Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Back in the day, when California was a purple state whose major offices could be won by either party, Republicans loved “the fishhook.”

It was so named for how the dependably Republican counties looked on a state map – an unbroken north-south string of inland counties that hooked into San Diego and Orange counties in Southern California.

During the 1980s and into the 1990s, Republican candidates for president, senator or governor could depend on running up big fishhook margins to offset the equally large advantage that Democrats held in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Republicans won most of those top-of-the-ticket races during that period by exploiting the fishhook, but it also depended on another factor – the relative neutrality of Los Angeles County, home to a quarter of the state’s voters.

Democrats usually won Los Angeles, but only by small margins. If the Republicans’ fishhook totals, especially in San Diego and Orange counties, were big enough, they could triumph in statewide contests.

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