Based on a report by Claremont McKenna College's Rose Institute of State and Local Government, it appears that the rise in decline-to-state voters in the typically Republican-dominated Orange County spells trouble for the GOP's stronghold in the region.
"Third party registration in Orange County has remained under four percent throughout the decade, but the number of decline to state voters has skyrocketed. In total, the number of decline to state and third party voters has gone from 18.6 percent to 24.5 percent of those registered. It is notable that all those losses are coming from the Republican share, while Democrats are able to hold their proportion constant," said the report.
The report also noted that while independent voters in Orange County have tended to favor Republicans by significant numbers in the past, there are indications that this may be changing as well. According to numerical stats provided by the Institute, independents are the most energized movement in the OC.
Get this: While the increase in decline-to-state/independent and third party voter registration increased by 6 percentage points between 2000 and 2010, from 19% to 25%, Republican Party registration in the County has dropped from 50% to 43% within the same time period. Also during this decade, Democratic registration has wavered between 30% and 32%.
One of the most prominent indicators that the Republican Party is the biggest loser in its once hallowed ground is demonstrated in 2008 presidential election statistics, the report noted. John McCain defeated Barack Obama by a mere 3 percentage points, 50.2% to 47.6%. This a far cry from the 75% that the county gave California native and then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Consistent with trends within the state and demonstrating that independents aren't the only significant factor that's changing the political landscape, minorities are another game changer in Orange County. Between 1980 and 2009, the Latino and Asian communities have more than doubled as demonstrated by census figures. Coincidentally, the majority of these two groups voted for Gov. Jerry Brown. Furthermore, Hispanics and Latinos are leading the way toward becoming the state's new majority.
California's changing demographics, with more voters declaring their independence and with the rise in minorities, doesn't necessarily spell an easy victory for Democrats, however. While a recent Los Angeles Times/USC poll deceptively appeared to show that the state's voters favor Governor Jerry Brown's tax extension proposal, the rapid growth of independents in the golden state reveals a strained relationship with both major parties in Sacramento.