As usual, California counties report at different rates. San Bernardino county has reported only 29 ballots received for CA-31, while San Diego county has reported receiving 17,205 ballots for CA-52. The return for Republicans statewide is positive. So far, the VBM ballots are 40%D/38%R. In 2010, they were 43%D/39%R and in 2012 they were 43%D/36%R. I don't know the breakdown by day. So Republicans might just return the ballots earlier than Democrats. Still, it's good to be beating previous VBM.
Democrats do better on election day. So 2010 was D+4 VBM but the final vote was D+11. In 2012 it was D+7 VBM and D+14 final. Democrats had a consistent +7 increase in the final tally. The GOP did better in 2010 than 2012, likely due to the more Republican electorate. A good way to determine how each party will do on election day is to compare the VBM returns to 2012. For example, the VBM for CA-7 in 2012 was D+2. Ami Bera won by 3%. If the VBM in 2014 is similar, it’ll be a close election. If it’s D+5 or 6, Bera should win.
Below I'll list returns for congressional districts that have had returns of at least 1.8% of their VBM ballots. We can't learn anything from the small number of ballots in districts like CA-31. CA-7: Returns right now are D+3, pretty much the same as the D+2 in 2012. If this continues, it'll be a toss-up, but the GOP doesn’t have to much wiggle room if Democratic ballots outweigh Republican ballots by more.
CA-16: While I think this race is a longshot to be competitive, they've already gotten 5.1% of the VBM ballots in and those are D+18. They were D+11 in 2012. If this continues, Jim Costa coasts to victory.
CA-21: VBM has dropped from D+5 in 2012 to D+2 in 2014. The final vote had 48% Democratic ballots and 36% Republican ballots in 2012 and David Valadao still won that election by 15%. So Democrats need to do a lot better for Amanda Renteria to have a shot.
CA-24: The return is R+2, compared to R+1 in 2012. Republicans will need a better return for Chris Mitchum to have a shot. That said, Lois Capps won by 10% in 2012. If Mitchum finishes 7-8% behind I think people will be surprised the race is so close. With a good candidate this could be competitive when Capps retires.
CA-26: Returns are D+6. They were R+2 in 2012. If this continues Jeff Gorell won't unseat Julia Brownley.
CA-36: Returns are D+2. They were R+4 in 2012. The final vote was 41% Republican ballots and 39% Democratic ballots and Mary Bono Mack still lost. Brian Nestande needs better Republican return to have a shot.
CA-52: As I mentioned above, returns here are very high. They've already gotten 8.1% of VBM ballots in. That's remarkable. The ballots are R+9. VBM was R+6 in 2012. The San Diego Republican party is excellent at turnout and ran a very successful election in the San Diego mayoral win. Republicans walked every precinct in this district in that election except for those in very Republican Coronado and Poway. The sexual harassment allegations may hurt Carl DeMaio, but so far DeMaio and the SDRP are getting Republicans to send in their ballots. If this edge continues I think DeMaio wins this election.
While the statewide returns have been very positive for the GOP, CA-21 and 52 are the only competitive districts that look real good so far.
Source for all these great numbers