California 36th District
For many Southern Californians, there is no better place to be than the beach. It is not a perfect environment: In the morning there may be mists, the winter air is damp and clammy, and even in summer the weather can be chilly. The water is never very warm and is sometimes polluted. But for many this is echt-California, and in this democratic polity, there is a beach to suit the taste of just about everyone, many of them with their unique piers and athletes, especially volleyball. The funkiest of all is Venice: “Muscle Beach,” with its beach houses and expensive new mansions jammed together, sharing the shoreline with the homeless people in cars and campers who have staked out spots along the beach in recent years. Venice is known for its chaotic boardwalk, where skateboarding got its start and in-line skating sports are de rigueur. The 2005 movie Lords of Dogtown is about the group of Venice surfers who revolutionized the skateboarding culture in the 1970s. To the south is Marina Del Rey, with sleek modern apartment complexes and expensive yacht moorings, and south of LAX Airport, El Segundo, named for Chevron’s second oil refinery and now with big office buildings. Next is South Bay, with Manhattan Beach, a favorite of the Beach Boys, who grew up a couple of miles inland in Hawthorne. Tiny Hermosa Beach, with tightly packed frame houses originally the homes of elderly retirees, is now filled with the young and the trying-to-stay-young. Many of the beaches enforce no-smoking rules. Farther south are the flower-planted rises of Redondo Beach and the larger city of Torrance, whose vast inland expanse is the home of large Korean and Japanese communities and of the North American headquarters of both Toyota and Honda. Overlooking L.A.’s modern container port are Wilmington and San Pedro, once working class, but moving up as well.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 36th Congressional District of California includes most of this beach territory, from Venice south to San Pedro (both of which are within the Los Angeles city limits, though the area in between is not). The district is multiethnic: 32% of residents are Hispanic, 15% Asian, and 28% foreign-born. But the beach communities, as if in the 1950s, are still filled mostly with white Anglos. This area is leery of taxes, but culturally it is libertarian—against restrictions or even aspersions on its various lifestyles. This has been one of America’s leading defense and aerospace areas, where Howard Hughes built planes half a century ago and where much of the 1980s defense buildup took place. With its many military and space facilities for electronics research and development, Boeing is the largest private employer in the area, including its assembly operation in El Segundo. Nearby, Northrop has been building a robotic patrol plane for the Navy.