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Just the FACTS

Race and Voting in California

    • California is a majority-minority state, but minority turnout continues to lag.
      California became the first large majority-minority state after the 2000 Census. Today, according to US Census estimates, Latinos account for 38% of the state’s total population, while non-Hispanic whites account for 39%; Asian Americans (14%) and African Americans (6%) comprise much smaller shares. Non-Hispanic whites make up 43% of California’s adult population, but according to our surveys they make up 61% of the state’s likely voters. In contrast, Latinos represent 34% of the state’s adult population but account for only 18% of those most likely to vote. Asian Americans comprise 15% of the adult population and 12% of likely voters. The share of African American likely voters matches their representation in the adult population (6%). Our surveys over the past year indicate that about half of African American (51%) and Asian American (52%) adult citizens and 46% of Latino adult citizens are likely to vote, compared to 70% of white adult citizens.
    • Most African American and Latino likely voters are Democrats.
      An overwhelming majority of African American likely voters (76%) and a solid majority of Latino likely voters (63%) are registered as Democrats. Among Asian American likely voters, a majority (52%) are registered as Democrats, 15% as Republicans, and 29% as independents (previously called “decline to state” and now called “no party preference” voters). Party registration among white likely voters is more evenly divided, with 38% registered as Democrats, 38% as Republicans, and 19% as independents.
    • Within racial/ethnic groups, likely voters are ideologically divided.
      Thirty-eight percent of Latino voters identify themselves as politically liberal (38%) while 29% identify as middle-of-the-road and 33% identify as conservative. White likely voters are about as likely to identify as liberal (36%) as they are to identify as conservative (39%); 25% call themselves middle-of-the-road. African American and Asian American likely voters are much more likely to be ideologically liberal (45% and 47% respectively) than conservative (24% and 25%).
    • Asian American and Latino likely voters tend to be young; affluence and education levels vary across groups.
      A majority of Asian American (76%), Latino (69%), and African American (59%) likely voters are younger than 55, compared to 45% of white likely voters. Indeed, at least a third of Asian American and Latino likely voters are younger than 35, compared to only 22% of African Americans and 15% of whites. About a quarter of Latino (24%) and African American (25%) likely voters are college graduates, compared to 43% of white and 62% of Asian American likely voters. Pluralities of Latino (47%) and African American (42%) likely voters have household incomes of less than $40,000, while about a quarter (24% Latinos, 28% African Americans) earn $80,000 or more. In contrast, half of white (50%) and Asian American (52%) likely voters earn $80,000 or more.
    • Solid majorities of likely voters in all racial/ethnic groups oppose a border wall.
      Nearly all African American (95%) and white (95%) likely voters are native-born US citizens, compared to 67% of Latino likely voters; Asian American likely voters are slightly more likely to be naturalized than native-born citizens (53% to 47%). Solid majorities of African American (82%), Latino (82%), Asian American (72%), and white (60%) likely voters are opposed to building a wall along the border with Mexico. In 2017 surveys, strong majorities of African American (86%) and Latino (78%) likely voters have disapproved of the way President Trump is handling his job; as have 64% of Asian American likely voters. White likely voters are somewhat more divided, though a majority disapprove (42% approve, 54% disapprove).

Race and voting in California

table - Race and Voting in California

SOURCES: Eight PPIC Statewide Surveys from September 2016 to July 2017, including 8,528 likely voters. 2000 US Census; 2011–2015 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, US Census Bureau.

NOTE: 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 8,528 likely voters. 2000 US Census; 2011–2015 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, US Census Bureau.


Related Content

California Voter and Party Profiles
California’s Likely Voters
California’s Independent Voters
Millennial Voters and California Politics

Supported with funding from the California Endowment

Authors

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