The 2020 presidential election is over … we hope. It’s time for the post-mortem, nationwide as well as locally.
According to statistics from the Orange County Registrar of Voters, Orange County went for Joe Biden, continuing a trend of the once conservative stronghold moving from strongly “red” to consistently “blue.”
The margin for the OC was 52.6 percent for the Democratic nominee to 43.7 percent for the president. It was only the third time that the OC went for a Democrat, the previous times being in 1936 when Franklin Roosevelt defeated Alf Landon during the Great Depression and in 2016 when Hillary Clinton took the county over Trump.
Stanton’s voters preferred the former vice president by a margin of 14.24 percent, while Garden Grove’s race was much more narrow, Biden winning the Big Strawberry by 1.08 percent, the slimmest margin in the county.
Westminster went heavily for Trump by 9.05 percent, a reversal of 2012 and 2016 when the Democrats won. Huntington Beach was in the president’s column by 3.18 percent.
The Democrats were strongest in the inland areas, taking the “big” cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, Garden Grove, Orange and Fullerton. The Republicans did well along the coast, carrying Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente.
Here’s a complete list of which way OC cities tipped.
For Biden: Santa Ana, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Tustin, Fullerton, Aliso Viejo, Buena Park, La Habra, Stanton, Costa Mesa, La Palma, Laguna Woods, Cypress, Orange, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Los Alamitos, Placentia, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Seal Beach, Mission Viejo and Garden Grove.
For Trump: Rancho Santa Margarita, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Westminster, Newport Beach, San Clemente, Yorba Linda, Villa Park and the county’s unincorporated areas.
So what has happened for this seismic shift in voting patterns in what was once the hard core of Nixon and Reagan backers?
Increasing ethnic diversity is part of the picture, to be sure. Orange County is not nearly as white as it used to be. Three of the five biggest cities in OC – Santa Ana, Anaheim and Garden Grove – are now minority-majority cities. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians tilt toward Democrats, while most whites vote for the GOP.
But, according to exit polls and other measures, the most significant shift is among college-educated people. Nationwide, those with a college degree went heavily for Biden, while those without one narrowly supported Trump. For decades – since there was often a connection between affluence and a college education – those with post-secondary education were reliably Republican.
While the folks with a degree are trending blue, the biggest chunk of red voters are white evangelical or white “born-again” Christians by a ratio of three to one. Abortion and gay rights are two issued that bind much of that section of the electorate to Republicans.
Interesting, but it’s important to remember that the election vote tally is but a “snapshot” in time. The success or failure of a political position or party is never permanent. Generals are sometimes accused to being too tempted to “fight the last war.” Aspiring political leaders are well advised to avoid that as well.
“Usually Reliable Sources” appears on alternate Wednesdays, switching spots with Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column.