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By Collin Breaux

With the primary elections coming up in March, what are the voting demographics in Orange County?

Historically regarded as a Republican stronghold, the tide could be shifting in Orange County. Registered Democrats make up more than 572,100 voters, while registered Republicans make up more than 552,000 voters. The number of total active voters was more than 1.6 million.  Those with no party preference totaled more than 415,700.

Boiled down to city levels, though, party affiliation in the tri-cities area does not appear to be shifting toward Democrats. In San Juan Capistrano, declared Republicans outnumber Democrats at 41.3% to 30%. In Dana Point, the Republican-to-Democratic comparison is 42.7% to 28.1%, and in San Clemente, the Republican-to-Democratic ratio is 44.7% to 26.3%. The number of no party preference is 23.2% (4,737) in San Juan Capistrano, 23.1% (5,098) in Dana Point, and 23.1% (9,335) in San Clemente.

Mark Baldassare, president/CEO and survey director for the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan policy research organization with offices in San Francisco and Sacramento, said more voters in Orange County are registering with no party preference and as Democrats due to changing demographics. Voters claiming no party preference may even lean Democrat, Baldassare said.

The cited statistics are based on available data on the Orange County Registrar of Voters website as of Feb. 5, 2020.

“The growth of the Latino and Asian-American population, and the decline of the white population, has led newer voters to go with no party preference or the Democratic Party instead of the Republican Party,” Baldassare said.

The shifting demographics reflect a statewide trend in California, and new and young voters registering as Democrats or with no party preference may not necessarily mean people are switching party preferences, Baldassare said.

Let’s look at voting demographics on the district level. In the 73rd Assembly District, there are also more Republicans than Democrats—41.2% to 29.1% (121,963 voters to 86,027 voters). For the 49th Congressional District, Republicans are at 43.2% compared to Democrats’ 27.5% (46,038 voters to 29,290 voters). No party preference levels are 24.3% (71,780) in the 73rd Assembly District and 23.6% (25,134) in the 49th Congressional District.

The total number of voters is more than 295,000 in the 73rd Assembly District and more than 106,000 in the 49th Congressional District. On the city level, the total number of voters is more than 20,400 in San Juan Capistrano, more than 22,070 in Dana Point, and more than 40,370 in San Clemente.

Regarding city-level voting demographics, Baldassare said voter preferences in a city may depend on how much the area is growing or changing.

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