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Thomas Gallatin / June 6, 2018

Primary Results — Both Parties Held Serve

The California primary had no decisive results for either party, but Democrats should be worried.

California, due to its high population and “jungle primary” system, was the clear focus for analysts seeking any hints as to whether Democrats’ hope for a “blue wave” in November is materializing or if Republicans will be able to repel the challenge and maintain their majority control of Congress. The results, as is often the case, are proving to be a mixed bag. In other words, both national parties have positives they can take from Tuesday’s results, specifically in California, though neither comes away with an obvious or decisive advantage.

For Democrats in California, their goal of getting a candidate on the ballot in every district looks to have been accomplished, pending the results in a couple of districts. This sets the stage for Democrats to challenge all the Republican-held House seats in the state, which they need to have any hope of seeing a blue wave come November. Secondly, California Democrats locked up the Senate seat, as Dianne Feinstein easily won the primary and will be pitted against fellow and far-left Democrat Kevin de Leon. Republicans failed to even secure a challenger.

However, the biggest surprise of the night may prove to be a bigger problem for Democrats than many realize. Going into Tuesday, it was widely assumed that the state’s governor race would boil down to a fight between two well-known Democrats, current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. However, Republican candidate John Cox’s strong second-place finish blew up that narrative, guaranteeing a Republican challenger for the governorship. In the weeks leading up to the primaries, Cox got a strong endorsement from President Donald Trump, which clearly benefited his campaign. And as Cox noted, “It wasn’t Donald Trump who made California the highest tax state in the country. It was Gavin Newsom and the Democrats.” Having Cox on the ballot bolsters the GOP’s get-out-the-vote drive. Republicans now have a chance to vote for their candidate at the top of the ticket, which in turn boosts Republican congressional and state candidates down the ballot. Secondly, it’s a win for Trump in the state that represents the Democrats’ vanguard in their anti-Trump resistance.

It’s also worth highlighting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s comments over the weekend. Gingrich opined, “I actually believe we are closer to a ‘red wave’ than a ‘blue wave.’ … Starting with passing the tax cuts, with what President Trump has done consistently on conservative judges, on deregulation, on trade negotiations, what he’s done with North Korea — I think people now have a sense that we’re moving in the right direction.”

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