The 2016 Presidential Primary was full of surprises, along with some interesting stats that may foreshadow the November General Election. The most striking information had to do with registration and turnout. Presidential primary turnout in Orange County has traditionally been dominated by Republican voters — but not so this year. For the first time in history, Orange County’s Democrat voters outnumbered Republicans at the polls. This isn’t the only statistic that should trouble Orange County Republicans. Between the 2012 Presidential Primary and the 2016 Primary, more than 120,000 OC voters have fled the Republican party, compared to Democrats losing about 39,000 in that same period. Moreover, statewide Republicans only make up roughly 27 percent of the overall electorate versus Democrats at nearly 45 percent. The fastest growing segment of the electorate is the No Party Preference (NPP) registration which now makes up roughly 23 percent of California’s voters.
With the registration trends as a primer, the results of this primary election should come as no surprise. Several Republican state legislators are in very close races with their Democrat rivals and may be in trouble come November. This includes two key races with statewide implications right here in Orange County. Republican assemblywomen Young Kim and Ling Ling Chang faced surprising returns in Tuesday’s election. As of Monday June 13, incumbent Republican Assemblywoman Young Kim (Fullerton) was facing a 5.6 point deficit to Democratic challenger Sharon Quirk-Silva. Similarly Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang finds herself facing an 8 point deficit to her combined Democrat challengers among OC voters in her bid to replace termed out Senator Bob Huff. Both of these contests will move on to be key battleground races for opposing parties seeking to tip the scales on the prized “two-thirds supermajority.” The two-thirds majority in the legislature is the vote threshold required to raise taxes. Democrats are trying to secure the supermajority in both houses of the California Legislature, while Republicans have been working vigorously to defend against it.
Other interesting primary races include the 68th Assembly District, the 46th Congressional District and the 1st supervisorial district. In the 68th, Irvine Mayor Steven Choi and Former Anaheim City Council Member Harry Sidhu continue to jockey to be the Republican candidate in the top-two contest in November. Given the voter registration in that district, whomever receives the top Republican slot will ultimately win the seat. At last count, Mayor Choi held a 32 vote edge with more ballots yet to be counted.
In the 46th Congressional District, OCBC-endorsed Former Democratic State Senator Lou Correa dominated the primary contest by securing more than 42 percent of the vote. The battle here is between Democrat Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen and Republican Sheriff Commander Bob Peterson for the second slot. The winner of the under card battle will face Lou Correa in November. Given the Democratic voter registration advantage in the 46th, facing the Republican in November all but guarantees a Correa victory in November. If Democrat Bao Nguyen prevails, that proposition becomes more challenging and more expensive. As it stands today, Bao is up by 578 votes with many ballots yet to be counted.
Finally in the 1st Supervisorial contest incumbent Supervisor Andrew Do came in a surprising second to challenger, Santa Ana Council Member Michelle Martinez. Martinez came in first with an impressive showing beating Do in by more than 850 votes as of June 14. The two other challengers in that race took home more than a combined 21,000 votes, so we’ll see where those votes end up come November.
All-in-all it has been an interesting primary election to be sure. There has been nothing conventional about the 2016 election cycle, so November is sure to be full of more surprises.
For more info, contact Bryan Starr, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs.