In Orange County, long considered one of the few bastions of conservatism in California, voter registration trends have been decidedly poor for the Republican Party, with GOP registration dropping below 40% of registered voters for the first time ever.
According to the Orange County Register,
Republicans’ share of voter registration has fallen below 40 percent for the first time in the county’s history.
That’s 8 percentage points more than the Democrats’ share. but marks an ongoing slide from Republicans’ 22-point dominance in 1990, the GOP’s zenith in the county, according to county elections statistics updated this week.
Once upon a time, California regularly elected Republicans to statewide office–and, of course, two Golden State politicians were elected to the Presidency on the strength of carrying the electoral votes of the largest state in the union. But over the last generation the Republican footprint has diminished to the point where not a single statewide elected officeholder hails from the GOP.
Actually, both of the state’s major political parties have seen a significant drop in registration, with a huge increase in the number of California voters who choose to express no party preference. And while Democrats have seen more of a drop overall, for the GOP the drop has brought the party below a threshold of statewide viability.
In 1980, when former Governor Ronald Reagan carried California and won the White House, partisan registration figures were 54.1% Democratic, 34.6% GOP, with Decline-To-State at 8.9%. Fast-forward 35 years later and it’s 43.2% Democratic, 28% GOP, and a whopping 23.6% No Party Preference.
As the Register notes:
The growth in voters with no party preference–at 24 percent, up from 10 percent in 1990– is a key part of the shift. While Democrats’ current 32 percent share of registration has stayed fairly constant since 1990, the GOP share has fallen from 55.6 percent.”
This drop in GOP registration has not yet translated to losses in partisan offices in Orange County, nor has it impacted the all-Republican Board of Supervisors. But if these trends continue, it is only a matter of time before more Democrats start to win election to office in the this famously Republican turf.