Thursday, August 10, 2017

Southern California Cities Strongly Rejected Trump in 2016 Presidential Election

Southern California resoundingly rejected Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.  No Republican presidential nominee has performed so poorly in the region in the past 80 years.  This is seen quite dramatically in the city-level election returns.  

 In the vast Los Angeles metropolitan area stretching from Ventura in the west to Redlands and Moreno Valley in the east and from Santa Clarita in the north to Irvine in the south, Trump won just a dozen cities.  If one were to survey the political landscape from atop the tallest skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles, the closest cities that backed Trump would be Simi Valley in Ventura County in the west, Rolling Hills on the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the southwest, Bradbury in the San Gabriel Valley to the northeast and La Habra Heights to the southeast.  

The expanse of the Los Angeles Basin and central Orange County voted solidly against Trump.  This is a remarkable reversal as this region was strong Eisenhower, Nixon, Goldwater, Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush country in the late 20th century.

Los Angeles County: Trump won in a mere five cities of Los Angeles County’s 88 cities: Rolling Hills on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, La Habra Heights in the Puente Hills, and Bradbury, Glendora, and La Verne in the San Gabriel Valley.  All five cities are upscale, hilly enclaves.  Trump's collective margin of victory in these five cities was 2,291 votes; Clinton easily offset those votes in Rancho Palos Verdes alone, where her margin of victory was 2,347 votes.

Trump was the first Republican presidential nominee to lose the upscale cities of San Marino, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates since they were incorporated as cities. (San Marino was home of staunchly conservative Congressman John Rousselot, an ex-John Birch Society leader, from 1970 to 83.)  Trump lost Santa Clarita (home of Magic Mountain theme park), the first Republican presidential nominee to lose that city since its 1987 incorporation.  Trump also lost San Dimas (setting of 1989 movie "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure") in the San Gabriel Valley; all Republican presidential nominees back to Barry Goldwater in 1964 had won that city.  (Bradbury, Glendora and La Verne, three of the five Los Angeles County cities that Trump won, are near San Dimas. All three cities are at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains,)

Orange County:  Trump was the first Republican to lose a presidential election in Orange County since 1936Trump lost in every congressional district in Orange County except the 49th District, where nine-term Republican Congressman Darrell Issa narrowly won re-election.

Once a quintessential Republican stronghold, Trump lost every city in central Orange County, including Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange, Tustin and Santa Ana (Barry Goldwater won those five cities in 1964).  The only Orange County cities that Trump won outside of the south county were Brea, Yorba Linda, Villa Park, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.  Trump dominated only in southern Orange County, where he won Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. 

Trump exceeded 55 percent in just two Orange County cities: Villa Park and Yorba Linda.  Trump won Brea, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel and Lake Forest with less than 50 percent of the vote.

San Bernardino County: Trump lost every city in San Bernardino County's non-desert area, including traditional Republican stalwarts such as Chino Hills, Grand Terrace, Redlands and Upland.  Trump won just eight of San Bernardino County’s twenty-four cities: Apple Valley, Barstow, Big Bear Lake, Hesperia, Needles, Twenty Nine Palms, Yucaipa and Yucca Valley.

Redlands and Upland had not voted for a Democrat for president in more than fourteen presidential elections; they supported Barry Goldwater in '64.  Grand Terrace and Chino Hills supported a Democrat for president for the first time since their incorporations in 1978 and 1991 respectively.  Loma Linda had voted Republican for president since its 1970 incorporation until the 2012 election, when it favored Democrat Barack Obama over Republican "Mitt" Romney; it is among the few California cities that voted against Obama in '08, but for Obama in '12.  Loma Linda voted against Trump in '16.  In 2016, Rancho Cucamonga voted for a Democrat for president for the second time since its 1977 incorporation; it narrowly supported Barack Obama over John McCain in '08.  Victorville voted Democratic for president in 2016 for the fifth time since its incorporation in 1962.  Victorville also favored Democrats for president in 1964, 1992, 2008 and 2012.

Barstow is a presidential “bellwether” city; it backed Bush in ’04, Obama in ’08 and ’12 and Trump in ’16.  Needles also tends to be a presidential "bellwether," but it favored McCain over Obama in '08 (perhaps influenced by the nearby Arizona border).  Barstow, Needles and Blythe (Riverside County) are the trio of Obama '12/Trump '16 cities in southern California.  All three are interstate highway "pit stop" cities.  (A total of five California cities voted Obama '12/Trump '16: the two in northern California are Crescent City, seat of Del Norte County, and Sonora, seat of Tuolumne County.)

Riverside County: Trump lost every city in the populous northwestern portion of Riverside County (including Riverside, Corona, Moreno Valley, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley) except Norco.  Trump lost in four of the county's five supervisor districts. Trump dominated only in the southwestern portion of the county (Calimesa, Canyon Lake, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, Temecula, Wildomar), the San Gorgonio Pass area (Banning, Beaumont) and the stalwart Republican cities near Palm Springs (Indian Wells, La Quinta, Palm Desert). 

Trump's share of the vote in Canyon Lake, 74.8 percent, was the highest of any southern California city (and third highest in California, behind Maricopa and Taft in Kern County).  Norco was Trump's ninth-best city in California (Trump won 65.7 percent of the vote).  Indian Wells ranked tenth among California cities for Trump's share of the vote, 65.6 percent. 

Trump also won Blythe, near the Colorado River and Arizona border.  As discussed above, Blythe is a presidential "bellwether" city that supported Obama in '12 and Trump in '16 (Blythe supported McCain over Obama in '08, likely due to influence from nearby Arizona).

Rancho Mirage voted Democratic for president in 2016 for the first time since its 1973 incorporation.  The retirement home of the late former President Gerald Ford, Rancho Mirage once typified the Republican-dominated retirement/golf course communities in the Coachella Valley (it voted two to one for Ford over Carter in '76). San Jacinto was among California’s best presidential “bellwether” cities, backing the electoral college winner in every presidential election since 1964, but it rejected Trump in 2016 by a wide, eleven-point margin (52.7% Clinton vs. 41.7% Trump). 

Situated beside the largest natural freshwater lake in southern California, Lake Elsinoire is the only "McGovern/Trump" city in California south of the Tehachapi/San Gabriel/San Bernarndino Mountains; it is the only southern California city that both backed Democrat George McGovern over incumbent Republican Richard Nixon in the '72 presidential election and Trump in 2016.  The city voted Democratic for president in 1964-76, 1992 and 2008.  Lake Elsinoire has grown rapidly over the past twenty years with many "upscale"new  inhabitants, which likely explains its Republican trend.

Ventura County was a presidential “bellwether” county over the past century, favoring the national electoral vote winner in every election since 1916, except 1976 when it favored Gerald Ford over "Jimmy" Carter.  Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star Free Press analyzed the county's presidential bellwether trend in a 2012 article.

Ventura County has developed a Democratic tilt in the early 21st century.  Trump won just one Ventura County city, Simi Valley (home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and site of the Los Angeles Police Department brutality trial acquittal that triggered the 1992 Los Angeles riots) in 2016. Trump's margin of victory in Simi Valley was not large (49.0 percent Trump vs. 44.8 percent Clinton).

Trump was the first Republican presidential nominee to lose Camarillo since Goldwater lost that city in 1964. Trump was the second Republican to lose in Thousand Oaks over the past fourteen presidential elections; Thousand Oaks voted for Goldwater in '64 but narrowly favored Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in 2008.  Thousand Oaks supported Republican "Mitt" Romney in 2012.

 In Santa Barbara County, Trump also won just one city, Solvang.  Trump won Solvang by a mere 35 votes (47.9 percent Trump vs. 46.7 percent Clinton).  Trump lost in Buellton (famous as a road stop for its Split Pea Andersen's restaurant), which had voted for Republicans for president since its 1992 incorporation until Barack Obama won that city in 2008 (Buellton went to Republican "Mitt" Romney in 2012).

In San Diego County, Trump won a mere four cities: Coronado on the coast and El Cajon, Poway and Santee inland. Trump exceeded 50 percent only in Santee; Coronado, El Cajon and Poway were relatively narrow wins. In stark contrast, George W. Bush won twelve San Diego County cities in 2004.  

Just a dozen years ago, it would have been unthinkable that a Republican presidential nominee could lose State Route 78 corridor cities like Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido, but Trump lost in all five communities and nearly defeated nine-term Republican Congressman Darrell Issa on his coattails.

San Diego County was among the few counties in the Pacific Coast states that voted for Goldwater in '64.   Goldwater won all of the State Route 78 corridor cities except Oceanside.  Nixon in '72 and Reagan in '80 and '84 won every San Diego County city.  In 1988, Republican George H.W. Bush won every San Diego County city except National City.

Imperial County: Trump won no city in California's southeastern-most county.  Imperial County has one of the most Hispanic/Latino-dominated electorates in California (the 2010 Census of Population found that Imperial County is 80.4 percent Hispanic/Latino).  The last time that a Republican won an Imperial County city in a presidential race was 2004, when George W. Bush won the city of Imperial. Trump won just 9.8 percent of the 2016 presidential vote in Calexico (across the border from Mexicali, the capital of Baja California); this was Trump's smallest share of the vote in any southern California city outside of the Los Angeles Basin.

A freeway tour of metropolitan southern California would demonstrate that pro-Trump cities are few. If one were to drive the length of U.S. 101 from Santa Maria in northern Santa Barbara County to its terminus in downtown Los Angeles, a 160-mile journey, every city along the way voted against Trump.  If one were to drive I-10 from its beginning in Santa Monica eastward, the trip would pass 88 miles entirely through cities that voted against Trump until Yucaipa, east of San Bernardino.  If one were to drive the entire 72-mile length of I-405 from the San Fernando Valley to Irvine in Orange County, the only pro-Trump city that one would traverse would be a tiny bit of Huntington Beach.  A drive down I-5 from the Kern County-Los Angeles County line to the Mexican border would pass through pro-Trump cities only in southern Orange County.  Every city along I-5 in Los Angeles and San Diego counties and every city along I-5 in northern and central Orange County voted against Trump.

Trump’s debacle in southern California stands in stark contrast with Ronald Reagan’s performance 32 years ago when he defeated Democrat Walter Mondale.  In 1984, Reagan lost in just 17 cities in all of southern California.  Reagan lost 14 cities in Los Angeles County: Beverly Hills, Carson, Commerce, Compton, Culver City, Gardena, Inglewood, Irwindale, Los Angeles, Lynwood, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Santa Monica and South El Monte.  Reagan won every city in Orange County, every city in San Diego County, every city in Ventura County and every city in Santa Barbara County.  Reagan lost in just one San Bernardino County city (Colton), one Riverside County city (Coachella) and one Imperial County city (Calexico).  Reagan won, but Trump lost, in Ventura, Long Beach, Torrance, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, West Covina, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego, just to name a few cities.

The axis of the national Republican party has shifted away from southern California in the early 21st century.  Trump’s dour “American carnage” is a continent and a generation apart from Reagan’s sunny optimism.

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