Clinton carried the state 62-32, a stronger margin than Obama's already-dominant 60-37 win four years ago. Clinton carried 46 of the Golden State's 53 congressional districts, winning five Romney seats while losing none of the districts that Obama took. Of California's 14 Republican House members, seven of them sit in Clinton seats, while no Democrats hold Trump turf. We'll start by looking at those seven Republicans.
National Democrats targeted four Republican incumbents in the state, but they each won even as Clinton was taking their seats. The 10th District, which includes Modesto, backed her 49-46, not very different than Obama's 51-47 win here. However, Republican Rep. Jeff Denham held off Michael Eggman 52-48. Clinton carried the 21st around Fresno 55-40, an improvement on Obama's 55-44 win. However, her coattails did little to hurt Republican Rep. David Valadeo, who blasted past Democrat Emilio Huerta 57-43.
The 25th, which includes the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles, swung from 50-48 Romney to 50-43 Clinton. Still, Republican Rep. Steve Knight turned back an expensive campaign to unseat him and won 53-47. Finally, the suburban San Diego 49th District went from 52-46 Romney to 51-43 Clinton. But while Democrats spent heavily against the hated Rep. Darrell Issa, he still pulled off a thin 50.3-49.7 win against Democrat Doug Applegate, who has already announced he's running again in 2018.
A trio of other Republicans sit in seats that Clinton ended up carrying, but they each easily won against underfunded opponents. Rep. Ed Royce's 39th District, which includes Fullerton in Orange County, went from 51-47 Romney to 51-43 Clinton. The Orange County-based 45th, which includes Irvine, dramatically shifted from 55-43 Romney to 50-44 Clinton. This seat was so foreboding that Democrats didn't make a play for it when it was open in 2014, and freshman Rep. Mimi Walters had no trouble in 2016 either, but this could be a future Democratic target.
Finally, the Huntington Beach-based 46th, which also includes Newport Beach and the home of Bluth's Original Frozen Banana Stand, went from 55-43 Romney to 48-46 Clinton. Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has rarely had trouble winning re-election, but he hinted earlier this year that he's considering retiring in 2018. Until recently, this Orange County seat looked like it would be an easy GOP hold, but that may not be true anymore. Even if Rohrabacher stays, Democrats may be encouraged to target the Putin-friendly incumbent. Trump only carried seven of California's 53 seats, but he easily took those seven. The closest Trump seat was the Central Valley's 22nd District, which went from 57-42 Romney to 52-43 Trump.
Most of California's Democratic congressmen had little to fear in 2016 from Republicans. (Defeated Rep. Mike Honda lost his safely blue Silicon Valley seat to another Democrat in the general.) The one exception was Rep. Ami Bera in the Suburban Sacramento 7th District, who turned back Republican Scott Jones 51-49 even as his seat went from just 51-47 Obama to 52-41 Clinton. Bera had a poor relationship with labor and got some bad headlines after his father was sentenced to prison for trying to illegally funnel money to Bera's campaign. Bera is a strong fundraiser and could scare off future GOP foes, but aspiring Republicans will at least be encouraged by how far Bera ran behind the ticket. The GOP also made a play for the open Santa Barbara 24th, which had gone for Obama 54-43. However, Clinton carried the seat 57-36, and Democrat Salud Carbajal prevailed 53-47.
A few Democrats who faced tough races in 2012 or 2014 may be in luck in the future. Obama carried Ventura County's 26th 54-44, and Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley narrowly won in 2012 and 2014. However, Clinton took the 26th by a wide 58-36, and Brownley had little trouble against her weak GOP foe this year. Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, who represents the 52nd in San Diego, is another incumbent who had tight back-to-back races in those same years. However, the 52nd went from 52-46 Obama to 58-36 Clinton, and Peters beat Karl Rove protégé Denise Gitsham 57-43. The 36th around Palm Springs also swung from just 51-48 Obama to 52-43 Clinton. But Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz decisively held on during the 2014 GOP wave and easily dispatched another underfunded GOP state legislator this year, so he wasn't exactly looking like a viable GOP target for the future.
● ME-Sen: A little while ago, the Bangor Daily News reported that state Sen. Eric Brakey, who worked for both Ron Paul and Rand Paul's presidential campaigns, was planning to kick off a bid against independent Sen. Angus King in early 2017. Brakey himself now says that, while he won't be running for governor in 2018, he "might have something to say in the new year" about a potential Senate bid against King, who caucuses with the Democrats in D.C.
● ND-Sen: With West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin getting passed over for job in the Trump administration, Democrats are now waiting to see whether North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp also stays in the Senate. According to the New York Times, Republican leaders have been pushing Trump to tap a Democratic senator for his cabinet, but he hasn't played along, picking former Texas Gov. Rick Perry over both Manchin and Heitkamp to head the Department of Energy.
Heitkamp is still reportedly under consideration for agriculture secretary, but former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan says Heitkamp has "indicated she will not join" Trumpworld, in the words of the Times. In fact, unnamed Republicans are now fretting that Heitkamp and Manchin have never had any intention of abandoning the Democrats and have just been playing Trump to earn positive headlines back home. This is, of course, the kind of game politicians have played since the dawn of time, but it just feels unaccountably gross when Trump's involved. We'll have to see if anyone cares either way in two years' time.
● IA-Gov: While Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is set to take over the top spot once Gov. Terry Branstad is confirmed as Donald Trump's ambassador to China, some of her fellow Republicans are still thinking about challenging her in 2018's primary. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, who'd reportedly been considering a gubernatorial bid, announced on Monday that he won't seek re-election to his current post and is indeed contemplating a run against Reynolds. Corbett also offered an unusually specific timetable of sorts, promising he'll deliver a "surprise" when he gives a speech in Cedar Rapids on Feb. 22. Who knows? Maybe he'll announce he's writing a book.
Meanwhile, despite Iowa Democrats' serious woes of late, there are quite a few names already in circulation, and the Quad City Times mentions a few new ones: state Sens. Jeff Danielson and Steve Sodders, and outgoing state Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, who just lost his own bid for re-election last month and saw his chamber fall to the Republicans. None have spoken publicly, though.
● MD-Gov: Outgoing U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez has reportedly been torn between challenging GOP Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018 and running for chair of the Democratic National Committee next year, but he announced he was going with door number two on Thursday. The DNC vote will be held in February, and if Perez wins, we can definitely cross him off the potential gubernatorial candidate list.
However, it's unclear what Perez will do if he doesn't become DNC chair. Several notable Maryland Democrats have made noises about challenging Hogan in two years, but no one has jumped in yet. Polls have shown Hogan with strong approval ratings, but Maryland is a very blue state, and the governor's detractors hope that a backlash against Donald Trump will hurt him. If Perez loses his DNC bid and wants to run against Hogan he may not clear the field, but it's unlikely that anyone else will have had enough time to consolidate enough support to make a Perez primary campaign futile.
● OK-Gov: For the first time, GOP Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has spoken on the record about running for Oklahoma's governorship in 2018, when Gov. Mary Fallin will be termed out. Lamb says he's "leaning" toward a run, and at least unlikely most politicians who pretend to act coy when asked about their ambitions, he acknowledged that a bid "is not even in the back of my mind ... it's in the front of my mind." However, several other Republicans have the race at the front of their minds, too—whether they're admitting it or not.
● SC-Gov: Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster is, like Iowa's Kim Reynolds (see our IA-Gov item above) one of those lucky second-in-commands who's about to get a major leg up on 2018 once his boss joins the Trump administration. But as McMaster waits for Gov. Nikki Haley to become Donald Trump's U.N. ambassador, he, like Reynolds, still faces the prospect of an intra-party challenge. Several Republicans are still considering bids, and now state Attorney General Alan Wilson confirms he hasn't ruled one out, either. Previously, a spokesperson had said as much, but now Wilson himself tells the National Journal's Zachary Cohen that he's taking a "wait and see" approach to the situation. It's not clear what developments Wilson might be waiting on, though.
● WI-Gov: GOP Gov. Scott Walker is publicly considering seeking a third term in 2018, but we'll need to wait a bit for him to make his plans clear. Walker says he won't announce what he's doing until after he signs the state budget in the summer of 2017. However, Walker also said last week that he was holding a fundraiser that very night, and would "be having more next year," so it certainly sounds like he plans to run again. An early November poll from Marquette gave Walker a bad 42-51 approval rating, but if he runs again, he'll have plenty of time and money to change that.
● CA-34: Yolie Flores, a former member of the Los Angeles Board of Education, just became the latest candidate to enter the race for California's soon-to-be-vacant 34th Congressional District, making her at least the fifth Democrat to join the field. Flores served a single term on the board, leaving office in 2011. She's a so-called "school choice" advocate, and on her LinkedIn profile, she lists an award from the group Democrats for Education Reform, aka Useful Idiots for Charter Schools. Also running are state Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, former Los Angeles City Council aide Sarah Hernandez, former Bernie Sanders staffer Arturo Carmona, and labor activist Wendy Carillo.
● FL-23: Oh great. Law professor Tim Canova, a vocal Bernie Sanders supporter and belligerent Iran hawk, says he's "seriously considering" a second bid against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whom he unsuccessfully challenged in this year's Democratic primary. Canova raised an insane sum from fellow Sanders backers who wanted to take their anger out on Wasserman Schultz over her perceived support for Hillary Clinton during the presidential primaries and forced the congresswoman to take her own race seriously.
But despite her immolation on the national stage this summer when she was forced to step down as DNC chair just before the Democratic convention, Wasserman Schultz still handily defeated Canova, 57-43. It's hard to see how he could do better in two years' time.
● GA-06: Outgoing state Rep. Taylor Bennett, who narrowly lost his bid for re-election in November after a miracle special election victory last year, has apparently said no to run for Congress. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that Bennett won't run in the expected special election to replace GOP Rep. Tom Price in Georgia's 6th District, though the linked article doesn't feature a direct quote from Bennett. However, reporter Greg Bluestein says that Bennett texted him to say he was out.
That leaves three Democrats in the race: former state Rep. Sally Harrell, former state Sen. Ron Slotin, and Some Dude Joshua McLaurin. So far, only one Republican state Sen. Judson Hill, is running for this seat, which Mitt Romney won handily but Donald Trump carried by just a 48-47 margin. However, several others are considering. All candidates from all parties will run together on a single ballot, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a runoff in the likely event that no one clears 50 percent in the first round.
● MT-AL: Nazi leader Richard Spencer says he's thinking about making a bid for Montana's at-large congressional seat, which is expected to become vacant with GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke's pending nomination to run the Department of the Interior. Spencer is best-known for coining the term "alt-right" in an effort to rebrand the white supremacist movement. Last month, he hosted a conference for fellow travelers in Washington, DC, where he declared, "Hail Trump!" and was greeted with enthusiastic Nazi salutes from the audience.
Plenty of other Republicans could run for this seat, but after Donald Trump—whom Spencer deeply admires, of course—no one should be willing to say that Spencer couldn't win. And don't expect the GOP to put up much resistance. When asked how he'd greet a Spencer candidacy, the head of the Montana Republican Party, Jeff Essmann, would only say, "I don't get a vote in the process, I just chair the meeting." In other words, he'd have no problem with it. This, by the way, is how we wound up with Trump.
● SC-05: Donald Trump's parade of horribles continues, with his announcement that he'll nominate GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney as head of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney is a founder of the nihilist Freedom Caucus and has a foaming hatred of government spending, and now he's gonna be the guy to put together the president's budget proposals. Terrific!
Mulvaney hadn't completely ruled out running for governor, but this obviously takes that prospect off the table. It also means we'll have another special election in the making. As recently as six years ago, South Carolina's 5th Congressional District was held by Democratic Rep. John Spratt, but he got washed out in the same 2010 wave that washed Mulvaney in. Now this northern seat is solidly red: It went 57-39 for Trump, after going 55-44 for Mitt Romney. Democrats made an effort to see if they could put the district back in play this year, when a former Joe Biden aide named Fran Person ran against Mulvaney. But Person wound up trailing the top of the ticket with a 59-39 loss, so there isn't much reason for hope here.
Still, those daunting numbers haven't completely deterred Person, who told The State that he'll consider a second bid "after Christmas." State Rep. John King, a Democrat who briefly ran here this year, says he's looking, too, as is state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who was the Democratic nominee for governor in both 2010 and 2014. In a Facebook post, Sheheen didn't rule out a bid, but he didn't exactly sound enthused, either, trashing national Democrats for acting "like a bunch of sissies who are all tied up in the latest debate about political correctness instead of focusing on how to help put bread on the tables of the people in my community." He really wants to go to Congress to join people he thinks so highly of?
In any event, plenty of Republicans are sure to be interested in succeeding Mulvaney, and several have already said so. They include state Rep. Ralph Norman, who lost to Spratt in 2006 (by a 57-43 margin, amazingly enough) and says he'll run if Mulvaney is confirmed. Former state GOP chair Chad Connelly says he'll "make a decision after Christmas," while state Rep. Gary Simrill says, "My family and I will be discussing this opportunity." And state House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, who hasn't ruled out a gubernatorial bid, also isn't shutting the door on a congressional run, though he did say, "I do not anticipate that the Pope family would be going to Washington."
P.S. For "House of Cards" fans, the character played by Kevin Spacey, Frank Underwood, eventually becomes president but he starts off as a congressman from, yes, South Carolina's 5th District. Underwood is a Democrat, so this is just one of many unrealistic things about the show.
● International Digest: Following Donald Trump's victory and the United Kingdom's surprise vote to leave the European Union earlier in 2016, observers were bracing for the worst in Austria's Dec. 4 presidential election, where the xenophobic far-right appeared poised to win. Fortunately for progressive forces, left-leaning independent Alexander Van der Bellen instead scored a decisive victory while campaigning on a platform of tolerance and inclusion. You can read about Austria and other key countries in the December edition of our International Elections Digest, which also covers the upcoming French presidential election, a major Italian constitutional referendum, South Korea's bizarre presidential scandal, and more.
● Site News: Daily Kos Elections will be going on a modified schedule for the final weeks of the year. We'll be publishing the Digest infrequently from now until the beginning of 2017; we’ll be back to our regular schedule starting the morning of Jan. 4.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and James Lambert.