“Orange County, Calif., long a bedrock of the Republican Party, won’t send a single Republican to Congress in January for the first time since 1940.

The party lost four seats there in the midterms, mirroring Republican losses just outside Minneapolis, Detroit, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, New York and Washington, D.C. The election was a suburban rout, lifting Democratic hopes for a durable realignment in the parts of suburbia that are highly educated and increasingly diverse.

But further down the ballot in Orange County, voters also considered several propositions meant to ease the state’s housing crisis. Orange County voters opposed a bond to fund housing assistance programs, which passed statewide. And they rejected a rent-control measure by a wider margin than the rest of the state (the measure failed).

Newly Democratic Orange County is not exactly on its way to becoming liberal San Francisco.

“There is this idea that if all these suburban areas are blue, that will mean they’re automatically more progressive,” said Lily Geismer, a historian at Claremont McKenna College in California. That’s an indication of something more progressive, she said, but underneath are “still commitments to a lot of kinds of inequality.”

Her research on suburban Democrats identified many who supported liberal agendas in Washington while opposing affordable housing or school desegregation in their own communities. That dissonance reflects the particular politics of many suburban communities — politics that have made them a national battleground.”

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