Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters. Orange County, once a stronghold of California Republicanism, is now. The political climate in Orange County, California, is somewhat liberal. In Orange County, nowhere has been a more pandemic battlefield than Huntington Beach.
Voters rejected the effort to remove Governor Gavin Newsom, continuing the political turmoil that has defined the former Republican stronghold. In Orange County, 53.5% of the population voted for Democrats in the last presidential election, 44.4% voted for the Republican Party, and the remaining 2.1% voted for Independence. As large as the park is a square mile, it was packed with thousands of Reagan supporters waving flags and cheering, attesting to Orange County's status as a stronghold of California's Republican political force. Speaking of Democratic fundraisers, the wealthy Orange County Democratic Foundation hosted television producer Norman Lear for dinner at the California Grand Hotel in August.
Newsom's resounding statewide victory, and his narrowest lead in Orange County, Democrats see something like a roadmap for partials. Proposition 16, which would have restored affirmative action on public college admissions, hiring, and contracting, failed with just over 40% of the state vote, but in Orange County, support was nearly 10 percentage points smaller. Joe Biden defeated Trump by a nearly 2-to-1 collapse in California, but in Orange County, according to unofficial statements, Biden's margin was much narrower, only 10 percentage points. Once a stronghold of California Republicanism, Orange County is now purple with a tenacious conservative streak.
Ronald Reagan chose Mile Square Park, in the heart of Orange County, for a Labor Day rally in 1984 to kick off his last push for a second term as president.