by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Republican loss of 40 seats in the House came about in large part because suburban voters gave the GOP only 49 percent of their votes. From Denver to Atlanta to Salt Lake City to McLean, Va., GOP incumbents were toppled by moderate-sounding Democrats who made explicit appeals to voters repelled by Trump and his smash-mouth tactics. They would rein in his presidency, they promised, and civility and centrism would make a comeback.
That’s a highly doubtful proposition to bet on. But the appeal worked. And nowhere was its success so spectacular as in Orange County, Calif., a collection of suburbs shaped by the Automobile Age whose population of 3.2 million exceeds that of 22 states. Starting in January, Orange County will be represented by seven Democrats in the House and zero Republicans. GOP incumbents Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher were defeated in the midterms, and Democrats took the place of retiring incumbents Ed Royce and Darrell Issa. As Los Angeles Times columnist Gustavo Arellano wrote, the shift was propelled by “millions of dollars in donations to local Democrats, an invigorated volunteer base, and a slew of first-time candidates.” But the Democratic sweep was still shocking.