California's 7th Congressional District elections, 2012

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California's 7th Congressional District

General Election Date
November 6, 2012

Primary Date
June 5, 2012

November 6 Election Winner:
Ami Bera Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
George Miller Democratic Party
George Miller.jpg

California U.S. House Elections
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2012 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of California.png
The 7th Congressional District of California held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012.

Challenger Ami Bera (D) defeated incumbent Dan Lungren (R) in a race that was too close to call for more than one week after polls closed.[1]

This is the 7th Congressional District prior to the 2010 redistricting.
Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
March 9, 2012
June 5, 2012
November 6, 2012

Primary: California has a top-two primary system, in which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, go on to the general election.

Voter registration: Voters had to register to vote in the primary by May 21. For the general election, the voter registration deadline was October 22.[2]

See also: California elections, 2012

Incumbent: Heading into the election the incumbent was George Miller (D), who was first elected in 1974.

This was the first election which used new district maps based on 2010 Census data. California's 7th Congressional District is located in the central portion of the state and includes much of Sacramento County.[3]

Blanket primary

This was the first election year in which California's Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act was in effect. Because of this, all candidates for a seat competed in one blanket primary. The two candidates who received the most votes then advanced to the general election on November 6.

The proposition's intent was to encourage primary competition, which backers of the act said would lead to more moderate legislators being elected. Despite this intention, only a few centrists successfully advanced to the general election. The primary results did reflect an increase in competition, with California's percentage of contested primaries being much higher than the nationwide average.[4]

However, the increase in competition also led to an increase in campaign spending, due to the fact that competition within political parties lasted for the entire year rather than ending after the primary. Experts predict that this will only increase the power of the special interest groups that fund the campaigns.[4]

Raphael J. Sonenshein, executive director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., said the following, "It's hard to argue it's a better system where the incumbent congressman has a huge war chest and nobody else has any money... At least now we can make him spend it."[4]

As a result of the blanket primary, nine congressional districts had same-party candidates battling in the November 6 general election. Of those, seven were between Democrats.[5]

There were also over a dozen same-party races in the state legislature in November.[5]


General election candidates

Democratic Party Ami Bera Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Dan Lungren

June 5, 2012, primary results

Election results

General election

U.S. House, California District 7 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngAmi Bera 51.7% 141,241
     Republican Dan Lungren Incumbent 48.3% 132,050
Total Votes 273,291
Source: California Secretary of State "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"

Race background


California's 7th was 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 only became more competitive since then. The 7th District now has virtually identical numbers of registered Democrats and Republicans.[7]

California's 7th District was included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue List," which identified districts that the organization specifically targeted to flip from Republican to Democratic control.[8]

Incumbent Dan Lungren was a part of the National Republican Congressional Committee's Patriot Program, a program to help House Republicans stay on offense and increase their majority in 2012.[9]

Using the Federal Election Commission's October Quarterly campaign finance filings, the Brennan Center for Justice at The New York University School of Law published a report on October 22nd focusing on the 25 House races rated most competitive by The Cook Political Report, including the race for California's 7th. The report examined the relative spending presence of non-candidate groups, candidates, and small donors in these races - "which will likely determine which party will control the House."[10]


Dan Lungren V. Ami Bera
Poll Dan Lungren Ami BeraUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
(October 25-26, 2012)
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Impact of redistricting

See also: Redistricting in California

The 7th District was re-drawn after the 2010 Census. The new district is composed of the following percentages of voters of the old congressional districts.[12][13]

Registration statistics

As of October 23, 2012, District 7 had the following partisan registration breakdown according to the California Secretary of State:

California Congressional District 7[14]
Congressional District District Total Democrats Republicans Other & Unaffiliated Advantage Party Advantage Change in Advantage from 2010
District 7 350,775 135,379 136,267 79,129 Republican .66% 172.90%
"Party advantage" is the percentage gap between the two major parties in registered voters. "Change in advantage" is the spread in difference of party advantage between 2010 and 2012 based on the congressional district number only.

District partisanship

FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012 study

See also: FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012

In 2012, FairVote did a study on partisanship in the congressional districts, giving each a percentage ranking (D/R) based on the new 2012 maps and comparing that to the old 2010 maps. California's 7th District became more Democratic because of redistricting.[15]

  • 2012: 49D / 51R
  • 2010: 46D / 54R

Cook Political Report's PVI

See also: Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index

In 2012, Cook Political Report released its updated figures on the Partisan Voter Index, which measures each congressional district's partisanship relative to the rest of the country. California's 7th Congressional District has a PVI of R+3, which is the 207th most Republican district in the country. In 2008, this district was won by Barack Obama (D), 53-47 percent over John McCain (R). In 2004, George W. Bush (R) won the district 56-44 percent over John Kerry (D).[16]

Campaign contributions

As of June 30, Bera was outraising Lungren, receiving around $2 million to Lungren's $1.7 million in campaign donations. This race attracted nearly $3.9 million in outside spending, with more than twice as much of it being spent on attacking Lungren as Bera. The National Republican Congressional Committee contributed $638,000 while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee contributed $559,000 to the cause.[17]

The race attracted $6.5 million in outside spending from Labor Day until late October. Of that, $3,837,282 was spent helping Democrat Ami Bera while $2,694,783 was spent to aid Republican Dan Lungren.[18]

Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2012 elections season. Below are candidate reports.

Ami Bera

Ami Bera (2012) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[19]April 15, 2012$918,873.88$369,897.44$(141,006.01)$1,147,765.31
Pre-Primary[20]May 24, 2012$1,147,765.31$153,071.20$(137,733.39)$1,163,103.12
Running totals

Dan Lungren

Dan Lungren (2012) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[21]April 15, 2012$521,205.75$514,964.41$(137,186.72)$898,983.44
Pre-Primary[22]May 24, 2012$898,983.44$116,163.33$(84,766.42)$930,380.35
Running totals

Chamber of commerce spending

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a total of $3.3 million on television advertisements aimed at electing ten California Republican congressional candidates, Democratic sources told Hotline.[23]

In California's 7th Congressional District, The Chamber spent $484,000 to elect Dan Lungren.[23]

District history

Candidate ballot access
Ballot Access Requirements Final.jpg

Find detailed information on ballot access requirements in all 50 states and Washington D.C.


On November 2, 2010, George Miller won re-election to the United States House. He defeated Rick Tubbs in the general election.[24]

U.S. House, California District 7 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngGeorge Miller Incumbent 68.3% 122,435
     Republican Rick Tubbs 31.7% 56,764
Total Votes 179,199

See also

External links


  1. Sacramento Bee, "Ami Bera ousts Rep. Dan Lungren in congressional race" November 15, 2012
  2. California Secretary of State, "Elections FAQ," accessed July 20, 2012
  3. California Redistricting Map, "Map" accessed September 25, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Los Angeles Times, "Few centrists advance in California's new primary system," June 7, 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 Reuters, "Democrats face Democrats in new California election system," June 6, 2012
  6. "Dan Lungren won't challenge Tom McClintock for Congress",, September 7, 2011
  7. New York Times, "House Race Ratings," accessed August 7, 2012
  8. DCCC, "Red to Blue 2012"
  9. NRCC "Patriot Program 2012"
  10. Brennan Center for Justice, "Election Spending 2012: 25 Toss-Up House Races," October 22, 2012
  11. The Cook Political Report, "House: Race Ratings," updated October 18, 2012
  12. Moonshadow Mobile's CensusViewer, "California's congressional districts 2001-2011 comparison"
  13. Labels & Lists, "VoterMapping software voter counts"
  14. California Secretary of State, "Congressional Voter Registration Statistics," May 21, 2012
  15. "2011 Redistricting and 2012 Elections in California," September 2012
  16. Cook Political Report, "Partisan Voting Index Districts of the 113th Congress: 2004 & 2008" accessed October 2012
  17. OpenSecrets, "Hot Race in California’s New 7th: Dan Lungren vs. Ami Bera," October 5, 2012
  18. The New York Times, "Outside Spending in Key House Races," October 25, 2012
  19. Federal Election Commission, "Ami Bera April Quarterly," accessed July 10, 2012
  20. Federal Election Commission, "Ami Bera Pre-Primary," accessed July 10, 2012
  21. Federal Election Commission, "Dan Lungren April Quarterly," accessed July 10, 2012
  22. Federal Election Commission, "Dan Lungren Pre-Primary," accessed July 10, 2012
  23. 23.0 23.1 National Journal, "Chamber Drops $3.3 Million for California Repubs," September 27, 2012
  24. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013