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Politics Analysis: No, Democrats haven't shown they're going to win the House

00:45  07 june  2018
00:45  07 june  2018 Source:   nbcnews.com

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If they ’ re gonna win the House in 2018 running against Trump, if they ’ re gonna try to parlay hatred of Trump as a national issue on which to win back leadership of the country… Not one of these in the Democrat Party voted for what is going to lead — and is leading — to this economic revival.

Image: Jeff DenhamDenham isn't out of the woods yet. © Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Image: Jeff DenhamDenham isn't out of the woods yet.

WASHINGTON — The lesson of Tuesday night's primaries for Democrats: They still have a lot of work to do if they want to win control of the House in November.

They managed to avert the total disaster of getting "locked out" of general election contests in California, where candidates of all parties compete against each other in primaries and the top two vote-getters advance to the final round.

But they didn't look particularly impressive in doing it.

In several of the state's most competitive districts — the kinds of races Democrats will have to win if they are to take charge in the House — Republicans collected more than half the vote.

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Catherine Clark, D-Nev., as a "big effing deal," spoke at length about the opportunity facing Democrats in the fall and how they need to go about reeling in voters who spurned them in 2016. " Go back and holler — you' re going to go win back the House ," he added in conclusion.

And in this moment of constant chatter about an "enthusiasm gap" benefiting Democrats in November, California provides a rare barometer for the general election, both because the two parties match up head-to-head in its primary system and because a significant chunk of the nation's swing districts are located in the state.

In the 10th District, which is rated as a "tossup" by the Cook Political Report, GOP Rep. Jeff Denham — one of the top Democratic targets in the country — grabbed just 38 percent of the vote.

Normally, that would be dead-man-walking territory for an incumbent, and cause for the other party to start popping champagne corks. But another Republican, Ted Howze, siphoned 14 percent of the vote. Together, he and Denham accounted for 52 percent.

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Polls show that kind of performance is within reach In order to take back the House , Democrats would need to win the popular vote by 11 points—an enormous margin in American politics today. In years when Democrats do well, purple states go blue; in good years for Republicans, they turn red.

Republican Rep. Steve Knight, whose 25th District is on all the lists of most-likely to swing, picked up 53 percent of the vote Tuesday against four Democratic rivals.

That doesn't mean Democratic nominees Josh Harder and Katie Hill can't beat Denham and McKnight in their respective districts in November. But the Republican majorities on Tuesday do serve as a reminder that the GOP holds the political high ground in the battle for the House.

Image: Voters In California Cast BallotsVoters went to the polls in California Tuesday. © Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Image: Voters In California Cast BallotsVoters went to the polls in California Tuesday.

The GOP also got more than half the vote in the California districts of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and retiring Rep. Ed Royce. Both seats remain vulnerable to Democratic takeover — Rohrabacher, who has been uninhibitedly pro-Russia, did win just 30 percent of the vote Tuesday — but the results, like those in the Denham and Knight districts, suggest Democrats haven't reached a tipping point with the electorate.

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In Moser’s view, Democrats lose swing districts not because they ’ re too liberal but because they ’ re afraid to show it. “One of the take-home messages was that a giant pot of money is not alone enough to win ,” he said. Westin’s message for Democrats was to go big or go home.

Democrats can win the House without winning any of these, and right now only a few are on national radars. This year she has to face Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, best known for going But we’re talking about Republicans here, they ’ re greedy bastards and they sliced Democratic Salt

Moreover, Republicans in congressional races will surely point to the strong economic numbers that the president touts — historically low unemployment and steady growth among them — as long as they continue. And while Trump's approval ratings are persistently negative, most of the GOP incumbents don't carry the same political baggage. That is, they have both swords and shields with which to defend their turf.

For now, Democrats are relieved that they'll have candidates on the ballot in all the potentially competitive House races in California — a development that was far from a certainty when voters went to the polls Tuesday and which had Democrats cursing California's primary system.

Neera Tanden, president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, tweeted her frustration at the process on Tuesday night before eventually reveling in Democrats' advancement in each of the races.

"I think I can speak for America when I say CA's jungle primary is super dumb," she wrote.

There was other good news for Democrats on Tuesday night, said Kristen Hawn, a party strategist who works with centrist candidates. She took heart in the defeat of candidates aligned with liberal Vermont Sen. and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

"He's not the kingmaker," she said, adding that in several districts, "really solid women came through the primaries for us, which is exciting."

For example, Democrats are enthralled with Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, who cruised through a New Jersey primary in the district that GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen is leaving open. That district, where she'll face off against Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber, is a brick on almost any path Democrats would take to power in the House.

And an unprecedented number of women candidates have been running — and winning — in primaries. It remains to be seen how much that will affect the partisan makeup of the House in the next Congress.

Of course, any election night is a snapshot. After this one, the picture of a Democratic House still hasn't come into focus.

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