skip to Main Content
Just the FACTS

California Voter and Party Profiles

    • Voter registration is up slightly; the share of independents has increased.
      California’s 19.4 million registered voters constitute 77.9% of eligible adults, a slight increase from the registration rate in 2013 (75.7%), the year preceding the last midterm election. The share of registered voters who are Democrats (44.8%) is up slightly from 2013 (43.9%), while the share of Republicans (25.9%) has declined since 2013 (28.9%). At the same time, the share of voters who say they are independent (formerly called “decline to state” and now called “no party preference”) has been increasing; it is now 24.5%, up from 20.9% in 2013. Our surveys indicate that 46% of those we consider most likely to vote are Democrats, 29% are Republicans, and 21% are independents.
    • Most independent likely voters lean toward a major party.
      In our surveys over the past year, independent likely voters have been more likely to lean Democratic (43%) than Republican (29%); 28% did not lean toward either major party. This is similar to 2013, when 41% leaned Democratic, 29% leaned Republican, and 30% did not lean toward either party. Independent likely voters are slightly more likely to be moderate (37%) than liberal (33%) or conservative (30%).
    • Republicans are more ideologically cohesive than Democrats.
      Seven in ten (72%) Republican likely voters say they are conservative, while 61% of Democratic likely voters describe themselves as liberal. One area in which ideological divisions are very evident is the size of government: when asked about the role of government, 68% of Democrats say they would prefer a bigger government providing more services, while 79% of Republicans prefer a smaller government and fewer services. Independents also have a preference for a smaller government and fewer services (56% to 38%).
    • Likely voters are disproportionately white; half of Democrats are non-white.
      Whites make up 43% of California’s adult population, but 61% of those our surveys identify as likely to vote are white. In contrast, Latinos make up 34% of the state’s adult population but only 18% of likely voters. The shares of Asian American (12%) and African American (6%) likely voters are roughly proportionate to their shares of the state’s adult population—15% Asian American and 6% African American. Half (50%) of Democratic likely voters are white; 24% are Latino, 13% are Asian American, and 10% are African American. An overwhelming majority (80%) of Republican likely voters are white; relatively few are Latino (10%), Asian American (6%), or African American (1%). Among independents, 57% are white, 17% are Asian American, 16% are Latino, and 5% are African American.
    • Many demographic characteristics of likely voters vary across parties.
      Democratic likely voters are more likely to be women (62%) than men (38%), while independents are more likely to be men (56%) than women (44%). Republicans are closely divided (51% men, 49% women). Forty-five percent of independents and 42% of Democrats are college graduates, compared to slightly fewer Republicans (35%). About one in three Democrats (33%) have household incomes under $40,000, compared to one in four independents (24%) and two in ten Republicans (22%). Independents (26%) and Democrats (25%) are more likely to be young adults (age 18 to 34) than are Republicans (13%), while Republicans are more likely to be age 55 and older (56%) than are Democrats (45%) or independents (36%).
    • Democrats and Republicans tend to live in different parts of the state.
      The regional distribution of likely voters mirrors that of the state’s overall adult population (27% Los Angeles, 21% San Francisco Bay Area, 17% Orange/San Diego, 17% Central Valley, 9% Inland Empire, 9% other counties). Most Democrats live in Los Angeles County (31%) or the San Francisco Bay Area (25%), while most Republicans live in the Central Valley (23%), Orange and San Diego Counties (22%), or Los Angeles County (20%). Independents are most likely to live in Los Angeles County (28%) or the San Francisco Bay Area (25%).

California voter and party profiles

table-California voter and party profiles

SOURCES: Eight PPIC Statewide Surveys from September 2016 to July 2017, including 13,645 adults and 8,528 likely voters. California Secretary of State, Report of Registration, February 2017. US Census, 2011–15 American Community Survey.

NOTES: “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 these criteria and regional definitions, visit www.ppic.org/content/other/SurveyMethodology.pdf. For race and ethnicity, results are presented for non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic Asian Americans, non-Hispanic African Americans, and non-Hispanic “other race” and multiracial adults.

 

Sources: Eight PPIC Statewide Surveys from September 2016 to July 2017, including 13,645 adults and 8,528 likely voters. California Secretary of State, Report of Registration, February 2017. US Census, 2011–15 American Community Survey.


Related Content

California’s Likely Voters
California’s Independent Voters
Millennial Voters and California Politics
Race and Voting in California

Authors

Mark BaldassareMark Baldassare
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dean BonnerDean Bonner
Associate Survey Director
Staffphoto KordusDavid Kordus
Research Associate
Staffphoto LopesLunna Lopes
Research Associate
Back To Top