Rep. Ami Bera is 3-for-3 in the perennial political battleground that is Sacramento County’s 7th Congressional District. But the wins for the Elk Grove Democrat haven’t gotten any easier.
As of the last vote update Tuesday, Bera led Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones 51 percent to 49 percent, the smallest margin of victory of any House Democrat in California. Bera has declared victory and Jones has conceded following a contest marked by allegations of campaign-finance fraud, sexual harassment and other mudslinging.
The result marks an improvement over Bera’s 50.4 percent share of the vote in 2014, when he eked out a 1,455-vote re-election win over former Rep. Doug Ose.
But it’s down from what Bera received in 2012, also a presidential year, when he ousted then-Rep. Dan Lungren with 51.7 percent of the vote.
Candidates of the non-White House party typically have better prospects in midterm elections, which should help Bera and other at-risk Democrats in 2018. Turnout among some Democratic constituencies, though, generally lags in nonpresidential years.
Bera’s share of the vote from 2012 to 2014 declined 1.3 percentage points. A comparable drop-off for Bera in 2018 would make his margins tight.
Bera’s base continues to be the 7th’s western precincts, particularly the Florin and Laguna areas, unofficial results show. Jones did best in Wilton, Herald and other rural parts of eastern Sacramento County, as well as Orangevale and Citrus Heights.
Compared to two years ago, Bera gained ground in precincts in Folsom and Elk Grove, according to the unofficial results. But his share of the vote seems to have shrunk in Rancho Cordova and Citrus Heights.
And in a switch from four years ago, Bera looks to have been less popular than his party’s presidential nominee.
In 2012, Bera’s share of the vote topped Barack Obama’s, 51.7 percent to 50.7 percent. The district was one of only two California battleground House seats where the winning Democrat outpolled the Democratic president’s re-election.
As of Tuesday, though, Hillary Clinton was winning the 7th with 52.1 percent of the vote, about 1 percentage point higher than Bera’s share. Jones, meanwhile, did much better than President-elect Donald Trump, whose share of the vote in the district stands at 41.2 percent.
Data Tracker is a regular feature that breaks down the numbers behind today’s news. Explore more trends at sacbee.com/datatracker.