California 46th District
In the 1950s, when the Beach Boys were at Hawthorne High School, surfers would drive far down the coast to the vast expanse of Huntington Beach in Orange County to catch a wave. This was empty country then, vegetable fields and orange groves mainly, with nary a freeway or shopping center in sight. Today, the 42-mile shoreline of Orange County is pretty much filled in with pricey coastal resorts and other development. Huntington Beach, a city of 193,000, is a mixture of family subdivisions and garden apartments and home of the International Surfing Museum. Its eight miles of beach and self-depiction as Surf City make it a tourist draw in the summer. To the north is Westminster, the center of the nation’s most prominent Vietnamese-American community, with miles of shops with Vietnamese names and its own Vietnamese-language daily newspaper. Southeast along San Diego Freeway is Fountain Valley, the central focus of many Asian-owned high-technology businesses. Near the coast is Costa Mesa, site of South Coast Plaza’s luxury stores and a grand performing arts center.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 46th Congressional District of California includes all of this beachfront plus the Long Beach Harbor area and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It also includes inland territory: the eastern end of Long Beach and next-door Seal Beach, areas settled by many retirees; most of Westminster; all of Fountain Valley and Costa Mesa; the southwest corner of Santa Ana; and a tiny slice of Los Angeles. The eastern part of the district is connected to the Palos Verdes Peninsula by a thin strip of beach or the port area. Politically, the two ends of the district are solidly Republican, from high-income Palos Verdes to Westminster. This is no longer the monoracial Orange County of the 1960s: The district’s population is 19% Hispanic and 18% Asian (nearly half of whom are Vietnamese). Unlike other coastal California districts, this one has remained Republican. In 2008, GOP presidential candidate John McCain won it, albeit narrowly, 50%-48%.