Coast with the Most

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

You've heard it a thousand times since last week's election. The Republican wave that hit the rest of America crashed before it hit California.

The truth behind the adage is actually more subtle. And more interesting.

The Republican tsunami that rose in the Midwest and South and on Fox News did make it into California.

It surged across the Colorado River and over the Sierra Nevadas.

It just didn't make it much past Interstate 5.

It's not California that stands out. It's coastal California.

The old north-south divide that was a fact of California culture and politics for more than a century has gradually been turned on its side.

The big split's now between the coast, which votes liberal, and the interior of the state. Which votes more like Indiana.

It's not a perfect divide. Nothing ever is in politics.

Orange County and San Diego are coastal and they cling to the Republican column. Though less so than they used to.

Look at any map of how the state voted and you'll see just how deep the cleft is between west and east. Between the coasties and the inlanders.

Jerry Brown was elected governor again because he won the coast.

The Blue Coast is where the state's biggest and most liberal cities are. And where most of the jobs are.

The economy's bad everywhere, but it's especially cruel in the Inland Empire. The farm towns of the Central Valley.

Brown got more of his votes in Los Angeles County than anywhere, of course. We're humongous and dwarf every place else.

His margin over Meg Whitman here of half a million votes was more than Brown got total in any other single county.

He won on Whitman's home turf in Silicon Valley. And in less-urban counties from Santa Barbara up to the Oregon border.

In Lake County and Mendocino and Humboldt.

The map was slightly different on some of the state ballot measures, but the west-east divide still stands out.

The attempt to legalize recreational marijuana, for instance, won in Santa Barbara County and Monterey and Sonoma. As well as in San Francisco.

Two counties in Red State California even got on the pot bus. Mono, where Mammoth Mountain's ski bums live, and in tiny Alpine, where barely 500 people voted.

Prop. 19 lost statewide because it lost Los Angeles.

The coast with the most still has one more race outstanding where its dominance of state politics can be flexed.

The race for attorney general between San Francisco DA Kamala Harris and LA DA Steve Cooley is still so close it may be weeks before we know who won.

Cooley leads in forty counties, Harris in just 18. His people say there's enough votes out there in Red California for Cooley to still win.

But Harris has the map on her side. She's the Democrat and won Los Angeles handily.

With more than a million votes still to be counted, the race will turn on one question.

Which side of Interstate 5 do those votes fall on?

Go to and tell us what you think.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.