Politics of California

Last updated

The recent and current politics of the U.S. state of California are complex and involve a number of entrenched interests. (For historical politics, see Politics of California before 1900).

Contents

Government

California Constitution 1849 title page.jpg
Proclama al Pueblo de California (1849).jpg
Title pages of the original English (left) and Spanish (right) versions of the 1849 Constitution of California.

The Big Five is an informal institution of the legislative leadership role in California's government, consisting of the governor, the Assembly speaker, the Assembly minority leader, the Senate president pro tempore, and the Senate minority leader.[ citation needed ] Members of the Big Five meet in private to discuss bills pending in the legislature. Because the party caucus leaders in California's legislature also control the party's legislative campaign funds, the leaders wield tremendous power over their caucus members. They are thus able to exert some influence in their caucus's votes in Big Five meetings.

Electoral system

Only the Democratic Party and Republican Party currently have representation in the State Legislature. However, for a brief period around the turn of the 21st century, one member of the Green Party was a member of the State Assembly, representing the eastern San Francisco Bay Area.

California currently uses the non partisan blanket primary in its elections, where candidates regardless of party, including multiple nominees from a single party, contest the ballot and the candidates with the two highest numbers of votes are entered into a general election, but some municipalities such as San Francisco and Berkeley have opted to use a system of preferential voting, currently used in Australia and Ireland, more popularly known in the United States as instant-runoff voting or ranked choice voting.

Local elections in California at the county and city level are officially non-partisan and political party affiliations are not included on local election ballots, and if one candidate fails to have a majority on the first ballot, a runoff between the two highest scoring candidates occurs.

Electoral history

United States presidential election results for California [1]
Year Republican  /  Whig Democratic Third party
No.%No.%No.%
2020 6,006,51834.30%11,110,63963.44%395,1082.26%
2016 4,483,81431.48%8,753,79261.46%1,005,8437.06%
2012 4,839,95837.07%7,854,28560.16%361,5722.77%
2008 5,011,78136.90%8,274,47360.92%296,8292.19%
2004 5,509,82644.36%6,745,48554.30%166,5481.34%
2000 4,567,42941.65%5,861,20353.45%537,2244.90%
1996 3,828,38038.21%5,119,83551.10%1,071,26910.69%
1992 3,630,57432.61%5,121,32546.01%2,379,82221.38%
1988 5,054,91751.13%4,702,23347.56%129,9141.31%
1984 5,467,00957.51%3,922,51941.27%115,8951.22%
1980 4,524,85852.69%3,083,66135.91%978,54411.40%
1976 3,882,24449.35%3,742,28447.57%242,5893.08%
1972 4,602,09655.00%3,475,84741.54%289,9193.46%
1968 3,467,66447.82%3,244,31844.74%539,6057.44%
1964 2,879,10840.79%4,171,87759.11%6,6010.09%
1960 3,259,72250.10%3,224,09949.55%22,7570.35%
1956 3,027,66855.39%2,420,13544.27%18,5520.34%
1952 2,897,31056.35%2,197,54842.74%46,9910.91%
1948 1,895,26947.13%1,913,13447.57%213,1355.30%
1944 1,512,96542.97%1,988,56456.48%19,3460.55%
1940 1,351,41941.34%1,877,61857.44%39,7541.22%
1936 836,43131.70%1,766,83666.95%35,6151.35%
1932 847,90237.39%1,324,15758.39%95,9074.23%
1928 1,162,32364.69%614,36534.19%19,9681.11%
1924 733,25057.20%105,5148.23%443,13634.57%
1920 624,99266.20%229,19124.28%89,8679.52%
1916 462,51646.27%466,28946.65%70,7987.08%
1912 3,9140.58%283,43641.81%390,59457.61%
1908 214,39855.46%127,49232.98%44,70711.56%
1904 205,22661.84%89,40426.94%37,24811.22%
1900 164,75554.37%124,98541.25%13,2644.38%
1896 146,68849.16%144,76648.51%6,9652.33%
1892 118,02743.78%118,17443.83%33,40812.39%
1888 124,81649.66%117,72946.84%8,7943.50%
1884 102,36951.97%89,28845.33%5,3312.71%
1880 80,28248.89%80,42648.98%3,5102.14%
1876 79,25850.88%76,46049.08%660.04%
1872 54,00756.38%40,71742.51%1,0611.11%
1868 54,58850.24%54,06849.76%00.00%
1864 62,05358.60%43,83741.40%00.00%
1860 38,73332.32%37,99931.71%43,09535.96%
1856 20,70418.78%53,34248.38%36,20932.84%
1852 35,97246.83%40,72153.02%1170.15%

The first presidential election the state participated in was 1852 in which it was carried easily by Democrat Franklin Pierce. For the next few decades after the Civil War, California was a Republican-leaning but very competitive state in presidential elections. At the turn of the 20th century, California became a Republican stronghold, being in fact one of the few states not carried by Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 presidential election. Beginning with the 1932 election, the state shifted into the Democratic camp. Franklin Roosevelt carried all but one county in the state in 1932, and in 1936 all counties. Roosevelt's third and fourth presidential elections saw him win by smaller margins. In 1948, the state narrowly voted for Truman. Beginning with the 1952 presidential election California became a Republican leaning battleground state. Beginning with the 1992 presidential election, California has become increasingly Democratic. The state has voted Democratic in every presidential election since then, usually by lopsided margins, particularly starting in 2008. Voting patterns since 1992 have remained consistent by and large, with Democratic presidential candidates carrying the coastal counties and Republicans the inland counties, though Democrats have gained in these counties as well.

At the state level, California has had more mixed voting tendencies until more recently. Six of the state's first seven governors were Democrats; during subsequent decades, control of the governorship frequently shifted between the two parties. From 1899 to 1939, almost all governors were Republican, but since that time the governorship has switched parties regularly.

Political parties

The two major political parties in California that currently have representation in the State Legislature and U.S. Congress are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. There are four other parties that qualify for official ballot status: the American Independent Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, and Peace and Freedom Party. [2] There are also other minor parties in California that are not ballot qualified including the American Solidarity Party, National Party and Reform Party.

California voter registration statistics as of
April 8, 2022 [3]
PartyRegistered votersPercentage
Democratic 10,287,89246.75
Republican 5,263,95023.92
Unaffiliated 5,009,55322.77
American Independent 745,3903.39
Libertarian 223,7591.02
Minor parties 149,9340.68
Peace and Freedom 116,5440.53
Unknown114,9710.52
Green 92,0130.42
Total Registered Voters22,004,00681.65
Total Eligible Voters26,948,297100.00

Political issues

Many of California's governmental agencies, institutions, and programs have been established in the Constitution of California. Additionally, the state constitution establishes mandatory funding levels for some agencies, programs and institutions. This issue came to the forefront when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature attempted to cut spending to close the state's multibillion-dollar budget deficits during the 2000s. Consequently, affected agencies with support from special interest groups, successfully pressed the California Supreme Court to order the restoration of funding to a number of agencies and programs which had been cut.

There have been several events, many [4] dubbed "constitutional crises" by their opponents, over the last thirty-two years including:

Northern California's inland areas and the Central Valley are mostly Republican areas. Historically, parts of Southern California, such as Orange County and Riverside County were Republican bastions, however, they have continued to trend Democratic in recent decades, with all five congressional districts flipping Democrat in 2018. Coastal California, including such areas as the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento areas are mostly Democratic areas. As most of the population is in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, California as a whole tends to be liberal.

California was once a Republican-leaning swing state in presidential elections from 1952 until 1992. During this period, the Republicans won California in every election except the election of 1964, often by a margin similar to the national one. In these years, the GOP nominated a couple of Californians as presidential candidates during four presidential elections: Richard Nixon in 1960 and 1972, and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. Since then, however, the Democrats have carried the electoral rich state since 1992. The immigration of Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans and migration of northern liberals, who tend to vote Democratic, shifted the balance in favor of the Democratic Party.

Among the state's divisive issues are water and water rights, resulting in the California Water Wars. Lacking reliable dry season rainfall, water is limited and available surface sources are extensively developed through dams, canals, and pipelines. The principal water sources are mountain runoff from wet season rains and higher altitude snowpack (70%), wells (limited by salt-water incursion and overuse), and some Colorado River water supplying Southern California (strictly limited by treaties with the other western states and Mexico). Waste water reclamation in California is already routine (for irrigation and industrial use). Most water is in the north of the State, while agriculture, the largest user of stored water in California, is most prevalent in the central and southern areas. Additionally, the majority of the state's population is in the south. Water viewed as excess by the south is viewed by the north as environmentally essential for agriculture, fisheries, and wildlife. While the southern electorate has a greater portion of the population it is not as unified in its viewpoint as is that of the north, so ballot propositions such as those promoting a Peripheral Canal to transport water to the south have failed.

Land use is also divisive. High land prices mean that ordinary people keep a large proportion of their net worth inland. This leads them to agitate strongly about issues that can affect the prices of their home or investments. The most vicious local political battles concern local school boards (good local schools substantially raise local housing prices) and local land-use policies. In built-up areas, it is extremely difficult to site new airports, dumps, or jails. Many cities routinely employ eminent domain to make land available for development. A multi-city political battle was fought for several years in Orange County concerning the decommissioning of the huge El Toro Marine airbase. Orange County needs a new airport (pilot unions voted the existing airport, John Wayne, the least safe in the U.S.), but the noise could reduce land prices throughout the southern part of the county, including wealthy, politically powerful Irvine.[ citation needed ]

Gun control is another divisive issue, which stems at least partially from the fact that California's constitution does not explicitly guarantee the right for ordinary citizens to keep and bear arms. In the cities, California has one of the U.S.'s most serious gang problems, and in some farming regions, some of the highest murder rates. The state also contains many individuals who desire to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, and property. The legislature has passed restrictive gun control laws. Private purchase of assault weapons (generally, semi-automatic rifles that look like military rifles) without prior approval from the state Department of Justice (which rarely grants such approval) is a felony. The law does not, however, prohibit sales of semi-automatic hunting-style civilian weapons, leading many[ who? ] to question the effectiveness of the cosmetic distinction.[ citation needed ] Pistols may be purchased and kept in one's home or place of business (however, they are required to be registered to the state and must be considered a "safe" handgun (see AB 1471), but it is illegal to carry weapons or ammunition outside these areas without a concealed weapons permit, except in a locked area (car trunk) to licensed practice ranges or other legitimate uses (hunting, repair, collection, etc.) Open carry of an unloaded firearm in some areas is legal but very uncommon due to the confusing web of state and federal laws, such as the Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which makes it a felony to carry a gun within 1000 feet of a school, even without malicious intent. As of 2012, open carry of firearms is for the most part banned, with exceptions made for law enforcement, hunters, and individuals in rural areas of the state. Except in a handful of rural counties, most people find it impossible to get concealed weapons permits since they are issued at the discretion of the local law enforcement officials; California is not a "shall issue" state for concealed weapons permits. Because of the importance of local law enforcement's discretion, some counties are nevertheless virtually "shall issue" while others are de facto "no issue", leading to the peculiar situation of rural residents of one jurisdiction being able to legally carry their handguns in areas where the local residents cannot. For more see gun laws in California.

Influence of special-interest groups

Because California is the most populous state in the United States, legislation and policies that are enacted by the government of California often have significant implications on major political issues at the national level. Throughout the twentieth century, political decisions in California have wielded substantial influence with Congress while considering legislation at the federal level. Because of the potentially nationwide implications for political decisions made in California, special-interest groups, many of which are based outside of California, play a greater role in California politics than in most other states,[ citation needed ] by contributing large amounts of money into lobbying, litigation, and producing media advertisements to influence voters and elected officials on major political issues. The California Fair Political Practices Commission regulates campaign finance and lobbying in California.

Gerrymandering

Congressional representation

The most populous state, California has the largest Congressional delegation of any state, with 52 representatives and two senators.

Many leading members of Congress are from California. Among the Democrats are:

  1. Rep. Nancy Pelosi from the 12th District (Speaker of the House)
  2. Senator Dianne Feinstein (former Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee)
  3. Vice-President Kamala Harris (Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate)

Among the Republicans are:

  1. Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the 23rd District (Minority Leader Emeritus and 57th Speaker of the House)
  2. Rep. Devin Nunes from the 22nd District (former chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence)
  3. Rep. Darrell Issa from the 50th District (former chairman of the House Oversight Committee)

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1876 United States presidential election</span> 23rd quadrennial U.S. presidential election

The 1876 United States presidential election was the 23rd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 7, 1876, in which Republican nominee Rutherford B. Hayes faced Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. It was one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. Its resolution involved negotiations between the Republicans and Democrats, resulting in the Compromise of 1877, and on March 2, 1877, the counting of electoral votes by the House and Senate occurred, confirming Hayes as President. It was the second of five U.S. presidential elections in which the winner did not win a plurality of the national popular vote. This is the only time both major party nominees were incumbent US governors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1856 United States presidential election</span> 18th quadrennial U.S. presidential election

The 1856 United States presidential election was the 18th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1856. In a three-way election, Democrat James Buchanan defeated Republican nominee John C. Frémont and Know Nothing nominee Millard Fillmore. The main issue was the expansion of slavery as facilitated by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1880 United States presidential election</span> 24th quadrennial U.S. presidential election

The 1880 United States presidential election was the 24th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 2, 1880, in which Republican nominee James A. Garfield defeated Winfield Scott Hancock of the Democratic Party. The voter turnout rate was one of the highest in the nation's history.

Electoral fusion is an arrangement where two or more political parties on a ballot list the same candidate, pooling the votes for that candidate. It is distinct from the process of electoral alliances in that the political parties remain separately listed on the ballot. The practice of electoral fusion in jurisdictions where it exists allows minor parties to influence election results and policy by offering to endorse or nominate a major party's candidate.

A write-in candidate is a candidate whose name does not appear on the ballot but seeks election by asking voters to cast a vote for the candidate by physically writing in the person's name on the ballot. Depending on electoral law it may be possible to win an election by winning a sufficient number of such write-in votes, which count equally as if the person was formally listed on the ballot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elections in the United States</span> Political elections for public offices in the United States

In the politics of the United States, elections are held for government officials at the federal, state, and local levels. At the federal level, the nation's head of state, the president, is elected indirectly by the people of each state, through an Electoral College. Today, these electors almost always vote with the popular vote of their state. All members of the federal legislature, the Congress, are directly elected by the people of each state. There are many elected offices at state level, each state having at least an elective governor and legislature. There are also elected offices at the local level, in counties, cities, towns, townships, boroughs, and villages; as well as for special districts and school districts which may transcend county and municipal boundaries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2006 United States elections</span>

The 2006 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006, in the middle of Republican President George W. Bush's second term. Democrats won control of both houses of Congress, which was the first and only time either party did so since the 1994 elections. These elections were widely categorized as a Democratic wave.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elections in California</span> Overview of the procedure of elections in the U.S. state of California

Elections in California are held to fill various local, state and federal seats. In California, regular elections are held every even year ; however, some seats have terms of office that are longer than two years, so not every seat is on the ballot in every election. Special elections may be held to fill vacancies at other points in time. Recall elections can also be held. Additionally, statewide initiatives, legislative referrals and referendums may be on the ballot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elections in New York (state)</span> Overview of the procedure of elections in the U.S. state of New York

The results of elections in the state of New York have tended to be more Democratic-leaning than in most of the United States, with in recent decades a solid majority of Democratic voters, concentrated in New York City and some of its suburbs, including Westchester County, Rockland County and Long Island's Nassau county, and in the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and Ithaca.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Politics of Minnesota</span> Politics of the U.S. state of Minnesota.

Minnesota is known for a politically active citizenry, with populism being a longstanding force among the state's political parties. Minnesota has consistently high voter turnout; in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, 77.8% of eligible Minnesotans voted – the highest percentage of any U.S. state or territory – versus the national average of 61.7%. This was due in part to its same day voter registration laws; previously unregistered voters can register on election day, at their polls, with evidence of residency.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2008 United States House of Representatives elections in New York</span>

The 2008 United States House of Representatives elections in New York were held on November 8, 2022, to elect the 29 U.S. representatives from the State of New York, one from each of the state's 29 congressional districts. state of New York in the United States House of Representatives. New York has 29 seats in the House, apportioned according to the 2000 United States Census. Representatives are elected for two-year terms; those elected will serve in the 111th Congress from January 4, 2009 until January 3, 2011. The election coincided with the 2008 U.S. presidential election in which Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a wide margin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elections in Oregon</span> Overview of the procedure of elections in the U.S. state of Oregon

Elections in Oregon are all held using a Vote by Mail (VBM) system. This means that all registered voters receive their ballots via postal delivery and can vote from their homes. A state Voters’ Pamphlet is mailed to every household in Oregon about three weeks before each statewide election. It includes information about each measure and candidate in the upcoming election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2008 United States presidential election in Colorado</span> Election in Colorado

The 2008 United States presidential election in Colorado took place on November 4, 2008, as a part of the 2008 United States presidential election throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Voters chose nine representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2008 United States presidential election in West Virginia</span> Election in West Virginia

The 2008 United States presidential election in West Virginia took place on November 4, 2008, and was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Politics of North Carolina</span> Overview of the politics of the U.S. state of North Carolina

Like most U.S. states, North Carolina is politically dominated by the Democratic and Republican political parties. North Carolina has 13 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and two seats in the U.S. Senate. North Carolina has voted for the Republican candidate in nine of the last 10 presidential elections; the one exception was in 2008, when a plurality of North Carolinians voted for Barack Obama. Conversely, North Carolina has mostly elected Democratic governors in its history; only four Republican governors have been elected since Reconstruction, and of those only one served two terms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2012 United States elections</span>

The 2012 United States elections took place on November 6, 2012. Democratic President Barack Obama won reelection to a second term and the Democrats gained seats in both chambers of Congress, retaining control of the Senate even though the Republican Party retained control of the House of Representatives. As of 2022, this is the most recent election cycle in which neither the presidency nor a chamber of Congress changed partisan control, and the last time that the winner of the presidential race provided coattails for their party in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elections in Virginia</span>

Elections in Virginia are authorized under Article I of the Virginia State Constitution, sections 5–6, and Article V which establishes elections for the state level officers, cabinet, and legislature. Article VII section 4 establishes the election of county-level officers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elections in Alabama</span> Political elections for public offices in Alabama, USA

Elections in Alabama are authorized under the Alabama State Constitution, which establishes elections for the state level officers, cabinet, and legislature, and the election of county-level officers, including members of school boards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2016 United States elections</span>

The 2016 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Republican nominee Donald Trump defeated Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, while Republicans retained control of Congress. This marked the first and most recent time Republicans won or held unified control of the presidency and Congress since 2004 though they regained the House in the 2022 elections.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2016 United States presidential election in California</span>

The 2016 United States presidential election in California was held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, as part of the 2016 United States presidential election in which all 50 states plus the District of Columbia participated. California voters chose electors to represent them in the Electoral College via a popular vote, pitting the Republican Party's nominee, businessman Donald Trump, and running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence against Democratic Party nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her running mate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. California had 55 electoral votes in the Electoral College, the most of any state.

References

  1. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - Presidential General Election Results Comparison - California". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  2. "Qualified Political Parties - Elections & Voter Information - California Secretary of State". Archived from the original on 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
  3. "Historical Voter Registration Stats 2022" (PDF).
  4. "Fixing California's Constitutional Crisis Won't Be Easy". KCET. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  5. Purdum, Todd S. (1997-04-24). "California State Term Limits Overturned by Federal Judge". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  6. Kenneth P. Miller. "The California Supreme Court and the Popular Will" (PDF). Chapmanlawreview.com. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  7. O'Leary, Kevin (2009-06-27). "The Legacy of Proposition 13". Time. ISSN   0040-781X . Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  8. Sun, Baltimore. "Calif. official urges court to reverse ruling on recall". Baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  9. "California in Crisis". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2017-09-13.

Archival collections

Other