Orangevale by the numbers: Not close to being purple, but still reason for GOP concern

Orangevale is keystone of the once overwhelmingly Republican northeast corner of Sacramento County. But while Folsom has already turned purple and Citrus Heights went for Donald Trump by just 4.7% in 2020, Orangevale’s slide toward anything that could be termed “swing territory” is proceeding at a far slower pace.


The headline news for the local GOP is Trump topped Joe Biden here by more than 15 percentage points. But this was a huge drop from Trump’s 2016 Orangevale margin over Hillary Clinton of 25 points. Also unlike elsewhere in the county and nation, Trump curiously fared better here than many down ballot Republican candidates.


Consider that both Republican state legislature incumbents representing Orangevale underperformed Trump. This was State Assemblymember Kevin Kiley who won Orangevale by 13 points over Jackie Smith, and State Senator Brian Dahle who topped Democrat Pamela Dawn Schwartz by 11 points.


The lone exception was first-time Congressional candidate Buzz Patterson who bested the incumbent Democrat Ami Bera by more than 17 points. However, like Trump’s drop-off in Orangevale as compared to 2016, this was tangible decline from when Sheriff Scott Jones won Orangevale by 23 points while losing the overall district to Bera in 2016.


The previous Presidential year is cited because oddly Bera has fared far “better” in midterm elections in Orangevale – or at least lost Orangevale by far less. Consider that in 2014 Bera lost to Doug Ose in Orangevale by 15 points, but then lost to Andrew Grant in 2018 by an almost purplish 5-point spread.


These narrower Congressional midterm numbers suggests passionately Republican voters come out at far higher rates in Orangevale in presidential years elsewhere in the county. So does this mean Bera could close that final 5 points in the midterm 2022 elections? Statistically that seems possible, but in actuality, it seems hard to entertain. After all, the narrow Orangevale margin in 2018 between Bera and Grant could just be a one-off aberration.


But here’s what to watch. If both 2022 Republican candidates in the state assembly race (Kiley) and the Congressional race win by only single digits, that would be a ugly indicator for the Sacramento County GOP. This is because Orangevale was one of only five areas (see below) in Sacramento County where a majority went for Trump in the general election.


These areas combined for just 13% of the total countywide electorate where Biden won 61.4% of the overall county vote. That is woefully tiny base for the GOP. Whittling it down further would recommend even more conservative candidates to simply run as independents free from all the national and local GOP extremist baggage, as first-term County Supervisor Rich Desmond did in 2020.