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August 2013
California Voter and Party Profiles
  • The share of independents has grown by 5.6 percentage points in the last 10 years.
    As of February 2013, the share of California voters who say they are registered as independent (also known as "decline to state” or "no party preference”) is 20.9%—up from 15.3% in 2003. The share of Democrats is 43.9%, similar to 2003 (44.4%), but the share of Republicans has declined from 35.2% in 2003 to 28.9% in 2013. In fact, there are roughly 100,000 fewer Republicans today than there were 10 years ago, even as the registered population has grown by 2.9 million voters. California’s 18.1 million voters constitute 75.7% of eligible adults, up from 70.3% of eligible adults in 2003. Our surveys indicate that among those we consider most likely to vote, 45% are Democrats, 32% are Republicans, and 19% are independents.
  • Independent likely voters continue to lean Democratic; partisans are ideologically divided.
    Four in 10 independents view themselves as closer to the Democratic Party (41%), three in 10 the Republican Party (29%), and three in 10 volunteer that they lean toward neither party (30%). There is an ideological divide between Republican and Democratic likely voters, but Republicans are more cohesive than Democrats—52% of Democrats view themselves as liberal, while 70% of Republicans view themselves as conservative. Independent likely voters are more likely to see themselves as middle-of-the-road (42%) than as liberal (28%) or conservative (30%). These ideological differences are manifested in taxing and spending preferences: most Democrats (68%) prefer to pay higher taxes and have a state government that provides more services, while most Republicans (76%) prefer lower taxes and fewer services. Independents are divided (51% lower taxes/fewer services, 43% higher taxes/more services).
  • Likely voter party affiliation varies across major racial and ethnic groups.
    Although 44% of the state’s adult population is non-Hispanic white and 33% is Latino, our surveys indicate that 62% of those most likely to vote are white and only 17% are Latino. Asians and blacks comprise a smaller share of both the state’s adult population (14% Asian, 6% black) and likely voters (11% Asian, 7% black). Among Democrats, 49% of likely voters are white, 25% are Latino, 12% are Asian, and 12% are black. An overwhelming majority of Republicans are white (81%); 9% are Latino, 7% are Asian, and 1% are black. Among independents, 58% are white, 15% are Latino, 17% are Asian, and 5% are black.
  • Likely voter party profiles differ by gender, education, income, and age.
    Independent likely voters are more likely to be men (55%) than women (45%), while Democrats are more likely to be women (57%) than men (43%). Republican likely voters are more evenly split (52% men, 48% women). About half of independent likely voters (49%) are college graduates, compared to fewer Democrats (39%) and Republicans (34%). A third of Democrats (34%) have household incomes under $40,000, compared to nearly three in ten independents (28%) and about one in five Republicans (22%). Independents have the highest share of likely voters age 18 to 34 (28%), compared to Democrats (22%) and Republicans (15%).
  • Democrats and Republicans tend to live in different parts of the state.
    For the most part, each region’s share of California’s likely voters mirrors its share of the state’s overall adult population: Los Angeles County (24% likely voters, 27% overall), the San Francisco Bay Area (22%, 20% overall), Orange and San Diego Counties (19%, 17% overall), the Central Valley (16%, 17% overall), the Inland Empire (10%, 11% overall). Most Democrats live in Los Angeles County (30%) or the San Francisco Bay Area (26%), while slightly less than half of Republicans reside in the Central Valley (21%) or Orange and San Diego Counties (23%); another 19% of Republicans live in Los Angeles County. Among independents, two in three live in the San Francisco Bay Area (26%), Los Angeles County (21%), or Orange and San Diego Counties (21%).


Note: "Likely voters" are registered voters meeting criteria on interest in politics, attention to issues, voting behavior, and intention to vote. For a full description of this criteria and regional definitions, visit http://www.ppic.org/content/other/SurveyMethodology.pdf.

Sources:Nine PPIC Statewide Surveys, September 2012 to July 2013, including 11,347 likely voters. California Secretary of State, Report of Registration, February 2013, February 2003. 2010 U.S. Census, 2009–11 American Community Survey.