Decision Desk HQ is retracting the call we made in the CA-21 race. On election night we called the race for incumbent Congressman David Valadao over Democratic challenger T.J. Cox.
Valadao finished election night with an 8% lead over Cox. As the mail in votes came in over the last two weeks, that lead has shrunk to the point we can no longer stand by our call. To give you an idea of how unusual, if not unprecedented, it is for a lead this large to be reversed, the AP and the networks called the race on election night as well.
While we anticipated far closer Republican leads on election night to evaporate (like in CA-10, CA-25, CA-39, and CA-45), the margin in CA-21 appeared far too large to vanish with the mail-ins yet to be counted. After watching Cox’s vote share increasing dramatically with these votes over the last ten days, it became increasingly clear to us this call was the rare one where such votes could swing things in a dramatic fashion.
Today, at 3pm PST, Fresno County updated its vote count, and those numbers were the tipping point for us. Rep. Valadao’s lead has shrunk from over 4900 and 8% on 11/7 to just over 400 with thousands of additional ballots left to count in areas favoring Cox. It is still quite possible for Valadao to hold his seat, but if he does, it will be by a very, very slim margin, certainly not the margin inferred on election night.
These are never easy to write, and there is never a “good time” to do them, especially with a holiday looming. We did not time this announcement to be overlooked in the holiday rush- and we will re-tweet this retraction on Friday morning in case it gets overlooked.