By Jim Ellis
Last week, the NJ-7 race that was called for Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) on election night but rescinded when the post-election votes were drawing state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) close to dead heat range, has now culminated. Again, Rep. Malinowski was determined to be the winner when the number of uncounted votes became less than the margin between the two candidates.
The open 5th District in Louisiana is headed to a Dec. 5 runoff election. Here, Republicans Luke Letlow and state Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) will battle to replace retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto). Since both finalists are Republicans, the GOP keeping this seat is not in doubt.
The Iowa 2nd District race between state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) and former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart (D) continues in full recount. Miller-Meeks had a 47-vote lead as the recount began. Under Iowa law, the leader has been certified as the winner, but that would change should the recount produce a different result.
Hart filed recount petitions in all of the district’s 24 counties. The various election officials have 18 days to complete their additional canvass, which means we should see a conclusion here sometime near Dec. 1.
In New York, counting continues in the 22nd District where former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) continues to lead freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by a relatively substantial margin as the number of uncounted ballots slowly dwindles. The latest count finds the former congresswoman and ex-state Assembly member leading Rep. Brindisi by 10,967 votes according to the CNN count, which appears to have the most updated data.
Almost 292,000 ballots have been counted with an estimated 26,000-plus votes remaining. To overcome the difference, Rep. Brindisi would have to attract approximately 71 percent of the outstanding ballots. In the 2016 election, 296,086 individuals voted in the congressional race. Therefore, if the estimated outstanding total of 26,000-plus is near correct, then turnout would have increased approximately nine percent from the last presidential election turnout model when compared to the current vote.
In the last group of approximately 25,000 votes, Congressman Brindisi garnered closer to 68 percent in reducing Tenney’s lead from 21,812 votes to the current number. Unless the remaining ballots are even more Democratic than the latest batch, Tenney will likely remain in the lead and soon claim victory.
The two California races are headed for razor-thin finishes. Friday was the final day the state could receive ballots ostensibly postmarked Nov. 3, so the counting process should soon be drawing to a close. The state has until Dec. 11 to certify all elections. Mail vote counting takes so long in California because every ballot signature form is verified against the person’s original voter registration card. Only Districts 21 and 25, however, remain uncalled from California’s 53 US House elections.
The 21st District contains all or parts of four counties: Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare. Only small Kings County if fully contained within the district. Fresno County has completed its count, and outstanding ballots remain in the other three entities.
The congressional race features freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) and former US Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford). Currently, Valadao leads by 1,796 votes according to the California Secretary of State’s official count. Kern County, which houses the district’s largest city of Bakersfield, has the most outstanding votes, an estimated 8,450.
The estimate is derived from taking the percentage of the county in the district (37.4 percent) and dividing it by the number of countywide outstanding ballots as the Secretary of State reports. Therefore, this is nothing more than an educated guess since there is no way to tell just how many of the county’s ballots are within the 21st District.
Kern is a favorable Democratic County, and Rep. Cox has already scored 58.7 percent of the previously counted vote. Counting Kern will likely put Rep. Cox back into the lead. Tulare County, of which only 7.9 percent of its vote lies in the 21st District, split almost evenly between the two candidates – just 21 votes separate them – therefore, the final estimated 325 votes from this county likely won’t make a great difference.
Kings County is fully contained within the 21st and has 1,529 uncounted ballots. Valadao scored 62.1 percent of the previously counted vote, so this, plus his share of Kern and Tulare plus his previous lead could still allow him to eke out a victory within the 700-vote range or fewer. Since all of this could prove to be a wild estimate, the CD-21 outcome won’t be known until we actually see how the ballots come down.
The 25th District congressional vote, a CD that occupies part of northern Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley and a section of neighboring Ventura County, is even closer than the 21st CD’s count. Here, freshman Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), who won the office back in a May special election, leads state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) by just 422 votes. An estimated 4,400 ballots remain to be counted.
Of those, an estimated 3,950 ballots come from LA County, where Smith so far enjoys a 51-49 percent edge. Only 450 remain from Ventura County where Rep. Garcia has posted 54.2 percent of the recorded votes.
With margins this close and so few votes remaining, it is very difficult to make a prediction. If the percentages remain true and the remaining vote calculation is anywhere near correct, Garcia could score an approximate 300-vote victory. This will clearly be the closest race in California. A total of 335,612 votes have already been recorded.
It appears turnout in the two close Golden State districts will both increase over 30 percent from 2016 presidential turnout model levels. As a whole, the state of California appears to be running about 23 percent over the 2016 turnout model as 79 percent of the registered voters have cast a ballot.
In 19 of the state’s 58 counties, the registered participation number equals or exceeds 85 percent. Marin and Sonoma Counties have the highest turnout percentage, both 89 percent, while Lake County in northern California is the lowest with only 29 percent so far recorded. The only other county under the 50 percent mark is Mendocino County located in the Napa Valley.