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Point/CounterPoint: The California primary

The most consequential day of primaries in 2018 so far is behind us! But before it gets too far in the rearview m...

Posted: Jun. 7, 2018 9:33 AM
Updated: Jun. 7, 2018 9:33 AM

The most consequential day of primaries in 2018 so far is behind us! But before it gets too far in the rearview mirror, we need to spend some time unpacking what June 5, 2018, taught us about November 6, 2018.

Because this ain't easy, I'm bringing in some help. Below, I gave you my Point -- and CNN resident election big brain Harry Enten offered a CounterPoint. Get it? Got it? Good.

Chris Cillizza:-Going into Tuesday's vote, there were major concerns among Democratic strategists that California's odd "jungle primary" system could spell doom for their side. Under the system, which was approved by voters in a ballot initiative in 2010, all candidates run on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their party affiliations, advance to the November election.

That nightmare didn't come to pass on Tuesday. In all seven -- yes, seven(!) -- Republican-held California House seats that Hillary Clinton won in the the 2016 election, Democrats will have a candidate.

That's a very big deal -- particularly when you consider that if Democrats can win five or six of these seats that amounts to one-quarter (or close) of the total of 23 seats they need to net to win back the House majority in November.

Harry Enten: While I certainly agree it wasn't a bad night for Democrats given that they weren't locked out in any of the races in California, I'm not sure I can go so far as to call it good. Why?

Take a look at the cumulative vote percentages the Democrats got versus the Republicans in the seven California districts that have a Republican representative and voted for Clinton in 2016. In the 10th, 21st, 25th, 39th, 45th and 48th, the Republican candidates (as of Wednesday) got more votes than the Democratic candidates did. In the 21st, it wasn't even close, with Rep.-David Valadao scoring well over 60% of the vote, despite Clinton carrying the district by over 15 points.-Only in the 49th District did the Democrats get a larger share of the vote than the Republicans.

Now, you might say that this isn't the general election. Yes, that's true, though the top-two primary has traditionally been-decently predictive of the fall results.-Based upon history, we should expect Democrats to gain a little ground in the general based off the primary. That ground gained, though, has not historically been so great as to make us believe that they are favorites in really any of these seats outside the 49th. Most of these races are either tossups or even lean Republican.

Not exactly great news for a party that needs a net gain of 23 seats and thinks California is a place where they can pick up a good share of that 23.

Chris: Good observation. Much like your views on Carvel ice cream. Can't wait 'til next Tuesday -- more primaries!

The Point: Opinions vary! But-what's clear is Tuesday night wasn't the disaster it could have been for Democrats.-Whether November in California will be a letdown or a leg up for Democrats' hopes of the House majority remains to be seen.

Read Wednesday's full edition of The Point newsletter, and sign up to get future editions delivered to your inbox!

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