Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
11/28/2014 12:01 AM

Going into the Nov. 4 election, Republicans appeared to have an excellent chance of recouping several congressional seats they’d lost in 2012, and their optimism was bolstered on election night.

Republican challengers were leading Democratic incumbents in a number of congressional districts, including a couple that had not appeared on the pre-election radar, such as Democrat Jim Costa’s San Joaquin Valley district.

As late-arriving mail and provisional ballots were counted in the following weeks, however, the GOP candidates’ positions declined in the nine districts whose outcomes had been in doubt and, finally, none of them won.

They had come tantalizingly close, approaching 50 percent in most cases, but all had fallen just short. The net result, in fact, was a one-seat gain for Democrats, winning a Southern California district that they should have won in 2012 but lost due to the quirky effect of the top-two primary system.

In the aftermath, much ink has been spilled about the outcome, especially by Republican politicians and pundits who believed they could and should have won.

“It was quite a feat,” longtime Republican analyst Tony Quinn wrote. “Congressional Republicans had a chance to win nine Democratic-held House seats in California and blew every one of them.”

“That they failed in every single congressional race is a testament to the lack of knowledge of the nuances of California on the part of the national party,” Quinn concluded, “and their failure at the basic mechanics of winning close elections. This was the year for big Republican gains in Congress, and in the end they got nothing.”

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