Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

Other states are beginning to exhibit the California’s demographics and political organizing.

This is the fifth story in this series. Links to earlier stories can be found below.

California is thought of as reliably Blue, the Left Coast of America. But it wasn’t always. The state gave the nation Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The John Birch Society thrived in its sun, and some of the state’s most influential families bankrolled it. In the 1990s, voters passed a series of anti-immigrant, race-baiting ballot propositions amid language that mirrors that used by Donald Trump today.

It is said that California turned Blue because Californians turned brown and, certainly, rise of a new citizenry…


CTKerchner photo

It isn’t, but the grassroots organizing experience in California’s traditionally conservative counties provide a powerful counter-example of progressive politics.

There are three earlier stories in this series. Links can be found at the bottom of this story.

In California, the 2018 midterm election was a watershed. Voters flipped seven U.S. House of Representatives seats from Red to Blue, and this occurred in territory that has been considered the Republican heartland.

Called the “Fishhook”, a set of counties beginning with Orange County, where GOP icon Dana Rohrabacher and three others lost what were once safe seats, extending down through San Diego and bowing back through what is known as the Inland Empire, long the seed bed for right-wing ideas. …


Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Civic engagement is the gateway to voting. From San Bernardino to Stockton, organizers help people give voice to issues from housing to policing.

In the 2018 midterm elections, Californians in traditionally Republican areas flipped seven U.S. House of Representative seats from Red to Blue. Known as the Fishhook, the area starts in Orange County. Then it bows through San Diego, before turning upward into the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles connecting to a long shank up through the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Stockton. For much of the past quarter century, Republicans controlled the state because they could muster enough votes in these counties to counteract Democratic majorities in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area counties.

Changing demographics partly explain…


In the 2018 midterm election, seven U.S. House of Representatives seats flipped from Red to Blue. (Map created by Claremont Graduate University Advanced GIS Laboratory.)

Anthony Thigpenn and California Calls provide a case study in how Integrated Voter Engagement creates trusted messengers for issues and elections.

It is said that California turned Blue because Californians turned brown. A Republican Party that wraps itself in a cloak of White Christian Nationalism and suppression of voting by people of color is not likely to have a long future in a state where non-Hispanic white folks are in the minority. But changing population does not equate to political change directly. If that were the case, Texas and Florida would have already turned Blue.

Some commentators list resistance to Trump and Trumpism as an explanation. There is resistance to be sure. At last count, California had sued or counter-sued the…


The Fishhook starts in Orange County, bows through the Inland Empire and extends through the Central Valley. (Map created by Claremont Graduate University Advanced Geographic Information Systems Laboratory.)

Democracy begins at home, not in Washington or Sacramento: action before voting.

On a cold and cloudy day in October 1993, they tried to kick Maria Brenes out of school. The story of her exclusion from school nearly three decades ago, her refusal to leave, and the arc of her political life since explain a lot about California politics.

Since Maria was in high school, California politics flipped from Red to Blue and the state is known for its resistance to Trumpism. Yet, the underlying story of the state’s political change is wrongly understood as simply a Blue Wave or a Brown Tide. It’s more accurately a “politics is hard” story, that…

Charles Taylor Kerchner

An emeritus professor at Claremont Graduate University writing about politics, policy, and education

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