In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. California is an important part of the story.
Those new swing suburban counties were one of the central factors behind the 40-seat Democratic gain in the House in November. Many of them have been changed by an increase in educated and affluent voters who have been pushed toward the Democratic column by some of Mr. Trump’s policies. That partly accounts for what is happening here in Orange County, but the political shifts can also be explained by the rapidly changing cultural, political and economic face of the region and are on display in places like Bolsa Avenue, which is known as Little Saigon.
In the 48th Congressional District, which voted out Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a fixture of Orange County Republican politics for nearly 30 years, the Latino population jumped to 145,585 in 2017 from 38,803 in 1980, or 8 percent, accounting for 21 percent of the district’s population.
In another corner of Orange County, where Representative Mimi Walters, a Republican, was upset by Katie Porter, her Democratic challenger, the Asian-American population jumped from 14,528 in 1980, or 4.4 percent, to 175,540 in 2017, making up just under a quarter of the total population.
“Everybody is surprised,” said Jim Brulte, the state Republican leader. “Like Orange County is immune to the demographic changes?”
Tom Tait, the outgoing two-term Republican mayor of Anaheim, who saw the county change before him as he grew up here, said the party had failed to keep up.
“The local party has dropped the ball with immigrant communities,” he said. “Anaheim is now one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States.”