President Richard M. Nixon, Orange County native used to be the face of that region's conservatism, but that's old school now.
Orange County's been slowly turning over the last several years, turning less conservative than it used to be. And now the rest of the country is taking notice. The New York Times even wrote that "Orange County Is No Longer Nixon Country." Or when I was growing up, it was referred to as "John Wayne Country" after the iconic Western actor whose conservative values were often reflected in his movies.
The changeover has all been happening over the past decade. The end of the Cold War, the early 1990's, defense jobs and the conservative voters who held them moved on. And according to Professor Thad Kousser, of UCSD , they've been replaced by new immigrants who are more liberal -leaning Mexican and Vietnamese constituents.
"Orange County is no longer owned by Republicans," he says. So where have the conservative voters gone? They've gone east says Kousser who also co-edited "The New Political Geography of California" . They've moved to Arizona, Las Vegas, the Central Valley, and the Inland Empire.
The New York Times article has generated a lot of response from FreeRepublic.com which describes itself as an "online gathering place for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web."
Although Kousser believes Orange County will still go Republican in the November election, favoring Meg Whitman for governor, it will be less of a lead than what conservatives have always banked on. And that means in the future, conservatives can't afford to take Orange County for granted.