Ed Kilgore at New York:
Initial returns in the special election in California’s 25th Congressional District (held to fill the seat of Democratic Representative Katie Hill, who resigned after a sex scandal) showed Republican Mike Garcia with a solid 12-point lead over Democrat Christy Smith (the two candidates will face each other again in November for a full House term). But none of the major election-analysis services called the race until Smith decided to concede Wednesday afternoon, because a large but unknown quantity of mail ballots were (and are) still out; indeed, many were probably postmarked on election day and won’t be received until later in the week. In 2018, in California as a whole, 43 percent of the votes ultimately cast were not in the morning-after tabulations, and the proportion of mail ballots in this special election (for which all registered voters were sent a mail ballot due to an executive order from Governor Gavin Newsom) could be even higher. Democrats almost always do better in late mail-ballot returns. Garcia didn’t claim victory until after Smith conceded, either.
But that didn’t deter one interested observer from making the call at 5:58 AM:
He was right about Wisconsin, an unsurprising result in a Congressional district he carried by 20 points in 2016 (Tiffany won by 14 points). But he clearly jumped the gun on the California race, and that’s a troubling sign for November. In much of the country, a spike in voting by mail is going to slow returns, and if the presidential race is as close as we think it will be, there may be a lot of states where the outcome leans one way on election night — but without enough votes being counted to make an accurate call. If the president of the United States is out there calling states for himself on Election Night — and almost certainly alleging fraud if he later falls behind — you could have a recipe for a contested presidential election and possibly civil unrest.Big Congressional win in California for Mike Garcia, taking back a seat from the Democrats. This is the first time in many years that a California Dem seat has flipped back to a Republican. Also, Tom Tiffany beat his Democrat rival BIG in Wisconsin. Two great Congressional WINS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2020