Despite the tumult, both parties see an upside.
Democrats think this could make Rep. Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House again. They contend that they could pick up five seats in California on their way to the 25 they need to retake the majority next year.
Many of the California races remained undecided late Tuesday, but primaries in several other states helped set the stage for the fall elections. In a bitter incumbent-vs.-incumbent race in New Jersey, Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. defeated Rep. Steven R. Rothman, a fellow Democrat and onetime friend. With 99 percent of the votes counted, Pascrell led Rothman 61 percent to 38 percent. In a neighboring district in Newark, Democrats nominated Donald M. Payne Jr. to succeed his late father, who was a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
In California, Republicans say the changes, over the long term, have the potential to transform to GOP into a more competitive party, because the new map and the new voting system may force it to nominate centrist candidates who can appeal to the state’s burgeoning population of minority voters.
The battle for supremacy will be fought with money, and both sides expect California to see a flood of dollars from the national parties in Washington.
“It is going to be so expensive,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), who is not on the ballot this year, said Tuesday.
One GOP strategist predicted that, going into the general-election campaign, about $30 million will flow into the state from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and partisan-aligned super PACs for the contests for the 12 seats that are potentially competitive.
That estimate did not include the state’s most expensive race, a battle that has begun to achieve epic dimensions and has acquired the shorthand designation “Berman-Sherman.”
That contest pits 15-term Rep. Howard L. Berman against a colleague, Rep. Brad Sherman, who has served eight terms. The two Democrats were thrown into the same district by an independent redistricting commission that was tasked with redrawing the state’s lines without regard to partisan edge or seniority.
The district stretches from Hollywood to the San Fernando Valley, and by mid-May the two incumbents, with deep ties to wealthy California fundraising bases, had spent a combined $5.7 million on the race. That figure does not include $550,000 spent on Berman’s behalf by a super PAC.
Despite those millions, nothing is settled. The two Washington veterans — Berman is the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Sherman is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee — are set to face each other again in November under new election rules that have eliminated party-specific primaries.