California Republicans just lost their last major hope of holding onto some control in the ever-deepening blue state. Orange County, the Southern Californian coastal county that sits between Los Angeles and San Diego flipped four House seats blue following last week’s election.
This graphic, from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” shows the drastic change in the area:
Congressional districts in Orange County, Calif. in 2016 and in 2018 pic.twitter.com/TWRQ1pPzS4
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) November 16, 2018
How did such a major change come about in just two years?
It comes down to changing demographics, some redistricting, and a Californian rejection of President Donald Trump.
As reported by the Washington Post, the change was imminent. The county that was dubbed “Regan County” after a conservative movement hit the area hard in the 1980s. But then, Hillary Clinton won Orange Country in 2016, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since the Great Depression, signaling that conservative Californians aren’t as enthusiastic about the president.
Currently, the number of Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics outnumber Whites in the county, giving the Democratic Party a boost.
Orange County also lost a conservative giant. In 2012, Orange Country GOP Chairman Tom Fuentes died. According to the Orange County Register, he first started the position in 1985 and was central in making the county a Republican stronghold. Since then, the county has been struggling to find a conservative that looms as large.
The fall for some of the flipped districts was greater than others. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher lost his bid for re-election after serving the county for 15 terms.
Rep. Mimi Walters lost her seat in the once Republican stronghold of CA-45. UC Irvine professor Katie Porter won the seat, no doubt appealing to the local college students.
California 49th district was expected to flip. While it technically creeps into the southern part of Orange Country, the district is mostly in San Diego County. They didn’t have an incumbent running, and previous current representative, Darrell Issa, only won by 3.7 percent in the 2016 election. In 2012, CA-49 redistricted to encompass less of an inland area that reached out to Riverside Country which runs more conservative. Mike Levin, the Democrat taking over CA-49, ran his campaign focusing on climate change issues which seem to resonate with this Southern Californian coastal area.
The race for California’s 39th district still isn’t over. But Thursday night, Democrat Gil Cisneros took the lead over Republican Young Kim. It’s another district that reaches out beyond Orange County and Cisneros got a lot of help from voters in the Northern part of the district that live in Los Angeles County.
So now the Golden State will send eight Republicans to the House in January compared to 45 Democrats. That, along with two Democratic senators and a new Democratic governor, lock in a blue resistance and persistence in the nation’s most populous state.