San Diego County is no longer a Republican stronghold or even a swing county in California. Signaling changing demographics and a shift in the political landscape, the San Diego County Democratic Party raised $1.4 million to elect 70% of their endorsed candidates in November, including winning 16 seats previously held by Republicans.
While Democrats are reeling at the national level, the local Democratic Party is emerging as a powerhouse in deep blue California. Democratic voter registration surged with over 70,000 new registrants this year, giving Democrats a record 108,000 voter advantage over Republicans countywide. In fact, Republican registrations have fallen to only 2.6% more than independent voters.
Buoyed by the surge in Democratic registration, San Diegans voted for Hillary Clinton by a 15% margin and made inroads in solid Republican city councils with the election of Colin Parent in La Mesa, Cori Schumacher in Carlsbad, and Ben Kalasho in El Cajon. Democrats now hold majorities on city councils in Chula Vista, Del Mar, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove, National City, San Diego, and Solana Beach.
With the re-election of Rick Shea against an opponent heavily funded by Charter School interests, Democrats have maintained the majority on the County Board of Education. They hold all the seats on the Boards of the San Diego, Mira Costa, Southwestern and Palomar Community College Districts and majorities on the Boards of the San Diego Unified School Board, Poway Unified School District, Sweetwater Union, and San Dieguito High School Districts.
The election of Mara Elliott, the first woman and Latina to become the City Attorney of San Diego, is a precursor to future citywide races where Democrats hold a two-to-one voter registration advantage. The passage of Measures K & L, that move all city elections to run-offs in November when more voters participate, bodes well for more competitive and equitable elections in the city of San Diego.
Although Colonel Doug Applegate lost his race in the 49th Congressional District by fewer than 1,900 votes, his remarkable win by a whopping 6% in the part of his district in San Diego represents a significant shift that portends well for Democrats in the future. The quarter of the district in Orange County, where he trailed Issa by 20%, is also trending Democratic.
Democrats were disappointed that County Supervisor Dave Roberts lost the lead that he held on election night. His opponent substantially outspent him in a very aggressive campaign that successfully called attention to personnel issues that concerned voters. Looking forward, Democrats are well positioned to replace Supervisors Greg Cox and Ron Roberts as they term out.
With an overall voter turnout of 77% in San Diego County, results clearly show that Democrats were eager to vote. In the past two election cycles Democrats have picked up over 25 seats formerly held by Republicans and that trend is likely to continue. For complete election results, see www.sddemocrats.org