Orange County Democrats have become so emboldened by how well President Barack Obama did here on election night that as far as they’re concerned they can compete for any seat in this Republican rich environment. Case in point: Irvine Councilwoman and former Mayor Beth Krom. She made it official this week that she is going to take on Republican Rep. John Campbell.
Outside of Southern California, Orange County is synonymous with wealth, glamour (e.g., The OC) and conservative politics. The reality is more complicated. Republicans have generally won there, but in 2008, McCain took the county by a slim 50-48 percent margin. What’s up?
- First, it’s now a majority-minority county, about 33 percent Hispanic, 16 percent Asian, and 2 percent African American.
- Second, while coastal areas are indeed as affluent as the stereotype holds, there are gritty working-class areas farther inland. (I used to live in one of them.)
- Third, it is home to large numbers of high-income professionals, who liked Obama. Nationwide, he won narrowly among voters making more than $200k a year, and by a 58-40 percent margin among those with postgraduate study. As Michael Barone has argued convincingly, The GOP cannot take upscale voters for granted.
Orange County Republicans will have to work hard to keep their turf from turning blue.