In order to win the 23 seats to take back the House of Representatives, Democrats are counting on winning seven seats currently held by Republicans in the Golden State.
But now, California Democrats are facing a bizarre situation that could leave some of these districts with two Republicans running against each other in November—meaning that the seat would be a completely lost cause for Democrats.
California hosts a “jungle primary” where all candidates, regardless of party, run against each other in a primary. The two top finishers, again regardless of party, square off in November.
But because Democrats are enthusiastic in California, too many of them are running—which could result in Democrats splintering their vote, and two Republicans finishing in the top two.
The Los Angeles Times sums up the problem, writing, “As California hurtles toward its state primary June 5, it is obvious there’s a problem. Its open primary system — which sends the top two vote-getters to the general election, regardless of party affiliation — is not working as intended and risks throwing the midterm election into acrimony and confusion. This system is called a “jungle primary” for a reason: It is brutal and unpredictable. In three high-profile House races, there are so many candidates from the two major parties eating into one another’s support that the election results may end up owing more to chance than any discernible will of the people.”
“Polls show that Democrats have an excellent chance of capturing the Southern Californian seats being vacated by Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Darrell Issa (R-Isla Vista) and have a good shot at unseating Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach). These are all bona fide swing districts that surely deserve an up-and-down contest between a Republican and a Democrat in November,” the newspaper added.
“But there is no guarantee this is what the voters will get. The biggest risk in all three districts is that the Democrats will fall victim to their own energy and enthusiasm and that, even if their candidates collectively win over 50% of the vote, they will be too split to secure either of the top two slots.”
California votes in its primary on June 5.