The California primary that’s now less than three months away promises to be the system’s most important test, and possibly its most controversial. Although Democrats have largely consolidated their power behind just a few formidable candidates in statewide contests, local races with a multitude of candidates could allow Republicans to quell the anti-Trump fervor in at least four congressional districts that Democrats otherwise are well poised to capture.
“The top-two primary math is showing us there need to be fewer Democrats in those races,” said Merrill, whose Fight Back California political action committee is betting the bank on the seven Republican districts won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Recent polling by Merrill’s PAC found significant potential for GOP candidates in Southern California’s hottest races to finish first and second — even though a plurality of those surveyed said they would “definitely” vote Democratic. That includes seats being vacated by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and the reelection effort of embattled Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).
Analysts also have pointed out the possibility for dispersed Democratic support in large fields of candidates running in GOP congressional districts representing the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills. The nonpartisan California Target Book now counts 60 Democrats running in the 14 districts currently represented by Republicans.