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Updated July 20, 2009
The 48th District, located in the longtime Republican stronghold of Orange County south of Los Angeles, was never on the Democratic Party's list of top targets. That is, until district voters swung from giving an 18 percentage-point advantage to President George W. Bush at the top of the Republican ticket in 2004 to giving Barack Obama a 1-point edge in 2008.
That has prompted Democrats to prepare a 2010 challenge to GOP incumbent Campbell, who is serving his second full term in the House. Democrat Beth Krom -- a city councilwoman in Irvine, the district's largest city -- began raising funds early this year for a 2010 bid.
It nonetheless will be an uphill battle for the Democrats in a district that generally remains Republican territory. Campbell, a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, easily won his three previous races, albeit against the same Democratic candidate each time.
District Profile from Politics in America
The 48th covers the Orange County coast from Newport Beach south through Laguna Beach to Dana Point, and it takes in a chunk of the county inland from the coast through Irvine to the foothills of the Santa Ana mountains. The district is distinguished by its large white-collar labor force and its historically high median household income. Nearly 60 percent of district residents are white.
Newport Beach is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, luxurious housing and solid Republicanism. Picturesque Laguna Beach attracts tourists and scuba divers. Inland is Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills and Laguna Woods, home to a significant number of senior citizens.
The engineering and biomedical research programs at the University of California, Irvine, have attracted a large number of high-tech and biotech firms to the area, and the university is the district's largest employer. The national housing market crisis affected the region's foreclosure rates, home prices and unemployment -- a major mortgage lender based in Irvine collapsed, taking thousands of local jobs with it.
Smog, crime and other problems endemic to Los Angeles generally do not affect these areas. Irvine consistently rates as the nation's safest city with more than 100,000 people, based on the FBI's crime reporting statistics. But the sheer number of people who commute into the district from the north and east makes transportation among the toughest problems here, as traffic backs up and increases the threat of pollution. Toll roads in the area have helped, and more funding for road improvements aims to ease congestion. Rising gas prices have led to increased use of the expanding regional mass transit rail and bus system.
While registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by 15 percentage points, and GOP candidate Meg Whitman received her highest vote total statewide here in the 2010 gubernatorial election, some pockets of Democratic strength can be found in the district's inland sections and in the more liberal-leaning community surrounding the university.
Technology, research, tourism
Irvine, 212,375; Newport Beach (pt.), 82,169; Lake Forest, 77,264
The Ayn Rand Institute is located in Irvine.
|2010||general||John Campbell (R)||145,481||59.9%|
|Beth Krom (D)||88,465||36.4%|
|Mike Binkley (LIBERT)||8,773||3.6%|
|2008||general||John Campbell (R)||171,658||55.6%|
|Steve Young (D)||125,537||40.7%|
|Don Patterson (LIBERT)||11,507||3.7%|
|2006||general||John Campbell (R)||120,130||59.9%|
|Steve Young (D)||74,647||37.2%|
|Bruce Cohen (LIBERT)||5,750||2.9%|
|2004||general||Christopher Cox (R)||189,004||65%|
|John Graham (D)||93,525||32.2%|
|Bruce Cohen (LIBERT)||8,343||2.9%|
|2002||general||Christopher Cox (R)||122,884||68.4%|
|John Graham (D)||51,058||28.4%|
|Joe Cobb (LIBERT)||5,607||3.1%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 49.3%||John McCain: 48.6%|
|2004||John Kerry: 40%||George W. Bush: 58%|
|2000||Al Gore: 39%||George W. Bush: 57%|