Orange County was once a Republican stronghold, but times are changing. Democrats are focused on several congressional seats currently held by Republicans, and it increasingly looks like their bets may pay off.
The latest piece of bad news for Republicans is a new poll showing more than 6 in 10 Orange County residents disapprove of Trump, with an anemic 37 percent approving of him. On top of those numbers, more residents want Democrats to control Congress than want Republicans to control it.
Orange County voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, the first Democrat to win there in more than 80 years. This new poll, and other analyses, paint this shift more as the start of a trend than a one-time anomaly.
“It’s one more indication we are no longer a red county,” said Fred Smoller, a Chapman associate professor of political science and lead researcher for the poll.
While the poll measured Trump’s approval rating, embattled Republicans like Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (Costa Mesa) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) have plenty to fret.
“Republicans should be worried about the effect Trump is having on California,” said Mark DiCamillo, an IGS poll director. “There’s an undercurrent that what’s happening in Washington is negatively affecting California.”
DiCamillo conducted a separate poll pegging Rohrabacher’s staunch support of Trump as one of the reasons his numbers are faltering, especially with women in his district. That poll showed more than half of the voters in Rohrabacher’s district are not inclined to re-elect him.
“Rohrabacher’s web of ties to Russia have drawn the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team,” reported McClatchy. “But his connection to Trump may be equally, if not more, damaging.”
While voters are eager to boot Walters out of office, she is using her time in Congress rubber-stamping virtually anything Trump wants her to do. Walters votes with the Trump agenda 99 percent of the time, a strikingly high number for someone who, at least in theory, represents voters who rejected Trump in 2016.
In addition to her close ties to Trump, Walters voted to make health care more expensive (premiums are set to increase by up to 30 percent next year) and raise taxes on Orange County homeowners (up to $4,500 this year alone).
National Republicans know their situation is tenuous. Rather than face voters again in November, two Orange County Republicans, Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, decided to retire. Republicans rushed to open a field office in Orange County, spending time and resources defending multiple seats once thought to be safe.
“Orange County is changing,” says Smoller. Democrats are hoping a blue wave in November will accelerate the change, and help them regain control of the House of Representatives.