as among the most competitive in the state.

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