By Miriam Raftery
June 21, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – A generation ago, San Diego County was considered a bastion of conservatism and East County was solid red Republican territory. But that’s changing. First the city of San Diego turned blue and now has nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans. Then the county flipped; today 35.7% of all county residents are Democrats and 27.2% are Republicans, with 31.6% no-party-preference voters. Two of East County’s four incorporated cities now have more Democrats than Republicans, one is evenly split, and a fourth is still staunchly Republican.
Supervisorial District 2, where a heated race to replace retiring Supervisor Dianne Jacob will take place in 2020, currently has 367,550 registered voters. Republicans still outnumber Democrats 128,779 to 113,015, followed by 103,816 voters with no party preference, but that’s not the hefty lead the GOP once enjoyed.
Among East County cities, Lemon Grove has nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans. La Mesa, which shifted into the “blue” category in the last presidential election cycle, now has a solid Democratic majority. El Cajon is split virtually 50-50 between the two major parties. Santee, however, remains a Republican stalwart. Across all local jurisdictions, there are many no-party-preference voters, in some cases outnumbering the number of registered voters in one or both major parties:
|City||Total Voters||Democrats||Republicans||No Party Preference|
Changing political views may also impact local races such as school boards, water boards, fire boards and community planning groups as well as city council races that while ostensibly nonpartisan, have recently seen political parties endorsing candidates. At the local level, however, voters still often tend to vote for the person they may know and respect, rather than cast ballots based on blind party loyalty. Elected officials who have displayed arrogance toward the public or ignored the will of voters have tended to be trounced at the polls, regardless of party affiliation, while some popular incumbents have won by large margins with help from cross-party votes.
Party becomes more important in higher offices, where major political parties are more apt to invest heavily to maintain or gain power in the halls of Congress or the state legislature.
The 50th Congressional district, where indicted Congressman Duncan Hunter is on trial for federal corruption charges, is another closely watched race. Whether Democrat Ammar Campa Najjar winds up facing off against Hunter or other Republican challengers, the registration advantage is still strongly tilted toward the GOP. Of 343,563 voters in the district, 91,732 are Democrats and 134,922 are Republicans, with 96,325 no party preference voters—major wild cards since it is unclear which way they lean. There are also 3,579 Libertarians and 12,914 American Independent party voters who tend to lean conservative, 1,185 Greens and 991 Peace and Freedom Party voters who tend to lean liberal, as well as around a thousand other party or unknown party voters.
The most lopsided district is the State Board of Equalization seat 2, which has 280,182 Democrats vs. just 31,823 Republicans and a whopping 552,538 no party preference voters. This may explain why long-time state legislator Joel Anderson lost his race for this seat to a Democrat who was not endorsed by the Democratic Party after being disbarred from practicing law in two states for serious misconduct. Most voters, likely unfamiliar with the scandals, merely checked off the candidate who shared their party affiliation.
What’s pushing San Diego County, like most of California, out of the Republican Party and into the Democratic and no party preference columns?
Reasons may include dissatisfaction with the national political divide and changing demographics, as well as concerns about issues such as healthcare, income disparity, climate change, jobs, college costs, equality, women’s rights, and treatment of minorities.
The remaining conservative bastions include voters concerned over small business regulations and the economy, immigration/border security, rural and agricultural issues, gun rights and conservative evangelical beliefs on issues such as abortion and homosexuality.
View the complete registration breakdown by party for all local districts including State Senate, Assembly, and Congressional districts plus other cities within San Diego County on pages 167-170 at this link to the Secretary of State’s report updated Feb. 10, 2019 statewide: https://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/ror/ror-odd-year-2019/politicalsub.pdf.