REGION — Recently finalized state district lines will shift several North County areas in favor of Democrats while strengthening the overall separation between coastal and inland communities, according to redistricting experts.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission finalized voting maps on Dec. 23 for California’s State Senate and Assembly districts, completing an almost year-long process and making changes that will significantly reshape the state demographically, socioeconomically and politically.
In redrawing the district maps in North County, the commission generally favored consolidating coastal communities with one another and doing the same with inland communities, said Patricia Sinay, who is a sitting member of the state redistricting commission.
The commission also heavily considered the input of middle-class Latino residents, who expressed a strong desire to keep their communities consolidated along the state Route 78 corridor (encompassing Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista), according to Sinay.
“We knew and heard from the Latino community that a lot of Latinos lived along the 78 corridor, it’s an agricultural area that has a lot of Latino farmworkers, so in North County, we did try to keep parts of that corridor together,” Sinay said. “By and large, the final lines drawn in North County reflect both the interests of those seeking a more coastal-inland partition, as well as the Latino constituents interested in protecting their power as a voting bloc.
“Keeping those Latino communities together…that was weighed equally with keeping coastal districts together as well as trying not to split counties or cities.”
California State Senate Districts
In the case of what was previously California Senate District 36, redistricting shifted what was a slightly Republican-leaning region to a newly-formed District 38 that now holds a decisive Democratic majority, according to Evan McLaughlin, a political data consultant for Redistricting Partners.
District 38 will now run from roughly San Onofre in the north to Mission Beach in the south and will add more coastal cities in North County, including Del Mar, La Jolla, and Pacific Beach, while losing some of the Orange County territory held by the old District 36, such as Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills and Dana Point.
Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, a Democrat, and Republican Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett are among the leading candidates vying to replace current officeholder State Sen Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), who will be termed out of office in 2022.
By McLaughlin’s analysis, redistricting appears to have had a decidedly favorable impact on Blakespear’s prospects of winning the State Senate seat.
“San Diego County is poised to elect a third Democratic state Senator with the creation of this new 38th district,” McLaughlin said. “I think it will still be considered a competitive district, but now with the inclusion of Pacific Beach, UCSD, and La Jolla, those are very clearly Democratic-leaning areas.”
The redistricting commission restructured the district in a way that makes District 38 less of Orange County and more of North County San Diego, while also consolidating coastal cities and neighborhoods throughout the region — both factors that will help swing the district blue, according to McLaughlin.
“The old 36 (District) had much more of a North County-Orange County split, but this new one is much more oriented on the coast…keeping that coastal orientation appears to be a higher priority for the commission than maintaining more compact boundaries or staying within county lines,” McLaughlin said.
Further east, the commission split what was previously District 38 into two new sectors—District 32 and the newly formed District 40, which includes cities such as Escondido, Poway, and Ramona.
Once again, McLaughlin said that the splitting of 38 clearly represents the commission’s intent to partition communities along coastal/inland lines, and the larger district’s division helps make what was a relatively conservative region suddenly more competitive for Democrats.
“The division of these two districts, one  clearly following the I-15 running through these coastal and beach communities, and the other  following the I-15 towards East County…reflects that coastal rationale on the part of the commission,” he said. “District 38 was more Republican-leaning but now over time you’ll see District 40 become much more competitive.”
California State Assembly Districts
North County’s new California State Assembly districts were also politically impacted by the new maps, with two newly created districts looking more competitive while one district shifted decidedly blue.
In the case of Assembly districts 76 and 77, the commission essentially swapped the two sectors — much of the old District 76 now forms what is now District 77, and vice versa.
The old 76th Assembly District spanned from San Onofre in the north down to Solana Beach and covered a range of both coastal and inland communities including Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Vista. And District 77 formerly ran from Rancho Bernardo down toward Montgomery Field in the south, covering a vast swathe of inland territory, including Mira Mesa, Poway, and Rancho Santa Fe.
In the new Assembly District 77 – which runs from Carlsbad south towards Imperial Beach and takes in Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Coronado, and swathes of downtown San Diego – the district’s heavy coastal bent will favor Democrats, McLaughlin said.
“There’s a lot of new areas in this district. It shed cities like Oceanside and Vista along the 78 corridor that had made what was 76 a much more competitive district…the new 77 is heavily coastal and doesn’t appear to be competitive for Republicans any longer,” McLaughlin said.
Conversely, the swapping of territory between the two districts has made the new District 76 — which tracks much of what was a Democrat-dominated District 77 — substantially more competitive than before, potentially giving Republicans a chance at electoral power in the region, the consultant said.
District 76 now holds a high proportion of inland communities including San Marcos in the north, Escondido, and Rancho Santa Fe, and running south just short of Poway. These communities lean Republican or are fairly split, and the district now appears to be up for grabs in future elections, though Democrats have a temporary advantage in longtime incumbent Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, who has held his seat since 2012, McLaughlin said.
In what is now District 74 (which was formed from old Districts 73 and 76), Sinay said that the commission again emphasized keeping the 78 corridor together and protecting the interests of Latino voters.
The district runs from Laguna Niguel at its most northern point down to Carlsbad and includes the corridor cities of Oceanside and Vista (both of which have relatively high concentrations of Hispanic residents).
With a mix of coastal and inland neighborhoods, combined with the district’s Orange County territory, District 74 should likely be a fairly even electoral battleground between Republicans and Democrats, McLaughlin said.
“74 is a pretty competitive district…Biden won this region in 2020 but Governor Newsom didn’t win it in 2018…in relation to the old 73 which was very Republican, this new district is a mixed bag partisan-wise.”
Regardless of the electoral ramifications to redistricting, Sinay emphasized that input from the public — and not political considerations — was ultimately one of the biggest factors in shaping the North County districts.
“With the maps being drawn, politics was pulled out, we didn’t look at politics at all…the input we received from these communities was really important to us, and it was a major impetus for how things ended up…these maps are a reflection of what we heard from the public and what the fourteen of us processed from that in creating fair and representative maps for everyone,” Sinay said.