Where You Stand and Where You Sleep: Registration Complete, a Look at 2012 OC Political Geography


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Orange County Map - Political Geography

Orange County politics? Not quite so simple! Note that the medium blue (Laguna Beach, La Habra) shows rough Democratic vs. Republican parity in voter registration.

It ended Monday night.  As of midnight, the final playing field within the county, when it came to voter registration, was set.

There may be few surprises on the map.  We had two photo finishes in voter registration:  the City of Anaheim ended up with 54,214 registered Democrats to 54,157 registered Republicans and the City of La Habra ended up with 10,509 registered Republicans to 10,418 Democrats.  The range of registration in cities within the area — for which I had to go beyond red and blue — extends from “beyond blue” Santa Ana (2.02 Democrats for each Republican) to “beyond red” Villa Park (.281 Democrats for each Republican, or 3.55 Republicans for each Democrat.)  It’s hard to estimate the split in Anaheim, but it looks to me as if the Anaheim Hills are about the same as Yorba Linda and the rest of the city is about the same as Buena Park.

What I found interesting about this exercise was what it tells us about regions within the county.  Nothing we didn’t already know, perhaps, but the coherence within regions is pretty impressive.

You see political coherence from eastern Brea through Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills down through the Canyons through Rancho Santa Margarita and San Clemente.  All through that area, you see more than two Republicans for every Democrat.  But it’s interesting how things shade as you move west.  Western Brea, Placentia, Northeastern Anaheim west of the Hills (I’m betting), and most of Orange form a fairly coherent political culture, with a little less than two Republicans per Democrat. separating the eastern county from La Habra, West Anaheim, Buena Park, Garden Grove, and of course Santa Ana.

This is recapitulated in the South County, where a swath from Lake Forest to San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point also provide a bridge to less Republican Irvine, Laguna Beach, and Aliso Viejo.  But this map also shows deeply Republican Newport Beach as a bit of an Island, with Costa Mesa being halfway to Santa Ana and Huntington Beach being halfway to the region of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, and Cypress — a trio that are almost politically identical and that themselves for a bridge to the more Democratic Long Beach and Gateway Cities area.

Northwest OC, where Sharon Quirk-Silva is duking it out with Chris Norby, is quite coherent when viewed as a region.  The area north and west of Santa Ana is clearly turning Democratic.  The border seems to be in the City of Fullerton, where the eastward wave of Republicanism meets the westward wall of Democratic registration spilling over from Los Angeles County.  Viewed this way, Fullerton becomes almost a peninsula of Republican advantage, prevented only by Brea and Placentia from becoming an island.  In this way it looks a lot like Costa Mesa, with Newport Beach as the equivalent of Yorba Linda and the Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley — another pair of neighboring cities that are pretty much identical in terms of registration — as a larger equivalent of Brea and Placentia.

That mostly lime and apple green area in the western county — that’s where Alan Lowenthal is running.  The nearness to parity — combined with his advantages in the Los Angeles County portion of his district, is one reason he’s going to win.  (Another, Gary DeLong’s denial of climate change, has already been covered.)  And that dark blue area above that?  That’s where Sharon Quirk-Silva is running.  Democrats worked hard on building up registration in this part of the county — West Anaheim, Stanton, Cypress, La Palma, and Buena Park — enough so that it now largely offsets the advantage that Republicans have in Fullerton.  This is only registered voters as they stand now — in the years to come, this will be an even more Democratic area.

Here’s a ranked list of the Democrat-to-Republican ratio in each city:

*568-0 Santa Ana 2.022885
*527-0 Stanton 1.203506
*507-0 Buena Park 1.134337
*544-0 Laguna Beach 1.042273
*502-0 Anaheim 1.001052
*517-0 La Habra 0.991341
*525-0 Laguna Woods 0.95545
*511-0 La Palma 0.941494
*514-0 Garden Grove 0.911963
*559-0 Irvine 0.91025
*571-0 Tustin 0.819562
*510-0 Cypress 0.818022
*513-0 Fullerton 0.81588
*533-0 Los Alamitos 0.787911
*536-0 Seal Beach 0.776473
*552-0 Costa Mesa 0.762344
*539-0 Westminster 0.759844
*545-0 Aliso Viejo 0.690975
*563-0 Orange 0.653163
*523-0 Placentia 0.652603
*532-0 Huntington Beach 0.610176
*531-0 Fountain Valley 0.607931
*505-0 Brea 0.590477
*556-0 Lake Forest 0.574161
*538-0 Laguna Hills 0.559469
*558-0 Laguna Niguel 0.558886
*541-0 Dana Point 0.558544
*549-0 San Juan Capistrano 0.546136
*547-0 Mission Viejo 0.538005
*554-0 Rancho Santa Margarita 0.487179
*599-0 Unincorporated Area 0.481303
*548-0 San Clemente 0.462385
*529-0 Yorba Linda 0.381949
*553-0 Newport Beach 0.378966
*575-0 Villa Park 0.281476

To see how this translates into the new districts — and bear in mind that CA-39, CA-47, CA-49, SD-29, and AD-55, all of which are located partially outside of Orange County and are marked with asterisks — you can refer to this table.  (I’ve also included SD-34 — Lou Correa’s district for the next two years — just because so many people are interested in it.)

55th Assembly* 0.584604
65th Assembly 0.976271
68th Assembly 0.624342
69th Assembly 1.830229
72nd Assembly 0.743363
73rd Assembly 0.523073
74th Assembly 0.682762
39th Congressional* 0.702889
45th Congressional 0.625648
46th Congressional 1.427715
47th Congressional* 0.85291
48th Congressional 0.633971
49th Congressional* 0.499271
29th State Senate* 0.818104
34th State Senate* 1.026616
37th State Senate 0.65426

(When you think about how the local races are likely to go this year, this is a good chart to keep in mind.)

This allows us to play a little parlor game: what city is each candidate’s district most like?

The OC part of the 55th Assembly District (Hagman vs. Fritche) is a lot like Brea.

The 65th Assembly District (Norby vs. Quirk-Silva) is a lot like La Habra.

The 68th Assembly District (Wagner vs. Avalos) is a lot like Huntington Beach.

The 69th Assembly District (Daly unopposed) is a little less Democratic than Santa Ana.  (Sigh.)

The 72nd Assembly District (Edgar vs. Allen) is a lot like Westminster.

The 73rd Assembly District (Harkey vs. Corbett) is a lot like Mission Viejo.

The 74th Assembly District (Mansoor vs. Rush) is a lot like Aliso Viejo.

The OC part of the 29th Senate District (Huff vs. Yours Truly) is a lot like Cypress (and Fullerton).

The 37th Senate District (Walters vs. Young) is a lot like Orange.

The OC part of the 39th Congressional District (Royce vs. Chen) is a lot like Aliso Viejo.  (Luckily for Jay Chen, the LA part isn’t!)

The 45th Congressional District (Campbell vs. Kang) is a lot like Huntington Beach.

The 46th Congressional District (Sanchez vs. Hardin) is as much more Democratic than Stanton as Stanton is compared to La Habra.

The OC part of the 47th Congressional District (Lowenthal vs. DeLong) is about halfway between Irvine and Tustin.

The 48th Congressional District (Rohrabacher vs. Varasteh) is a shade more Democratic than Huntington Beach.

The OC part of the 49th Congressional District (Issa vs. Tetalman) is a lot like Rancho Santa Margarita.

Careful readers will realize that I’ve left out one district: the 38th Congressional District, where new-to-OC Congresswoman Linda Sanchez is running against Some Guy.  That one is exactly like La Palma.  That’s because it consists entirely of all of La Palma.


About Greg Diamond

Worker's rights attorney now moving into "good governance" litigation. North Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Orange County and occasional candidate. Proud to be prolix. Unless otherwise specifically stated, his writings never speak for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Brea but generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and without compensation, although in 2014 he may receive some compensation for campaign consulting and fundraising for the campaign of Jorge Lopez for Orange County Assessor.