You want to understand the dynamics at play in this year's Congressional races, take a look at Elk Grove. At least, that's what reporters and analysts nationwide are doing.
The matchup between physician Ami Bera, a Democrat, and Republican Rep. Dan Lungren to represent California's newly-created Seventh District has become a hot topic in political circles, including this week in The Wall Street Journal.
The race in the Seventh, which includes Elk Grove, is one of a number of close contests in California, where will likely give Democrats a leg up this fall. The Golden State has the highest number of competitive House of Representatives races this year, according to the Journal.
Elk Grove, with its recent influx of ethnically-diverse, liberal-leaning voters, epitomizes some of the changes sweeping the state. (.) It's currently broken up into two different Congressional districts, one of which—the Third—Lungren represents. But the 2012 elections take place on entirely different playing field, with the city unified in a single district where Democratic registered voters hold a numerical advantage.
The Bera-Lungren matchup also made the list of 18 "Red to Blue" races the Democratic Party leadership is prioritizing this year in its drive to take back the majority in the House.
Journal reporter Vauhini Vara spent time door-knocking with Bera, who called the Seventh "a pure swing district." (Lungren didn't disagree.) Along the way, the two encountered a number of working-class Elk Grovians hit hard by the economic crisis.
It remains to be seen whether Bera—who lost to Lungren in the Third by seven percentage points in 2010 but out-fundraised him in 2011—can win over those voters, or whether Lungren will hold onto his role as a conservative standard-bearer for the region.