With the gubernatorial recall election just days away—and with partisan rhetoric reaching new heights—how are California likely voters viewing the two major political parties? Our September statewide survey found that favorability falls short of a majority for both sides of the aisle. And even though likely voters in deep blue California generally view the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party, important variations occur across parties, regions, and demographic groups.
The gap between favorable views of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party today (48% to 28%) is similar to what it was last October (51% to 33%). However, the gap is 10 points larger now than it was in October 2018 (41% to 31%)—just prior to the election in which Gavin Newsom defeated John Cox (62% to 38%).
Strong partisanship drives these views: 84% of Democratic likely voters and 64% of Republican likely voters view their own party favorably. Just a third of independents view either party favorably. Notably, views of the Republican Party among Republicans have declined 12 points since October 2020, while partisan views of the Democratic party are largely unchanged.
A clear gap in perception exists between white likely voters and those in communities of color. About six in ten Latinos and those in other racial/ethnic groups view the Democratic Party favorably, but fewer than half of whites do. Fewer than one in three across racial/ethnic groups view the Republican Party favorably.
Regionally, slightly more than half of likely voters in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area view the Democratic Party favorably; fewer than half do so elsewhere. Across regions, fewer than four in ten have a favorable view of the Republican Party.
The gender divide in views of the Democratic Party is significant, with women 22 points more likely than men to view it favorably (59% to 37%). In contrast, views of the Republican Party are similar among men (30%) and women (26%).
Beyond the recall, Californians’ views of the major political parties matter as we look to the future. Specifically, views of the Republican Party—and whether they slide or rebound—will be closely watched and potentially informative for the 2022 midterm election year. And speaking of the midterms, by the time the recall is certified on October 22, the 2022 gubernatorial primary will be less than eight months away.
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