A jump in new election ballots counted Thursday showed Orange County maintaining its purple region trend, with Republicans maintaining a lead in two key congressional races, and a county supervisor’s race.
Yet at the presidential level, Orange County residents — like they did in 2016 — seemed to overwhelmingly back the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, over incumbent President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, most of the county’s Democratic congressional members appeared to be well ahead of their Republican challengers going into day two of ballot results.
State Assembly and Senate level race results continued to feature a mixed bag for the parties but a slight tilt toward Democrats, who are on track to flip two Republican-held state Senate seats.
The new results mark a continuation of yesterday, thanks to more than 62,000 new ballots counted two days after election night — equivalent to a quarter of the known remaining ballots reported to have arrived so far. That doesn’t include mail-in ballots received Thursday night.
Turnout for this year’s election was at a record pace even before the election, with early voting numbers outpacing those of the previous two election years in 2018 and 2016. County elections data reported more than 1.3 million ballots cast as of Thursday.
In Santa Ana, a more progressive majority still appeared to take hold. In Anaheim a more resort-friendly coalition continues to take form. Irvine voters appeared to turn against developer-backed candidates.
Republicans are moving to potentially retake some lost ground in the 2018 elections with Young Kim and county Supervisor Michelle Steel continuing their leads over their Demoratic opponents.
In a complete 180-turn from 2018, the Republicans started Election Night down in all the districts.
Steel pulled ahead of freshman Demoratic Rep. Harley Rouda late Tuesday night in the 48th Congressional District race, where the GOP has a six-point party registration advantage.
Her lead over Rouda increased again Thursday night to nearly 5,000 votes.
Rouda pulled off an upset in 2018 when he beat longtime GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
And in a repeat of a 2018 battle, Kim is again squaring off against Rep. Gil Cisneros for the 39th Congressional District race.
Kim started off behind freshman Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros when the first election returns were published, unlike 2018 when Cisneros came from behind and slowly closed the gap and eventually beat Kim.
Kim maintained a nearly 2,500 vote lead over Cisneros with Thursday night’s update.
In the closely-watched local races for state Legislature, Democrats remain ahead in efforts to flip two seats in OC held by Republicans John Moorlach and Ling Ling Chang. Democrat Josh Newman has been leading against Chang in the 29th Senate District and Democrat Dave Min has been ahead of Moorlach in the 27th Senate District. Min’s lead narrowed slightly with Thursday’s update.
Republican state Assemblyman Steven Choi slightly expanded his lead ahead of Democrat Melissa Fox on Thursday, and appeared on track to hold on to his seat.
In the western 72nd Assembly District, Republican Janet Nguyen pulled further ahead of Democrat Diedre Nguyen for the seat, which is currently held by Republican Tyler Diep.
In the competitive 1st District county supervisor race, incumbent Republican Andrew Do is maintaining a sizable 5 percentage point lead over his Democrat challenger Sergio Contreras. Do’s lead expanded slightly with the Thursday results update.
If it holds, Republicans would hold on to their 4-to-1 majority on the board.
In Anaheim, Orange County’s biggest city by population, Disney-backed candidates continued to lead in all three of the City Council seats up for election, with Avelino Valencia, Steve Faessel and Jose Diaz in the lead. One candidate who opposes resort-area subsidies, incumbent Councilwoman Denise Barnes, was ahead earlier on election night but is now trailing Diaz, who was backed by Disney, in the latest rounds of results.
In Santa Ana, where voters picked a new mayor in the first open race for the seat in 26 years, Councilman Vicente Sarmiento continued to hold a wide lead with 33%, and Claudia Alvarez trailing in second place with 22%.
Thai Viet Phan, Jessie Lopez and Johnathan Hernandez continued to hold wide leads for City Council seats in initial results.
In Irvine, Councilwoman Farrah Khan defeated her council colleague Christina Shea in the showdown for mayor on election night, with Khan receiving 49% to Shea’s 36% in early results and Shea conceding in a phone call to Khan.
For City Council, where the top three vote-getters win seats, candidates Tammy Kim, Lauren Johnson-Norris, and Larry Agran have maintained a steady lead, with Councilman Mike Carroll several hundred votes behind in fourth place.
The city’s largest developer, The Irvine Co., was the dominant spender in the city’s election, pumping at least $315,000 into groups supporting Shea, Carroll and John Park, and opposing Agran and Kim.
But voters seem to have turned against developer backed candidates despite their increased funding, without a single candidate moving into winning range since results came out.
Election results for the city of Orange are continuing to show leads for Mark Murphy for mayor and Arianna Barrios, Jon Dumitru, Mike Alvarez, and Ana Gutierrez for City Council seats, while a measure to allow a controversial home development was trailing.
Newport Beach candidates Brad Avery and Noah Blom in district two and five are still leading in the third day of election results. In District 7, current Mayor Will O’Neill ran unopposed.
Mayoral Candidate Katrina Foley is leading in election results with candidate Sandra Genis trailing behind her.
Candidates Loren Gameros in district 2 and Jeffrey Harlan in district 6, who were endorsed by Foley and other Democrats on the council, remained in the lead on Thursday evening. Candidate Don Harper who was endorsed by the Republican Party of Orange County is holding on to a lead in District 1.
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member at Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @photherecord.