A crucial component of the House GOP’s surprise comeback in 2020 was …

A crucial component of the House GOPs surprise comeback in 2020 was winning back a majority of the California seats lost in the anti-Trump blue wave just two years earlier. 
Democrat Christy Smiths concession to GOP Rep. Mike Garcia this week means Republicans will control four of the seven seats that Democrats flipped in the Golden State during the 2018 midterm elections. 
It wasnt enough to win back the House majority for the GOP, but Republicans gained seats and feel primed to take back the majority in 2022.
Their victories show that we can win from California to New York to Miami to Minnesota to New Mexico to Iowa. It was a broad coalition of victories, Rep. Darin LaHoodDarin McKay LaHoodHow to expand rural broadband, fast and affordablyAmerica can’t afford to ignore the food service distribution industryOn The Money: McConnell previews GOP coronavirus bill | Senate panel advances Trump Fed nominee who recently supported gold standard | Economists warn about scaled-back unemployment benefitsMORE (R-Ill.), a top lieutenant at the National Republican Congressional Committee, told The Hill. It also shows the importance of recruitment and finding candidates that reflect their constituency.   
While The Associated Press had yet to call the race, Smith who trailed Garcia by just 333 votes threw in the towel Monday night, saying her campaign had exhausted every possible option and came up short.
Garcia, a former Navy pilot and son of a Mexican immigrant, had flipped the northern Los Angeles County seat in a May special election after Democratic Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillKatie Hill to launch ‘Naked Politics’ podcastKatie Hill claims hackers used government account to accuse her of ‘workplace abuse’Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta endorses California Democratic House challengerMORE resigned over allegations of inappropriate sexual relationships with staffers.
There were other GOP bright spots around the state. In a rematch in the agriculture-rich Central Valley, Republican David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoValadao unseats Cox in election rematch House Hispanic Republicans welcome four new membersEx-GOP Rep. David Valadao up 11 points over Democrat TJ Cox in California House race: pollMORE won his old seat back by defeating Democratic Rep. TJ Cox. And a pair of Korean American women Young Kim and Michelle Steel flipped Democratic seats in the onetime conservative stronghold of Orange County. 
Kim, a former state assemblywoman, ousted first-term Democratic Rep. Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE in a rematch of their 2018 race following longtime GOP Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceTop donor allegedly sold access to key politicians for millions in foreign cash: reportHere are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this yearYoung Kim takes down Democrat in California House rematchMOREs retirement.
Steel, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, unseated another first-term Democrat, Rep. Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaHere are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this yearRundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election DayOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden expected to issue swift reversals on climate | Senate proposes spending increase at environmental agencies | Court halts permits for contentious Mountain Valley PipelineMORE, who two years earlier upset 15-term GOP Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherGOP’s Steel wins California House race after Democrat Rouda concedesDemocrat Harley Rouda advances in California House primaryLawyers to seek asylum for Assange in France: reportMORE.
Together, Kim, Steel and Valadao made history by becoming the first Republicans since 1994 to unseat a sitting Democratic House member.
The wins have been a shot in the arm for a party stung by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarksTrump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shieldTiger King’s attorney believes they’re close to getting pardon from TrumpMOREs defeat, and they are a testament to the strategy of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending packageDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress but will it hold?Top Republicans praise Trump’s Flynn pardonMORE (R-Calif.) and his campaigns chief, Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year none were RepublicanA louder voice for women everywhereGOP sees path to House majority in 2022MORE (R-Minn.). Their team sought to recruit strong, diverse candidates and then provide the campaign cash and infrastructure to keep pace with Democrats who raised a record amount of money this cycle.   
While President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarksTiger King’s attorney believes they’re close to getting pardon from TrumpCruz urges Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania election challengeMORE trounced Trump in California, Republicans pointed to the string of victories there as proof the Grand Old Party could still find ways to compete locally in a deep-blue state thats growing increasingly diverse. 
It showed that we can still win in California; we took a lot of people by surprise, said Sam Oh, a vice president at Targeted Victory consulting firm who served as the lead campaign strategist for fellow Korean Americans Kim and Steel. We knew that history wasnt on our side and we had to operate differently. We recruited diverse, dynamic candidates, we invested heavily in small-dollar contribution programs and digital ads and text messages.
We played to win and that was the mindset the entire cycle, that we didnt want to play it safe.
For Kim and Steel, doing things differently meant reaching out to independents and Democrats, as well as voters in their conservative base. They did Korean-, Chinese- and Vietnamese-language outreach through mailers, emails and text messages.    
And while they tied their Democratic opponents to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to dealTop GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this weekHouston will send residents checks of up to ,200 for pandemic reliefMORE (D-Calif.) and her socialist agenda, Kim and Steel also focused on bread-and-butter issues like cutting taxes and keeping small businesses open during the coronavirus pandemic.
A lot of incumbents werent talking about the issues that mattered most to the voters in the district. That translated to winning crossover voters and independent voters, Oh said.
Along with Democrat Marilyn Strickland of Washington state, Kim and Steel made history as the first Korean American women elected to Congress. They also will help boost the number of GOP women in the House in the 117th Congress to more than two dozen, a record for the party.   
Garcias victory north of Los Angeles this week is symbolic for another reason. It ensured that Pelosi and the Democrats failed to oust a single House GOP incumbent in a cycle where they had hoped to grow their majority by between five and 20 seats. 
Instead, Democrats have seen a dozen incumbents, nearly all of whom were swept into Congress in the 2018 wave, go down to defeat. And the number of Democratic losses could climb as high as 14 if Republicans pull off victories in a pair of nail-biters in Iowa and New York.   
Either way, Pelosi and her party will hold the narrowest House majority in generations.
Despite the losses, California Democrats arent in panic mode. While Trump boosted turnout among Republicans, including in Orange County, Democrats say he wont be on the ballot in 2022. They also point out that Biden beat Trump in the state by nearly 30 percentage points, and Democrats still hold 11 of 53 House seats.
We have a pretty substantial majority in the delegation, said Rep. Scott PetersScott H. PetersTrump’s illness sparks new urgency for COVID-19 dealModerate Democrats push leadership to pull marijuana legislationOne doctor’s thoughts on a hopeful futureMORE, a San Diego Democrat and a regional vice chair for the House Democrats campaign arm. I dont think theres reason to panic because Californians share our values.
But Peters added that his party needs to recalibrate its message and get more aggressive in fending off GOP attacks that vulnerable Democrats are police-defunding socialists.
Thats not who we are but some of the things that our opponents threw at us stuck, Peters said. I would reiterate that Democrats cant be seen as socialists and win swing voters.