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Live analysis of California primary results

Welcome to our live analysis as California's crucial primary votes are counted.

We'll be chatting until about midnight Pacific time. While we'll see many major results tonight, it's likely to take at least a day or even weeks for results in some races.

See our full results page

Christina Bellantoni

This has been a terrific conversation, and an interesting evening to say the least.

Christina Bellantoni

Okay, everyone, we'll pop in here later if anything super exciting happens. It's going to be a long night (and possibly few days) as we wait on the results in close congressional contests. I'll share some links where people can track our coverage. The easiest way, of course, is to sign up for the Essential Politics newsletter. Do that here: latimes.com/essentialpoliticsemail

John Myers

And to Christina's point: How much will we see Cox's campaign as arm-in-arm with the initiative to repeal the gas tax? Cox may want to focus on that instead of, for example, the GOP opposition to the sanctuary law. Likely the gas tax repeal has support in Democratic homes, too.

Sarah D Wire

“I’m asking you to get behind Gavin Newsom,” Villaraigosa said, surrounded by his family. “I’m asking you to stand up and pressure every one of us – Democrat and Republican alike – pressure every one of us to stand up for you, to fight for you, not just for ourselves, but for all of us for an American and a California where every one of are growing together.”

Christina Bellantoni

A question we'll want to explore in coming days is how much of his own money does Cox spend, or do GOP donors get behind him

Christina Bellantoni

For history: Our headline will be "It's Newsom vs. Cox in November as Villaraigosa tumbles in governor's race"

Sarah D Wire

Villaraigosa just endorsed Newsom, thanks both him and Cox for running in the governors race

Christina Bellantoni

Thanks Mark, it's been a pleasure

Mark Z. Barabak

I'm going to bail on you good folks. There's a Nigerian prince who wants to make me a millionaire, but I have to hurry and respond to his email. If I fail to cash out, I'll be back bright and early tmrw with more analysis at latimes.com and/or on Twitter @markzbarabak. C ya!.z

John Myers

And he'll get the help of some business and construction groups that see the gas tax money as key to repairing California roads and highways. Republicans think it's a winning hand; we'll see soon what happens... the repeal initiative could qualify for the November ballot any day.

Mark Z. Barabak

What kind of odds you give it? Remember, Jerry's tax hike proposal was looking poorly and then he went out and turned it around. Havent been following closely, so not sure how much of a "pro" campaign has been waged for the gas hike. Whatever it's been, sure Brown will ramp it up in the fall. This is, as much as he hates the word, a legacy thing.

John Myers

Good question, and I think there will be some serious Monday morning quarterbacking about the recall. Republicans actually succeeded in qualifying the recall for an earlier election -- one that would have taken place before the gas tax kicked in -- but Dems maneuvered to push the recall election back to June 5... after the unpopular tax went into effect.

Mark Z. Barabak

Hey, Mr. Myers, is there a job somewhere in Sacramento where Demos will stash Josh Newman? Kind of a took-one-for-the-team sinecure?

Christina Bellantoni

Indeed, it seems Newman is done, and former Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang will replace him. http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-josh-newman-recall-20180605-story.html

Sarah D Wire

Who are right nearby

Sarah D Wire

Especially if the fundraiser involves his two favorite California members of Congress, Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes

Mark Z. Barabak

A Central Valley drop-by in a safe CD would not seem out of the question, as Sarah suggests.

Mark Z. Barabak

I would associate myself with the remarks from the gentleman from Sacramento. Trump is all about winning and, let's be charitable, John Cox is an exceeding longshot.

Sarah D Wire

I imagine he'd be fine showing up in the Central Valley. He campaigned there during the 2016 election and especially for Valadao in CA21 I can't imagine it hurting

John Myers

Boy, it's hard to see a full court Trump working well for California Republicans. My hunch is that Trump's actions now are less about what helps Cox and more what helps congressional GOP candidates in the state. And if they face a Dem, Trump could be a real challenge in those swing seats.

Mark Z. Barabak

With crushing odds favoring Gavin Newsom. Question: Does Trump come out to campaign for Cox, or keep a Tweetly distance?

John Myers

The traditional Democrat versus Republican race for governor now looks like a lock for November.

John Myers

And the AP has called the second spot in the governor's race for Cox.

Mark Z. Barabak

Once more from our friend, David Wasserman of the Cook Report, a projection that De Leon will advance to face Dianne Feinstein in the US Senate race in November. Meaning GOP locked out of that contest.

Sarah D Wire

Republican John Cox has 26% of the vote in the governors race. Those three tweets by President Trump endorsing him went a long way

Mark Z. Barabak

Newman ouster, if holds, shows power of the gas tax repeal. Gov Brown and Demos have their work cut out in the fall if it's going to stick.

Sarah D Wire

AP just called the governor's race for John Cox

Mark Z. Barabak

Was an election many years back when a follower of conspiracy theorist Lyndon Larouche was only guy on the ballot with a bunch of ethnic-sounding names, in Illinois, if memory serves, and shocked everyone by finishing first. He went on to lose the general election but still

Christina Bellantoni

I'm about to edit our story about the recall election of state Sen. Josh Newman. Last I looked he was heading toward being removed from office.

Mark Z. Barabak

Which should not be underestimated

Sarah D Wire

And he was the first candidate with an Anglo sounding name if you looked at an alphabetical list of the Republican candidates

Mark Z. Barabak

Agreed. If that holds, think goes back to the whole discussion of party labels. James Bradley has that R beside his name and he's not the neo-Nazi dude who was also running. So if you're an R who can't stand Feinstein and probably don't know who De Leon is but don't want to vote for him either...

Sarah D Wire

I'm still a bit surprised that De Leon and James Bradley are tied at 10% in the Senate race with 20% of precincts reporting

Mark Z. Barabak

So anything unexpected or shocking out there? DiFi no surprise. Gavin no surprise. Cox not a huge surprise...

Mark Z. Barabak

Well played.

Sarah D Wire

But you need a tambourine man to play a song for me

Mark Z. Barabak

Or to quote the eminent political scientist Bob Dylan, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the winds blows.

Mark Z. Barabak

"“It looks like voters are going to have a real choice this November -- between a governor who is going to stand up to Donald Trump and a foot soldier in Trump's war on California." That's Gavin Newsom tonight. As our friend, the NY Times' Adam Nagourney notes, not a lot of subtly there or much question about the campaign Newsom will run between now and November.

John Myers

Like a paper cup. Murphy!

Mark Z. Barabak

Over on Twitter, GOP strategist Mike Murphy weighs in with this: "Only CA choice to stop Newsom was Villagarosa; V far better on school reform and single payer. So I voted for him, Dem and all. But it’s all moot now. We’ll run Cox and he’ll get crushed like a paper cup. It’s CA Jake."

Christina Bellantoni

Noted: Newsom digs at Jeff Sessions, throwing out some red meat for liberals who don't like Trump's attorney general, especially for his actions against California immigration and drug policies

Christina Bellantoni

From the ya-can't-make-it-up files, Newsom takes the stage to Tupac's California Love

Mark Z. Barabak

I think the Trump endorsement was extremely important. He has off-the-charts approval among Republicans. Cox became the anointed one.

Christina Bellantoni

PLUS! Their messages are very similar.

Christina Bellantoni

And several Republicans I interviewed over the last few days cited the endorsement as a reason for backing Cox.

Christina Bellantoni

I've seen in general that GOP voters seem to be more forgiving of Trump of late

Mark Z. Barabak

That applies even to "independents" or those "I don't vote party, I vote for the man/woman" voters. Scratch not too far below the surface and you find a partisan D or R. That, and President Trump's endorsement, worked to Cox's tremendous advantage.

Mark Z. Barabak

While it's fashionable to pooh poor parties--and there's all that blah blah about Republicans slipping behind independents in California, party labels are still the single best predictor of voting behavior. They telegraph how an individual will cast a ballot far better than age, income, gender, education, sexual orientation or whether someone lives in a big city, the suburbs or the countryside.

John Myers

Calling out all of my fellow chatters: How consequential do we think the tweets were from President Trump that endorsed Cox?

Mark Z. Barabak

If I may reiterate here, if, in fact, Republican John Cox finishes second in the race for California governor, that again reinforces the importance of party labels.

Sarah D Wire

Several Democrats are likely counting on that holding true tonight

Mark Z. Barabak

They always come in much later; ballots arriving by close of business Friday will be counted so long as they're postmarked Tuesday. So Demo turnout will almost certainly increase from what we're seeing tonight.

Sarah D Wire

Yea, Republicans historically vote early, Democrats vote day of

Mark Z. Barabak

Although it should be noted re early turnout Demos always seem to "under-perform" in initial returns. Those numbers will surge considerably once places like Alameda and LA county report.

Mark Z. Barabak

Grrrr.

Sarah D Wire

I will withhold my grumble to the term in that one case only

Mark Z. Barabak

If I may, a correction to earlier (way, way earlier) re the Jungle Primary, with thanks to eagle-eyed reader Lunna Lopes. If a candidate for California superintendent of instruction wins 50%+1 they automatically elected to what is officially a nonpartisan office. That office is the one exception to the top-two rules. Record corrected.

Christina Bellantoni

I was editing the statewide races story, which to me suggests strong Republican turnout. There are several GOP candidates who are looking more likely for second place than we thought.

Sarah D Wire

There's a solid chance that the next Speaker of the House will be a Californian

Sarah D Wire

Both Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy got through to November, just in case any one was holding their breath.

Mark Z. Barabak

But you probably know that already....

Mark Z. Barabak

Trump won!

Christina Bellantoni

Sorry I disappeared, have to juggle print deadlines while using all this new-fangled technology.

John Myers

Ha!

Mark Z. Barabak

Agreed. But after 2016, the words "can't" "not" "won't" "never" and "ever" have been forever banished from my vocabulary.

John Myers

Yeah, but look at the early numbers for all major Dems in the governor's race (abt 56%) and for the top GOP candidates (abt 37%). It's going to be awfully tough when only two names are on the November ballot.

Mark Z. Barabak

But, hey, who knows...

Mark Z. Barabak

It's been more than 20 years since a Republican has been elected governor in a conventional race. That is to say one not involving Arnold Schwarzenegger running in once-in-a-lifetime recall. California is an exceedingly Democratic state and there's not a whole lot of reason to believe that will change between now and November.

John Myers

Villaraigosa just told his election party, "Tonight's going to be a long night." He's calling for more voting time, given the voter list errors in LA.

Mark Z. Barabak

So no certainties in life or politics, right? But if these numbers hold and John Cox finishes second, setting up a D vs R November election, it looks pretty darn likely Gavin Newsom will be the next governor of California.

Sarah D Wire

And let's be honest, he's raised an insane amount of money

Mark Z. Barabak

Say this about him: None of that coy nonsense. He was in it early and openly.

John Myers

And actively running, Mark, since 2015 when he decided not to run for the Senate seat vacated by Barbara Boxer.

Mark Z. Barabak

He's been eyeing the job since 2009, when he waged a futile bid against Jerry Brown. The first candidate to announce and the leader in every poll leading up to Election Day.

Mark Z. Barabak

Our friends at the AP call Gavin Newsom the first-place finisher in gubernatorial race. Another non-surprise.

Mark Z. Barabak

Polling by the Davis campaign showed a lot of people assume lieutenant governor meant, in effect, deputy governor, giving the office-holder valuable on-the-job training. Like Sarah heard today, a lot of people assume the office holds a lot more power than it does.

John Myers

That was also an election with modified primary rules. Ah, I remember 1998 like it was 20 years ago.

Mark Z. Barabak

Gray Davis -- of all  folks -- elevated the stature of the Lt. Gov office, using it to vault to election in 1998. Hard to remember, but he squeezed past a pair of much better-funded opponents on the strength of the office.

Sarah D Wire

I had a few voters tell me today that they backed Newsom because he was Lt. Gov.

John Myers

News: AP has called Gavin Newsom as the top vote-getter in the race for governor.

John Myers

One to watch: the race for lieutenant governor. No, the job doesn't have many official duties. But politicians see it as high-profile (and hey, you're acting governor when the governor is out of state). Right now, there's a tight battle for second place between Democrat Ed Hernandez and Republican Cole Harris. If Hernandez prevails, we could have our first same-party race for a statewide office. The leading vote getter right now is another Democrat, Eleni Kounalakis.

Christina Bellantoni

John's mention of Prop 70 is the biggest one for me. Here's our story: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-propositions-20180605-story.html

Sarah D Wire

Any one seeing surprises in the results so far?

John Myers

Another down-ticket race that looks interesting in early returns: state superintendent of public instruction. In 2014, Marshall Tuck lost to Tom Torlakson, a battle of big money from school reform advocates (who backed Tuck) and teachers unions (who backed Torlakson). Torlakson won. Now, with Torlakson termed out, Tuck is running again... this time against Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, backed by the unions. It's close right now, but Tuck is winning.

Sarah D Wire

Especially when polls have already closed

Mark Z. Barabak

Also, not sure what the argument would be if folks aren't being turned away from voting. But I'm not an election lawyer...

John Myers

It's unclear exactly how much latitude locals have to do those kinds of things. But Friday? That seems very unlikely.

Mark Z. Barabak

Hey, it wouldn't be election day without some screw-ups somewhere!

Mark Z. Barabak

And should be noted no one was turned away from voting. Folks were told they could cast provisional ballots, which will be tallied once they're verified.

Mark Z. Barabak

My hot take is chances of that happening are somewhere between slim and none.

Mark Z. Barabak

Speaking of Villaraigosa, with snafu in LA County balloting--more than 118K voter  names were missing from the rolls at polling places--he asking to keep balloting going until Friday.

Sarah D Wire

Ooof. Will be interesting watching how he does in counties that are not Los Angeles

Christina Bellantoni

Villaraigosa is in sixth place in Humboldt County by the way

Sarah D Wire

The race for second place has been surprisingly contentious, with two UC-Irvine law professors battling it out

Sarah D Wire

She was the only Republican on the ballot. It was not one of the districts where Democrats had to worry about being locked out

Christina Bellantoni

She represents Irvine area in Orange County, and that's another crowded field of candidates

Christina Bellantoni

Rep. Mimi Walters, one of the Republicans who Democrats are attempting to unseat, has earned a spot on the November ballot, AP calls.

John Myers

Poizner was insurance commish from 2006-2010, ran for the GOP nomination for governor and lost and now is running as an unaffiliated "independent" to get his old job back.

John Myers

Keep an eye on the state insurance commissioner's race, where Steve Poizner is in the lead.  Recognize his name?

John Myers

Okay, so back to California...

Mark Z. Barabak

Or something like that.

Christina Bellantoni

Also, Chuck Todd started the Hotline as a fax update!

Mark Z. Barabak

Imagine that. It's like rooting for the Yankees as a kid, then growing up to play center field.

Mark Z. Barabak

True fact: When David was a kid, he asked his parents for a subscription to the Cook Political Report for his birthday. Cost too much, so they got him the weekly subscription. Now he's the Cook House expert.

Mark Z. Barabak

Here, for posterity sake, is the Tweet from Mr. Wasserman: Breaking: shutout averted in #CA49. Orange  San Diego first batch votes: Harkey (R) 16,471 Levin (D) 11,189 Jacobs (D) 10,288 Applegate (D) 8,956 No one else with a chance.

Sarah D Wire

Seriously impressive

Christina Bellantoni

And he knows all these numbers off the top of his hand. Has always been impressive to watch.

Sarah D Wire

Did Wasserman say why he doesn't think there wont be a Dem shut out in Issa's old seat? He's an election prognosticator we tend to watch heavily

Mark Z. Barabak

Went there twice, Mr. Myers. Visited the Mission San Juan Bautista, where Hitchcock's Vertigo was filmed and found a splendid Mexican restaurant in downtown Holllister.

Mark Z. Barabak

Wow. Over at the Cook Report, David Wasserman, who has a darned good track record on these things, is already saying no Demo shutout in the Darrell Issa seat. CD 49. Not  lot of returns but he out on that limb.

John Myers

I actually should give a shout-out to Mark on that one, too.  It's tiny San Benito County, nestled in the area to the south of Gilroy and east of Salinas. It has a remarkable record of being right on races -- having numbers that mirror statewide totals. (Confession: I wrote about it before coming to The Times, but Mr. Barabak wrote the definitive LAT version in 2006.)

Sarah D Wire

You wrote recently about a county that tends to predict statewide results, John. I'd be interested in hearing more about that.

Mark Z. Barabak

Cheers!

John Myers

One county that's going to call it an early night: Napa, which is almost 99% reported. Two reasons for that. First, it's a small county. Second, it's all mail ballots this year, one of 5 counties enacting the new vote center/mail ballot law that can be used across California in 2020. So, more time for a good glass of cabernet in Wine Country.

Christina Bellantoni

(A notoriously slow counter, and also the largest in the state.)

Christina Bellantoni

Overheard in the newsroom: "And as is typical, zero results showing for L.A. County."

Mark Z. Barabak

In point of fact, nothing is a greater determinant--not age, gender, sexual orientation, what have you--than whether someone leans D or R. And that goes for "independents" or "I-vote-for-the-man/woman-voters" 'who claim to be nonpartisan

John Myers

Some cold water on our hot takes of election returns: There's only data so far from as few as 4 counties.

Mark Z. Barabak

Which shows the power of partisanship. It's fashionable to dismiss parties these days, but a lot of people will vote for anyone so long as they have the D or R next to their name.

Sarah D Wire

and the personal wealth to self fund if she wants

Sarah D Wire

Feinstein, in comparison, enters the general with $7 million in the bank

Sarah D Wire

Bradley is the CFO of a small health care company. He's never run for office and he hasn't even raised $5,000 for his race

Sarah D Wire

He led in some polls too, which even caught him by surprise

John Myers

Among other parts of his bio... which we'll leave for another live chat! But back to the Senate race, the early numbers show second place leaning toward a Republican, James Bradley, who had no backing from the state GOP. This would be a big blow to the other prominent Democrat in the race, Kevin de León.

Mark Z. Barabak

A progressive before progressive was cool!

John Myers

Hiram Johnson, the champion of bringing California the initiative, recall and referendum!

Sarah D Wire

She'll also be among the oldest people to ever serve in the U.S. Senate

Mark Z. Barabak

Fun fact: If Feinstein wins and stays in office through 2022, she will become the longest-serving U.S. senator in California history, surpassing the 28 years Hiram Johnson served starting in 1917.

John Myers

In other early election returns... take a look at how one ballot proposition, Prop. 70, is losing in (very!) early numbers. All five measures were placed on the ballot by the Legislature, and few are controversial. But Prop. 70 could allow Republicans in the Legislature a key voice in the spending of cap-and-trade cash. Yes, I wrote about how Democrats want to kill Prop. 70, even though they helped put it on the ballot http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-road-map-cap-trade-proposition-70-supporters-split-20180311-story.html

Christina Bellantoni

With just a smidgen of precincts reporting, Feinstein now has more than double the results of her two closest competitors

Sarah D Wire

If her challenger is close on her heels it will be a long summer

Sarah D Wire

I'll be watching how big her margin is tonight

Mark Z. Barabak

In other news, sun expected to rise tmrw in East, set in West...

Christina Bellantoni

Not a surprise

Christina Bellantoni

The AP has just called the race for Feinstein.

Mark Z. Barabak

I would think so, to the extent it boosts overall GOP turnout and gives those folks a reason to come out in November who might not otherwise.

Sarah D Wire

Does the gas tax repeal benefit Republicans across the state?

John Myers

Got it.

Mark Z. Barabak

Indeed, Mr Myers. But I'm thinking in terms of result vs post-election impact. No question 187 dramatically recast California politics. But Pete Wilson was well on his way to winning even without 187.

Christine Mai-Duc

I've heard from a couple strategists that they believe the 29th Senate District recall race may be leading to higher GOP turnout there, which could make the top-two situation in the 39th Congressional District (which overlaps with Newman's turf) even more dangerous for Democrats.

Mark Z. Barabak

There have been plenty of party efforts to goose turnout one way or the other. But none dispositive the way the '82 measure was.

John Myers

Prop 187, of course, had a lingering effect, Mr. Barabak...

Mark Z. Barabak

Ballot measures can be pretty important. But the only one I can remember making a difference is all the way back in 1982, when a gun-control measure drove conservative turnout and helped George Deukmejian squeak past Tom Bradley.

Sarah D Wire

John Myers with the puns

John Myers

The gas tax repeal effort is going to get its first -- wait for it -- road test in the 29th state Senate district tonight, where freshman Democratic Sen. Josh Newman faces a recall over his vote on the gas tax in Sacramento.

Mark Z. Barabak

For the record, Republicans haven't elected a governor in more than two decades (excepting one Arnold Schwarzenegger, running in an extraordinary 2003 recall election.) That's not likely to change come November, regardless of who makes the top two. Hence the gas-tax thing.

Christine Mai-Duc

Jumping on Mark's point about the state gas tax - it has been shown to be pretty unpopular statewide, and Republican members of Congress have contributed a good deal of money to the effort to qualify a repeal measure for November. Rep. Mimi Walters has been a major booster of that effort

Sarah D Wire

I was expecting Feinstein to be called as the Senate winner in minutes

Christina Bellantoni

I’d just like to point out that it’s 8:18 and we still have no AP calls for the statewide offices. I had expected at least one by now.

Mark Z. Barabak

Excitement feeds on itself. Same with apathy.

Mark Z. Barabak

Their hope is to gin up turnout through a measure to repeal the new state gas tax. But there's nothing like a top-of-the-ticket race to gin up enthusiasm. Or at least get people to pay SOME attention.

Mark Z. Barabak

I think they have a problem, Houston

Sarah D Wire

What do you think it means for turnout if a Republican doesn't make it through in the governor's race or the senate race?

Mark Z. Barabak

Woof!

Sarah D Wire

Especially in a state where so few people are registered Republicans, it has been fascinating to watch the party not unite around a single candidate this cycle in these big races.

Mark Z. Barabak

Didn't want to leave folks  hanging...

Mark Z. Barabak

“If you want a friend in Washington,  get a dog.”

Mark Z. Barabak

What is it Harry Truman said about loyalty and dogs?

Mark Z. Barabak

Funny business, politics.

Sarah D Wire

Allen has been frustrated by it. His supporters blocked Cox from getting the state party endorsement too

Mark Z. Barabak

And that endorsement had to be a kick in the pants for Travis Alen. He's been running as Trump's guy in California and Cox didn't support the president in 2016. But he got the Trump endorsement anyway. (Sad face)

Sarah D Wire

The interesting thing was the state party didn't manage to rally around Cox the same way

Mark Z. Barabak

Why does it matter? Because if you're a Republican voter in California and have no one you like running for Senate and no one you like running for governor, what's the incentive to turn out? You stay home, you hurt your down-ballot Republicans, including those running for the House. That's why, as Sarah mentioned, President Trump backed John Cox

Sarah D Wire

President Trump endorsed Republican John Cox and he suddenly started doing well in the polls

Mark Z. Barabak

So what we're watching for in the governors race is whether Republicans are shut out or manage to shoehorn a candidate onto the November ballot.

Mark Z. Barabak

*not a prediction

Sarah D Wire

What are you watching there?

Mark Z. Barabak

It seems likely Republicans are going to blocked out of the US Senate contest*

Mark Z. Barabak

Since we've focused all this time on the congressional races, let's take a moment to talk about the gubernatorial contest, shall we, since the two are linked. This is the perfect segue since, again, the top-two comes into play.

Sarah D Wire

I imagine we'll know the winner in a lot of these races tonight, but it will come down to who gets the second spot come November

Sarah D Wire

I'll be impressed if it is only a few

Mark Z. Barabak

I'm with you on getting some definitive results. But you know there will be one or two squeakers that will take awhile.

Mark Z. Barabak

Some fun California facts: We have 40 million residents. That's more than Canada! On a map, we stretch from Maine to South Carolina. Twenty-three media markets. Like I said, we're big!

Sarah D Wire

I'm really hoping it wont take that long, of course

Sarah D Wire

And election officials have three weeks to count the results

Mark Z. Barabak

Also, will be awhile before all the ballots arrive. If you postmarked your ballot today it has until the close of business Friday to be counted.

Mark Z. Barabak

Well, we're a really, really big state. Even if we have a pretty meager turnout, which a lot of forecasters expect, we'll still have more ballots to count than 48 states tabulated in the 2016 presidential election.

Sarah D Wire

Can you enlighten us on why it will take so long?

Mark Z. Barabak

Woot! Let the tabulations begin. (Pauses. Drums fingers on table for the next two weeks...)

Sarah D Wire

Speaking of which, the polls officially closed in California three minutes ago!

Sarah D Wire

Even though none of the results are in yet

Sarah D Wire

That's why if you check our results page right now there are a dozen races called. There is only the incumbent or they only have one challenger

Mark Z. Barabak

Grrrrrr

Sarah D Wire

And also probably grumble

Mark Z. Barabak

So call it a jungle primary if you like. But if you do, Sarah will scowl at you!

Mark Z. Barabak

Nope. in a true jungle primary, if a candidate  wins 50% of the vote plus 1, they're the winner. Done. But under the top two the two leading finishers advance to November, regardless of their percentages

Sarah D Wire

It is not

Sarah D Wire

Whew, I thought you were going to call what we have in California a Jungle Primary

Mark Z. Barabak

The idea is everyone's in there thrashing it out together, through all the vines and tangle. But there are differences between a "jungle primary" and the top-two.

Mark Z. Barabak

Lot of talk about California's "Jungle Primary."

Mark Z. Barabak

While we're waiting for polls to close in just a couple of moments, let's do another bit of housekeeping...

Mark Z. Barabak

Yep. Talk that maybe the GOP will shut out of that race, which puts one on the board for Ds and means they only need another 22 seats for Big Casino.

Sarah D Wire

There's some speculation that Republicans could be in trouble in the 49th District, the San Diego and Orange County district Darrell Issa is vacating

Mark Z. Barabak

Applies to both parties.

Mark Z. Barabak

Better paranoid than flat-footed. Or something like that.

Sarah D Wire

Will be interesting to watch how close these margins actually are

Sarah D Wire

And talk of the perilous top two has nominated national coverage in the past few weeks

Mark Z. Barabak

But ya never know...

Mark Z. Barabak

That's because they're Democrats! They always freak out!

Sarah D Wire

Seriously though, Democrats are worried

Mark Z. Barabak

Pencil it out and that  1 in 459 contests under top-two amounts to .002% of elections we've held since 2012. We'll see tonight if that percentage goes up or not and we offer no predictions. As 2016 showed, just because something seems extraordinarily improbable, it doesn't mean it can't or won't happen!

Mark Z. Barabak

Miller at the time was considered one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents in the country. He hung it up rather then run again in 2014. Aguilar won the seat and has been reelected ever since

Mark Z. Barabak

The "lockout" happened in 2012 when then-Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar finished third, 2.2% behind a Republican in the race for then-Rep. Gary Miller's Inland Empire seat

Mark Z. Barabak

We've have 459 legislative + congressional contests since it took effect in 2012. There has been precisely one instance in which a party was shut out of a race it could/should have won. (Assuming, cuz ya never know)

Mark Z. Barabak

So what's happened in the past under the top-two, you ask? (You didn't ask? Well here goes anyway...)

Mark Z. Barabak

Indeed. It should be said--so i'll go ahead--the race for control of the House won't be decided tonight in Fullerton or Vista or Newport Beach. There are scores of competitive House races around the country: seven in New York and New Jersey, five in Pennsylvania alone. But, as Sarah and Christine suggest, it'll be harder for Demos if you were to take three seats right off the table here in California.

Christine Mai-Duc

Mark smartly pointed out earlier today that Democrats could still make up for getting locked out of 1 or 2 races here by looking elsewhere on their 104-district map nationwide. But it certainly makes it harder for them to take back the House this fall.

Sarah D Wire

Especially because the two seats Democrats want to win in the Central Valley are going to be really difficult in the general election. So, if the field narrows now in California, it's just going to get more difficult.

Mark Z. Barabak

Why are national Ds and Rs so involved? Because California will be really important in the race for control of the House. Demos need to pick up 23 seats nationwide and they have their eyes on seven districts in California that Republicans won but Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. Hence their freakout over the prospect of being locked out of three of those contests.

Sarah D Wire

Sen. Dianne Feinstein actually touched on that last week, saying that the top two was supposed to produce more moderate candidates, "but up to this point, it’s proven not to be the case."

Christine Mai-Duc

Yes, the three races they remain most concerned about are in Orange County: the open seats in the 39th and 49th Districts (Ed Royce and Darrell Issa are retiring after this year) and the 48th District, where GOP incumbent Dana Rohrabacher is facing a challenger from his own party who's well-known enough that he could potentially make it through and lock Democrats out.

Mark Z. Barabak

And like Christine said, it's resulted in all sorts of complications and three-dimensional-chess playing by the national parties.

Christine Mai-Duc

Thank you for attempting to keep our chat jargon-free, Sarah!

Sarah D Wire

Psst DCCC= House Democrats' campaign arm

Mark Z. Barabak

Why do we have the top-two? Because voters were fed up with dysfunction in Sacramento so they passed the top-two, figuring it would weed out candidates on the fringes and force candidates to run more to the middle. The two major parties opposed it when it went on the ballot, but voters passed it anyway. The parties are still opposed, but voters seem pretty happy with it.

Christine Mai-Duc

So in the congressional races I'm watching, Democrats have been very concerned that the two candidates making it through in some of these important races may both be Republicans. That's prompted millions of dollars in spending from Democratic groups like the DCCC.

John Myers

My favorite topic

Mark Z. Barabak

Breathe. (Sorry)

Mark Z. Barabak

For those just tuning in, who don't eat and breath politics, might be worth a quick second explaining what we mean by the top-two business. The way elections have worked in California since 2012 is the top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the November general election. Lot of potential ramifications we can get into later, if folks so choose.

Christina Bellantoni

That's interesting about the Senate race, Sarah. I talked to a Republican voter in Huntington Beach this morning, who said she thinks Sen. Dianne Feinstein is alright, and she didn't know any of the GOP candidates on the ballot.

Christine Mai-Duc

Yeah, it's interesting (and all anecdotal, obviously), but two precincts in my neighborhood (pretty liberal northeast LA) had had just a few dozen voters that morning combined, whereas a voter from Palos Verdes Estates emailed in to say their polling place had a full parking lot and steady streams of voters around 8 a.m.

Sarah D Wire

And none of the voters I talked to said they planned to back a Republican for Senate, which is contrary to some of the late polls.

Christina Bellantoni

It sure doesn't seem like it from the anecdotes I heard here in Los Angeles today. The polls were sleepy.

Christine Mai-Duc

Well, Mark pretty much took all of my answers, but I'll also be looking out for how strong vote totals are for GOP House incumbents who have to defend their seats in the fall

John Myers

And I’ll take a crack at a second thing to watch: How strong was voter turnout overall? Non-presidential primaries are the elections that Californians routinely skip. Did this one break the cycle?

John Myers

I’ll bite. My big question is what Republicans do in the U.S. Senate race. Kind of to the point Christina raised, but a slightly different twist. The California Republican Party did nothing to endorse one of the activists who ran, and so GOP voters had no clue who might be the preferred pick. With that in mind, where did the votes fall?

Mark Z. Barabak

Also, are there any warning signs--eg higher-than-expected Democratic totals or a depressed GOP turnout, that might suggest some not-perceived-to-be-all-that-vulnerable Republicans candidates are in more trouble than we might think.

Mark Z. Barabak

I have nothing terribly original here: Who's the top two in the governors race, and are Democrats shut out of any of those House races they're targeting in SoCal?

Mark Z. Barabak

Ha ha! Kidding, Dodger fans!

Mark Z. Barabak

Whoa, wait a minute. Am I in the wrong chat group? I thought we were talking about Madison Bumgarner's return to the mound for the SF Giants!

Christina Bellantoni

I love surprises, so that's what I'm keeping an eye out for. Were polls wrong in the gubernatorial contest? Could a dark horse Republican candidate come in second in the U.S. Senate race? Will a sitting member of Congress come in third?

Christina Bellantoni

So, what is everyone looking out for tonight? I'll start.

Christina Bellantoni

To get things started, here are a whole bunch of handy links. If you haven't yet voted, these might be helpful!

Here's a bunch of our coverage: http://www.latimes.com/politics/elections/

Meet the candidates for governor: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-governor-list-2018-story.html

See where the major candidates stand on the issues: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-governor-issues-20180604-htmlstory.html

Follow the money: http://www.latimes.com/ca2018

Learn about the competitive congressional races we're tracking: http://www.latimes.com/cahouserankings

Here's a conversation with John, Christine and I about what we're watching for tonight: https://www.facebook.com/latimes/videos/10156639709613010/?notifid=1528229749457882

Here's where we'll have live election results: http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-pol-ca-california-primary-election-results-2018/

Christina Bellantoni

Hello everyone! I'm Christina Bellantoni, the assistant managing editor for politics at the Los Angeles Times. We're all super excited about California's primary election. Polls close tonight at 8 p.m., and we'll be chatting with readers here throughout the evening with our observations of what we're seeing and what that might portend for the November election.

I'll be joined this evening by Sacramento bureau chief John Myers and national political writer Mark Z. Barabak, bylines that will be familiar to Times readers.

We'll also hear from reporters Christine Mai-Duc and Sarah Wire, who are covering the races for U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

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