The race to represent the 47th Congressional District of California between Katie Porter, the Democratic incumbent, and Scott Baugh, the Republican challenger, is tight and yet to be called.
Porter, who flipped the 47th in 2018, is running to keep the seat blue, while Baugh, a former state assemblymember, is hoping to take the seat back. As of Thursday morning, 58% of the votes have been counted and Porter maintains a slight lead at just less than 1%.
“If Republicans want to gain control of the House of Representatives, a district like California’s 47th is one they’ll need to flip,” PBS correspondent Geoff Bennett said on PBS NewsHour. “Pollsters consider the race there a toss-up between the Democratic incumbent Katie Porter and Republican Scott Baugh, both of whom are running in a vastly redrawn district.”
The 47th District was redrawn in 2020 to include coastal Orange County cities such as Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Additionally, there have been population increases and demographic changes in the past decade in Orange County.
Updated results for the race are expected to come from the OC Registrar of Voter at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Waiting for the results is not new for Porter’s campaign.
“I’m proud our state makes it easy for people to make their voices heard via the mail—even though that means it can sometimes take a few days to declare a winner,” Porter said on Twitter Wednesday evening, adding that her 2018 victory came 11 days after Election Day.
The political landscape of the 2022 elections are quite different from that of the 2018 elections. Daniel Schnur, an adjunct instructor at USC Annenberg who teaches courses in politics, communications and leadership, believes Porter’s success in 2018 can be attributed to the nation’s reaction to Trump’s presidency.
“The biggest difference for Porter is that there was a national wave that she was able to surf in 2018 that simply didn’t exist this year,” Schnur said. “This year, she’s on a more neutral political turf. It’s not necessarily working against her, but the national trends aren’t helping her nearly the way they were in either 2018 or 2020.”
Porter is a prominent congresswoman, ranking in the top five in fundraising for the House of Representatives. Her platform focuses on the housing crisis and cutting healthcare costs.
Baugh, a business attorney and politician, is running on what he calls “Orange County values,” with his platform focusing on lowering taxes, strengthening border security and limiting constitutional government.
“There are plenty of Orange County voters who don’t like Donald Trump but would support — and do support — a more conventional Republican,” David Wasserman, a campaign analyst, told the Los Angeles Times.
Alex Palakian, a USC sophomore from Irvine, discussed the impact he believes Baugh’s campaign messaging has had on the community.
“I would get numerous automated text messages from Baugh about inflation, gas prices and crime that I think CA-47 voters resonated with which helped make this race surprisingly close,” Palakian said.
Multiple prominent Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA and the GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik endorsed Baugh.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Emily’s List and the League of Conservation Voters endorsed Porter, showcasing a stark contrast between who is backing the two candidates.
“Even though Orange County politics has changed a lot in recent years, this is not the Republican bastion that it was for much of the 20th century. There’s an open question of whether it’s moved as far left as Porter has,” said Schnur, adding that “she probably is somewhat left of where the district is philosophically.”