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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Republicans appear on track to take the House

A mail ballot being dropped off on Election Day in Oakland, Calif.

By Nate Cohn

After a long week counting mail votes out west, a Republican House majority now seems in sight.

It might still be days until the major decision desks can project that Republicans have won the 218 seats necessary to win control. But over the weekend, Democrats fell short of their targets in the late count in critical battleground districts in Arizona and California.

The sometimes good — but not good enough — results for Democrats raised the bar for what the party needs in the votes yet be counted, while making a late surge seem even less likely.

Right now, Republicans would be on track to win 221 seats if the latest trends continued, though several of these races remain so close that they could easily go the other way.

Here’s the Republican path to the 218 needed to win.

— Where Republicans are losing ground, but on track to hold on

California 27, California 45

Democrats have made steady gains in the post-Election Day count in these two diverse districts that went for Joe Biden in 2020. Their overperformance in the initial post-Tuesday count helped keep their hopes for a majority alive.

But this past weekend the results were well short of what they needed to be on track for victory.

Republican Michelle Steel still leads by 7 percentage points in California’s 45th, and Mike Garcia leads by 11 points in California’s 27th.

In the end, Democrats might pull within 4 points of victory in both races. But they’ll need to do about 12 points better in the remaining vote than they’ve done so far in the votes counted after Election Day.

A few more good-but-not-good-enough Democratic batches might mean Republicans can lock down both districts — perhaps even Monday or Tuesday.

The Republicans have already been projected to win 212 districts, according to The Associated Press, just six short of the 218 needed for a majority. They will have 214 districts if they clinch these two races.

— Where Republicans are ahead and gaining

Arizona 1, California 3, California 41

For days, Democrats led the count in Arizona’s 1st. They also seemed tantalizingly close in California’s 41st.

But over the weekend, the relatively Republican Election Day drop-off vote in Maricopa County swung Arizona’s 1st into the Republican column. Meanwhile, Republicans continued to pad their lead in California’s 41st, a district that looked like a near-must-win for Democrats if they couldn’t come back and win California’s 27th or 45th.

California’s 3rd, a Trump district that Republican Kevin Kiley leads by 6 points, has never looked competitive.

California’s 41st and Arizona’s 1st are much closer than California’s 45th and 27th. There are many ballots left to count as well. Put it together, and there’s no guarantee that either of these races is called quickly.

But Republicans would reach 217 districts, just one short of the magic 218, if they ultimately locked down these three contests.

— Where Republicans are ahead and not much vote is left

Colorado 3, New York 22

With the previous five districts looking good for Republicans, Democratic chances may hinge on pulling off a surprising upset in at least one race in which Republicans lead in an all-but-final count.

Of the two, Colorado’s 3rd is the most compelling. Lauren Boebert leads by just 0.4 points, with overseas and cured mail ballots remaining to be counted. Both types of vote might be expected to lean toward her Democratic challenger, Adam Frisch, but the number of outstanding ballots is unknown, making it unclear whether his path to victory remains plausible.

New York’s 22nd is more ambiguous. There appears to be some number of votes remaining, which is why the race has not yet been called. There is no public reporting to suggest that these ballots would be expected to be enough for the Democrat to take the lead in this race. Most analysts have been penciling it in to the Republican column.

Republicans will win a majority if they secure these two districts and the five previously mentioned.

— Where Democrats remain highly competitive

California 13, California 22, Arizona 6

If Democrats can pull off at least two upsets in the previous seven districts where Republicans are unequivocal favorites, Democrats would need to sweep these three districts to win a majority.

For now, Republicans hold a nominal lead in all three races, but there are still many votes left to count. In general, Democrats have gained in the post-Tuesday count in all three races. The final results could be within 1 percentage point.

Of the bunch, Arizona’s 6th is the one that’s starting to look most daunting for Democrats. While they’ve been steadily gaining, their momentum appeared to stall out Sunday when ballots in Tucson’s Pima County expanded the Republican lead for the first time.

California’s 13th, on the other hand, seems most challenging for Republicans. Republican John Duarte leads by just 84 votes, and Democrats have been gaining in this district since election night.

The most uncertain is California’s 22nd. It’s still early there; only 53% has been counted, according to AP estimates. The Democratic stronghold in the district, parts of Kern County, didn’t report over the weekend. But Democrats have been gaining in the count, and they will probably continue to gain. It’s too early to say if it will be enough.

If Republicans win the races in which they’re plainly favored and sweep these three tossups, Republicans could win a 222-213 majority. If Democrats win these three, the final tally might be 219 for Republicans and 216 for Democrats.

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