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San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House leader, has said that "the road to the majority runs through California," and she and her colleagues have entertained hopes of picking up a half-dozen or more seats in California while seeking the 25-seat national gain they need to make her speaker once again.

On Wednesday, Democratic and Republican congressional campaign operatives were spinning Tuesday's primary election results. Democrats were claiming "the results are clear" and they "have the opportunity to pick up four to six seats" while their Republican counterparts, citing Pelosi's statement, said, "Democrats drove off the cliff last night."

Spin aside, Tuesday's election was somewhat sobering for the Democrats, who saw a couple of their favored candidates fail to make it to the November runoff.

The most serious Democratic setback was in Southern California's 31st Congressional District, where two Republicans survived the "top-two" primary system and will face each other in November while Democrat Pete Aguilar failed to make the cut.

In the San Joaquin Valley's 21st Congressional District, the anointed Democrat, Blong Xiong, also didn't make it into the runoff, improving Republican David Valadao's chances.

The authoritative Rothenberg Political Report, in an extensive, district-by-district rundown on California, concluded Wednesday that Democratic chances of big gains in California have dimmed markedly.

"With President Obama running at the top of the ticket," Rothenberg said, "California is a critical state. But Yesterday's primary results suggest that Democratic prospects in the state are dimming.

"California is a microcosm of Democrats' difficult road to the majority. Democrats likely need to increase their numbers in the delegation from 34 to 39 seats to have any chance to win back the House later this year. But to do that, they will need to win all 11 California races listed on our competitive race chart, even thought they only have the advantage in six districts while another is a pure toss-up."


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