Democrats hope for a strong year in the Golden State, and the California 10th Congressional District is a US House election to watch.
With their numbers whittling down on the West Coast, the GOP is on defense in a handful of California seats. The 10th District is one of those. At least for their sake, they have an incumbent, Jeff Denham, running for re-election. Were this an open seat, this would have been a worse proposition for Republicans. Even with Denham seeking re-election, Democrats retain a realistic chance of victory here in November.
2018 California 10th Congressional District Race: Our Rating
California-10 is rated as a Democratic GAIN (weak lean) as of October 21, 2018.
California 10th Congressional District Profile
California-10 is contained only within Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. Its center of gravity is Modesto, though it also includes places such as Turlock, Tracy, and Manteca. Nearby Stockton is in the 9th District. The 10th is smack in the middle of California’s Central Valley.
The only Republican on a state or federal level who has had any reasonable success here is Jeff Denham. The last Republican to win a statewide vote in this district was Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006 under the old configuration. Since the lines were redrawn for 2012, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton carried the district. Jerry Brown and Kamala Harris also won the 10th District as they sought and won their offices.
2018 California 10th Congressional District Candidates
Republican: Jeff Denham. Denham has been a member of Congress since the 2010 Republican wave election. He was originally elected as member for the 19th District, which included Turlock and Oakdale but omitted Modesto and stretched down into Fresno County. Before that, he was a state senator for eight years. In the 2012 election, Denham was redistricted into the current 10th District.
He won in a landslide under the old district configuration in 2010. However, he has had several close calls in the 10th District. In 2012, Denham won with 52.7 percent of the vote in the first top-two general election, and took 51.7 percent in 2016.
Democratic: Josh Harder. Harder is a venture capitalist and Modesto Junior College professor making his first run for political office. A Turlock native, he returned home to make this congressional run.
2018 California 10th Congressional District Jungle Primary Results
Jeff Denham won the jungle primary with 37.5 of the vote. Six Democrats ran against Denham, while he had just one fellow Republican running against him. Josh Harder came in second with 17 percent of the vote, advancing him to November’s general election.
Ted Howze (R) lost to Harder by about 3,000 votes, with Harder ensuring a Republican-Democratic final two in November.
The combined Republican vote was 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent for the Democratic candidates.
Why We’re Watching The 2018 California 10th Congressional District Race
One very simple reason we’re observing California-10 is how close the polls are. Over the course of the campaign, both Denham and Harder have had surveys showing them in the lead. Other political prediction outfits would consider this race a “toss-up.”
Democrats have continued to make inroads in this state, and by the end of the 2018 election, elected Republicans could be slim in number in California. In 2010, California had 19 Republican congresspeople out of 53, which is not great but could have been worse. Following 2018, this could be in the single-digits. Republicans in Congress from California are an endangered species, and most of what they have left is going to be a Democratic target. Only a few farthest from the coast are slam dunks for the GOP.
Denham is far from the only Republican in trouble in Calfornia. That’s not going to be of any comfort to him, but what might be is that the 10th District might fall, but it is not the most likely California GOP seat to fall. You can pick any of a handful of GOP districts in Southern California for that honor.
California as a whole is trending into one of the most solid blue states in the country. That is bad news in general for the GOP, who see the Golden State as 55 electoral votes to which they have no access. This is also a bad year for Republicans to be running for re-election in a blue state, much less in a district carried by Hillary Clinton. Denham absolutely can win, but he has his work cut out for him.