Californians are enthusiastic about voting this year in key battleground congressional races, but Democrats eying Republican-held seats in hopes of flipping the House shouldn’t get their hopes up too soon.
That’s among the conclusions in latest poll from the Public Policy Institute of California. It shows Republican likely voters who dominate conservative California strongholds prefer Republican candidates by a 2-to-1 margin, and the majority — 62 percent — want their members of Congress to work with President Donald Trump.
“To me, that means if you’re a Democratic candidate running in those districts, you’re going to have to have something more to say than we want a change from Donald Trump,” said PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare.
The poll analyzed 10 House districts rated as competitive by the Cook Political report, including open seats in traditionally conservative-leaning Orange County. “There might be targets of opportunity,” for Democrats, Baldassare said, but the poll was overall favorable for Republicans even though seven of the 10 went for Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016.
“They may have gone Democratic in the last presidential race, but they did also elect Republicans to Congress,” he said.
Of the 10 competitive seats, nine are held by Republican incumbents. Two of the GOP incumbents are vacating their seats — Reps. Darrell Issa of Vista and Ed Royce of Fullerton. The Democratic seat is held by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, who represents the 7th Congressional District, which covers suburban Sacramento County.
The remaining Republicans running for re-election, concentrated in the Central Valley and Orange County, are Reps. Jeff Denham of Turlock, Steve Knight of Lancaster, Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, David Valadao of Hanford, Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel, Tom McClintock of Elk Grove and Duncan Hunter of Alpine.
Though those areas are still deep red, Democrats statewide are more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans (56 percent to 42 percent). That could be a good sign for them come November. Democratic strategists say the key this fall is motivating Democrats, who haven’t historically been reliable voters, to turn out, and capturing independents.
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