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House member-elect Jeff Denham (R-CA), seen here at a rally on November 15, 2010 in Washington, DC, is one of many Californian politicians seeking re-election in the upcoming election.
The balance of power in Congress will depend partly on the outcome of Tuesday’s primary election in California.
“The road to a Democratic majority in Congress runs right through California,” is the mantra uttered by Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman.
But, unlike presidential and U.S. Senate races, congressional races are driven on local roads, depending largely upon yard signs and local politics -- roads which the GOP feels are in its favor. These roads however, have recently changed. Political boundaries have been redrawn for the first time by a panel of citizens instead of politicians or the courts.
“Republicans really hoped that when this independent redistricting commission created these districts, they would pick up some seats,” said political scientist Larry Gerston of San Jose State University, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Gerston added, “Now the state could be more blue, Indigo. You can’t get any bluer than that.”
“Usually, as handicappers, we could ignore California because there are so few seats at risk,” said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
“The Democrats have to do well in California if they have any chance to win a majority. But almost every seat is going to be hard," said Gonzales.
Will the Democratic Party move towards regaining control of the house? Or will GOP candidates with deep local roots appeal to moderate Democrats and Independents?
Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor, Rothenberg Political Report
Tamara Keith, NPR's congressional reporter