However, something else is at play which I think might make the race even less safe for him. (And for all California House Republicans, for that matter. Actually, any California Republican running statewide this November.)
Readers may recall that a month ago I wrote here about the California open primary law, whereby the top two vote-getters in a primary race – whatever the party – are put on the ballot in November. (For instance, if two Democrats get the most votes of everyone on the open primary ballot, then those two Democrats will run against each other in the November election. Same thing if two Republicans are the top vote-getters.) And I noted at the time how it was seriously possible that two Democrats could be on the November ballot in California for both Senate and Governor (and no Republican), which could drastically drive down GOP turnout. And if that happened, it would put all Republicans at risk who are now in close races.
Over the weekend, I checked various state polls, and though there is a bit of disparity among them, they do show that in the governor's race, Democrats could finish 1-2 there. The current leader is the state's Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom – and right behind him is former LA mayor Anthony Villaraigosa. Both are generally in the low 20 percent range. In third place is Republican John Cox, three points because Villaraigosa .
The race for the U.S. Senate is also unclear -- though all polls show problems for Republicans. Dianne Feinstein has a commanding lead for first place, so she's a shoe-in. In some polls, however, Democrat Kevin De Leon is in second place, while others have Republican Patrick Little in that second spot. But here's the problem that faces Republicans: De Leon is helped by having a reasonable profile in the state as the President pro tempore of the state Senate. If Little gets enough Republican votes to finish second, though (and one poll gives him a solid lead for second) -- he is a virulent white supremacist who has said that government should be "free from Jews." If he is the only Republican running for a major office in California, that could drive GOP turnout down just as much as no Republican on the November ballot. And in some ways, Republicans having a neo-Nazi on the November ballot for the U.S. Senate could arguable be far more problematic for the GOP "brand" across the country, rather than no Republican at all.
All of which returns us to the original point being that as bad as the news was for Devin Nunes that his race is no longer classified as "safe," it's even far worse if there are no Republicans on the November ballot running for governor and the U.S. Senate. Or if they get one candidate on the ballot and he's a white supremacist with no serious chance against the popular incumbent. And it's bad news for all Republican politicians in California...given that so many special elections around the country have shown Democrats gaining 15-20 points even in heaving Red districts.
As an added note, Sabato's article doesn't focus just on Devin Nunes's race, but updates 15 House races where Republicans ranged from Likely to Safe. And in all but one, their chances were downgraded. (The only one that improved was the Arizona 8, which Republican Debbie Lasko just won in a Special Election. But keep in mind, that was a very safe GOP seat that Trump had won by 20 points, and she squeaked in by only five.)
These are only 15 seats Sabato looked at here, most which he had marked "Safe Republican" the last time he checked them. Keep in mind that there are a great many seats that start significantly closer -- many even in which Hillary Clinton won the district -- and Democrats only need to pick up 23 seats to win back the House.
And if one of those is Devin Nunes, all the better...