Seeking to capitalize on the higher turnout of a presidential contest, and the unpopularity of Donald Trump in the state, Democrats hoped to add seats to California’s congressional delegation.
But early vote counts indicated those efforts to take what the party hoped were vulnerable Republican seats were universally unsuccessful.
The 49th District, which stretches between San Diego and Orange counties, is one of the most competitive. Early returns show a close race, with eight-term incumbent Republican Darrell Issa holding a nearly 4-point lead over Democratic challenger Doug Applegate.
Applegate brought a surprisingly strong challenge to his eight-term opponent, pressuring Issa over his support of Trump. The race has also featured nasty back-and-forth exchanges over Applegate’s marriage and Issa’s business dealings.
In the Central Valley, Democrats are targeting two seats that Republicans have held despite a voter registration disadvantage. In the 10th Congressional District around Modesto, two-term incumbent Jeff Denham is defending his seat against Democrat challenger Michael Eggman, a beekeeper who ran for the same seat in 2014. That year, Denham turned a one-point registration deficit into a 12-point victory. This year the contest is expected to be closer, due in part to Denham’s support of Trump, which has drawn local criticism.