(CN) – On Election Day and into the following week, it appeared Republicans in California would retain four the seven competitive congressional seats in districts Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. But as elections officials slowly tally the provisional and vote-by-mail ballots, Democrats took over each race one by one.
Before Friday, U.S. Rep. David Valadao, a Republican who represents a broad swath of the Central Valley surrounding Fresno, appeared to be the only one who managed to hold off the blue wave that swept through California and helped give Democrats a stranglehold on the House of Representatives.
The Associated Press called the race a day after the election, but results-watchers now say that was premature as Democrat T.J. Cox continues to gain. The margin between the two is currently 1,983 votes.
Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight moved the race from “likely R” to “toss-up” on Friday afternoon, as scores of late ballots narrowed the race significantly.
“AP & networks still have this race *called* for Valadao, which is inarguably wrong,” said Nate Silver, editor of FiveThirtyEight.
If Cox makes up the deficit he faced on election night, he will join fellow Democrats Katie Porter, Josh Harder and Gil Cisneros who trailed by significant margins early but eventually overtook their Republican opponents Mimi Walters, Jeff Denham and Young Kim, respectively.
Kim declared victory early on and attended the freshman congressional orientation, but it now appears she will lose the seat recently vacated by her old boss and Republican Ed Royce.
According to the latest tally on Friday evening, Cisneros extended his lead to 3,020 votes. The Associated Press has refrained from calling the race, but Claremont McKenna College political science professor Jack Pitney said the race is over.
“Stick a fork in her,” Pitney said, referring to Kim. “She is going to lose.” And on Saturday she did, conceding to Cisneros.
Part of the reason for Pitney’s confidence is because late ballots have so overwhelmingly favored Democrats in California.
“In California, Republicans vote early and Democrats vote late,” he said.
The reason is age: Republicans, who tend to be older, are used to voting at the polls and often have nothing more pressing to do on Election Day.
“It really is a pattern,” Pitney said. “It sounds facetious but it’s actually true.”
Democrats tend to be younger and have more faith in newer modes of voting. They’re also willing to take advantage of the new modes so they don’t have to take time off work on a Tuesday.
But this is not unique to 2018.
In 2010, Democrat Kamala Harris faced off against Republican Steve Cooley for state attorney general. Cooley declared victory on election night as the early returns showed him up by a significant margin.
Three weeks later, he finally conceded after the vote-by-mail and provisional ballots trickled in.
“It’s a pattern we’ve been seeing for some time,” Pitney said.
Along with the four aforementioned races, Democrat Katie Hill trounced Republican incumbent Steven Knight by 13,458 votes according to the latest count. Democrat Mark Levin beat Republican Diane Harkey by about 13,600 votes to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista.
Finally, Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher lost his seat to Democrat Harley Rouda by about 14,313 votes.
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