Democrats now hold the largest percentage of Golden State U.S. House seats since the Election of 1882
After picking up seven seats from California in the 2018 U.S. House elections, the Democratic Party may seem as beholden as ever to the Golden State.
Indeed, California Democrats currently own some pretty gaudy numbers in the party’s U.S. House delegation.
The 46 Democratic U.S. Representatives from California in the 116th Congress is an all-time high – besting the mark of 39 set in the 114th and 115th Congresses.
Democrats have won a majority of California U.S. House seats in every general election cycle since 1958 when they won 16 of 30 districts.
The closest the party got to losing that majority came after the Reagan Revolution of 1980. Democrats won 22 of the delegation’s 43 seats that cycle (51.2 percent).
The GOP also got close after the Republican Revolution of 1994, with Democrats claiming 27 of 52 seats (51.9 percent).
Democrats have controlled at least 60 percent of the state’s districts in each of the last 10 election cycles since 2000 and at least 70 percent since redistricting in 2012.
Democrats currently hold 86.8 percent of California’s seats (46 of 53) which is the largest percentage since the Election of 1882 when the party swept all six seats for the 48th Congress. [The party also won each of the state’s two seats during the first five cycles since statehood in 1850].
Despite the uptick of seven seats from the past two congresses, Democrats from California make up a slightly smaller percentage of the Democratic U.S. House caucus overall.
In the 116th Congress, Californians account for 19.6 percent of its 235-member caucus (46 of 235 seats) which is down from 20.1 percent during the 115th (39 of 194) and their all-time peak of 20.7 percent set during the 114th (39 of 188).
At least 10 percent of Democratic seats in the U.S. House have come from California during 18 of the last 19 congresses since the Election of 1982. [The party owned 26 of the 267 seats after the 1990 election, or 9.7 percent].
And just what is the ceiling for the party heading into the 2020 cycle?
Despite enjoying a banner night last November, Democrats did still leave a little (red) meat on the bone.
Of the party’s seven losses, four were by single digits:
- CA-01: Audrey Denney lost by 9.8 points to three-term Rep. Doug LaMalfa
- CA-04: Jessica Morse fell 8.3 points shy of unseating five-term Rep. Tom McClintock
- CA-22: Andrew Janz came up 5.4 points short of defeating eight-term Rep. Devin Nunes
- CA-50: Ammar Campa-Najjar lost to scandal-plagued five-term Rep. Duncan Hunter by 3.4 points
While it might be difficult to expect Democrats to have as close to a perfect election night in California in 2020 as they did three months ago, the party will have the added benefit of increased turnout during the presidential election cycle and demographic changes that continually pad the party’s advantage in the state.
In 2020, Democrats will have to protect six districts they won by single-digits:
- CA-10 (Josh Harder): 4.5 points
- CA-21 (T.J. Cox): 0.8 points
- CA-25 (Katie Hill): 8.7 points
- CA-39 (Gil Cisneros): 3.1 points
- CA-45 (Katie Porter): 4.1 points
- CA-48 (Harley Rouda): 7.1 points
All six of these seats were pick-ups in 2018 and all but one (CA-39) ousted Republican incumbents.
The low-point for Democrats in California came during the 1904, 1906, and 1908 cycles when the party got shut out of the state’s eight U.S. House seats in each general election. Democrats also failed to win any seats in five other cycles: 1860, 1862, 1864, 1870, and 1900.
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