In 2016, the conservative bastion of Orange County, California, voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since the Great Depression. Two years later, Democrats succeeded in capturing all of seven of its congressional seats ― a stunning feat in what has traditionally been a seat of Republican power that catapulted both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to the White House.
The densely populated county ― which comprises cities like Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, and Huntington Beach ― has been growing more diverse and less conservative for years. But what may have harmed its GOP House representatives most was President Donald Trump and his nativist rhetoric about immigrants and penchant for controversial remarks, which alienated both minorities and college-educated women there.
“Those forces finally combined in 2018 to wipe out the GOP in what was for decades the most Republican big county in America. It is a political failure of biblical proportions,” said California Democratic strategist Garry South.