California’s filing deadline is now past and the contours of the 2018 election are slowly coming into view.  The biggest action in California, even bigger than the governor’s race, may be the race for congressional seats, since California will almost certainly decide if Democrats can win back the House of Representatives this fall.  Money tells the story; millions have already been raised by Democratic candidates for seats the party did not even contest in 2016.

The focus will be on the 14 Republican held House seats and national Democrats have a committee formed to flip all 14 from the GOP.  That’s unlikely to happen, but there is one frightening factoid that came out of the special election in Pennsylvania last week where Republicans lost a very red seat that President Trump had carried by 20 points in 2016.

What should frighten Republicans is that there are some 117 Republican held House seats that are less red than this one; and that includes all 14 GOP held seats in California.  Trump won 59 percent of the vote in the Pennsylvania seat; he did not do that well in any of California’s 53 districts, including the 14 GOP districts.

Another concerning factor is that in most of the special elections for congress and legislative seats in 2017, Republicans candidates seem to have run at exactly the level of Trump approval in their districts.  In the seat lost in Pennsylvania last week, the Republican received 49 percent of the vote, and the Trump approval rating was 49 percent.

This would suggest that the country is so highly polarized right now that if you approve of Trump you will vote for the Republican and if you disapprove you will vote for the Democrat.  That is cause for alarm for Republicans in California because Trump lost seven of the 14 GOP seats to Hillary Clinton, and anecdotal evidence suggests that today he may even be less popular in the Golden State than he was in 2016.

Democrats have 10 of the 14 Republican seats on their list of targets and have credibly funded candidates in most of them.  Let’s start by looking at the “Clinton Seven”, the Republican-held districts Trump lost.



These are the battleground districts for 2018 while Democrats try to pick up the 24 GOP seats they need to win the House.  But three other Republican seats are also possible targets.



Four Republican Houses seats seem safe at this time.



It is probable some of the ten vulnerable GOP seats will fall off the target list after the primary, but for now Republicans face the very real possibility that they could lose ten of their 14 California House members in 2018.