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California’s Future: Political Landscape

Eric McGhee, Dean Bonner | January 2018


In the past year, California—a frequent challenger of federal policies in the past—has opposed many of the Trump administration’s policies, both in court and through state-level action. The PPIC Statewide Survey has found that Californians, who tend to have different policy preferences than adults nationwide, continue to be supportive of the state acting on its own in many areas—from climate change to immigration to health care.

Unlike many other states, California recently implemented reforms aimed at expanding its electorate. Other recent reforms—a new redistricting commission, a radically open “top two” primary, and a relaxation of term limits—may be having a moderating effect in the state legislature. However, the state legislature is still polarized, and California has been moving toward the sort of one-party dominance that carries a risk of lower accountability, particularly for decisions not in the public spotlight. And, although making registration and voting easier is an important step, it will take aggres­sive outreach to get more people to the polls.

This publication is part of a briefing kit that highlights our state’s most pressing long-term policy challenges in 11 key areas:

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the PPIC Corporate Circle and the PPIC Donor Circle.

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