Political Notebook

Forecasters increasingly see victory for congressional incumbents

Fresno Democrat Jim Costa is seeking his seventh term in Congress this year, currently representing the 16th District.
Fresno Democrat Jim Costa is seeking his seventh term in Congress this year, currently representing the 16th District.

At least on paper, the San Joaquin Valley has some of the most competitive congressional races in the nation.

Three districts in particular – the 21st, 16th and 10th – always seem to be on the radar of the national political prognosticators.

The 21st District, currently held by Hanford Republican David Valadao, is there because Democrats have a more than 16-percentage point registration advantage over Republicans. The 16th District because the incumbent, Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, has had tough reelection battles in two of the past three election cycles. And the 10th District, currently held by Turlock Republican Jeff Denham, because the GOP is below 40 percent registration and less than 3-percentage points ahead of the Democrats.

This election cycle, however, the Big Three could be a competitive bust.

On Thursday, “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” – a national look at federal races published by University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato – moved Costa’s race from “likely” Democratic to “safe” Democratic, and both Valadao and Denham’s races from “leans” Republican to “likely” Republican.

Another national forecaster, the Cook Political Report, has Costa “likely” to win re-election, and Valadao and Denham “leaning” toward re-election victories. And the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report strongly favors Valadao to win another term – and doesn’t even have Costa or Denham on its competitive radar.

Recent history has Valadao dominating despite the registration deficit and Denham winning easily in 2010 and 2014, and prevailing in a tough 2012 battle. As for Costa, he struggled – but won – in 2010 and 2014, which were non-presidential election years. In 2012, the last presidential election year, he cruised to victory. This is a presidential election year.

The bottom line is the national experts are increasingly expecting each of the three incumbents to win in November.

Ranking the Races

16th Congressional

“Sabato’s Crystal Ball” – Safe re-election for Jim Costa

Cook Political Report – Likely re-election for Costa

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report – Not considered competitive

21st Congressional

“Sabato’s Crystal Ball” – Likely re-election for David Valadao

Cook Political Report – Leaning toward re-election for Valadao

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report – Valadao favored to win re-election

10th Congressional

“Sabato’s Crystal Ball” – Likely re-election for Jeff Denham

Cook Political Report – Leaning toward re-election for Denham

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report – Not considered competitive

  Comments