Once a GOP hotbed, Orange County now has more registered Democrats than Republicans

Orange County, California, a historically Republican stronghold that served as the North Star for Ronald Reagan-style conservatism, now has more voters registered as Democrats than Republicans. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — Orange County, a historically Republican stronghold that served as the North Star for Ronald Reagan-style conservatism, now has more voters registered as Democrats than Republicans.

According to data released by the county, 547,458 Democrats are registered in the county, nearly 90 more than the 547,369 registered Republicans that reside there as of Wednesday morning. Of the nearly 1.6 million registered voters in the county, close to 27% of them do not currently have a party affiliation, according to the statistics.

The new figures, earlier reported by the Los Angeles Times, come nearly nine months after Democrats achieved a total takeover of congressional seats in the one-time Republican bastion, helping the party to secure control of the House, and provide a striking look at a county that Reagan once said was was a place where “good Republicans go to die.”

In last fall’s midterm elections, Republicans lost their grip on the wealthy enclaves along the coast in northern Orange County that comprise the district held by former 15-term Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. They lost by a much larger margin along the coast farther south in the district of former Rep. Darrell Issa, which includes the San Clemente home where former President Richard Nixon holed up to write his memoirs after resigning from the White House. That district is now represented by Democratic Rep. Mike Levin.

Republicans also lost the inland Orange County district represented by former GOP Rep. Mimi Walters to Rep. Katie Porter, a progressive Democrat who has made a name for herself in the House through her tough questioning of bank CEOs. The GOP losses also include the the state’s 39th District in northern Orange County, which is now held by Rep. Gil Cisneros, who took control of the district from retired Republican Rep. Ed Royce.

Following the election last year, Sean Clegg, a California-based Democratic strategist, told CNN that the party is “seeing a realignment with college-educated voters and Orange County is ground zero for this phenomenon.”

Rob Stutzman, a California-based Republican strategist, told CNN last fall that, “The cataclysmic losses in Orange County are the manifestation of changing demographics that have been in motion for a couple decades,” adding that “(President Donald) Trump has accelerated the political consequences (of) the GOP.”

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