FRIDAY, AUGUST 30 – Costa Mesa Democratic Club Announces State Senate District 37 Straw Poll Results from August Democratic Candidates Forum.

A huge thanks to all who attended our August club event – it was a full house! We appreciate the time of our guest speakers and all of our members who joined us. Check out some of the photos below from renown local photographer Matt Fitt. ↓

After hearing from staff with Congressman Harley Rouda and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, as well as CNAAP founding member Sue Dvorak, our club event included a short candidates forum with Mayor Katrina Foley and Dave Min, UCI Prof.
Mayor Foley and Mr. Min are the two candidates running in the Democratic primary to defeat Trump-Republican John Moorlach in State Senate District 37. The candidates were given an opening statement followed by four questions focused on issues related to housing affordability, women’s access to healthcare, and LGBTQ+ equality.


The full list of questions we asked to the Democratic candidates for SD 37 is included below:

1) How would you work as a State Senator to address the housing affordability and access crisis in Orange County at the State level? What specific programs would you support or endorse regarding housing affordability for low-income individuals and to ensure that there is sufficient housing for families and individuals in our community?

2) What policies and initiatives would you as a State Senator propose and support to ensure that the medical and mental health needs of the LGBTQ community are protected and supported, including funding and access for gender confirmation surgery, hormone therapy, and health care and mental health care for transgender and non-binary individuals?

3) With Title X limited and legal threats to reproductive freedom and abortion rights from the current administration and in a number of states, how would you work as a State Senator to ensure that confidential and affordable reproductive care would be available to all California residents, including for low-income individuals and younger individuals?

4) What programs and policies would you support as a State Senator regarding access to mental health care and treatment for young people and those in school? Would you support allowing students undergoing mental health treatment to take personal days without penalty and/or ensuring that schools have adequate mental health resources and personnel on staff?

At the end of our candidates forum, we collected straw poll ballots from eligible voting members of the Costa Mesa Democratic Club. The results are shown in the image of the straw poll tally. 

DISCLAIMER: This is not a scientific poll and does not represent the views of all voters in Costa Mesa or even the views of all registered Democrats in Costa Mesa. This unbinding straw poll represents only the views of present and eligible Costa Mesa Democratic Club voting members in good standing at our August 28, 2019, Democratic candidates forum. A total of 41 members in good standing participated in this straw poll. A member in good standing is any registered Democrat who has paid $10 membership dues for our current fiscal year beginning on June 1, 2019, and who has attended just one previous club event.


The place where “the good Republicans go to die” is no longer a hotbed of conservatism.

(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Orange County – a region once associated with John Birch, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan – is now home to more Democrats than Republicans.

Early Wednesday morning, Registrar Neal Kelley reported there are 547,458 Democrats vs. 547,369 Republicans registered to vote in Orange County, making the county blue by 89 voters.

The switch marks the first time Democrats have outnumbered Republicans in the county since a short-lived swap in 1978, following the Watergate scandal. And it’s the latest step in a political and cultural shift that’s been underway for years, with the county becoming more racially, ethnically and economically diverse and the Republican party becoming less popular with non-white, younger voters.

The flip also is a sign that Democrats, not Republicans, are gaining momentum. While the two major parties have slipped or held even statewide in recent years (with the GOP falling to third place, statewide) and No Party Preference has gained ground, that’s not been the case recently in Orange County. Instead, over the past several months, Democrats and Republicans both have gained ground with Democrats gaining, on average, roughly four times as many registered local voters as the GOP.

“What we have now is a change of the character of the county,” said Dan Jacobson, chair of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County.

While the shift has been expected, it happened several years before many observers predicted. And experts on both sides of the political aisle say backlash against President Donald Trump — along with a GOP that’s largely stood behind his rhetoric — is the reason.

Republican leaders say they’re taking the change seriously, though they also are downplaying the significance of the latest data.

“We still believe this is a conservative county,” said Randall Avila, spokesman for the Republican Party of Orange County.

While predicting the “pendulum will swing back” within 10 years, as Democrats move left, Avila added: “We are fully invested and will continue to fight for our county.”

But local Democrats note that demographics increasingly are on their side. Younger voters, Latinos and Asians are growing voting blocs in Orange County, and all three currently favor Democrats over Republicans.

Those trends boost the odds that the county’s congressional delegation, which flipped from majority red to all blue in November, will stay in Democratic hands. And if they hold, those trends also might make local offices typically dominated by the GOP – for county supervisors, city councils and school districts – ripe for Democratic gains.

New voters lead change

Unlike neighboring San Diego County, where the registration edge flipped from blue to red and back to blue again 11 years ago, Orange County was a Republican stronghold almost continuously since its inception.

The GOP’s all-time peak in the county came in 1928, when 73% of registered voters were Republicans. The modern-era high came in 1990, when 56% of the local electorate was Republican, giving the GOP a 22-point advantage over Democrats. Since then, that edge narrowed, dropping to 17 percentage points in 2000 and 11 points in 2010.

One factor driving the shift has been the rise of non-white voters, particularly in inland Orange County cities.

In just the past three years the number of Latinos registered to vote in Orange County has jumped 34%, as more people have become citizens and those born in this country have grown old enough to vote. Overall, Latinos now account for 21% of the county’s electorate. And many local Latinos are registering as No Party Preference or as members of smaller political parties, they’re three times as likely to register as Democrats than as Republicans.

A similar, if less dramatic shift is taking place among Asian American voters. Asian Americans now account for 16% of all registered voters in Orange County and, as a bloc, 30% are registered as Democrats, 29% as Republicans and 41% are No Party Preference or with smaller parties.

But the biggest switch of all is happening among young voters.

In 2002, Orange County voters ages 18 to 34, regardless of race, were aligned with the GOP, with Republicans holding a 42% to 29% registration advantage over Democrats. Today, that’s virtually flipped, with under-34 Democrats holding a 38% to 20% advantage over Republicans. Overall, younger voters in Orange County account for 31% of all registrations.

“Many of the half a million registered Democrats in Orange County are ‘new Democrats,’ who want to be represented by democratic values,” said Ada Briceño, chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County. “They care about issues ranging from healthcare, housing and environment to women’s rights, among others.”

Avila, with the GOP, argues the bigger headline is the number of Orange County residents in all voting blocs who now register as No Party Preference or with smaller parties. They combined to account for nearly a third of the local electorate (NPP registration in O.C. is 27.4%) though they’ve lost ground this year as Democrats have surged and Republicans have gained at a slower rate. Still, while surveys show that most independent voters in California lean left, Avila believes the GOP that can win over a majority of those undeclared voters and have a substantial advantage going forward.

But Democrat Jacobson argues the surge for his party, locally, runs beyond shifting demographics. For at least a decade, he said, national GOP leaders have talked less about fiscal conservatism, the GOP’s traditional brand, in favor of racially tinged arguments about immigration and so-called culture issues.

“It was a wave, and there’s no nice way of saying this… of national Republican leaders saying stupid things.”

Jacobson pointed to the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Tea Party movement and the GOP’s long-running talking point, led by Trump, that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

“I thought that was not going to be acceptable to the majority of Orange County Republicans,” Jacobson said. “They didn’t leave the Republican party, the Republican party left them.”

Then came Donald Trump.

The Trump factor

Even before Trump’s candidacy began, Jacobson helped assemble a local team of Democrats that worked to turn Orange County blue, city by city. They held voter registration drives focused in areas that were close to flipping. They took advantage of a law that lets them register young people – who are more likely to register blue – at 17 1/2, so they’ll be ready to vote the day they turn 18.

By 2016, local Democrats were positioned for some gains. And the ’16 presidential election was the first in 48 years in which more Orange County ballots were cast for a Democratic (Hillary Clinton) than a Republican.

After Trump won the Electoral College, despite losing the national popular vote by nearly 3 million, local Democrats were part of the national surge in protests against the Trump presidency and in favor of women’s rights, humane treatment of immigrants and other causes championed by Democrats.

By last year’s mid-term election, Orange County’s GOP congressional delegation – already a conservative island in solidly left California – was facing headwinds. National GOP groups focused their political efforts outside of California, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) worked with other groups to register Democrats in Orange County. The congressional flip that followed – in which four GOP house members or GOP contenders lost to first-time Democratic challengers – was predictable based on on-the-ground trends.

While new Democratic registration among diverse, young voters has been most apparent in inland cities, Briceño said cases of Republicans having a “change of heart” also has played out in affluent areas along the Orange County coast. That’s particularly true across the south coast in areas like San Clemente, where Briceño noted Nixon went to write his memoirs after resigning his presidency.

Still, some experts predicted the surge would slow after 2018. Instead, the blue surge has only accelerated heading into the 2020 election cycle.

What this means for OC and beyond

Local GOP leaders say registration isn’t as important as voter turnout. And Avila said his party did a better job at getting Republicans to cast ballots in 2018, even if some ended up voting against GOP candidates.

Also, even while blue registration is surging, Avila noted the biggest gains are in districts that are already blue. He said the GOP will work to register voters in targeted areas, such as the 39th, 45th, 48th and 49th congressional districts, where registration still leans red. He said the GOP also is going after voters with no declared party.

Locally, Avila pointed out that 27 out of 34 city councils in Orange County remain majority Republican. And Democrats hold a registration advantage in just 14 of the county’s 34 cities (though two cities, Aliso Viejo and Westminster, lean Republican by less than 1 percentage point).

“Voters still trust Republicans on issues closest to home,” Avila said.

But Andy Orellana, spokesman for the DCCC, said his party has brought field managers to Orange County “who are trained to execute a modern campaign strategy and harness the growing enthusiasm.”

Briceño said while Democrats will push hard to win congressional seats, they also will push to “propel our base toward significant victories in school board and city council elections in 2020.”

Meanwhile, other former Republican strongholds also are seeing Democrats make inroads. Tarrant County in Texas and San Luis Obispo County both recently flipped.

“As Orange County goes, so goes the nation,” said Fred Smoller, a political science professor at Chapman University.

For the time being, however, Democrat Briceño said one thing has become clear: Orange County is no longer the place where Reagan once said “good Republicans go to die.”

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2019 — The Costa Mesa Democratic Club announced that for the first time in Costa Mesa’s 60-year history, Democrats now have more registered voters than any other party affiliation, ending the historical Republican advantage in our city. The shift in voter registrations reflects the midterm election, which saw Costa Mesa voters break for the Democratic candidates in large margins. Costa Mesa played a major role in electing Representative Harley Rouda in Congressional District 48 and Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris in Assembly District 74 by 5.4%.

The registration advantage also follows the electoral strides of Costa Mesa’s successful Mayor and City Council Members, who similarly built broad margins of victory in each district up for election last year. Mayor Katrina Foley, a Democrat who endorsed Rouda and Petrie-Norris, won by 19% to unseat the incumbent mayor even with Costa Mesa’s Republican registration advantage in 2018. 

“With so many passionate grassroots volunteers engaged and our local Democratic club actively involved in registering new voters, the new Democratic edge in our community was only a matter of time,” added Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley. “I expect the gap to widen more. Orange County is changing and residents are aligning more with the issues that working families care most about, including a living wage, women’s equality, quality affordable health care and housing, clean and safe communities, preservation of our environment, open space and coastline, and schools modernized and sufficiently funded to allow children to reach their full potential.”

“We are excited to see the results of strong Democratic leadership and messaging in Costa Mesa, where voters rejected political fear mongering and dark-money attack ads in favor of candidates who spoke directly to the communities they represent,” said Brandon Love, Costa Mesa Democratic Club Chair for 2018-2019. “The Costa Mesa Democratic club welcomes people from all backgrounds who are also seeking to revitalize and strengthen our democracy. We are excited to have a city council and elected representatives who are accessible and transparent.”

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