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Update: Republicans Lose More Ground in SoCal House Races As Counting Continues

House candidates Katie Porter and Mimi Walters. (Courtesy Katie Porter; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Update: Nov. 15, 6:17 p.m.

Democrats appear poised to take over all of Orange County's traditionally GOP congressional seats.

Based on the latest vote counts out late Thursday, Democrat Katie Porter pulled away from Republican incumbent Mimi Walters in the 45th Congressional District seat representing parts of Orange County, including Irvine and Tustin.

With Porter holding over a 6,000-vote lead, The Associated Press projected a win for the Democrat.

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In the 39th Congressional District, Democratic opponent Gil Cisneros took over the lead from Republican Young Kim by nearly 1,000 votes.

At last estimate in Los Angeles County alone, election officials reported 688,000 ballots left to be counted. Orange County estimates it has156,241 ballots to tally. San Bernardino County election officials say they have 95,500 ballots left to process.

While SoCal Republicans fought hard to defend themselves from a blue wave that shifted control of the House to the Democrats in this year's midterm elections, they were outgunned in fundraising, hobbled by strong anti-Trump sentiment and challenged by voter preferences in an increasingly non-white region.

The Associated Press has now called all of California's House seats except the 39th.

In Orange County, Democrat Harley Rouda was declared the winner in the 48th Congressional District on Saturday, defeating longtime GOP incumbent Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher has yet to concede.

Similarly, Democrat Mike Levin has already beat out Republican Diane Harkey for the 49th Congressional District's open seat.

All other congressional districts that include parts of Orange County were already controlled by Democrats who won reelection.

Officials are still counting many ballots across the state. Some 2,658,360 remain unprocessed statewide, according to the latest report from the Secretary of State's office posted at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Here are more details on the two closely watched races:

  • 39th Congressional District:

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Democrat Cisneros is now leading Kim by 941 votes. He has 104,003 votes to Kim's 103,062 votes, based on the latest count. The next Los Angeles County count on Friday is expected to further push Cisneros ahead.

The candidates are seeking an open seat held by Ed Royce, a GOP congressman who is stepping down from office. The district straddles L.A., Orange and San Bernardino counties.

• 45th Congressional District:

Porter has extended her lead in this Orange County district by a margin of 6,203 votes. The latest count shows her with 135,237 votes against Walters' 129,034 votes. When the L.A. County numbers are released Friday, Porter is expected to widen her lead.

The Democrat declared victory in a statement Thursday.

"What we are seeing -- here and across the country -- is what happens when we make the choice that if this is to be a government for the people, it must also be a government by and of the people, and that we accept the hope and the responsibility that that represents," she stated.

The 45th was one of a handful in the region targeted by Democrats as part of the party's effort to retake the U.S. House, which they have done.

Officials have previously explained that the large numbers of uncounted ballots are due in part to both changing election rules that give voters more time to cast ballots and a jump in the number of people who are opting to vote by mail instead of by voting in person.

California's election laws make for one of the slowest statewide vote counts in the country. The last of the eligible vote-by-mail ballots arrived last week Friday.

Paul Mitchell, vice-president of Political Data Inc., a bipartisan research group, told Take Two on Wednesday that the Los Angeles County vote count will likely take even longer in 2020, when it's set to shift to a system where everyone gets a mail ballot, many polling places are consolidated into voting centers and voters get an 11-day window to cast ballots.

Orange County is expected to issue its next vote count update on Friday at about 5 p.m. L.A. County's next vote count update is also set for Friday afternoon around 5 p.m. San Bernardino's next update is scheduled for November 21.


It's possible, but recounts are very rare in California.

California does not have automatic recounts. A voter or candidate may request one but must shoulder the cost and decide which votes to review.

Because recounts are expensive, they are much less frequent in California than in other states, some of which require automatic recounts for close elections.

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