Now that they are past the threat of primary shutouts, the competitive congressional matchups in California are set.
Democrats consider 10 Republican-held districts here to be battlegrounds and likely can't retake control of the U.S. House without winning at least a few of them. Though Republicans are officially targeting four Democratic districts in California, they are widely considered safe.
49th District — Southern Orange County and Northern San Diego
Previously ranked #3
Our take: The Republican vote share in the primary — around 49% — suggests Democrats have a strong chance of flipping this seat, soon to be vacated by Issa, who won reelection in 2016 by around 1,600 votes. His potential GOP replacement, Diane Harkey, the state tax board chairman who won first place in the primary, has better name recognition than her Democratic opponent, attorney Mike Levin. Levin is certain to have plenty of Democratic support and money behind him as the party eyes this seat as one of its best pickup opportunities.More coverage
25th District — Northern Los Angeles County and Simi Valley
Previously ranked #2
Our take: Knight, long targeted by Democrats in this swing district that is one of the party's biggest pickup opportunities, had a strong showing in the primary, receiving 53% of the vote in preliminary election returns. His opponent, Democrat Katie Hill, is new to campaign politics, but has deep roots in the area and was one of two Emily’s List-endorsed candidates to make it through competitive primaries in a year where female candidates seem to be getting a boost from voters. Hill has been the subject of national attention and even a Vice News documentary.More coverage
Our take: It's looking more and more likely that Rohrabacher will lose this seat since no Republican garnered enough votes to shut Democrats out of the race. The contest with wealthy businessman Harley Rouda is set to be intense as national Democrats focus on unseating Rohrabacher, who has come under scrutiny for his longtime friendliness toward Russia and off-the-wall statements. Even if Rohrabacher can consolidate the Republican vote — he won only 30% in the primary — Democrats have a strong chance here.More coverage
39th District — Northeast Orange County, eastern Los Angeles County and part of San Bernardino County
Previously ranked #1
Our take: Left open by the retiring Royce, this district is ripe for a big battle. With former GOP Assemblywoman Young Kim winning the primary as Royce's anointed successor, she has a big advantage on what is still conservative-leaning turf. But voter registration is trending Democratic, and Gil Cisneros, a Navy veteran who used his millions in lottery winnings to fund a nasty battle against fellow Democrats, starts off the general election campaign with more cash to spend. This district also is central to the state fight over immigration policy.More coverage
45th District — Inland Orange County including Irvine
Previously ranked #5
Our take: Walters kept a fairly low profile during the primary while a crowded field of Democrats fought among themselves. She has enjoyed the support of her district by large, albeit shrinking, margins in previous elections, winning with 65% of the vote in 2014 and 58% in 2016. Walters has taken fundraising seriously, raising nearly $2.6 million. Her Democratic opponent, UC Irvine law professor Katie Porter, had to spend most of her impressive $1.1 million primary haul in an intra-party primary battle and had just a sixth of what Walters had in the bank in mid-May. Plus Porter has cast herself as a progressive, which could make it tough for her to flip this district without high Democratic turnout this fall. More coverage
Our take: According to the numbers political prognosticators typically rely on, Denham should have lost in 2016. Hillary Clinton and Denham each won the district by 3 percentage points. Denham has had the secret sauce to keep his constituents happy even as Democrats have salivated to flip a district seemingly so perfect for their party. An ingredient to his success: His attention to water issues critical in the Central Valley. His likely opponent, Democrat Josh Harder, has proved a good fundraiser. Even if Harder can consolidate support that went to other Democratic candidates in the primary, his success may hinge on his ability to woo some moderate Republicans to his side.More coverage
Get the Essential California newsletter delivered to your inbox
7. David Valadao
21st District — Central Valley including part of Bakersfield
Previously ranked #7
Our take: Though the voter registration in his district is lopsided against Republicans — Democrats have an 18-percentage-point advantage — Valadao outran Donald Trump by 16 percentage points and even Hillary Clinton by 2 percentage points. Valadao's Democratic opponent TJ Cox joined the race late and must make up for a fundraising deficit. Still, Democrats will try their best to get over the line in a place that, by the numbers, seems winnable for the party. More coverage
Our take: Hunter’s solidly Republican district is changing, but not as fast as Issa’s neighboring district. His biggest challenge by far is that he's facing potential legal and ethics troubles that will be exploited by his opponent. His seat got a second look as a potential pickup only after it was revealed that the FBI was investigating allegations that he had misused campaign funds. The Democrat who earned the second-highest number of votes in the primary, Ammar Campa-Najjar, is a liberal. That means the odds are this seat stays in Republican hands.More coverage
Our take: Though Nunes has gained national fame due to multiple sideshows related to his leading role in the House’s Russian election meddling investigation, this district is strongly Republican and it’s unlikely most of his constituents will factor in Russia controversies when they go to the polls. Plus, Nunes outran Trump in his district by 16 percentage points in 2016. His Democratic opponent, Fresno County prosecutor Andrew Janz, has parlayed Nunes' notoriety on the left into a a ton of campaign cash, but Nunes is still far outpacing him in the money race. It would be a very, very good night for Democrats if they were to win here in November.More coverage
4th District — East Sacramento suburbs and central Sierra mountains
Previously ranked #10
Our take: McClintock's late addition to Democrats' list of targets was a sign of the party's confidence in a potential wave election come November. His Democratic opponent, former State Department analyst Jessica Morse, has been riding a wave of Democratic activist enthusiasm. She also has raised more than McClintock and had about the same amount in the bank as him as of mid-May — a danger sign for the congressman. Still, it's a longshot. McClintock won his last two elections by more than 20 percentage points, and the GOP has a 15 percentage-point voter registration advantage here.More coverage
24th District — Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties
Previously ranked #11
Our take: Carbajal is a freshman in a swing seat, and that's one reason top Democrats have been visiting his district to help him fundraise and retain a high profile with his constituents. The data looks good: He won in 2016 by 7 percentage points, and the gap here between Democratic and Republican registration has widened significantly in Democrats’ favor. His bank account is flush with cash, too. He faces Republican businessman Justin Fareed in a 2016 rematch.
Our take: Though this has been a true swing seat and Bera’s previous races have been tight, the congressman is now in his third term, and the district is getting more and more Democratic. Bera’s last opponent, considered to be a strong Republican candidate, outran Trump by 8 points. Bera faces Republican business executive and Marine veteran Andrew Grant, who is not as well known as his 2016 rival.
Our take: Peters has always attracted Republicans hoping to claim his seat because party registration in his district is closely split, though trending Democratic. But he’s proven to be a resilient campaigner and good fundraiser. His challenger is Republican attorney Omar Qudrat.
36th District — Riverside County including Palm Springs
Previously ranked #14
Our take: The makeup of this desert-based district is attractive to Republicans because of its closely divided party registration, but the third-term Ruiz is now a well-known force and his district is trending Democratic in terms of voter registration. He faces soap opera actress and avocado farmer Kimberlin Pelzer, a Republican who was chosen to speak on Trump's behalf at the Republican National Convention in 2016.