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District Profile: California -- 45th District

Coastal Orange County

There are two distinct flavors of communities in the 45th -- coastal and interior -- but they both taste Republican.

Seal Beach anchors the coastal section. A quarter of its 25,000 residents live in a seniors-only community, which makes for quite a gray city: 37 percent of Seal Beach's residents are over age 65, 22 percent are over 75, and 7 percent are over 85. Ninety percent of its residents are non-Hispanic whites.

Heading southeast down the coast is Huntington Beach, whose permanent population of 182,000 -- mostly young aerospace and other high-tech workers and their families -- is supplemented in the summer by those eager to "shred" some waves in surfing competitions; hence its nickname, "Surf City."

Huntington Harbor is an affluent section of the city, with such accoutrements as backyard boat slips. The rest of the city consists of huge housing tracts with a few small business districts sprinkled in.

Huntington Beach also has a McDonnell Douglas plant that is the prime design and manufacturing facility for the space station. It employs 5,600 people, which so far has cushioned the 45th from the worst of Southern California's recession, but the district obviously has a lot of eggs in the space station basket.

Newport Beach resembles the other coastal communities -- more bedrooms for aerospace white-collar workers -- but looks a little different. Its terrain lifts into some rolling hills, and Newport Bay runs right up its middle.

Compared with the coast, the 45th's interior areas tend to be more blue-collar and less affluent, and they have a higher Democratic registration. But they are conservative, and they vote Republican. "If there's a place where there are Reagan Democrats, it's Westminster, Garden Grove [in the 46th] and Stanton," a local GOP observer says reverently.

The blue collar of the interior is sky blue, with many working for aerospace companies within the district or commuting to those in Anaheim, Torrance or Long Beach.

Westminster, just inland from Huntington Beach, is heavily Republican, but with a high Democratic registration for this district. Costa Mesa, between Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, has a mix of white- and blue-collar workers and boasts a huge shopping mall -- South Coast Plaza, which is placed on maps of the region.

The district reaches north between Cypress and Garden Grove to take in Stanton. Democrats have a much higher registration advantage here than elsewhere in the district. The city (population 30,000) is not as wealthy as others in the 45th; 15 percent of its housing units are either mobile homes or trailers. To the north, the district takes in a small residential slice of Anaheim.

George Bush won this district in 1992 with 42 percent of its vote, compared with 32 percent for Bill Clinton and 25 percent for Ross Perot.

District Data

  • 1990 Population: 570,874.
  • White 468,855 (82%), Black 7,110 (1%), Other 94,909 (17%). Hispanic origin 84,684 (15%).
  • 18 and over 450,058 (79%), 62 and over 70,820 (12%). Median age: 33.

    Copyright © 1996 Congressional Quarterly, Inc. All rights reserved.

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