I think this is a significant development in the future of California, both political and otherwise. According to this report (PDF) from the California Budget Project, job growth in the inland counties of the state grew nearly FIVE TIMES LARGER than job growth in the coastal counties between 1990 and 2005. In fact, they’ve contributed to more than half of the total job growth in the state, despite having only 1/5 of the jobs currently. What used to be bedroom communities in the Inland Empire of SoCal, for example, are now very much self-sustaining and thriving, particularly in the western edges of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
If this trend continues, it could either be very ominous or a great opportunity, depending on your outlook. On the one hand, it tracks with a pattern of population shift from areas that are reliably Democratic into areas that are reliably Republican. On the other hand, it represents a demographic shift in those “red” areas, and could lead to opportunities to build a Democratic resurgence inland, as possibly evidenced by Jerry McNerney’s victory in CA-11.
Whatever the case, it’s something that progressives must deal with. The power bases in LA and SF are only going to retain their power for so long. Places like Ontario and Auburn are goin to have more and more importance, and it’s time RIGHT NOW to ensure that there’s some Democratic infrastructure in place to identify and engage people in those areas who share progressive views. Take Back Red California is an organization of Democratic activists trying to do just that, but more attention must be paid. This is a generational shift, and it will only grow and grow.
I hope to see more of our friends from the inland counties here in the coming months.