The 2018 primaries are upon us, and they could either be momentous or just of passing note.

California voters may hold the keys.

The marque race in California pits four Democrats against two Republicans who may be heavily over-matched if the usual blue-state predictions are correct.

Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom appears to be surging at the right moment and is looking more like a shoo-in for the #1 spot. The real battle is over who will claim second place winning the right to square off against him in November.

Businessman John Cox seems to have the upper hand over GOP Assemblyman, Travis Allen, who was able to deny his opponent their party’s endorsement a few weeks ago, but since then has failed to see any bump in the polls.

In the state’s so-called “blanket” primary, the top two vote getters in all the state and congressional races are given a shot at the trophy.

Unless one were to drop out—a prediction nobody is making—if GOP and independent voters can rally around a single candidate in the few weeks remaining, Cox may have a legitimate shot at the #2 spot providing he can edge out Democrat and former L.A. Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, who has comparable support.

A Cox nomination would play well into the Newsom team’s strategy which would relish a finals match against the conservative Cox, rather than Villaraigosa, another Left-Liberal Democrat, considered Newsom’s main rival.

GOP House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy—a potential heir to the Speakership if his party can keep its majority—needs Cox on the ballot for other reasons, the chief one being the vulnerability of 10 California House seats including 2 open because of retirements which could determine who will hold the gavel in November.

With no big name Republicans in the down-ballot races to attract voters, Democrat prospects to win some if not a majority of those seats would increase considerably

Another complication is the likelihood of anemic voter turnout—a development which would not favor the GOP as the minority party.

Historically, mid-term elections without presidential candidates at the top of the ticket arouse little enthusiasm. In recent years barely 40% of the voters have cast votes.

In the last mid-terms in 2014, a mere 36.3% bothered to vote—the lowest in U.S. history since 1942—going back 72 years! California did little better with 42.2% exercising their constitutional rights. Of those aged 18-25, only 3.7% of those eligible chose to vote.

Nationally, 58.2% voted in the 2012 mid-terms—a carry-over effect but slightly down from 61.6% who voted four years earlier in the historic election of Barack Obama.

Except for the 2016 general election, when there was a record voter turnout statewide attributable most likely to the outpouring of anti-Trump voters who favored his opponent by over 3 million votes, California is among 10 of the most populous states showing a decline in registrations in both major parties.

Two voting cohorts will be critical in the upcoming elections whose impacts have yet

to be fully felt: young people and Hispanics and Latinos.

Young voters have been typically disengaged, or simply unexcited if not alienated by their party’s choices. That may have changed with the horrendous rise in school shootings which are continuing, and have made the new generation the leading force behind tougher gun controls or their elimination entirely.

This is a key element in Newsom’s stump speeches when he has been pushing for stronger reforms than any opponent.

With the “millennials” population—a group defined as between 18-35- approaching 73 million—soon to outrank Baby Boomers as the largest voting contingent—they could have a pivotal influence if they are motivated.

The make up 29% of the state’s voting population and 62.9% are eligible voters. A substantial number disdain any party affiliation but when they do vote, they are more liberal than their older counterparts. The big question is will they vote?

Another emerging force are Hispanic and Latino voters who have been registering in growing numbers.

Given their strong aversion to the Administration’s immigration policies, GOP incumbents representing Central Valley districts and other areas where thousands of hospitality, service and farmworkers are employed will be especially at risk.

The California governorship is high stakes, but the stakes for retaining House control and with it perhaps the fate of the American presidency are even higher with this state possibly one of the principal factors.

A 23 seat margin stands between recapture by the Democrats and the momentum this could create to further ramp up the investigations into presidential wrongdoing leading possibly to impeachment proceedings which originate in the House depending upon the findings released by the Special Prosecutor.

If power is not transferred and the GOP retains control with a good chance that Rep. McCarthy—not a strong critic of the president—might be occupying the Speaker’s chair next year, the odds against such action could increase significantly.

In that case June 5th might signal just more business as usual if a still bitterly divided Congress grapples with the nation’s future while a newly-emboldened Commander-in-Chief remains in the White House testing the limits of his authority.