Orange County, California, has traditionally been a stronghold for the GOP. Not anymore.
With the Associated Press declaring on Thursday that Democrat Katie Porter prevailed over Republican Rep. Mimi Walters, and Democrat Gil Cisneros narrowly pulling ahead in a race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ed Royce as of Friday morning, it appears the blue wave may have wiped away all of Orange County’s GOP representatives.
These maps tell the tale:
The 2018 results are a drastic change from the Ronald Reagan era, when registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats in Orange County by 22 percentage points. In 1984, Reagan carried the county with more than 70 percent of the vote.
That gap has steadily narrowed ever since, with Hillary Clinton in 2016 becoming the first Democrat to win the county since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. Even then, Republicans held four of the county’s six House seats.
President Donald Trump likely didn’t help GOP candidates in southern California by making fears about immigrants a centerpiece of his midterm campaign message. More than one-third of Orange County residents identify as Hispanic, and political scientists have credited Trump’s rhetoric with motivating Latino voters to head to the polls.
The blue wave didn’t stop at Orange County. Statewide, Democrats are now poised to hold at least 44 of California’s 53 US House seats, an increase of six seats from 2016. Things could be even more grim for the GOP in 2020. In presidential election cycles, Democrats usually benefit from higher voter turnout.
Trump seems to be in denial about the extent of the damage. The 35 to 40 House seats Democrats are poised to pick up nationwide are the most a Republican president has lost in a midterm cycle since Gerald Ford lost 48 in the immediate aftermath of Watergate. But the president on Friday claimed the midterms results in the House “were better than other sitting presidents.”