The GOP’s grip on Orange County has loosened in recent years and now, according to the latest stats from the O.C. Registrar of Voters, there are just nine more people registered as Republicans than as Democrats.
As the O.C. Register reports, if just ten people in the county decide to officially register as Democrats, it would mark the first time the county has had a Dem majority since a short, post-Watergate window in 1978. Representatives for the county’s Democratic party claim they’ve been registering around 25 new people per day.
While the numbers are striking given Orange County’s reputation, this latest development falls in line with regional trends, including the election of a solidly Democratic congressional delegation in 2018, and the 2016 cycle, which saw more voters in the county opt for Clinton than Trump.
Among the demographic shifts that correlate with Orange County’s political lean is a sharp increase in registrations by Asian Americans, Latinos, and young people, all of whom have opted to align with the Democratic party more frequently than with the GOP.
There’s also the matter of suburban, affluent conservatives who voted Republican on fiscal issues, but have grown less comfortable with right’s rhetoric, a trend which Dan Jacobson, chair of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, told O.C. Register his party has been able to seize upon.
“It was a wave, and there’s no nice way of saying this… of national Republican leaders saying stupid things,” Jacobson says. “I thought that was not going to be acceptable to the majority of Orange County Republicans. They didn’t leave the Republican party, the Republican party left them.”
The county, with its increasingly diverse mix of residents, might offer some kind of insight into the country at large. Chapman University political science professor Fred Smoller told the Register, “As Orange County goes, so goes the nation.”