By Jim EllisJune 13, 2018 — The notoriously long California vote counting system continues to grind along, and a week later a major election is still in doubt — the 48th Congressional District, a seat fully contained within Orange County. Among the 16 jungle primary candidates, incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has secured the first run-off position and advances into the general election. The ongoing battle is for second place between biomedical company CEO Hans Keirstead and businessman Harley Rouda, both Democrats.
This is an interesting election since the national and state Democratic Parties are split. The California State Democratic Party convention gave its official endorsement to Keirstead, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and many Democratic leaders officially backed Rouda.
On election night, Rouda had taken the lead, but the laborious post-election count has now put Keirstead in second place with a growing lead. His previous edge over Rouda was 87 votes. The latest count, released Monday night, increases Keirstead’s edge over Rouda to 372 votes, continuing the pattern of Keirstead moving up in the post-election count.
California counts will not become official until today, when the final canvass must be approved and certified. Currently, Orange County is reporting that 107,664 ballots throughout the county remain uncounted. Since the 48th District consumes about 26 percent of the entire county, we can assume that approximately 28,000 ballots from this district are still outstanding with just under 10,000 people voting for either Keirstead or Rouda if the previous vote patterns remain consistent.
Dividing all of the congressional district’s votes, remembering there are 16 candidates in this particular contest, we see that of those voting for either Keirstead or Rouda, 50.4 percent have chosen the former candidate. This means, of the remaining uncounted ballots where the voter chose either Keirstead or Rouda, the latter man would have to reverse the previous trend and take a bare minimum of 52 percent of the votes outstanding to catapult him into second place.
At this point, with Keirstead actually expanding his lead since the first election night count, it appears unlikely that Rouda will be able to reverse the trend. But it is still mathematically possible that he could. This means, based upon the current knowledge that exists today, it is likely the general election will feature Rep. Rohrabacher and Keirstead.
According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters, 200,107 ballots were reported uncounted after Election Day, June 5. So far, the county has recorded 92,443 votes from this outstanding group. At this point, a total of 461,710 votes have been counted in Orange County, meaning a countywide turnout percentage of 31.2 percent. Of those, 181,704 votes were actually cast at the traditional precinct voting location. From the counted total, 39.3 percent were cast at the polling location, as opposed to 60.4 percent who mailed their ballots. The others voted in person early.
In Orange County, all of the precinct and pre-election day mail ballots have been counted. There are an estimated 45,500 provisional ballots remaining, along with 45,184 ballots where the individual came to the polling place to deliver their mail ballot, 193 paper ballots, 16,265 mailed ballots that were postmarked June 5 but received after Election Day and before midnight on Friday, June 8, and 522 conditional registrations. All of these must be added to the countywide tabulation. From the 48th District, it is likely that all of these categories total about 28,000 remaining votes.