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With the release of California’s official Statement of the Vote all of the November election ballots have been counted. California voters made important decisions amid a pandemic and a recession in an election that will go down in history. These election choices stand out in this remarkable year:

  • Voter turnout. A record-breaking 22,047,448 Californians—87.87% of the 25,090,517 eligible adults—were registered to vote before the general election, according to California’s Secretary of State. The 17,785,151 voters who cast ballots is an all-time high for California elections and, at 80.67% of registered voters and 70.88% of eligible adults, reflects participation rates rarely seen in the past 100 years. This follows the record high for ballots cast in the March state primary. Notably, Governor Newsom directed each county’s elections officials to send vote-by-mail ballots for the November election to all registered voters; 73% of California likely voters said they favored this response to the coronavirus outbreak in the May PPIC survey. Many factors increased political engagement, but the key element was the level of enthusiasm in voting for president—which crossed party lines—that we noted in the October PPIC survey. Still, over 10 million California adults either could not vote, did not register to vote, or did not submit their ballots.
  • Top of the ticket. A big win for Democratic challenger Joe Biden over Republican incumbent Donald Trump was predicted in our October PPIC Survey and widely anticipated by both parties. Biden ended up with more supporters in California—an 11,110,250 vote total (63.5%)—than anyone who has ever run for president. Still, the 6,006,429 California votes for Trump (34.3%) outnumbered the total amassed in any of the 50 states—including Florida and Texas. The vote for Trump also exceeded the percent and number of Republicans registered to vote in California. Both the Republican and Democratic shares of the presidential vote grew from 2016, and minor party support shrank, while Trump’s vote grew by 1,522,619 votes. Trump had low approval ratings in California throughout his presidency, but his base remained loyal. The election map points to Trump majorities in the rural northern and inland areas, while exit polls indicate that Biden was heavily favored among African American, Asian American, and Latino voters.
  • Down-ballot races. Democrats continued to dominate federal and state legislative races while Republicans made some notable gains. Out of the 53 US House seats, Democrats won 42 and Republicans won 11. Republicans now hold four seats that flipped in the “blue wave” 2018 mid-term election. In the 80 state assembly races, 60 Democrats, 19 Republicans, and one no party preference candidate were elected. The Republicans gained one assembly seat. In the 20 state senate races, 17 Democrats and 3 Republicans won seats. Democrats gained two state senate seats, including one that they had lost in a 2018 recall election, to maintain the two-thirds supermajority needed to control the legislative process.
  • State propositions. California voters showed an independent streak and their policy preferences were somewhat at odds with state elected officials in their responses to state ballot measures. Voters rejected Proposition 15, a citizens’ initiative to raise commercial property taxes to fund schools and local governments that was endorsed by many of the state’s Democratic leaders. They also rejected Proposition 16, an initiative placed on the ballot by the state legislature that would have restored affirmative action programs in state government and other public institutions. But they passed Proposition 22, a citizens’ initiative that undid state employment legislation (AB5) and allows app-based transportation and delivery drivers to be contractors. They also passed Proposition 25, which was a referendum initiative that overturned a bail reform law recently passed by the legislature (SB10). Voters also approved Proposition 14, a state bond for stem cell research placed on the ballot as a citizen’s initiative, after rejecting Proposition 13 in March, a state bond for public schools and higher education facilities placed on the ballot by the state legislature.

As we close the books on the November election, the top issues on Californians’ minds in the October PPIC survey—the coronavirus outbreak, jobs and the economy, climate change and wildfires, housing affordability and homelessness, and the state budget—remain far from resolved. The December PPIC survey finds Californians in a gloomy mood about the future. The ability to reach consensus on policy solutions that offer a better future for Californians is the challenge of our times. How the state chooses to build on the high level of political engagement in 2020 will be important. The PPIC Statewide Survey will continue to provide a voice for Californians—including likely voters—as presidential leadership changes and the new Congress and California Legislature take up the people’s business in 2021.

PPIC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it support, endorse, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.

The top two issues on the minds of Californians are COVID-19 and jobs and the economy, according to the latest PPIC statewide survey. Concerns about issues can affect how adults vote—and in what may be the most consequential election in a lifetime, 72% of likely voters are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in November, which is a record high for a PPIC survey.

On October 22, PPIC researcher Rachel Lawler presented findings from the survey, which gauges attitudes and policy preferences of adults around the state. Lawler then discussed insights and takeaways from the report with Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

Approval ratings for President Trump stand at 35% among California adults. The number has remained fairly consistent since he took office, although more than eight in ten Republicans approve of the president. As the November election approaches, California likely voters prefer the Biden-Harris ticket by 26 points over the Trump-Pence ticket. Partisans overwhelmingly support their candidate in the presidential race as well as prefer their party’s candidate for Congress.

California voters remain divided on upcoming ballot measures, where support for Proposition 15 and Proposition 16 has changed little since September. A slim majority support Prop 15, which changes tax assessment of commercial properties; voters are more likely to vote no on Prop 16, which repeals the ban on affirmative action.

However, with coronavirus still a top concern, many Californians share similar attitudes toward a COVID-19 vaccine. “Efforts to develop and test COVID-19 vaccines are currently underway, and there is a possibility that one or more may be available by the end of the year,” Lawler said. A majority of adults would take a vaccine if one becomes available—but trust diverges sharply along racial and ethnic lines. Asian Americans and whites are more open to taking the vaccine, while Latinos and African Americans express hesitation.

There is less consensus than in past surveys as to the most important issue facing our state. In addition to COVID and the economy, topics like global warming, homelessness, housing availability, the state budget, and wildfires rise to the top for many Californians. “It’s such a remarkable list because it’s been such an unprecedented year,” Mark Baldassare said. The extensive list gives a sense of the scope of the crisis Californians see the state and nation facing today.

Another surprise was the record level of enthusiasm people expressed for voting. “Nearly three out of four and across political parties are enthusiastic about voting,” Baldassare said. “We are anticipating very strong turnout this year, and this will have implications for everything on the ballot.”

This post is based on Mark Baldassare’s introductory remarks for the PPIC Speaker Series event on October 6, 2020.

We would like to offer context from some key findings in the latest PPIC Statewide Survey as we reflect on the state and national election landscape. California’s likely voters are anxious about the troubling state of affairs in the nation and state, while partisans are worlds apart about the path to a brighter future. These are the powerful forces at work today, with profound consequences for the 2020 election and beyond.

First, the coronavirus outbreak continues to be a top-tier issue in California. Six in ten likely voters are either very (26%) or somewhat concerned (33%) that they will get the coronavirus and require hospitalization. Also, we find racial/ethnic disparities and large differences between lower-income and higher income groups. When asked about current restrictions on public activities the coronavirus, just 7 percent of Democrats say there should be fewer restrictions in their area, in contrast to 62 percent of Republicans. Partisans strongly disagree on where the US stands as to the coronavirus outbreak today, with 66 percent of Democratic voters and 20 percent of Republican voters saying the worst is yet to come. The recent news about the president and first lady testing positive for COVID-19, along with the president’s subsequent hospitalization, is likely to raise the stature of this issue.

Second, California voters are in a gloomy mood about the economy. Seven in ten (77%) say that California is currently in a recession. Sixty percent say the US will have bad times economically during the next 12 months. We find stark income and racial/ethnic differences when people are asked if their personal finances are in excellent or good shape today. And Californians have strong disagreements along party lines when asked if government should do more about income inequality (80% Democrats, 20% Republicans).

Third, this year’s wildfire season is breaking records. Eight in ten likely voters say that the threat of wildfires is a problem in their part of California (52% big, 32% somewhat) in the latest PPIC environment survey. Seven in ten Californians believe that global warming has contributed to California’s recent wildfires (69%), including solid majorities across racial/ethnic groups. However, the link between climate change and recent wildfires is considered believable by nine in ten Democrats (91%) but three in ten Republicans (29%).

In this challenging time, Californians vary significantly in their assessments of their federal and state leaders. While three in ten (32%) approve of the way that Donald Trump is handling his job as president, six in ten Californians (60%) approve of the way that Gavin Newsom is handling his job as governor. The hyperpartisanship that defines our current political era is evident in support for the governor (88% Democratic voters, 17% Republican voters) and the president (81% Republican voters, 5% Democratic voters).

As voters ponder their choices in November, the trend in hyperpartisanship is predictably found in the presidential race and local House races. Moreover, Democratic voters and Republican voters have very different levels of support for high-profile ballot measures such as Proposition 15 (split-roll property tax) and Proposition 16 (affirmative action). And in the midst of the national political controversy over mail-in ballots, six in ten Californians express either a great deal (40%) or quite a lot (20%) of confidence in the voting system in California. However, Democratic voters (51% a great deal, 24% quite a lot) and Republican voters (23% a great deal, 13% quite a lot) vary sharply in their confidence, and this extends to whether voting is too easy or too hard.

As we enter the final stretch of the 2020 election, 57 percent are pessimistic and 41 percent are optimistic that Americans of different political views can still come together and work out their differences. In a rare instance of partisan agreement today, majorities of Democrats (55%), Republicans (58%) and independents (61%) are all pessimistic. This skepticism is a reflection of the tumultuous times that we live in.

California seems poised to maintain its blue status this fall. But the geopolitical and racial/ethnic segregation of voters means that federal and state legislators will be elected and propositions will pass that fall short of representing the views of Californians who are worlds apart. The current hyperpartisanship and distrust may result in greater difficulties in finding common ground. But it may also lead voters to move away from the major parties or toward candidates who are willing to build coalitions to solve the challenges to the nation’s and state’s future. The PPIC Survey team will be looking closely at polling and election results for signs of emerging trends.

Californians are highly inclined to tune in to tomorrow’s presidential debate, even though most have made up their minds about the two major party candidates. What does this tell us about California’s political landscape during this highly consequential—and divisive—election?

At this point in the process, Californians are engaged. The latest PPIC Statewide Survey finds that 85% of California likely voters are either very interested (57%) or somewhat interested (28%) in the upcoming debates between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump. This is consistent with the 87% who are either very closely (53%) or somewhat closely (34%) following news about the presidential candidates.

Figure - Most Californians Interested in Upcoming Presidential Debates

But interest in tomorrow’s debate varies significantly across political parties, racial/ethnic groups, and regions. Those who approve of Trump (74%) are far more likely than those who disapprove of him (49%) to say they are very interested. In terms of party registration, Republican likely voters (73%), more often than Democratic voters (54%) and independent voters (54%), say they are very interested. Whites (61%) are more likely than Latinos (51%) and those in other racial/ethnic groups (50%) to share this view. And reflecting regional political profiles, San Francisco Bay Area likely voters (48%) are the least likely to say that they are very interested in the upcoming debate (59% Central Valley, 60% Los Angeles, 63% Inland Empire, 63% Orange/San Diego).

Figure - Supporters of President Trump Are More Likely To Be Very Interested in the Upcoming Debates

Do these differences reflect an “enthusiasm gap” that could affect voter turnout to the advantage of the Republican ticket? Since Trump’s supporters are much more likely than Biden’s supporters to say they are very interested in the presidential debate (73% to 52%), it could be that they are more inclined to turn out to vote. However, supporters of Trump and Biden are equally likely to say they are very closely following the news about the presidential candidates (55% each). More likely, Trump’s supporters are simply very eager to watch a live performance of the incumbent president on the national stage.

Interest in the debate appears to be another sign of the hyperpartisanship that has spread across the nation and our state, in which political views have become static and polarized. Donald Trump’s approval rating among California’s likely voters now stands at 32% (67% disapprove). It has been in the 30s steadily in 23 PPIC surveys conducted since early in 2017. In a pattern found in every one of our surveys since Trump became president, our latest survey finds overwhelming approval of Trump among Republican likely voters (81%), overwhelming disapproval of Trump among Democratic voters (95%), and low approval among independents (33%). Only 2% have no opinion of Trump, mirroring the 2% undecided in the current race. It would be surprising if anything said during the debate tomorrow alters these hardened opinions.

Tuesday’s debate offers the first opportunity to hear from both of the presidential candidates on a host of critical topics. In PPIC surveys this year, Californians’ top-tier issues have included the pandemic, the economy, racial justice, and climate change. A political wildcard has emerged with the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the president’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and this issue may well provide the most prominent sound bite from tomorrow’s debate.

Along with the majority of California’s likely voters, the PPIC Survey team will be watching the debate with great interest to learn more about the themes, issues, and policy solutions that voters will be hearing about in the final weeks of this consequential election.

The top issue facing the people of California today is the coronavirus outbreak, according to California’s likely voters. How state and federal leaders respond to this unprecedented crisis will be on voters’ minds when they cast ballots in the November election. In the May PPIC Statewide Survey, we find that widespread voter disapproval of Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic is creating headwinds not only for the incumbent president but also for Republican candidates in House elections.

Californians often rally around their leaders during a crisis. But voters’ current reviews of state and federal officials is a study in contrasts. Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval rating for handling the coronavirus outbreak is at a stunning 69% among likely voters in our May survey, while his overall approval increased by 12 points since earlier this year (52% February PPIC survey, 64% May PPIC survey).

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s disapproval rating for handling the coronavirus outbreak is at a surprisingly high 65% among likely voters, while his overall disapproval rating is statistically unchanged (63% February PPIC survey, 65% May PPIC survey).

Figure - Majority of Likely Voters Disapprove of President Trump’s Handing of the Coronavirus Outbreak

There is remarkable consensus when it comes to Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Majorities across the state’s major regional, racial/ethnic, age, education, and income groups say they disapprove. Partisans are deeply divided (81% Republicans approve, 89% Democrats disapprove), while 54% of independents disapprove.

If the presidential election were held today, 57% of likely voters would vote for Joe Biden and 33% would vote for Donald Trump. Trump’s electoral support (33%) is very similar to his approval rating for handling the coronavirus outbreak (34%). Eighty-four percent of those who disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak say they will vote for Biden.

Trump’s current 24-point deficit contrasts to his 10-point deficit at this time four years ago (49% Clinton, 39% Trump May 2016 PPIC Survey). Today, Biden leads Trump among both men and women, and across racial/ethnic, age, education, and income groups. Biden also leads by wide margins in coastal regions, but the race is close in the Central Valley and the Inland Empire.

Control of Congress is also at stake in November. If elections for the US House of Representatives were held today, 59% of likely voters would vote for the Democratic candidate while 34% would vote for the Republican candidate. Support for Republican candidates is the same as Trump’s approval rating for the coronavirus outbreak (34%). Eight-five percent of those who disapprove of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak say they will vote for the Democratic candidate for the House.

Figure - Majority of Likely Voters Favor Democratic Candidates

Today’s 25-point margin for Democratic candidates contrasts with a 14-point lead at this time two years ago (52% to 38% May 2018 Survey). Today, Democratic candidates enjoy a wide 33-point margin over Republican candidates in Democratically-held districts (62% to 29%); Republican candidates have a narrower 17-point margin over the Democratic candidates in Republican-held districts (57% to 40%). In California’s seven competitive house districts, as determined by the Cook Political Report’s House Race Ratings, 52% of likely voters would vote for the Democrat and 44% would vote for the Republican.

In the days since the May PPIC Survey was completed, the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody has resulted in widespread protests throughout the nation, including California. How our elected leaders handle calls for racial justice is likely to have implications for the fall election. Given the size, diversity, and energy of this movement, California voter turnout could be unusually high. At PPIC, we will be monitoring these developments alongside the unfolding coronavirus pandemic, tracking voters’ views of their federal and state leaders during these highly unsettled times.

While Californians are worried about COVID-19 and its economic consequences, most approve of the way Governor Newsom is handling the pandemic and the issue of jobs and the economy. Last Thursday, PPIC researcher Rachel Lawler outlined these and other important findings of the latest statewide survey and PPIC president Mark Baldassare offered some key takeaways.

Lawler noted that Governor Newsom’s overall approval rating is the highest it has been since he took office last year. Most Californians are wary of lifting social distancing measures too soon, and an overwhelming majority support the governor’s expansion of vote-by-mail for the November election. While 59% approve of Newsom’s handling of jobs and the economy, optimism about the state’s economic outlook has plunged to 23%, the lowest level since the Great Recession.

Baldassare sees Governor Newsom’s high approval as a sign that “the governor’s actions in the past few months have been aligned with public preferences in terms of how to handle and how to prioritize the different problems that the state is facing.”

Many Californians are concerned about getting COVID-19 and needing hospitalization, and most feel that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come. One in three report that they have lost jobs or are receiving lower pay as a result of the pandemic.

Baldassare stressed the importance of assessing the pandemic’s impact in the context of long-term racial and economic disparities. He pointed out that “the level of distress—both on the health side and the economic side—is much, much higher” among lower-income, Latino, African American Californians than among those who are white and whose financial circumstances were better before the crisis.

The pandemic does not seem to have affected Californians’ views of President Trump and the federal government: both Trump’s approval rating and levels of trust in the government remain low. And very few Californians are undecided about the presidential race; 57% plan to vote for Joe Biden, while 33% favor Trump.

Baldassare said that these numbers reflect “a level of political polarization that we came into this crisis with,” adding that “it’s evident in many other results in the survey that Californians who support Donald Trump and his actions and those who oppose Trump and his actions have not been changed by anything that has taken place.”

The current survey ended on May 26, a day after George Floyd died in police custody. Recent PPIC Statewide Surveys have found large racial disparities in opinion about police treatment and race relations. African Americans have been much less likely than other Californians to say that the police treat all ethnic and racial groups fairly, and have increasingly said that race relations are worsening. However, Baldassare noted that widespread participation in the protests over Floyd’s death suggests that many Californians are disturbed by institutional racism and inequality.

If the protests mobilize Americans to vote in the general election, Baldassare added, they could have “a profound impact on turnout” and affect the outcome of races across the country.

In the era of COVID-19, about eight in ten adults fear getting sick, and 80% expect bad economic times ahead. At a virtual briefing on Thursday, PPIC researcher Alyssa Dykman said the drop in consumer confidence “is unprecedented in the history of the PPIC survey.”

The event featured Dykman, who presented attitudes on K–12 education, funding, and policy preferences along with concerns over the coronavirus pandemic in the latest PPIC statewide survey. PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare supplied deeper context for key findings and responded to online questions.

Approval ratings have hit rare numbers: at 78%, approval has surged for Governor Newsom’s handling of K-12 education, and at 92%, public school parents express overwhelming support for school district handling of school closures. COVID-19, however, has shaken support for school bonds, with about half or fewer adults and likely voters saying it’s a good idea now for state government to fund school construction projects.

Baldassare underscored Californians’ concerns around health and finances, stating that two-thirds of adults are worried about both. Many say their lives are disrupted and about half say the stress is affecting mental health.

What do these concerns mean for California schools? “People are giving state leadership and local leadership a lot of leeway in how they respond to the public health and economic crisis,” Baldassare said. But the state will see its first test of this extraordinary support in May, when the governor submits a revised budget that will reflect revenue loss from a sharp economic downturn.

That may also lead to roadblocks for state and local school funding in November. In the March primary, “the defeat of most of the local school bond measures really caught a lot of people by surprise,” Baldassare said. “It was difficult to pass school funding measures.” At the moment Californians are hesitant to commit more funding to schools, which may impact voting on the split-roll property bond measure and others in the November election.

The survey offers several takeaways around planning for California public education. “We’ve never had anything like the school closures that are taking place,” Baldassare said. He reflected that Californians may reconsider the value of teachers going forward, including whether “teachers have the resources they need in order to do the job,” and noted that the public may have “a new understanding of the important and difficult role teachers play every day in the lives of public school children.”

Californians also may now recognize the struggles of vulnerable students, especially in terms of online access.

“It is going to be a test of Californians’ political will,” Baldassare said, “the degree to which we are committed to improving student outcomes, particularly among the large numbers of English language learners and low income students across the state.”

This post is excerpted from Mark Baldassare’s prepared remarks for the PPIC Statewide Survey virtual briefing on April 23, 2020.

State funding for K–12 public schools will take center stage when Governor Newsom unveils revisions to the state budget in a few weeks. The growing fiscal toll of the COVID-19 crisis is likely to affect school funding plans as a deep economic recession looms. K–12 schools have the largest share of the state General Fund, and many Californians say it is their top priority for state spending. Still, California voters seem to be pulling back their support for school funding on ballot measures.

One of the biggest surprises in the March 3 primary was the defeat of the Proposition 13 state school bond (53% voted no). The last time a state school bond failed to pass was back in 1994. Proponents have tried to explain away this loss as confusion caused by the number 13—the same as the notorious anti-tax initiative that passed in 1978.

However, outcomes of local school bond measures point to a different story. Bucking recent trends, 63% of local school bonds on the March primary ballot failed to reach the 55% threshold needed to pass. It may be that early anxieties about COVID-19 resulted in voter caution about extending debt. In the absence of exit polls to validate this theory, the April PPIC Statewide Survey sheds light on what may have happened. It also offers sobering news for efforts to convince voters to support school funding measures in the November election.

First, though, let’s dispense with the notion that views about school funding have fundamentally shifted. Today, 55% of California likely voters say that state funding for their local public schools is not enough. And 53% would vote yes on a state school bond while 50% would vote yes on a local school bond. Moreover, 53% percent would vote yes on a split roll property tax to fund local public schools—a measure that appears headed for the November ballot. All of these results today are similar to those last April, suggesting that basic attitudes about school funding are fairly stable.

But current conditions appear to be having a strong effect on the timeframe for public support. Our survey was conducted from April 1 to 9—roughly a month from the primary and a few weeks into stay-at-home orders. We find that most likely voters say it is a “bad idea” to issue state (54%) or local (54%) school bonds at this time. Majorities of Californians without children in public school agree (bad idea: state 56%, local 57%). Fewer than half across the state’s regions say it is a good idea to issue these bonds now. Only those with children in public school think that it is a good time to issue state (57%) or local school bonds (58%).

figure - Majority of Likely Voters Say it is a “Bad Idea” To Issue School Bonds at this Time

Why? Californians have had their world shaken by the COVID-19 crisis. Since January there has been a 36-point increase in expectations for bad economic times in California over the next 12 months (42% to 78%)—sending us to depths of consumer pessimism not seen since the Great Recession. And right now, 74% percent are worried about negative impacts of the coronavirus on their personal finances.

figure - Most Expect Bad Economic Times in Next 12 Months

This pessimism is likely to have profound implications for school funding measures on the November ballot. The state’s fiscal and economic problems will weigh heavily on voters’ minds when they are asked to make decisions on spending, taxes, and bonds. Many may be reluctant to ask taxpayers (like themselves) to foot the bill, or to increase commercial property taxes, to make up for shortfalls in school funding.

We can also expect a rocky road ahead for the governor and state legislature. Although our April survey found a steep rise in the governor’s and legislature’s approval ratings around handling K–12 public education, state leaders now face the prospect of having to cut back on popular plans to increase school funding. During the Great Recession, we saw the governor’s and legislature’s approval ratings tumble with state budget cuts to local schools.

Our surveys will be closely monitoring all of these dynamics as California heads toward a much-anticipated November presidential election.

How do Californians view the two major political parties in this era of hyper-partisanship? In our recent survey, 47% of adults and 46% of likely voters report a favorable impression of the Democratic Party and 31% of adults and 34% of likely voters report a favorable impression of the Republican Party. In expressing their relative discontent with how these two parties represent the American people, a majority of adults (54%) and likely voters (57%) say a third major party is needed.

Since we first asked about party favorability in March 2010, positive views of the parties have rarely exceeded 50% and impressions have remained steady among adults and likely voters. Although favorability toward the Democratic Party sits below 50% overall, it rose among certain groups, including African Americans (52% 2010, 71% today), those with annual household incomes of $40,000 to $80,000 (39% in 2010, 49% today), and college graduates (39% in 2010, 48% today). Party favorability remained stable across all other regions and demographic groups.

For the Republican Party, favorability has increased somewhat among Central Valley residents (30% 2010, 38% today) but declined somewhat among 18 to 34 year olds (32% in 2010, 24% today). However, favorability is steady among all other regions and demographic groups.

figure - Favorability of Political Parties over Time

While less than half of adults and likely voters hold positive views about either major party, majorities of partisans continue to regard their party well. Favorability has climbed among party members since 2010 (Democratic 68% 2010, 76% today; Republican 54% 2010, 77% today). Among independents, impressions of both parties remain similar to 2010, but about six in ten independents, who comprise more than a quarter of the California electorate, report a poor impression of both parties (60% Democratic, 63% Republican). Notably, today, 21% of adults and 14% of likely voters have an unfavorable view of both parties.

With both parties facing mediocre ratings, about half or more of California’s residents have consistently called for a third major political party since October 2006. Today, just one in three adults (34%) and likely voters (32%) think that the two major parties do an adequate job representing the American people. About half or more across parties and regions—and a plurality among demographic groups—feel a third major party is needed, with independents (62%) and those earning over $40,000 annually (62%) most likely to hold this view.

figure - Nearly Half or More Californians Think a Third Major Political Party Is Needed

As the electorate changes, and as the 2020 election landscape develops, PPIC will continue to monitor Californians’ views on the major political parties.

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