As of this writing, 90.2 percent of the precincts have been counted and liberal Republican Brian Bilbray holds a 4,800 vote lead and garnered just less half of the votes cast.
Republicans spent a lot of money to keep Randy "Dirty Duke" Cunningham's seat and they were successful. Exit polling isn't typically done on races like this one, so it's impossible to say how Democrat Francine Busby's Thursday gaffe affected her vote totals.
A quick visit to the standard loony left Web sites in the wake of this result demonstrate that much of the Democrat base still sees close losses as moral victories.
In 2004, Busby lost the CA-50 by 22.0%. Today, it looks like she will lose by around 4.5%. And that was with the NRCC spending $4.5M on the race. If Republicans want to spin losing 18 points after spending $4.5M of committee money as a good thing, go for it. After all, spin is basically why they spent so much money on this race. By blowing their wad in a solidly Republican district, they wanted to change the media narrative on the election in their favor. It will probably work, given how subservient and generally inaccurate the media tends to be when it comes to Republicans and elections. In reality, for a Republican candidate to pull 49.5% of the vote in a district with 44.5% Republican registration is shocking. Given those numbers, Bilbray probably managed all of 20% of the vote among independents.
No matter what the media says, no Democrat should be mistaken about this result. First, this is a huge, seismic shift in our favor that bodes extremely well for November. If we receive an 18% shift nationwide, we will win the House easily. If Republican candidates are pulling only 20% of the independent vote, the Indycrat realignment is still on.
This reminds me of the final scene of Monty Python's "Life of Brian" -- everyone is getting crucified and singing "Always look on the bright side of life." California's 50th was probably as close to a perfect storm as Democrats could hope for ... and they still lost.
This was a midterm election. The incumbent party's president has approval ratings in the 30s. The previous Republican congressman resigned and was sent to prison for eight years for taking bribes. The GOP base is angry at Congress' free-spending ways. There's deep division over immigration. There's no seriously contested primaries on the GOP side. On the Democrat side, there was a hotly contested gubernatorial primary.
In short, it doesn't get much better than this for Democrats and they still lost. If Democrats hope to take back the House come November, it's districts like this one that they're going to have to capture.
Busby and Bilbray will face off again come November, and I predict that Busby will end up losing by an even larger margin.
To be honest, I don't think that yesterday's election said a whole lot about what's going to happen in November. I think the result we saw was predetermined in 2000 when Democrats and Republicans got together and gerrymandered the state. With fancy databases and demographic records, politicians have managed to ensure that practically no seat is ever in danger of changing hands.