Ballotpedia's 2012 General Election Preview Articles: California Congressional Seats

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November 2, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional team

California's Congressional Elections in 2012
U.S. Senate Election? U.S. House seats Possible competitive races?
Yes 53 12

SACRAMENTO: California: California has one U.S. Senate seat and 53 U.S. House seats on the ballot in 2012. A total of 46 incumbents are running for re-election in the House, all of whom face a challenger in the general election (100%).

Currently, the Democratic Party holds 34 of the 53 Congressional seats from California. According to race ratings by the website RealClearPolitics, six of California's 53 districts are among the 50 most likely U.S. House Districts to change parties. Four of those would be switching from Republican to Democratic control: District 7, District 10, District 26, and District 52. The remaining two, District 9 and District 24 would be seeing a shift from Democrat to Republican.[1]

All polls in California are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM Pacific Time.[2]

See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times (2012)

U.S. Senate

In California's U.S. Senate election, Democratic incumbent Dianne Feinstein faces a challenge from Republican Elizabeth Emken in the general election. Several factors, including Feinstein's staggering campaign finance advantage over Emken, point to a high-probability of re-election for the Democratic incumbent this year. The consensus among race projections published in the months leading up to November's general election, such as The New York Times 2012 Battle for the Senate, rate the race for the California Class 1 Senate seat as Solid Democratic.[3]

State General Election Candidates Incumbent 2012 Winner Partisan Switch?
California Class 1 Senate seat Democratic Party Dianne Feinstein
Republican Party Elizabeth Emken
Dianne Feinstein Pending Pending

U.S. House

This will be the first election using California's new congressional districts drawn by the independent redistricting commission. It is also the first election using the top-2 primary system. The general election races can only feature a maximum of two candidates.

Twelve districts in California are considered to be competitive in 2012. Those are the 3rd, 7th, 9th, 10th, 16th, 21st, 24th, 26th, 36th, 41st, 47th, and 52nd districts.[4]

In addition, there are two districts in which two incumbent Democrats face off against one another, California's 30th District and California's 44th District.

  • District 3 is considered to be Leaning Democratic according to the New York Times race ratings. Historically, the district has been a Democratic-leaning district. However, it was redrawn and now includes more conservative areas.
  • District 7 is considered to be a Tossup according to the New York Times race ratings. Challenger Ami Bera lost to incumbent Dan Lungren by 7% in 2010, and the redrawn district has only become more competitive since then. The 7th District now has virtually identical numbers of registered Democrats and Republicans.
  • District 9 is considered to be Leaning Democratic according to the New York Times race ratings. Incumbent Jerry McNerney is challenged by Republican Ricky Gill, one of the National Republican Congressional Committee's "young guns."
  • District 10 is considered to be Leaning Republican according to the New York Times race ratings. Incumbent Republican Jeff Denham is challenged by Jose Hernandez, a first-time candidate. Registration is currently slightly in the Democrats favor. California's 10th District has been included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue List," which identifies districts that the organization has specifically targeted to flip from Republican to Democratic control.
  • District 16 is considered to be Leaning Democratic according to the New York Times race ratings. In 2010, Jim Costa narrowly won his re-election bid against challenger Andy Vidak by just over 3%. This time around, he faces challenger Brian Whelan in a newly redrawn district that is more Democratic than before. The district has kept most of the heavily Democratic parts of Fresno and lost much of the heavily rural parts of the county. In addition, voter registration is 47% Democratic to 32% Republican
  • District 21 is considered to be Leaning Republican according to the New York Times race ratings. Incumbent David Valadao is challenged by Democrat John Hernandez. The Democrat who was considered to be the strongest opposition, Michael Rubio, dropped out of the race prior to the primary. Valadao has a major fund-raising advantage in the race.
  • District 24 is considered to be Leaning Democratic according to the New York Times race ratings. Incumbent Lois Capps faces a strong challenge former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado. Redistricting has potentially offered Republicans a chance to steal the seat in 2012. Due to redistricting, the district is nearly evenly split between registered Democrats and Republicans, with a fifth of voters being unaffiliated.
  • District 26 is considered to be Leaning Democratic according to the New York Times race ratings. This district has long been the territory of Republican representative Elton Gallegly. However, with redistricting and his retirement, Democrats have gained an edge in the district and hope to gain control in November. This race is seen as possibly one of the closest U.S. House races in California.
  • District 30: Redistricting has pitted Democratic incumbents Brad Sherman and Howard Berman against each other in a heated and heavily funded race. Politico has listed the race as one of the five ugliest member vs. member battles.[5]
  • District 36 is considered to be Leaning Republican according to the New York Times race ratings. Incumbent Mary Bono Mack is challenged by Democrat Raul Ruiz, her first Latino opponent in a nearly one-third Latino district. Redistricting has made the district slightly safer for Republicans than it previously was.
  • District 41 is considered to be a Tossup according to the New York Times race ratings. The district is seen as a major swing district. Republicans have a slight voter advantage, but Barack Obama won the district overwhelmingly in 2008.
  • District 44: Redistricting is responsible for the confrontation between Democratic incumbents Janice Hahn and Laura Richardson, incumbents of the former Districts 36 and 37, respectively.
  • District 47 is considered to be Leaning Democratic according to the New York Times race ratings. Democrats currently have a 10% edge in registration, but Republicans think it is possible to gain the seat with Gary DeLong, who is portrayed as a moderate Republican.
  • District 52 is considered to be a Tossup according to the New York Times race ratings. Incumbent Brian Bilbray is challenged by Democrat Scott Peters, in a district that is much less conservative than when he first won in 2006. The seat is a top target for Democrats.

Here is a complete list of U.S. House candidates appearing on the general election ballot in California:

District General Election Candidates Incumbent 2012 Winner Partisan Switch?
1st Democratic Party Jim Reed
Republican Party Doug La Malfa
Mike Thompson Pending Pending
2nd Democratic Party Jared Huffman
Republican Party Daniel Roberts
Wally Herger Pending Pending
3rd Democratic Party John Garamendi
Republican Party Kim Dolbow Vann
Dan Lungren Pending Pending
4th Democratic Party Jack Uppal
Republican Party Tom McClintock
Tom McClintock Pending Pending
5th Democratic Party Mike Thompson
Republican Party Randy Loftin
Doris Matsui Pending Pending
6th Democratic Party Doris Matsui
Republican Party Joseph McCray, Sr.
Lynn Woolsey Pending Pending
7th Democratic Party Ami Bera
Republican PartyDan Lungren
George Miller Pending Pending
8th Republican Party Paul Cook
Republican Party Gregg Imus
Nancy Pelosi Pending Pending
9th Democratic Party Jerry McNerney
Republican Party Ricky Gill
Barbara Lee Pending Pending
10th Democratic Party Jose Hernandez
Republican Party Jeff Denham
John Garamendi Pending Pending
11th Democratic Party George Miller
Republican Party Virginia Fuller
Jerry McNerney Pending Pending
12th Democratic Party Nancy Pelosi
Republican Party John Dennis
Jackie Speier Pending Pending
13th Democratic Party Barbara Lee
Independent Marilyn Singleton
Pete Stark Pending Pending
14th Democratic Party Jackie Speier
Republican Party Deborah Bacigalupi
Anna Eshoo Pending Pending
15th Democratic Party Pete Stark
Democratic Party Eric Swalwell
Mike Honda Pending Pending
16th Democratic Party Jim Costa
Republican PartyBrian Daniel Whelan
Zoe Lofgren Pending Pending
17th Democratic Party Mike Honda
Republican Party Evelyn Li
Sam Farr Pending Pending
18th Democratic Party Anna Eshoo
Republican Party Dave Chapman
Dennis Cardoza Pending Pending
19th Democratic Party Zoe Lofgren
Republican Party Robert Murray
Jeff Denham Pending Pending
20th Democratic Party Sam Farr
Republican Party Jeff Taylor
Jim Costa Pending Pending
21st Democratic Party John Hernandez
Republican Party David Valadao
Devin Nunes Pending Pending
22nd Democratic Party Otto Lee
Republican Party Devin Nunes
Kevin McCarthy Pending Pending
23rd Republican Party Kevin McCarthy
Independent Terry Phillips
Lois Capps Pending Pending
24th Democratic Party Lois Capps
Republican Party Abel Maldonado
Elton Gallegly Pending Pending
25th Democratic PartyLee Rogers
Republican PartyHoward McKeon
Howard McKeon Pending Pending
26th Democratic Party Julia Brownley
Republican Party Tony Strickland
David Dreier Pending Pending
27th Democratic Party Judy Chu
Republican PartyJack Orswell
Brad Sherman Pending Pending
28th Democratic Party Adam Schiff
Republican Party Phil Jennerjahn
Howard Berman Pending Pending
29th Democratic Party Tony Cardenas
Independent David Hernandez
Adam Schiff Pending Pending
30th Democratic Party Howard Berman
Democratic Party Brad Sherman
Henry Waxman Pending Pending
31st Republican Party Bob Dutton
Republican Party Gary Miller
Xavier Becerra Pending Pending
32nd Democratic Party Grace Napolitano
Republican Party David Miller
Judy Chu Pending Pending
33rd Democratic Party Henry Waxman
Independent Bill Bloomfield
Karen Bass Pending Pending
34th Democratic Party Xavier Becerra
Republican Party Stephen Smith
Lucille Roybal-Allard Pending Pending
35th Democratic Party Joe Baca
Democratic Party Gloria Negrete McLeod
Maxine Waters Pending Pending
36th Democratic Party Raul Ruiz
Republican PartyMary Bono Mack
Janice Hahn Pending Pending
37th Democratic Party Karen Bass
Republican Party Morgan Osborne
Laura Richardson Pending Pending
38th Democratic Party Linda Sanchez
Republican Party Benjamin Campos
Grace Napolitano Pending Pending
39th Democratic Party Jay Chen
Republican Party Edward R. Royce
Linda Sanchez Pending Pending
40th Democratic Party Lucille Roybal-Allard
Democratic Party David Sanchez
Edward Royce Pending Pending
41st Democratic Party Mark Takano
Republican Party John Tavaglione
Jerry Lewis Pending Pending
42nd Democratic Party Michael Williamson
Republican Party Ken Calvert
Gary Miller Pending Pending
43rd Democratic Party Bob Flores
Democratic Party Maxine Waters
Joe Baca Pending Pending
44th Democratic PartyJanice Hahn
Democratic PartyLaura Richardson
Ken Calvert Pending Pending
45th Democratic Party Sukhee Kang
Republican Party John Campbell
Mary Bono Mack Pending Pending
46th Democratic Party Loretta Sanchez
Republican PartyJerry Hayden
Dana Rohrabacher Pending Pending
47th Democratic Party Alan Lowenthal
Republican Party Gary DeLong
Loretta Sanchez Pending Pending
48th Democratic Party Ron Varasteh
Republican Party Dana Rohrabacher
John Campbell Pending Pending
49th Democratic Party Jerry Tetalman
Republican Party Darrell Issa
Darrell Issa Pending Pending
50th Democratic Party David Secor
Republican Party Duncan Hunter
Brian Bilbray Pending Pending
51st Democratic Party Juan Vargas
Republican Party Michael Crimmins
Bob Filner Pending Pending
52nd Democratic Party Scott Peters
Republican Party Brian Bilbray
Duncan Hunter Pending Pending
53rd Democratic Party Susan Davis
Republican Party Nick Popaditch
Susan Davis Pending Pending
Members of the U.S. House from California -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 34 38
     Republican Party 19 15
Total 53 53
 Congressional Redistricting Map, approved August 2011 

For more information, view Redistricting in California.


See also