2020 Primary Analysis: 48th Congressional District

This is another district in my neighboring area that I am very familiar with. Therefore, I will be providing more in-depth analysis. This district will also be extremely close which is another reason to look more closely at this race.

The 48th Congressional District falls entirely within the boundaries of Orange County. Harley Rouda (D) is the incumbent after he defeated Dana Rohrabacher in the November 2018 election.

This district shows the following party registration for the three largest political groups (the source is http://www.l2political.com):

Republican- 37.9%
Democrat- 31.4%
NPP- 25.3%


Let’s take a look at the 2018 results for the June and November election:

Hans Keirstead (D)- 17.2%
Tony Zarkades (D)- 0.7%
Omar Siddiqui (D)- 5.0%
Michael Kotick (D)- 1.5%
Deanie Schaarsmith (D)- 0.8%
Rachel Payne (D)- 2.1%
Harley Rouda (D)- 17.3%
Laura Oatman (D)- 1.4%
Dana Rohrabacher (R)- 30.3%
Stelian Onufrei (R)- 0.4%
John Gabbard (R)- 3.3%
Paul Martin (R)- 1.7%
Shastina Sandman (R)- 1.6%
Scott Baugh (R)- 15.8%
Brandon Reiser (L)- 0.6%
Kevin Kensinger (NPP)- 0.4%

Here is a chart that shows the vote total and percentage of the vote by candidate for the 2018 Primary:

Democrat Candidates– 80,061 votes & 46.0% of the vote.
Republican Candidates– 92,309 votes & 53.0% of the vote.
Independent/NPP Candidates– 1,654 votes & 1.0% of the vote.
Grand Total– 174,024 votes cast.

I have a rule that the vote shifts 5% up for Democrats and down for Republicans from a primary to a general election in Orange County. Let’s assume that the 3rd party/NPP vote split between the Republican and Democrat. This theory would then predict that the Republican candidate should receive 48.5% of the vote in November and the Democrat 51.5% of the vote.

Rouda much like Gil Cisneros and Katie Porter outperformed my model and won in November by with 53.6% of the vote vs. 46.4% of the vote for Rohrabacher. Rouda received 157,837 votes and Rohrabacher received 136,899 votes.

Here is a breakdown of the actual results for November of 2018 broken down by who won each city:

Rouda– Aliso Viejo, Bay View, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Midway City, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, and Unincorporated OC.

Rohrabacher– Emerald Bay, Newport Beach, and Westminster.

Rohrabacher was not that far off from being outright swept.


Here are the results for the 2020 March primary election:

Harley Rouda (D)- 46.7%
Brian Burley (R)- 12.1%
James Brian Griffin (R)- 1.3%
John Thomas Schuesler (R)- 2.3%
Michelle Steel (R)- 34.9%
Richard Mata (R)- 2.7%

As expected with the election being held on Super Tuesday, voter turnout was noticeably higher. We saw a total of 212,896 votes cast. 46.7% of the vote went for Democrats and 50.6% of votes went to a Republican.

These numbers are competitive, using my 5% rule from above. If you shift the American Independent votes to the Republican, the model predicts that we will see a margin of 51.7% of the vote for Rouda and 48.3% for Michelle Steel. The margin is close enough to where the campaign does matter.

Geographically in this race, the only area where Steel finished ahead of Rouda was Westminster; however, this includes vote dilution from other Republicans on the ballot.

We will now see a November matchup between Harley Rouda (D) and Michelle Steel (R). The following are the key factors/questions for each candidate:

1) Will Rouda be able to defend against his support for impeachment?

2) Will Steel be able to gain enough additional supporters in November to pull out a victory?

This race is a true toss-up and we will be watching tings very closely.

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