The Race for the House Part 1: California, Georgia, Illinois

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

(Above, Santa Clarita, CA credit: Jeff Turner, Flickr)

Even if the Democrats fail miserably in November, the minimum that has to be done is maintaining control of the House. As we have seen, control of even half of Congress can make life a hell of a lot more difficult for the Executive. Control of the Senate, or at least a split, will also change quite a bit in terms of legislating, but I will cover those a bit closer to the elections. House races tend to go under-reported because they are highly localized. Currently, the House of Representatives is supposed to seat 435 members. The total is supposed to be adjusted based on population sizes of districts although this number hasn’t changed since the early 20th century. As members of the House each serve two-year terms, all 435 are up for grabs this year. However, most seats are in districts that are safe for the incumbent party. According to Cook Political Reports, 90 races are “competitive”, 25 of which are detailed as Toss-ups. Over the next five weeks, I will go through these districts and the candidates running for the seats. All demographic stats are from the U.S. Census as of 2018

District: California 21st.

Major Cities: Parts of Bakersfield and Suburbs of Fresno

Demographics: The 21st District has a median household income of $58,700 which is less than the Californian median of $71,228. The district is very blue-collar, with the plurality of jobs in agriculture and retail with only around 9% of adult residents earning a bachelor’s degree. The district’s residents are mostly white and/or Hispanic with nearly 500,000 of the 713,000 residents of a Mexican background. The population also skews younger with the largest block of residents between 25 and 34.

2016 Presidential Result: Clinton +15

Incumbent: TJ Cox (D)

Challenger: David G. Valadao (R, pictured)

Analysis: In most districts where Clinton had won, the House race would be a sure thing. This is not the case here. The District has a history of voting for Republicans in the House like Devin Nunes, a completely ridiculous human who filed a lawsuit against a Cow until he moved districts. Valadao served as the District’s representative from 2012 to 2018 when he lost his seat to Cox by only 862 votes. TJ Cox is now the one playing defense. While he is leading in fundraising, it is not a significant difference. Valadao was incredibly popular in the district, never really receiving a real challenge until Cox’s victory. It does seem though, that Valadao’s 99% pro-Trump voting record might be a turn-off to moderates in the district with a strong Democratic voting record outside of the House. Distancing himself from that may be enough to pull through. On the other hand, Cox needs to draw more attention to Valado’s record and point to his own record of Bipartisan voting.

Prediction: Valadao. Cox is just utterly boring. There is no national coverage of this race at all and he needs to change that immediately.

District: California 25th

Major Cities: Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Northern tip of Los Angeles

Demographics: The 25th District of California, made up of 716,257 residents averaging around 37 years old. Unlike the previous district, CA-25 has a median income north of $82,000. Most of the jobs are centered in either Healthcare or retail with nearly 30% of adults holding a Bachelor’s degree. The majority of the population is white with a sizable Hispanic population as well.

2016 Presidential Result: Clinton +7

Incumbent: Mike Garcia (R)

Challenger: Christy Smith (D, pictured)

Analysis: This is a weird one. Back in 2018, Katie Hill, a Democrat, defeated Incumbent Steve Knight. Then, around a year into her term, Hill’s now ex-husband posted nude photographs of her without her consent. Hill resigned and a special election took place in March. Christy Smith, an Assemblywoman garnered the most votes, but because of a weird (but honestly pretty good) California elections rule, the vote went to a runoff as Smith did not win a majority. The runoff was held against Mike Garcia, a retired Navy Pilot and former Raytheon executive. For those who don’t know, Raytheon is a definitely not evil company who supplies “defense” weapons to such defenseless countries like the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Very cool. Anyways, Garcia actually won the runoff to the surprise of every establishment Democrat. Fear not though, as Smith has a shot at making a comeback. Smith, who will find the majority of her base in the Suburbs, might see increased party-line voters with Biden-heavy turnout.

Prediction: Smith. This is solely based on turnout though. Garcia obviously is in a good position.

District: Georgia 6th

Major Cities: Marietta, Roswell, Northern Suburbs of Atlanta

Demographics: As like much of suburban America, GA-6 is very white (69%), very comfortable financially (median of nearly 100,000) and highly educated (64% with a Bachelors). Most workers are in the science and tech industry and many commute into Atlanta for work.

2016 Presidential Result

Incumbent: Lucy McBath (D, pictured)

Challenger: Karen Handel (R)

Analysis: Like the previous two districts, GA-6 is a rematch. McBath, a former gun-regulation activist defeated Handel by just over 3,000 votes in the “blue wave” of 2018. Handel, who is your run in the mill hyper-religious conservative, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, flip-floppy on climate. You name it, she is as conservative as it gets. This does not bode well for her in a well-educated, suburban and metropolitan district. McBath is also certain to benefit from a Biden boost as well. A highly educated community is also more likely to be disappointed with Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which will help Democrats across the ballot. Her biggest struggle may be with voter turnout as Georgia under Governor Brian Kemp is notorious for voter suppression. You can bet he is going to try hard to do the same this fall.

Prediction: McBath. The demo-shift and the extreme views of her opponent work in her favor.

District: Georgia 7th

Major Cities: North-East Atlanta and surrounding suburbs in Gwinnett County

Demographics: The largest district we have looked at so far, GA-7 is home to over 800,000 people. Like the California districts, the population skews younger (35) and much more diverse. The makeup is 53% white, 20% Black, and 19% Asian. The district is also fairly better off than the $48,000 median income in Georgia with the average family making $88,000. This money is made mostly by those in the Healthcare industry or in various trades.

2016 Presidential Result: Trump +6

Incumbent: No incumbent but seat was held by a Republican

Challengers: Rich McCormick (R, pictured) and Carolyn Bordeaux (D)

Analysis: This is the first seat that has no incumbent. Rob Woodall (R) announced he was not seeking reelection last year. The district however voted Trump in 2016 and has a history of voting for Republicans. Bordeaux has a decent lead in funding and has a 3-point lead in the polls. She was only 433 votes away from winning in 2018 and the diversity of the district probably gives her a boost as well. I just struggle to see a Democrat taking a seat they haven’t held since 1995. She does have a real shot though, especially with name recognition. The fact that Trump carried the district should put a lot of pressure on Democrat organizers though.

Prediction: Gun to my head? I would have to say McCormick, but it is SO CLOSE.

District: Illinois 13th

Major Cities: Bloomington, Decatur, Champaign

Demographics: Of IL-13’s nearly 708,000 residents, 100,000 work in education or healthcare, the most of any field. The median income of $68,000 in nearly the average in the state of Illinois. The average age is around 35 as is the percentage of residents with a college degree. Also, as with the rest of non-Chicago Illinois, the 13th is a whopping 83% white. All in all, the demographics are very similar to CA-21 in terms of age, education, work, and income.

2016 Presidential Results: Trump +6

Incumbent: Rodney Davis (R, pictured)

Challenger: Betsy Dirksen Londgrian (D)

Analysis: Back to another rematch, folks! Davis, who has held the seat since 2012 is defending against Londgrain for the second cycle in a row. Nearly every race he has ran in has been incredibly close, squeaking past Londgrain by only 2,200 votes. While Londgrain is out-raising Davis, she broke a promise not to accept PAC money which could very easily be a turn off for many voters. Flip-flopping is never a good look, especially when that money is from Big-Pharma when you are running in middle America. As for Davis, he is also a benefactor of corporate lobbying. He is also closer to being a moderate than any Republican I have mentioned prior, supporting Marijuana legalization, moderate gun reform, and DACA. The fact that Davis has even garnered criticism for being too far left makes this race seem pretty safe. Anything can happen though.

Prediction: I am almost certain it will be Davis.

The Politician Independent Newspaper, created in 2020