Reporter's Notebook

Here’s Why California’s Results Were So Important For House Control

on April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) participate in a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther Kin... WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) participate in a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives memorialize the day that Nobel Peace Prize and American civil rights leader King was killed while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 6, 2018 4:12 p.m.

Quinnipiac University released its latest national polling on Wednesday, and according to their latest numbers, control of the House is all but a pure tossup with five months until Election Day.

In their survey, 47 percent of voters said they want to see Democrats win control of the House, compared to 40 percent who wanted Republicans to win. Those numbers are in line with the six- to seven-point edge in the overall popular vote that Democrats will need to recapture House control.

A new CBS model predicted Democrats would barely capture House control if the election were held today, and other generic ballot polls have found Democrats leading by a bit less than the amount they would need to retake House control. RealClearPolitics’ average of recent polls has Democrats leading by 4.8 points on the generic ballot, just under where they’ll likely need to be on election night.

That’s why last night’s primary results could prove so pivotal come November. Democrats were at risk of getting left without candidates in four different California districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016, districts that are pivotal to their hopes of retaking the House. After spending millions of dollars to avoid that fate, it appears they’ve dodged a bullet in all four — though many votes remain uncounted.

Generic ballot polls go up and down, so it’s not a good idea to give too much weight to what they say at any one moment. They also aren’t great at capturing lopsided voter enthusiasm in favor of Democrats, a phenomenon that seems to exists across the country, which suggests that national polls could be lowballing how well Democrats will do in the fall. That would extend to California, where primary voter turnout is on pace to be almost 50 percent higher in 2018 compared to the last midterm in all-important Orange County.

But right now, it looks like we’re in for trench warfare in the fight for House control, with the outcomes of individual races playing outsized importance in what could be a very closely divided chamber. And that’s why the primary outcomes, giving Democrats a candidate in each of those individual California House races, were so important.

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