The two outstanding California House races are now finished. Both Democratic incumbents Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16) have officially pulled out close victories.
Despite the Republicans chalking up their largest majority since the 1928 election, the Bera and Costa wins mean the Democrats actually gain one seat in the lopsided California delegation. This result was made possible because of five other very close wins in San Diego (Rep. Scott Peters over GOP challenger Carl DeMaio), Ventura County (freshman Rep. Julia Brownley barely surviving against Assemblyman Jeff Gorell), and San Bernardino (the open Republican seat where Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) scored a tight 51-49 percent win over GOP candidate Paul Chabot).
With counting of absentee ballots just about complete, some 15 days after the election itself, Rep. Bera has now increased the lead he just took to 1,432 votes, a number that the national and local news media deems insurmountable for former Rep. Doug Ose (R) to overcome based upon the number of ballots still remaining to be counted.
In Fresno, the race is even closer with only a few more ballots left to count in Democratic strongholds. Rep. Costa, like Bera in Sacramento, trailing for most of the post-election period has now assumed an 803-vote advantage even before the final Fresno County tallies are added. This situation assuredly points to a Costa victory, and he has been projected as the winner.
Closing these two campaigns mean that only the two Louisiana run-offs, scheduled for Dec. 6, and the AZ-2 recount that finds Republican Martha McSally leading Rep. Ron Barber (D) by a very small margin, are the only remaining races to complete. It is likely that the Republicans will sweep the trio, meaning the initial party division count for the 114th Congress will be 247 Republicans and 188 Democrats.
Absorbing three major blows from her fellow Democrats since the Louisiana Senate run-off campaign began, three-term Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) appears headed for defeat on Dec. 6.
Soon after the election concluded, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership cancelled their reserved media time for the post-election campaign, virtually leaving Landrieu to fend for herself. Now Republican party leaders, clearly confident that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) will win the race, has likewise cancelled their own reserved media time.
Tuesday’s Senate vote on the Keystone Pipeline, a procedure Landrieu demanded from outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) with hopes of demonstrating to her Louisiana constituency that she has sufficient power in Washington to deliver strong job-creating legislation, has failed by one vote with the very man granting her the recorded vote, Sen. Reid, voting against her. Only 13 of her Democratic colleagues supported her effort, and she needed a minimum of 14 plus herself for victory. The Democratic conference seemed to concede her seat to the Republicans with this vote, thus making the incoming majority 54R-46D.
Now, it’s President Obama’s turn to rebuke the Louisiana Democrat. In announcing his long-awaited immigration executive order, something that won’t be viewed favorably in this southern state, Landrieu has received the third of three devastating political blows from the entire Democratic institution. That President Obama would not wait only until after Dec. 6 to announce his action may very well extinguish any final hope she had of rallying her troops and again saving her seat as she has done twice before.
Polling reflects the happenings nationally, even without the immigration issue being included. A new Vox Populi survey (Nov. 16-17; 761 likely Louisiana voters) finds Cassidy leading the senator 53-42 percent. In a way, this latest poll is better news for Landrieu, only because it is an improvement over the other two surveys conducted since this race officially moved into a run-off.
Two previous polls were even more favorable for Cassidy. The Gravis Marketing survey conducted for Human Events (Nov. 12-14; 643 likely Louisiana voters) gave the challenger a huge 58-39 percent advantage. Earlier, the Magellan Strategies automated poll taken for the congressman’s campaign (Nov. 12; 1,917 likely Louisiana voters) posted Cassidy to a favorable 57-41 percent spread.
With Obama’s immigration plan now in the public domain, expect Sen. Landrieu’s polling numbers to drop even further, with re-election prospects becoming ever more dim.