There are no GOP congressmen representing 'Reagan country' anymore
At one time, Orange County, California was one of the most Republican counties in the nation. From the 1960s on, it was known as "Reagan country" because the Gipper referred to it as a place where "Good Republicans go to die."
Yesterday, AT covered the defeat of Rep. Young Kim, the last Republican congressman to represent Orange County.
With Kim’s defeat, four Republican-held House districts all or partly in Orange County, California, a one-time nationally known GOP stronghold southeast of Los Angeles, will have shifted in one election to the Democratic column. The change means that the county — Richard Nixon’s birthplace and site of his presidential library — will only have Democrats representing its residents in Washington next year.
Democrats also recently picked up the last Republican-held House seat anchored in Los Angeles County, when Democrat Katie Hill ousted Republican Rep. Steve Knight.
With other gains — Republicans also lost a seat in the agricultural Central Valley — Democrats will hold a 45-8 edge in California U.S. House seats next year.
So, California is blue. Big deal, right? Except Orange County used to be a microcasm of GOP strengths; middle and upper middle class suburban whites who cared about home, God, family, and America. Today, demographic changes have changed the political makeup of Orange County. And Republicans haven't met the challenge to appeal to these new voters. Democrats have a lock on the minority vote, but the GOP is also losing badly among college graduates (especially those with advanced degrees), single women, and the young. All of those groups are growing in size as Republicans are getting a smaller share of their votes. And many of them live in the suburbs.
Republicans are still strong in the small towns and farms that dot middle America and the south. And they hold a big edge in the upper great plains and mountain west. But former GOP suburban strongholds like Orange County, the collar counties of Chicago, and the periphery of other big cities can no longer be counted on to deliver votes in numbers that offset the urban Democratic vote so vital to winning statewide races.
Unless Republicans can find a way to recapture these voters, they will lose the senate in 2020 and would be in danger of losing the presidency.