Orange County is a Republican stronghold no more.
The county is now home to 547,458 registered Democrats, compared with 547,369 Republicans, according to statistics released by the county Registrar of Voters. And the number of voters not aligned with a political party has surged in recent years, and now tops 440,770, or 27.4% of the county’s voters. The Los Angeles Times reported.
Democratic leaders attributed the shift to changing demographics, aggressive recruitment efforts and President Trump.
“Trump*s toxic rhetoric and exclusionary policies alienate women, millennials, suburban voters, immigrants and people of color — critical components of the electorate in Orange County,” said Katerina Ioannides, chairwoman of the Orange County Young Democrats, which conducted voter registration drives aimed at young voters, one of several groups that worked to increase party registration, according to The Times. “The Republican Party’s platform no longer resonates in a rapidly diversifying, increasingly college-educated Orange County.”
Shawn Steel, Republican national committeeman for California, blamed the GOP decline on the large increase in the number of voters who register with no party preference, and on Republicans leaving the state because of high housing costs, poor schools and lackluster job opportunities.
“We have a tremendous outflow of people leaving California. We’ve been an out-migration state for 20 years, and that’s particularly acute in the suburbs,” said the Seal Beach resident, who predicted that the tide would turn because of overreach by the Democratic politicians who control every arm of state government. “There is an opportunity as Democrats get more aggressive in Sacramento and alienate more people.”
But Democrats gaining an edge here over Republicans is a watershed moment for a place that has long been a citadel of GOP strength and one that could have national implications for the future of the Republican Party if similar shifts occur in other parts of the country.
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