Wealthier Asian American and Latino voters in Orange County could play a crucial role in the upcoming election

(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Wealthier Asian American and Latino voters in Orange County could play a crucial role in the upcoming election

Election 2024, California politics, homepage news

Hanna Frits

January 3, 2024

Robert Baca’s political compass has always pointed in the direction of the Republican Party, but lately he has felt less at home with the Republican Party.

Although he voted for Donald Trump in the last two presidential elections, Baca distances himself from the culture wars that seem to be inflaming today’s Republicans. Instead, he wants Washington to tackle the turbulent economy and rising costs of daily living.

He’s been called a RINO shorthand for “Republican in Name” as he suggested both parties need to work together. He still supports conservative candidates most of the time, but he is no longer a sure Republican vote.

“For me, it’s not about the party,” said Baca, 46. “It’s about the policy and the person.”

Baca lives in one of the four Orange Counties


Congressional districts expected to be among the most competitive in the 2024 elections as Republicans and Democrats battle for control of the House of Representatives.

Baca, a

small business small business

owner, is also part of a key emerging group in Orange County’s political landscape that UC Irvine researchers described as “modestly partisan Republicans” in a poll released Wednesday. This group differs from traditional Republican voters in a few key areas: they are wealthier, they are more diverse, they are more socially liberal, and they are less resistant to raising taxes to solve problems related to climate change and homelessness. said Jon Gould, dean of the UCI School of Social Ecology, who led the poll.

Once considered a heartland of conservatives in Southern California, Orange County’s transformation into a more culturally, economically and politically diverse region has forced congressional candidates to find ways to appeal to voters without a strong party preference. Voters

like like

Baca will be crucial not only in who Orange County sends to Washington, but also in determining the balance of power in Congress, Gould said.

“The fight is about the independents who can go either way and the voters who are not strongly attached to a party and who may simply choose not to vote,” Gould said, adding that Orange County “should be the place are where political eyes are focused. for the future of the next Congress.”

The demographics of Orange County have changed dramatically in recent years

past last

20 years. In 2000,

just a little more than

half of the county’s population was white. Latinos made up about 31% and Asians 13.5% of the population. Today, most Orange County residents are people of color. According to census data, about 38% of the population is white, while 34% are Latino and 23% are Asian.

Twenty years ago, Republicans had an 18 percentage point lead over Democrats in voter registration in Orange County. Today, Democrats enjoy a slight lead.

Orange County has been a political battleground since the 2018 elections, when Democrats captured the region’s four congressional seats. Democratic registration in the county surpassed Republicans

a year later.

But it wasn’t an easy fight for Democrats. Republicans regained two congressional seats in 2020 with the election of Rep. Michelle Steel of Seal Beach and Rep. Young Kim of Anaheim Hills, who became two of the first Korean American women to serve in Congress. Their victories came even as President Biden increased the county by 9 percentage points. The 2022 midterm elections turned out to be boring and entirely orange

province province

The incumbents retained their seats.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which has tracked House and Senate races for decades, lists four Orange County congressional districts, including Steel’s and Kim’s, as some of the most competitive races in the country.

And how well the candidates perform may depend largely on how they win over a growing share of Orange County voters who are not highly partisan.

The UC Irvine survey, detailed in the “Red County, Blue County, Orange County” report,


shows that modestly partisan Republicans have become a “political anomaly” in the region. Unlike highly partisan party members, who are largely white, the majority of modestly partisan Republicans are made up of Asian and Latino voters, making them demographically similar to Democrats. Nearly 50% of them earn more than $100,000 per year.

They also do not share the same cultural agenda as Republicans. When asked about their views on


Walt Disney Co.


more than 40% of respondents who were moderately attached to the Republican Party had somewhat positive feelings toward the brand. Among those strongly associated with the Republican Party, less than 20% had a somewhat positive view of the entertainment giant.

Disney is embroiled in a high-profile legal and political battle with the governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, started last year after the company publicly opposed the Parental Rights in Education Act, often called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics. The legislation, which DeSantis supported, banned classroom teaching and discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in some elementary school classes.

The Disney question, Gould says, provides insight into how modest

The included Republicans consider hotly contested cultural issues as GOP politicians

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DeSantis has benefited from the support.

“It strikes me that some cultural dog whistles don’t motivate them in the same way,” Gould said.

At the same time, Democrats could use the same cultural issues to “scare some of the independents and modestly committed Republicans into splitting their ticket or maybe not letting them vote in that race at all,” Gould added.

While although

Baca, who lives in Kim’s congressional district, says he’s not sure

who from whom

He plans to vote in November. He hopes the candidates will stick to kitchen table issues instead of fighting over issues

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whether transgender people can serve in the military.

“It doesn’t have to be a fight. We don’t have to bash,” he said. “If we had people in Congress who weren’t so combative and weren’t so narrow-minded… we’d be much more successful.”

Data from the UC Irvine survey indicated that appealing to Asian and Latino voters, especially those without a strong party preference, could play an important role.

critically crucial

role in a candidate’s success in the general election. The poll found that Asian and Latino residents make up the majority of independent voters and those loosely affiliated with a political party.

Republicans in Orange County have concentrated for years


recruiting Asian American candidates for local races and have devoted significant resources to attracting Asian American and Pacific Islander voters to win seats. Over the summer, the Republican Party opened a new community center in Little Saigon, home to one of the largest Vietnamese communities outside


Vietnam, to assist with the recruitment and training of voter outreach volunteers.

But they haven’t had the same success with Latinos. Randall Avila, the executive director of the Orange County Republican Party, said that will be the focus in November.

“We’re going to try to replicate what we’ve been successful with with Asian Americans and extend that to the Latino community,” he said.

California State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), who is running in the hotly contested 47th Congressional District currently represented by Democrat Katie Porter, said the Democratic Party “as an institution is a little behind the eight ball” in its connection with Asian American voters.

“I think Asian American and Latino groups often feel like they’re left out in the cold here,” Min said.


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