More than 76,000 uncounted ballots remained to be checked, approved and tallied in Kern County Wednesday.

Whether that could actually throw the outcome of local races, though, was unclear.

The outstanding provisional and vote-by-mail ballots will be added to the 174,584 already counted in Kern. While the number of them is substantial, the trends in close local races seemed to favor the current leading candidates.

Only 2,246 votes separated Bakersfield mayoral candidates Karen Goh and Kyle Carter. That's a gap of less than three percentage points.

But vote gaps aren't why Goh stood a very good chance of defeating Carter. She has trends to thank for that.

There will, most assuredly, be enough uncounted ballots in Bakersfield to eclipse Goh's lead over Carter.

But those votes are more likely to go to Goh Carter. Why? Because that's how polling trended election night.

In the first releases at about 9 p.m., Carter held a slim 169-vote lead. By 10:40 p.m. Goh was ahead by seven votes. By 12:21 a.m. Wednesday she extended that to 685 votes.

When the final election night tallies came in at 4 a.m. she'd rolled up her 2,246-vote lead.

Could the trend reverse back toward Carter? Sure.

But it's more logical to see Goh pull even further away from Carter.

Then there is the 21st Congressional District.

It's closely watched every election because, on paper, it looks like a heavily Democratic district with a vulnerable Republican congressman in David Valadao, R-Hanford.

The reality is less dramatic.

Valadao has won the district twice - in 2012 and 2014 - with a moderate stance on issues like immigration, the aggressive pursuit of legislation to bring more water to the Central Valley and a well-organized campaign apparatus.

And it looked like he will win again - even though those pesky trends are certain to move against him.

The 21st is a great example of how trends can only do so much for a trailing candidate.

Valadao had 58.6 percent of the vote and a 14,137-vote advantage over Democrat Emilio Huerta.

It's roughly the same place he was in at this point in 2012 and 2014 — when he ended election night with 59.3 percent of the vote. Both of those years he finished with roughly 57 percent of the vote.

Valadao will lose ground with late vote-by-mail and provisional voters but trends show not enough to cost him the election.

Still, it can be hard to tell whether trends are about to flip a race on you.

Take the race for the Kern High School District Area 2 seat between incumbent Jeff Flores and challenger Lee Vasquez.

When the first vote-by-mail ballots were released Tuesday night, Flores had an 11.5 percentage point lead over Vasquez. In the results released at 4 a.m., he had only a 6.42 percentage point lead.

With the potential for several thousand new votes in the race, doesn't that mean Florez could be in for an upset?

Not so much.

With elections you have to look at the total number of votes.

Just after 9 p.m. Tuesday Flores had a lead of 895 votes over Vasquez. Wednesday morning, after an additional 5,743 votes were counted, Flores had an 874-vote advantage.

That's a trend, sure. But a Californian estimate puts the number of votes outstanding in KHSD Area 2 at around 5,800. If those votes go the way the first 5,743 votes did, Vasquez might whittle Florez's lead down to around 850 before the race is done.

Outbrain