Orange County Turns Blue with Help of Young Voters


David De Anda

Ever since Orange County was established in 1889, the county has been dominantly Republican. Now the county is more divided than ever with Democrats winning, but only by very small margins.

Riley Goodfellow, Do Editor-In-Chief

The 2018 midterm elections saw two major changes: a huge spike in youth voter turnout, and four Orange County districts flip from Republican to Democrat, making the county’s six districts strictly blue.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) reported that in 2014 only 20% of young people, aged 18-29, voted in the midterm elections. In the 2018 elections, however, CIRCLE reported that 31% of young people voted, a 10% increase.

Many students from SJHHS joined the 31% of young voters by voting for the first time in the midterm elections as they turned 18 this year.
“With the presidential election, when you can’t vote and it plays out, you feel very powerless as to what is happening to you and where your country is going, but now that I have the ability to vote, it’s nice,” said senior, Tony Carlson who’s first time voting was in the primary elections.

Not only the presidential elections drove millennials to the polls but so did events like the Parkland shooting and the #MeToo movement. These incidents made many millennials feel personally affected by politics and want to exercise their right to vote. “I voted because I thought there needed to be change in the government and I wanted to have my opinion expressed,” said senior Emma Dart.
Other seniors mentioned that they voted because it was their obligation as an American. “[Voting] is a duty and you want a person that shares your interests to be able to get into Congress and for whatever proposition you’re voting for, to reflect your interests,” said senior, Kyle Hampson.


David De Anda


“I think it’s a civic duty and a right to vote so you should exercise your rights and your duties because democracy works best if everyone participates,” said senior Matthew Monsoor.
The New York Times reported that nearly 60% of millennial voters identify or lean Democratic. This means the higher participation of younger voters likely played a part in Democrats being able to win the House.

Four seats in the House were flipped from Republican to Democrat in Orange County districts. In the 49th, 48th, 45th, and 39th congressional districts of Orange County, the Democratic nominees won by extremely small margins to take those seats from Republicans.

This is a big change from what the county is used to. The last time a Democratic candidate running for president won in Orange County was in 1936, besides the recent presidential election in which Hillary Clinton beat President Trump by only 5% of the votes.

In the 49th district, which encompases SJHHS and most of its students, Darrell Issa was the Republican congressman for 18 years. He decided to retire this year and two politicians emerged to take his place: Mike Levin and Diane Harkey. In the end he was replaced by Democrat Mike Levin, who won by 27,796 votes.

In the 48th district, Democrat Harley Rouda beat Dana Rohrabacher who had been the incumbent Republican congressman. Rouda won by 17,087 votes and this was a huge defeat since Rohrabacher had been the congressman of the 48th district for the past 30 years.
The other flipped districts congressional races were even closer and the counting of the votes took days longer than usual midterm elections since the margins were so small.

Democrat, Katie Porter, won in the 45th district by only 8,993 votes. She replaced Mimi Walters who was the incumbent Republican congresswoman for four years.

The smallest margin of victory was in the 39th congressional district where Gil Cisneros beat his Republican opposition, Young Kim. He won with only 3,495 votes.

Gil Cisneros is a Navy veteran and a lottery jackpot winner who used the money he won to fund his campaign. A New York Times poll on October 23rd reported that he only had a 47% chance of winning but with the help of almost 3,500 voters he was able to pull ahead of Kim and flip the 39th district.

The other two districts in Orange County, the 46th and 47th congressional districts, remained Democratic. Lou Correa won 68.1% of the votes in the 46th district and Alan Lowenthal won 63.9% of the votes in the 47th district.

The blue wave was definitely felt in Orange County and young voters contributed to the changes by showing up and voting like never before.