California Lawmaker May be Most Imperiled GOP Incumbent in 2024

January 31, 2024

Rep. David Valadao, one of seven Republican representatives whose congressional district voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, has overcome a number of challenges to keep his California congressional seat over the last decade. Valadao, however, may be the most imperiled GOP lawmaker in 2024. Obvious political strikes include:

  • Valadao enjoyed a relatively narrow 2022 victory, taking only 51 percent of the vote in a district that’s been represented by a Republican for two decades.
  • He was one of only two GOP lawmakers to vote for former President Trump’s impeachment and still be re-elected in 2022.
  • Valadao’s  congressional district voted for Biden by 12.9 percent, the largest margin of the Republican-held districts that the president took in 2020.
  • Valadao first won election to Congress in 2012 but lost his seat in 2018 before reclaiming a new district seat in the 2020 election.

However, these political challenges are just the tip of the iceberg. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 43 percent to 26 percent, with independent voters accounting for the remaining 31 percent.

Another hurdle for Valadao is the influence of young voters aged 18 to 30, who tend to lean towards Democratic candidates. Young voters represent a whopping 39.5 percent of registered independents, potentially diminishing any advantage Valadao may have with this group.

And while more than 30 percent of registered Republicans are older than 61 and therefore most likely to show up at the polls compared to Democrat's 25 percent, older Democrats still number almost 32,000 compared to Republicans' 23,000.
Valadao, who was first elected to Congress in 2012, lost his seat in 2018 before regaining it in the 2020 election. The challenges he faced in his 2018 campaign, however, are likely to be magnified in 2024 with a Democratic electorate motivated by the 2022 Dobbs decision and independents likely to break in favor of the Democratic candidate.

All told, Valadao is likely the most imperiled GOP lawmaker of the seven who lost districts to Biden in 2020 and who are running for reelection.