23
Thu, May

10 California Congressional Races Could Tip The 2024 Balance

Rep. Michelle Steel chats with a voter through his front gate while canvassing in Buena Park on May 28, 2022. The Republican’s seat is in play again in 2024. Photo by Bing Guan for CalMatters

STATE WATCH

CAL MATTERS - Yes, the headline race in California’s 2024 election is the first open U.S. Senate seat in 30 years. 

But voters should also pay attention to the U.S. House: California helped flip control to Republicans in 2022 (and the speakership went from Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco to Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, until he was deposed last month).

And California is shaping up as a key battleground again next year. Both parties are spending money and resources in the state. Now, California’s delegation includes 40 Democrats and 12 Republicans, who hold an overall majority of a mere nine seats in the House.

Wednesday, the well-regarded Cook Political Report put out its latest scorecard and 10 of the state’s 52 congressional seats are in play. It says a year out from the general election, it’s more likely that Democrats will retake the House than keep control of the U.S. Senate.

One of the key races is the 47th District in Orange County, an open seat because Rep. Katie Porter is running for Senate. It’s a “lean Democratic” in Cook’s ratings, and it was a CalMatters “hot race” in 2022.

Other Democratic-held seats on Cook’s list are the 9th District represented by Josh Harder and the 49th District by Mike Levin, both rated as likely Democratic.

Seven Republican-held seats are on the scorecard, including four rated as toss-ups: the 13th represented by John Duarte, the 22nd by David Valadao, the 27th by Mike Garcia and the 41st by Ken Calvert

Also, the 45th District represented by Michelle Steel is a “lean Republican” and the 3rd held by Kevin Kiley and the 40th by Young Kim are likely Republican.

All but one of these districts were also CalMatters hot races in 2022.

But while it’s a Democrat vs. Republican battle again for Congress, a new poll suggests there might be an opening for a third party in California — if there were ever enough money and the right leaders, that is.  

Half of California voters have a negative opinion of the Democratic Party, two-thirds have a dim view of the Republican Party and one third don’t like both parties, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California survey.   

That pox-on-both-parties sentiment is up from 20% in October 2020 and has risen steadily since. So has the proportion of voters who say a third major party is needed — 71%, up from 54% in 2019.

The policy brief notes that half of no party preference voters dislike both parties, and that those who have negative opinions of both parties are far more pessimistic about the direction of California and the nation and have a more negative view of President Biden. And if the 2024 election is a rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump, about a quarter of the likely voters in this group say they would vote for someone else. 

(Lynn La is the WhatMatters newsletter writer. Prior to joining CalMatters, she developed thought leadership at an edtech company and was a senior editor at CNET. She also covered public health at The Sacramento Bee as a Kaiser media fellow and was an intern reporter at Capitol Weekly. She's a graduate of UC Davis and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. This story was first published in CalMatters.org.)