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Blog Post · March 19, 2024

Discontent with Major Political Parties Continues to Simmer

photo - Voter Looking Up from Ballot at Polling Station

Californians’ opinions of the political parties continue to sour as do their views of politics and their enthusiasm towards voting this year, sentiments made clear in the latest PPIC Statewide Survey. Californians join a nationwide trend of overall pessimism about the state of the nation during this election cycle.

Today 55% of Californians have an unfavorable view of the Democratic party, a number that has inched up in the past few months. Three quarters have an unfavorable view of the Republican party—a number that has held steady over the past year. Furthermore, 72% think the country needs a third party. In previous presidential election years, the shares of Californians with negative views of either or both parties were lower—the share of Californians with unfavorable views of both parties (36%) has spiked in the last four years.

Among partisan groups, nine in ten Democrats and Republicans view the other party unfavorably. Meanwhile, most independents view each party negatively and close to half do so of both parties. The demographic groups and regions that are displeased with each party—or both—may hold lessons for Republicans and Democrats alike:

  • Viewing the Republican party unfavorably: African Americans (83%), college graduates (85%), and residents in the San Francisco Bay area (89%).
  • Viewing the Democratic party unfavorably: residents in the Inland Empire (61%), adults with some college education (61%), and younger adults, 18–34 (64%).
  • Viewing both parties negatively: college graduates (40%), residents in Orange County/San Diego (42%), and younger adults, 18–34 (46%) are the most likely to view both parties negatively.

Amid such pessimism, voter enthusiasm is relatively low.  Just 18% of likely voters who are pessimistic about both parties say they are very or extremely enthusiastic about voting for president this year (37% among all likely voters). Among that group, an even smaller 10% feel the same about voting for Congress (28% all likely voters).

Californians don’t just hold negative views of political parties—many feel their interests are being ignored. In our December 2023 survey, 53% of adults said the Democratic party represents them somewhat or very well, while a third said the same of the Republican party. About a fifth (22%) said that neither party represents their interests.

However, both Republicans and Democrats (80% each) agreed their party represents the interests of people like them. Independents are more likely to say the Democratic party (45%) represents their interests than the Republican party (30%).

Right now, Californians are pessimistic about political parties, and many do not feel represented. This gloom combined with the desire for a third party is likely to play a critical role in the November general election. Stay tuned as the PPIC Statewide Survey continues to track the views of voters during this election year.


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