Democrats now outnumber Republicans in Orange County, onetime GOP stronghold

WASHINGTON — Democrats in California are celebrating a new milestone: They now outnumber Republicans in the longtime GOP stronghold of Orange County.

As of Wednesday, data from the Orange County Registrar of Voters showed that registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans, 547,458 to 547,369.

Another 440,711 voters in the county are registered as unaffiliated with any political party.

Beyond the numbers, the symbolism of the flip makes Democrats particularly buoyant. Orange County famously helped launch President Ronald Reagan's political career in the 1960s, and it is also home to President Richard Nixon’s presidential library.

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Ronald Reagan hologram greets visitors at former president's library
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Ronald Reagan hologram greets visitors at former president's library
A Ronald Reagan hologram has been unveiled at the California museum dedicated to the late US president
Former President Ronald Reagan appears in western attire, as he might appear at his Santa Barbara ranch, but as a hologram, on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. The Reagan Library says it worked with the same Hollywood special effects wizards who helped bring singers Michael Jackson, Maria Callas and Roy Orbison back to life on stage. Officials say the goal is to allow visitors to see Reagan back in the Oval Office, campaigning or at his beloved ranch. (AP Photo/Amanda Lee Myers)
A hologram of Ronald Reagan has been unveiled at his namesake library in Southern California. Hollywood special effects expertise is behind the moving, talking, digital resurrection. Reagan's face comes to life via specific movements of the mouth, nose, eyes, cheeks and hairline manipulated by computers. The library worked with the same special-effects technicians who helped bring singers like Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday and Roy Orbison back to life on stage. The Hollywood firm HologramUSA helped create the holograms and the stage on which they're projected. Two more Reagan holograms are to appear soon at the library, which is Reagan's final resting place since his death in 2004.
Former President Ronald Reagan appears on a railcar platform making a speech during a whistle stop on the campaign trail, but as a hologram, on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. The Reagan Library says it worked with the same Hollywood special effects wizards who helped bring singers Michael Jackson, Maria Callas and Roy Orbison back to life on stage. Officials say the goal is to allow visitors to see Reagan back in the Oval Office, campaigning or at his beloved ranch. (AP Photo/Amanda Lee Myers)
Models of former US President Ronald Reagan that were used in creating Holograms are seen at a media preview on October 10, 2018, one day before the exhibition opens at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US President Ronald Reagan is recreated via Hologram technology during a media preview on October 10, 2018, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. - Reagan appears in three scenes at the presentation, including this scene from a 1984 where he he campaigned from the Ferdinand Magellan Railcar on a campaign trip through Ohio. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Once among the reddest counties in the state, the region more recently became the site of devastating GOP losses in the 2018 midterms, with Democrats gaining control of every House district in the county. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump there during the 2016 presidential election — the first time since the Great Depression that the Democratic nominee prevailed over the Republican candidate.

Demographic experts largely attribute the shift to a growing Latino and Asian population that’s also becoming more Democratic-leaning.

In Orange County, the population that identified as white alone as of 2017 was estimated to be around 41 percent, down 10 points since 2000.

In contrast, Latinos now make up 34 percent of the county’s population (up three percent since 2000), Asian Americans make up 21 percent (up seven percent) and African Americans make up 4 percent (which is unchanged since 2000).

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