California Republicans are a different breed. Nothing has illuminated that fact like the presidential election of 2016.
The Sacramento Bee is still parsing the numbers from Nov. 8 and what they’ve found is interesting. In dozens of Republican-leaning cities throughout the state, Donald Trump well underperformed Romney in 2012, contributing to a Golden State blowout that helped Clinton win the national popular vote by 2.8 million.
Folsom is just one example. The reddest city in Sacramento County handily chose Romney during the last election, but Trump lost it by a narrow margin this time around. The change was even starker in the Northern Republican enclave of Atherton, where Clinton beat Trump by 40 percentage points. In 2012, Romney beat Obama by 5 points there.
Overall, Mitt Romney garnered 4,839,958 of Republican votes in California. In 2016, Trump got 4,483,810. The red rebellion didn’t necessarily extend to state and local races, however. Down ballot, Republican candidates largely held their own—a fact that undercuts Trump’s assertions about massive voter fraud hurting his totals in California.
But just as Trump flipped the script on a national scale, taking Rust Belt states where Democrats have historically done well, Trump outperformed Romney in some rural parts of the state. Cities where Trump bested the last Republican presidential nominee include Needles, Willits, Oroville, Stockton, Perris, and Moreno Valley. It’s likely his populist views, particularly on trade and immigration, and general blue collar appeal made the difference there.