Democrats on Wednesday narrowly escaped the danger of getting shut out of the California House general election in key battleground districts due to the state’s “jungle” primary system, as Politico reports. California is a key state in the upcoming general elections for Democrats to snatch the House back from the Republicans.
So, what is the “jungle” primary system and how did it put the Democrats in danger? Well, it puts everyone in danger because all candidates, regardless of party, are placed on the same ballot and only the top two advance. So, if two Republicans get the most votes, they are the only ones on the ballot for the general election and Democrats can kiss their chances goodbye. Also, the “jungle” primary is the only instance in which California voters can add write-in candidates to their ballot. It’s important to note that this system is not used for the presidential election.
During Tuesday’s primary, there were three major battleground districts in the southern part of California where too many Democratic candidates were on the ballot and the party feared the Democratic votes would be too split, ultimately resulting in two Republican candidates for the general election. Basically, when Californians arrived to the voting booths yesterday, they were faced with an extremely long list of names, ranging from Republican to Democrat and every third party imaginable. If a Democrat arrives to vote for a Democrat and there are five on the ballot, not to mention all the other parties’ candidates’ names, you can imagine how confusing that would be. It would also be easy for those five Democrats to get an equal amount of votes without one Democrat getting the majority and having a fighting chance against the Republicans.
The Washington Post reports that a few frightening complications arose on Tuesday night when a “printing error” occurred in Los Angeles County, forcing more than 100,000 voters to cast provisional ballots, if they even stayed to vote. The printing error could affect important races such as the 39th district, which is why it has been closely watched. Early Wednesday morning, the votes were still being tallied. In the end, Democrats came in second in all the three of the important battleground districts, and they were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. However, the votes were extremely close especially in Orange County, where Republican Dana Rohrabacher came in first with 30 votes, and Democrats Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstead followed at 17—yet just behind them sat Republican Scott Baugh at 16. Another tight race took place in the 10th district, where Republican Jeff Denham won and Democrat Josh Harder came in second. However, Republican Ted Howze is a little too close for comfort behind Harder. Despite all of the road blocks, as of Wednesday morning it was pretty clear that Democrats will compete in the general election for almost all of the 53 districts.
The fight isn’t over, though. Absentee ballots are still in the mail and have yet to be counted. These ballots could take as long as next week to arrive, meaning some of the districts could remain undecided for weeks. Despite this major win for fearful Democrats, it didn’t stop Trump from bragging about Republicans who narrowly escaped a shutout of their own in the primary for governor. Trump tweeted, “great night for Republicans,” even though it wasn’t. If it was a great night for Republicans, then Democrats wouldn’t be on the ballot for the general election and they are. California’s successful primaries prove just how ready Democrats are to fight for control of the House.