The continued flight of suburban white women away from the GOP thanks to Donald Trump has cost the party any semblance of hope on the West Coast as state Republican parties in California, Oregon, and Washington are about as politically dead as they come.
The last Republican presidential candidate that California went for was George H.W. Bush. For both Oregon and Washington, it was Ronald Reagan. Now, Republicans are struggling to hold seats in Congress, statehouses and city councils up and down the coast.
California, Washington and Oregon will hold their presidential primaries on March 3, March 10 and May 19 respectively, and which Democratic candidates they favor will become clear. But this much is certain: In November, none of the three states is apt to go for President Donald Trump, and there is little hope Republicans will claw back much ground in other contests.
Political districts have flipped in population centers, from San Diego in the south to Seattle in the north.
“There is no way out,” Chris Vance, a former Washington state Republican Party chairman and legislator, said in a telephone interview.
In San Diego, by the U.S.-Mexico border, each of the nine city council districts now has more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, including one that until recently leaned strongly Republican.
In 1980, Orange County, near Los Angeles, was 80% white and a GOP stronghold. Today, Orange County is mostly Hispanic and Asian, with many displeased by Republicans’ hard stance on immigration. In 2018, voters there dealt a stunning defeat to a two-term GOP congresswoman.
The California GOP wound up losing six other U.S. House seats that year, leading a former Republican leader in the state to declare: “The California Republican Party isn’t salvageable at this time.”
Democrats also hold the California governor’s office, both U.S. Senate seats and almost complete control of the Legislature.
In Seattle, tens of thousands of tech employees have flooded into the city and its suburbs, hired by Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook. The influx of highly educated workers over the past decade helped fuel a population boom that made many communities much more diverse and affluent, and turned them away from the GOP and toward Democrats.
The result: The GOP has lost all the statehouse seats it once held in Seattle’s eastern suburbs.
Vance blames the area’s exodus of college-educated white voters, particularly women, from the GOP on the party’s turn toward more fundamentalist values under Trump. Vance himself abandoned the party in 2017 after an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate as the Republican candidate.
“This was the party of nerdy, wonky, tweedy capitalists who cared about economic growth. Now it is the party of populists: alt-right, let’s keep the immigrants out, truck- and rifle-populists,” Vance said. “That works in Mississippi and Arkansas and stuff, but it does not work in the Seattle area.”
As horrible as Democrats have it here in the Ohio/KY/Indiana tri-state area, Sherrod Brown is popular in Ohio as a Democratic senator and Andy Beshear won as Governor here in Kentucky. Even Joe Manchin keeps winning in West Virginia, Doug Jones squeaked by in Alabama, and Dems are making gains in Kansas, Iowa, Texas and Georgia. North Carolina and Florida are increasingly in play due to changing demographics.
That's not what's happening to Republicans on the West Coast. They're getting stomped and they keep losing and losing badly, local, state, and federal contests. There's nothing to give them hope here.
Keep that in mind as we head into the election in November.