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Why California could determine which party controls Congress

There are 19 Congressional races that have yet to be called. 12 of them are in California.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — There are 19 House races still left to call to determine which party will control Congress. 12 of those are California races.

UVA Center for Politics Managing Editor Kyle Kondik said there’s an added focus on California this time around compared to elections in the past. He said everyone has gotten used to the fact that it takes longer in California to count votes, and everyone usually has a good sense as to what the house majority is going to be without California. But that's not the case this year. 

“The national count is legitimately so close that the outcome could end up hinging on on some of these California races,” Kondik said. 

In California’s 13th district between Democrat Adam Gray and Republican John Duarte, Duarte leads by just 84 votes.

In the 49th district with Democrat Mike Levin and Republican Brian Maryott, there's 5 percentage points between the two. 

“It kind of looks like Republicans can get to the House majority without necessarily winning some of these real tossup closely contested counts like California 13 and 22,” Kondik added. 

Republicans only need to win 6 more seats to take back control of the House. Democrats need 12. 

"It's very hard to see how Democrats get there because New York was a mess of reapportionment," USC Director of the Center for Future Politics Robert Shrum said. "Democrats lost four seats they shouldn't have lost. Otherwise, it would basically be a tie right now.”

If Democrats control the White House and Senate, but Republicans control the House, Shrum said it will mostly be a gridlock for the next two years. 

“Biden, I think, will make an effort to find some places where he can get Republican support and where they can get things done,” he added. 

Both analysts said Democrats held on to the more powerful house for important confirmations. 

“The good thing for Democrats is that if you look at which chamber is more valuable to hold, it's probably the Senate because of the Senate's powers in terms of confirmations," Kondik said. "So if there'd be a Supreme Court vacancy or something, the Democrats will be able to get their preferred person through whereas, the House doesn't have any role in that.”

Kondik classifies this election as one for the books. 

“I think the results are very interesting," he said. "I think this is one of the most unusual midterms we've ever had the United States, because it's just strange for a president who is as unpopular as Joe Biden is to preside over what is looks like one of the more successful midterms for presidential party in recent memory."

In many of these races that have yet to be called in California, only 50% to 80% of the votes have been counted. 

Shrum is firm in his belief that there’s a 75% chance Republicans will end up winning what they need to to control the house.


California 2022 Election | U.S. Congress seats undecided leaves room for 'Red Wave'

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