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Orange County is one of the few counties in America that conjures up a stereotype almost anywhere in the country.  To some, it's beautiful beaches.  To others, it's the heart of Cold War-era conservatism.  To others, it's California's newest melting pot.  And to optimistic Democrats, it's a potential 2014 win for Governor Jerry Brown's re-election.  

In this diary, I will explore the individual towns and cities that make up Orange County, demographically and politically.  I am by no means an expert on the county, having only been to a few parts of it and even then it was middle school or earlier, so if I make a mistake feel free to correct me.  

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Region 1: Multi-ethnic North County 339K
Potential for Democrats: Incredibly high.

La Habra 60K
2010 Demographics: 57% Hispanic, 26% White, 9% Asian
2000 Demographics: 49% Hispanic, 38% White, 6% Asian
2012 PVI: R+1.5
2008 PVI: R+4
2004 PVI: R+7
At 42% renters, this is not the wealthy part of Orange County.  A pretty middle-class area, it is increasing in Hispanic and Asian populations and becoming bluer.  

La Palma 15K
2010 Demographics: 48% Asian, 26% White, 16% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 45% Asian, 36% White, 10% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+1.5
2008 PVI: R+4
2004 PVI: R+6.5
Nearly identical politically to La Habra but more Asian and less Hispanic.  Also about 4x smaller in terms of population.

Fullerton 135K
2010 Demographics: 38% White, 34% Hispanic, 23% Asian
2000 Demographics: No info.
2012 PVI: R+2.5
2008 PVI: R+4.5
2004 PVI: R+8
Fullerton is the largest of the diversifying North County communities, and is home to Cal St Fullerton.  It was still narrowly won by Romney, unlike most of the other towns in this region.

Buena Park 81K
2010 Demographics: 39% Hispanic, 27% Asian, 23% White
2000 Demographics: No info.
2012 PVI: D+3.5
2008 PVI: D+1
2004 PVI: R+4
Buena Park is the home of Knott's Berry Farm, one of the three big amusement parks in the LA area (along with Six Flags and Disneyland).  My grandpaents also resided here in the 1950s.  As you can see, it's shifted nearly 8 points in PVI since 2004.  43% rentals, so definitely not wealthy either, which explains the trend.

Cypress 48K
2010 Demographics: 41% White, 31% Asian, 18% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 56% White, 21% Asian, 16% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+5
2008 PVI: R+6.5
2004 PVI: R+8.5
Cypress is home to rather rapid demographic changes, with the White population dropping 15% in ten years.  However, like much of Orange County, many of the Asians are conservative Vietnamese (although they're clearly trending Democratic).  I don't have anything else to say about Cypress, as I didn't even know it existed until I began this diary.

Region 2: Hispanic Corridor 703K
Potential for Democratics: Moderately Low (because it's already blue)

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Anaheim 336K
2010 Demographics: 53% Hispanic, 28% White, 15% Asian
2000 Demographics: 46% Hispanic, 33% White, 12% Asian
2012 PVI: D+2
2008 PVI: R+1
2004 PVI: R+7.5
Anaheim has gone from solidly red to light blue in the span of eight years.  Home to Disneyland, the "Los Angeles" Angels of Anaheim, and some very wealthy residents in the hills, it's a very polarized city, possibly the most polarized city under 500,000 residents in the state.  The hills are solidly conservative, while the predominantly Hispanic lowlands are very liberal and low-income.

Stanton 38K
2010 Demographics: 51% Hispanic, 23% Asian, 22% White
2000 Demographics: 49% Hispanic, 27% White, 15% Asian
2012 PVI: D+9.5
2008 PVI: D+2
2004 PVI: R+4.5
Stanton is residential but not high-income, somewhat rare in Orange County. It's moved an incredible 14 PVI points left since 2004, basically the reverse of places like Coal Country.  At this point, it's solidly blue unless Republicans can get to 40% with Hispanics again.

Santa Ana 329K
2010 Demographics: 78% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 9% White
2000 Demographics: 76% Hispanic, 9% Asian, 8% White
2012 PVI: D+19
2008 PVI: D+13
2004 PVI: D+6
Santa Ana isn't getting any more Hispanic, but it's still getting bluer.  Amazingly, in 1970 the city was 70% White.  Besides public employees, the largest employer is tech company Ingram Micro, but for a city with its population it doesn't have much.

Region 3: Blood Red North County 320K
Potential for Democrats: Low

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Brea 39K
2010 Demographics: 50% White, 25% Hispanic, 18% Asian
2000 Demographics: No Info
2012 PVI: R+11.5
2008 PVI: R+11
2004 PVI: R+15
Originally founded as an oil town, Brea is now an upper middle class suburb, although it has a large Bank of America and some insurance and biotech workers too.  Unlike areas in the first two regions, the blue trend doesn't appear to be continuing, and R+11 is not winnable for Democrats.  The legendary baseball pitcher Walter Johnson grew up here in the oil-town days.

Placentia 51K
2010 Demographics: 42% White, 36% Hispanic, 15% Asian
2000 Demographics: 49% White, 31% Hispanic, 11% Asian
2012 PVI: R+9
2008 PVI: R+10
2004 PVI: R+12.5
Placentia is less White than its neighbors and therefore a bit more fertile ground for Democrats in the future, but still very red. Not much else I can say about it.

Yorba Linda 64K
2010 Demographics: 64% White, 16% Asian, 14% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 75% White, 11% Asian, 10% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+21.5
2008 PVI: R+20
2004 PVI: R+21.5
A tiny village when Nixon was born here in 1913, Yorba Linda is now a wealthy OC suburb, and as conservative as you can get in California.  The demographic change here is rather quick, but as you can see the Whites here are incredibly conservative, and as of yet there's no trend toward Democrats.  Yorba Linda's city council even passed a measure supporting SB1070. Nixon would be proud.

Orange 136K
2010 Demographics: 44% White, 38% Hispanic, 11% Asian
2000 Demographics: 76% White, 11% Asian, 10% Hispanic
NOTE: I think the demographic numbers are wrong.  The Hispanic boom seems unlikely.
2012 PVI: R+8
2008 PVI: R+8
2004 PVI: R+13
Orange is the home of three large hospitals as well as Chapman University.  Its blue trend appears to have stopped, as wealthy Whites snapping back to Republicans after abandoning the Bush/Palin Republicans has been balanced by the substantial minority population voting more liberally.

Villa Park 6K
2010 Demographics: 70% White, 15% Asian, 10% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 77% White, 13% Asian, 6% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+26.5
2008 PVI: R+25
2004 PVI: R+26
If a Democratic Gubernatorial candidate won every county in California, they still might not win Villa Park.  The median family income is $125,000 and it's not getting any bluer.  Romney did as well here as he did in Utah.

North Tustin 24K
2010 Demographics: 74% White, 13% Hispanic, 8% Asian
2000 Demographics: 81% White, 8% Hispanic, 7% Asian
2012 PVI: R+18
2008 PVI: R+17
2004 PVI: No Data Found
At this point, it isn't really North County, but I had to put the unincorporated CDP of North Tustin somewhere.  It's blood red and very wealthy.

Region 4: North Coast 235K
Potential for Democrats: Pretty Low

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Los Alamitos 11K
2010 Demographics: 56% White, 21% Hispanic, 13% Asian
2000 Demographics: 60% White, 22% Hispanic, 9% Asian
2012 PVI: R+5.5
2008 PVI: R+4
2004 PVI: R+5.5
As you can see, the Hispanic population isn't growing and the PVI is the same as 2004.  That's rare for this part of Orange County and a sign that despite not being too red, it may not get bluer.  

Rossmoor 10K
2010 Demographics: 75% White, 12% Hispanic, 8% Asian
2000 Demographics: 83% White, 7% Hispanic, 6% Asian
2012 PVI: R+13
2008 PVI: R+10.5
2004 PVI: No Data
Unincorporated Rossmoor is heavily White and heavily Republican.  The upside for Democrats is that its small and not growing.  But that's the only upside.

Seal Beach 24K
2010 Demographics: 75% White, 10% Hispanic, 10% Asian
2000 Demographics: 84% White, 6% Hispanic, 6% Asian
2012 PVI: R+7.5
2008 PVI: R+6
2004 PVI: R+3.5
Seal Beach is an anomaly in that its been getting more Republican by the year.  I'm really not sure why that is.  Seal Beach itself is a beach city that also has defense industry and a Naval Weapons Station.  It's very stereotypically Orange County, from the Cold War years.  

Huntington Beach 190K
2010 Demographics: 67% White, 17% Hispanic, 11% Asian
2000 Demographics: 70% White, 15% Hispanic, 9% Asian
2012 PVI: R+10
2008 PVI: R+7.5
2004 PVI: R+9.5
Little demographic or political change here in Dana Rohrabacher's stomping grounds.  There used to be oil here, but it's mostly gone.  Boeing still remains, employing over 4,000 people.  

Region 5: America's Vietnam 324K
Potential for Democrats: Very High
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Fountain Valley 55K
2010 Demographics: 50% White, 33% Asian, 13% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 57% White, 26% Asian, 11% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+9
2008 PVI: R+10
2004 PVI: R+14.5
Fountain Valley was pretty Asian in 2000 and is getting even more so.  It's also trending blue, although the trend slowed in 2012. Eventually Democrats should be able to compete here.

Westminster 90K
2010 Demographics: 48% Asian, 24% White, 24% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 38% Asian, 32% White, 22% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+1
2008 PVI: R+10
2004 PVI: R+13.5
No, my numbers aren't off.  The Vietnamese of Orange County swung heavily to the left in 2012, just like Asians across the country.  This is extremely fertile ground for Democrats, especially as the refugee generation dies out and is replaced by those who don't remember Communism.

Garden Grove 171
2010 Demographics: 37% Asian, 37% Hispanic, 25% White
2000 Demographics: 33% Hispanic, 31% Asian, 29% White
2012 PVI: D+3
2008 PVI: R+6
2004 PVI: R+10.5
Garden Grove has the biggest shift of any place in Orange County besides Midway City, and it makes sense considering the population has been below 30% White all decade.  I'd now consider it light blue when it was red as recently as 2008.  Democrats could definitely begin to take over the city government soon.

Midway City 8K
2010 Demographics: 47% Asian, 29% Hispanic, 17% White
2000 Demographics: No Data
2012 PVI: D+3.5
2008 PVI: R+9
2004 PVI: No Data
Midway City is unincorporated and tiny (it's the patch of light blue inside Westminster) but it's a good barometer of how the Vietnamese have swung recently.  It's slowly being annexed by Westminster and may disappear soon.

Region 6: The Irvine Area 398K
Potential for Democrats: Moderately High

Tustin 76K
2010 Demographics: 40% Hispanic, 31% White, 20% Asian
2000 Demographics: 40% White, 34% Hispanic, 15% Asian
2012 PVI: R+1
2008 PVI: R+2
2004 PVI: R+8
Tustin has changed rather quickly and is a good place for Democrats to begin competing.  After all, anywhere that's only 31% White should have a D+ PVI, and local Democrats will likely try and push it over the edge in 2016.

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Costa Mesa 110K
2010 Demographics: 48% White, 36% Hispanic, 8% Asian
2000 Demographics: 52% White, 32% Hispanic, 7% Asian
2012 PVI: R+2.5
2008 PVI: Even
2004 PVI: R+5
Home to a couple tech companies and many local colleges, Costa Mesa had been getting bluer along with its neighbors in Central County.  However, it partially snapped back in 2012 (it does have a majority-White electorate).  We'll see what the future holds, but for now it's light red.

Irvine 212K
2010 Demographics: 45% White (was 84% in 1980), 39% Asian, 9% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 55% White, 30% Asian, 7% Hispanic
2012 PVI: D+3
2008 PVI: D+3.5
2004 PVI: R+1.5
Irvine hasn't recently been too red, mainly because of the large East Asian and non-Vietnamese population due to UC Irvine.  The school itself is probably the most Asian college in the world outside of Asia itself.  But the city of Irvine is much more, with many jobs in the area.  Besides the university, the largest employers are in high tech and biomedical fields.  There are around 220,000 residents and many are wealthy.  As you can see the Hispanic population is low.  Politically, it's the Democratic base of Southern OC, but it's still pretty purple.

Region 7: South County 576K
Potential for Democrats: None to Low, depending on the locale

Laguna Woods 16K
2010 Demographics: 83% White, 10% Asian, 4% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 94% White, 3% Asian, 2% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+3.5
2008 PVI: R+1
2004 PVI: D+4.5
Laguna Woods is basically a massive retirement community full of old White people, so I'm actually surprised it's so purple.  54% of households have someone over 65 living alone, and 0.3% of households have children. For every 100 women there are 55 men (probably because men die younger).  The median age is 78.  There's no other town in America like it.  I don't see potential for Democrats here unless the Republican try privatizing Social Security again.

Aliso Viejo 48K
2010 Demographics: 59% White, 17% Hispanic, 15% Asian
2000 Demographics: 68% White, 12% Hispanic, 11% Asian
2012 PVI: R+3.5
2008 PVI: D+0.5
2004 PVI: R+7.5
All areas in Region 6 had pretty solid swings rightward in 2012 after swinging left in 2008, generally settling somewhere in between.  Aliso Viejo is a prime example.  

Laguna Beach 23K
2010 Demographics: 86% White, 7% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: No Data
2012 PVI: D+4
2008 PVI: D+8.5
2004 PVI: D+9
Wealthy, liberal beach towns aren't that common, but Laguna Beach and Malibu are probably the quintessential examples.  However, Romney pulled Laguna Beach's PVI down to D+4, and it's actually been trending R for a couple elections now.

Mission Viejo 93K
2010 Demographics: 68% White, 17% Hispanic, 9% Asian
2000 Demographics: 70% White, 16% Hispanic, 8% Asian
2012 PVI: R+12
2008 PVI: R+9
2004 PVI: R+13.5
Mission Viejo has extremely low demographic change, although it's not super White to start with.  I don't see much hope for Democrats from here down to the end of the diary, though.  It probably won't get back to R+15 anytime soon like it used to be though.

Newport Beach 85K
2010 Demographics: 81% White, 7% Hispanic, 7% Asian
2000 Demographics: 88% White, 5% Hispanic, 4% Asian
2012 PVI: R+19
2008 PVI: R+12.5
2004 PVI: R+15
Wealthy, White, and conservative doesn't typify all that much of Orange County anymore, but it fits Newport Beach.  Also note the huge anti-Obama shift.

Laguna Niguel 63K
2010 Demographics: 71% White, 14% Hispanic, 9% Asian
2000 Demographics: 76% White, 10% Hispanic, 8% Asian
2012 PVI: R+11
2008 PVI: R+6
2004 PVI: R+10.5
Home to McKayla Moroney, Laguna Niguel is yet another South OC town.  They're really all pretty similar.

Laguna Hills 30K
2010 Demographics: 59% White, 21% Hispanic, 13% Asian
2000 Demographics: 68% White, 16% Hispanic, 10% Asian
2012 PVI: R+10.5
2008 PVI: R+10
2004 PVI: R+12
Due to the large non-White population, this is a place Democrats could gain ground in soon, but probably not enough to get it to blue or even purple territory.  But light red is very possible.

Rancho Santa Margarita 48K
2010 Demographics: 65% White, 19% Hispanic, 9% Asian
2000 Demographics: 72% White, 13% Hispanic, 7% Asian
2012 PVI: R+14
2008 PVI: R+9
2004 PVI: R+16.5
RSM does have one extreme: the longest city name in the state.  It has two large employers: Applied Technologies and Cox Communications, but is otherwise a generic wealthy suburb.

Ladera Ranch 23K
2010 Demographics: 68% White, 13% Hispanic, 12% Asian
2000 Demographics: No Data
2012 PVI: R+17.5
2008 PVI: R+9
2004 PVI: No Data
Ladera Ranch had a gigantic rightward shift in 2012, as it's very wealthy.  Due to it being unincorporated, there isn't a lot of info on it.

Coto De Caza 15K
2010 Demographics: 79% White, 8% Hispanic, 6% Asian
2000 Demographics: 84% White, 7% Hispanic, 5% Asian
2012 PVI: R+27
2008 PVI: R+21
2004 PVI: No Data
How does a place that seems like somewhere Mitt Romney would love vote when Mitt Romney is on the ballot?  More conservatively than Utah.  In fact, I bet it'd be tough to find anywhere with over 10,000 residents on the West Coast that is more conservative than Coto de Caza.  After all, it is a gated community.

Dana Point 33K
2010 Demographics: 75% White, 17% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 78% White, 15% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+11
2008 PVI: R+6
2004 PVI: R+9.5
For a while, it looked like Dana Point was following its neighbor Laguna Beach and heading into winnable territory for Democrats, but 2012 not only stopped that trend but reversed it.  The city itself is a famed spot for surfers.

San Juan Capistrano 35K
2010 Demographics: 53% White, 39% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 59% White, 33% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+14
2008 PVI: R+11
2004 PVI: R+14
San Juan Capistrano is famous for its swallows, which until 2009 migrated every year from Argentina to the city but have now moved on.  The city seems a good opportunity for Democrats, as it's nearly majority-minority, but it's somehow still R+14 due to Hispanics not voting.

San Clemente 64K
2010 Demographics: 75% White, 17% Hispanic
2000 Demographics: 77% White, 16% Hispanic
2012 PVI: R+15.5
2008 PVI: R+10.5
2004 PVI: R+14
Home to Nixon's Western White House, the city is still conservative and there's no real demographic change to make it any less so.

So that's Orange County.  Leave your comments and criticisms!

Originally posted to jncca on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.


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