Based on Congresswoman Mimi Walters’ poor performance in the recent primary, one of the nation’s top election experts now rates her race a “toss-up,” where it was previously classified as “Lean Republican.”
Walters “only got about 53 percent of the two-party vote, a significant drop from usual GOP performance in the district,” say the experts at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan analysis from the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “It seems possible that Clinton’s 49-44 percent victory in the district was a harbinger of increased competitiveness.”
In 2014, the most recent midterm primary, Republican candidates in this district received 69.3 percent of the vote, compared to 28.1 percent for Democrats. In 2018, Walters saw a 16-point drop, while Democrats saw a 16-point jump to 44.5 percent of the vote, split among several candidates.
“We’re looking at the primary results as something of a ceiling for Republicans in these seats, and if one believes that, then the GOP showings in these districts help justify our Toss-up ratings in CA-45 and elsewhere,” says Crystal Ball.
In the analysis, Crystal Ball highlights two of Walters’ votes in Congress: dismantling the Affordable Care Act, and her unqualified support for the unpopular Republican tax bill.
The Republican health care repeal bill sought to eliminate protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and would have imposed an “age tax” on constituents aged 50-64, costing those individuals up to thousands of dollars more for health care premiums.
While the bill Walters voted for was blocked by the Senate, health care changes tucked into the tax bill are responsible for higher health care premiums proposed for California next year.
The tax bill, which is increasingly unpopular, is already resulting in higher taxes for Californians. Homeowners in Orange County will owe up to $4,500 in higher taxes because of provisions supported by Walters. Overall, about a million Californians will owe $12 billion more in taxes in this year alone.
While many Californians will see a higher tax bill, wealthy corporations are showering Wall Street insiders with lavish stock buybacks. “Over the past year, S&P 500 companies have given their shareholders a record $1 trillion in the form of buybacks and dividends,” reports NBC News, saying these actions often benefit “corporate insiders.”
The Crystal Ball joins other election experts, such as Daily Kos Elections, in ranking the race as a toss-up.
Walters won the 2016 election by 17 points, and headed into 2018 as the frontrunner. But her staunch allegiance to the Trump agenda, even when bills would hurt her own constituents, seems to be having an impact on her chances in November.
Walters will face Democrat Katie Porter on the November ballot.
As this new ranking shows, Walters “is no longer a clear favorite.”