OC Political

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Democrats Overtake Republicans in OC Voter Registration for First Time Since Watergate’s Aftermath

Posted by Chris Nguyen on August 6, 2019

August 6, 2019 marks a day that Democrats have been eagerly awaiting and Republicans have been dreading, for today marks the day that the Democrats have surpassed the Republicans to gain a plurality of voter registration in Orange County for the first time since Watergate. While each party still holds 34% of the electorate with No Party Preference Voters (independents) at 27% and third parties collectively holding 5%, there are now more registered Democrats than registered Republicans in Orange County for the first time in over 40 years.

14 of Orange County’s 34 cities hold Democratic pluralities: Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Santa Ana, Stanton, and Tustin.

Aliso Viejo is likely next to flip, with Republicans holding a razor-thin 0.5% voter registration advantage there.

In the three largest cities in the County:

  • Anaheim: Democrats: 41.5%, Republicans: 27.5%, NPP: 26.7%
  • Santa Ana: Democrats: 51.6%, NPP: 27.9%, Republicans: 16.8%
  • Irvine: Democrats: 36.0%, NPP: 34.9%, Republicans: 25.2%

Those 3 cities comprise 24% of Orange County voters. However, 30% of all Orange County Democrats are registered in those three cities compared to only 17% of all Orange County Republicans and 26% of all Orange County NPPs.

In the 1970s, two of three Congressmen, one of three State Senators, four of six Assemblymen, three of the five County Supervisors, the County Treasurer, and even the State Controller were Orange County Democrats. In contrast, today in Orange County, all seven members of Congress, two of five State Senators, three of seven Assemblymembers, and one of five County Supervisors, are Democrats. Comparing today versus the 1970s, Democrats have performed better for Congress while Republicans have performed better for the Assembly, the Board of Supervisors, and the executive Countywide offices. The State Senate is a wash.

However, in 1995-1996, Republicans had managed to shut out Democrats out of every Congressional, Senate, Assembly, and County office. In 1994, Republicans held an 18% registration advantage, including 52.6% of all registered voters in Orange County.

Democrats have held fairly steady for the last quarter-century at approximately one-third of the electorate. Republicans had about half the electorate. The Republican advantage was 17%-18%, but then eroded by 5% between 2006-2008. It slowed back down to a 1.7% decline over 2008-2012, but then picked up speed, falling by 3.1% over 2012-2014 (1.55% per year), 3.9% over 2014-2016 (1.95% per year), 2.9% over 2016-2018 (1.45% per year), and actually slowed to 0.9% this past year. However, this has not been a smooth decline. Republicans actually recovered in 2015 and early 2016 before a precipitous Republican drop and Democratic increase during most of 2016.

  • October 1996: 51.6%-32.7%, R+18.9%
  • October 2000: 49.9%-32.2%, R+17.7%
  • October 2002: 49.1%-32.0%, R+17.1%
  • October 2004: 48.4%-30.2%, R+18.2%
  • October 2006: 47.9%-30.1%, R+17.8%
  • October 2008: 44.4%-31.9%, R+12.5%
  • October 2010: 43.3%-32.2%, R+11.1%
  • October 2012: 42.2%-31.4%, R+10.8%
  • October 2014: 40.7%-32.0%, R+7.7%
  • February 2015: 40.6%-31.8%, R+8.9%
  • January 2016: 40.0%-31.2%, R+8.8%
  • April 2016: 40.5%-32.3%, R+8.2%
  • May 2016: 40.0%-33.5%, R+6.5%
  • July 2016: 39.5%-33.9%, R+5.6%
  • September 2016: 39.2%-34.1%: R+5.1%
  • October 2016: 37.8%-34.0%, R+3.8%
  • October 2018: 34.7%-33.6%, R+0.9%
  • August 2019: 34.0%-34.0%, Even

It is not simply a rise in Democratic voter registration among new voters, for even the raw number of Republican voters has fallen since February 2015:

  • February 2015: 575,329
  • January 2016: 573,646
  • April 2016: 538,550
  • May 2016: 557,789
  • July 2016: 562,016
  • September 2016: 561,252
  • October 2016: 580,398
  • February 2017: 580,251
  • January 2018: 563,992
  • April 2018: 537,728
  • May 2018: 541,278
  • September 2018: 534,134
  • October 2018: 541,665
  • February 2019: 541,711
  • August 2019: 547,394

Political watchers had been monitoring the registration numbers over the past several days, with the Republican advantage at 375 voters on Thursday, falling to roughly 175 on Friday, and dwindling to just 9 voters yesterday. Today, the Democrats have overtaken the Republicans.

Today, while Orange County’s Congressional seats are all held by Democrats, Republicans still hold registration advantages in the 45th (Katie Porter), 48th (Harley Rouda), as well as the Orange County portions of the 39th (Gil Cisneros) and 49th (Mike Levin).

With the exception of the 29th Senate District (held by Republican Ling-Ling Chang), each Senate district has a Senator whose party affiliation matches the district’s registration, with Republicans holding the 36th (Patricia Bates) and 37th (John Moorlach) and Democrats holding the 32nd (Bob Archuleta) and 34th (Tom Umberg).

With the exception of the 74th Assembly District (held by Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris), each Assembly district has an Assemblymember whose party affiliation matches the district’s registration, with Republicans holding the 55th (Phillip Chen), 68th (Steven Choi), 72nd (Tyler Diep), and 73rd (Bill Brough), and Democrats holding the 65th (Sharon Quirk-Silva) and 69th (Tom Daly). Even the 65th, which went Democrat in 2012, Republican in 2014, and back to Democrat in 2016, now has a 12% Democratic voter registration advantage.

With the exception of the 1st Supervisorial District (held by Republican Andrew Do), each Supervisorial district has a Supervisor whose party affiliation matches the district’s registration, with Republicans holding the 2nd (Michelle Steel), 3rd (Don Wagner), and 5th (Lisa Bartlett) while Democrats hold the 4th (Doug Chaffee). The 1st District has an 18% Democratic registration advantage.

9 Responses to “Democrats Overtake Republicans in OC Voter Registration for First Time Since Watergate’s Aftermath”

  1. I don’t know what more anyone needs to see to convince them that the time for change is now. She ship has sunk.

  2. […] You can read the rest of the post here. […]

  3. John Nemesh said

    Not surprising given how extreme the GOP has become, and how much love they show for White Supremacists. If you are still a Republican, you are a racist, a fascist, and a traitor.

  4. Robyn Nordell said

    Hi Chris – thanks for your helpful analysis.

  5. Ira Lechner said

    Mike Levin is Congressman from the 49th CD not the 48th

  6. Mark Shapiro said

    Republican Chris Norby recently resigned from the O.C. Republican Central Committee because he does not support Trump’s reelection. I wonder how many more O.C. Republicans of note also will dump Trump.

  7. Greg Diamond said

    The biggest surprise here is that Stanton shares the boundaries of La Palma.

    Thanks for covering it, Chris. Do you know how much of this is Democratic gains and how much is Republicans going independent? I don’t get the sense that the ideology of the population has changed much, just the partisanship.

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