California 52nd District
San Diego began as a port, but today most metropolitan-area residents live out of sight of the sea, in hilltop neighborhoods that look out over distant ridges and freeways or in warm, sunny valleys amid the mountains that become dense and taller as one travels east from the Pacific Ocean. There is a discernible difference in attitudes and values between those who have settled inland and those who live nearer the ocean, part of the split between coastal California and interior California that has been at the heart of the state’s political struggles and culture wars. In San Diego, both groups have tended to identify as Republicans. Coastal residents tend to be more affluent, and those who settle inland are more likely to be conventionally religious and to have traditional moral values; they tend to be more supportive of the military and an assertive foreign policy, and they are more dubious about the ability of government to help society’s have-nots. They are more conservative and therefore more reliably Republican. Inland San Diego County produced higher percentages for Republican George W. Bush in 2004 than in 2000, while coastal San Diego County did not.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 52nd Congressional District of California takes in many of the inland San Diego suburbs and most of the mountain and desert interior of San Diego County. It includes the part of San Diego north of Interstate 8 and east of Interstate 15. It has Santee, an East County city of 53,000; and El Cajon, which has the nation’s second-largest (after the Detroit area) community of Chaldeans, Catholic Arabs from Iraq. The district also includes high-income Poway, north of San Diego, and more modest La Mesa, east of San Diego. The mountains and the desert to the east are lightly inhabited. In the mountains is tiny Alpine. In the desert is the town of Borrego Springs amid the giant Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This East County area was swept by horrific fires in October and November 2003, which killed 17 people and destroyed more than 2,400 homes. Subsequent years brought additional wildfires and mass evacuations. Politically, this is a solidly Republican district. Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 posted a smaller win than either of Bush’s here, but he still prevailed easily, 53%-45%, over Democrat Barack Obama.