COSTA MESA (CBSLA) — As many had predicted, the 48th Congressional District race between Republican incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic challenger Harley Rouda was still too close to call as of Wednesday night.
As of 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rouda was leading by a razor thin margin of 2,682 votes: an advantage of 50.74 percent to 49.26 percent.
“We gotta count a little bit more of the votes. When we are able to make a solid decision, we will announce one way or the other,” Rouda said.
The final result likely won’t be known for weeks as 420,000 provisional and mail ballots continue to be processed.
The coastal Orange County district includes Seal Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo. Rohrabacher, first elected to Congress in 1988, easily won the district by 16 points in the last election.
Rouda, a real estate investor and former Republican, has campaigned on the platform that he wants to protect health-care coverage, Social Security and Medicare. The 15-term incumbent Rohrabacher who has been criticized by Democrats for his close relations with Russia, opposed the Trump tax-cut package but backs the president’s vocal stances on immigration.
Rouda has raised significantly more money in the race. On Tuesday night, Rohrabacher painted himself as an underdog.
“This race represents David versus Goliath,” Rohrabacher said. “They have spent $20 million trying to defeat me. I am very confident we can overcome that. The importance of this is that was $20 million less they had to spend on other vulnerable Republicans across this country. So I am very pleased that we have managed to at least make it a better fight or more event fight in other areas.”
As for a victory or concession speech, Rohrabacher’s staff said he won’t make a statement until the backlog of ballots is counted.
Because of heightened interest in this race and others, O.C. Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley predicted Monday turnout that might reach an unprecedented 68 percent, easily besting the 2010 midterm election that was a wave election for Republicans. Turnout in the 2014 midterm election was at 45 percent, according to county statistics. In 2010 it was 55 percent.
Two years ago, Democrat Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump in Orange County, the first time a Democrat won the county since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That has encouraged Democrats, and for the first time the national organization has sent professionals to Orange County to help elect more Democrats to Congress.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)