Presidency by Numbers: Orange County Edition

Gramps is just gonna rest his eyes some...

Orange County Democrats are justifiably happy today as their presidential candidate will be sworn in on Inauguration Day Jan. 20, 2009. And they can take some pride in the Barack Obama-Joe Biden Democratic ticket's 401,605 votes being only 28,755 votes shy of the John McCain-Sarah Palin Republican ticket's 430,360 votes in decidedly red Orange County.

Democrats secured a higher percentage of the Orange County vote in 2008 than in any national election tracking back to Bill Clinton's 1992 victory, when their 31.6% was dwarfed by George H.W. Bush's 43.9 percent. The Democrat presidential ticket had been gaining percentage points in Orange County ever since, with Clinton's 37.9% in 1996 and Al Gore's 40.4% in 2000—before losing a little steam with John Kerry's 39.1% in 2004. Obama's 47.4% of the OC vote was higher than all of those.

By contrast, McCain got 50.8% of the vote here—more than any other presidential candidate in the race but a steep drop in what had been a steady percentage rise for the GOP in market share among Orange County voters. Bob Dole improved mightily on Bush senior here, scoring 's 51.7% in '96. George W. Bush took that up to 55.8% in 2000 and an astounding 59.9% in 2004. McCain dropped it back down to 50.8%.

In raw voter numbers in OC, the Democrat ticket actually experienced a drop with Obama's election, with the steady rise from 306,930 votes in '92, 327,485 in '96, 391,819 in '00 and 419,239 in '04 dipping a bit to the aforementioned 401,605. The GOP ticket, meanwhile, had been making huge gains in OC since its 426,613 votes in '92, which were followed by 446,717 in '96, 541,299 in '00 and 641,832 in '04 before McCain's aforementioned 430,360 dropped them back down to Bush I territory.

If you think a fundamentalist Christian conservative Orange Countian being on a presidential ticket sapped a lot of votes from the GOP, think again. Fiery Buena Park pastor Wiley S. Drake, Sr. was the vice presidential nominee on the American Independent ticket headed by Alan Keyes, and their 2,672 votes (or 0.3%) in OC did vault them ahead of the Green Party's Cynthia McKinney and Rosa “Don't Call Me Roberto” Clemente, who got only 1,720 votes or 0.2% here.

But not only were the Keyes-Drake totals anemic compared to the GOP and Dems, they were doubled by the Peace and Freedom Party's Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez (5,470 votes/0.6%) and the Libertarians' Bob Barr and Wayne Root (5,884 votes/0.7%) in the County of Orange.

There are clouds behind any silver linings for other fantasy tickets as well. Nader got no where near the 26,833 votes or 2.8% total he achieved in OC while running with Winona LaDuke as a Green in 2000.


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