Katie Porter Defeats Incumbent Mimi Walters in 45th District Election

Democrat Katie Porter defeated two-term Republican Mimi Walters nine days following Election Day, flipping the House seat blue in the 45th District midterm election. She is the first Democrat to represent the district at the congressional level, and the fifth Democrat to flip a Republican-held House seat in California this election.

Ballots counted after Nov. 6 skewed towards Porter, as election polls initially showed Porter trailing Walters before taking the lead on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Porter’s late lead may have been the result of California’s absentee voting system, where voters can mail in ballots as late as Election Day. Latest vote counts gave Porter a 2.4 point lead of 6,203 votes.

(Orange County Registrar of Voters)

“The electoral tide almost always pulls against the president’s party during his first midterm election, and this year’s tide was especially strong because President Trump has been especially divisive,” said Matthew Beckmann, Associate Professor of Political Science at UCI.

Porter’s victory indicates changing political tides in Orange County, historically a Republican stronghold. According to pre-election polls by Global Strategy Group (GSG), President Trump’s unpopularity in the district incentivized a wave of Democrats to vote. A GSG September survey found that 79 percent of registered Democrats were either very or somewhat excited, as compared to 57 percent of Republicans. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won over the 45th District by a margin of 5.4 in the 2016 Presidential Election, and the district was listed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) as a target district in 2018.

Porter’s mentor, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, congratulated her protégé on her victory:

(Elizabeth Warren)