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Independent, objective, nonpartisan research
Fact Sheet · September 2021

California Voter and Party Profiles

Mark Baldassare, Dean Bonner, Rachel Lawler, and Deja Thomas

Supported with funding from the James Irvine Foundation

Nearly half of registered voters are Democrats; similar shares are Republicans or independents.

  • The share of registered voters who are Democrats (46.5%) has increased from 2017 (44.8%), the year preceding the last gubernatorial election, while the share of Republicans (24.1%) has declined (25.9% in 2017).
  • The share of voters who say they are independent (also known as “decline to state” or “no party preference”) is 23.3%, similar to what it was in 2017 (24.5%).
  • Voter registration and enthusiasm will play a role in the September recall election of Governor Newsom. During the lead up to the 2003 recall of Governor Davis, Republicans (35.2%) made up a much higher share of the electorate than today, while independents (15.3%) made up a much lower share. The Democratic share (44.4%) in 2003 was slightly lower.

Most independent likely voters lean toward a major party.

  • In surveys over the past year, independent likely voters have been somewhat more likely to lean Democratic (52%) than Republican (36%); 12% did not lean toward either party.
  • These shares have shifted since 2017, when 43% leaned Democratic, 29% leaned Republican, and 28% did not lean toward either party.
  • Independent likely voters are more likely to be moderate (44%) than liberal (29%) or conservative (27%).
  • Overall, three in four (74%) Republican likely voters say they are conservative, while 65% of Democratic likely voters describe themselves as liberal.

Likely voters are disproportionately white; Democratic likely voters are more diverse.

  • Whites make up only 41% of California’s adult population but comprise 54% of likely voters. In contrast, Latinos make up 35% of the state’s adult population but only 22% of likely voters. The shares of Asian American (14%) and African American (6%) likely voters are proportionate to their shares of the state’s adult population—16% for Asian Americans and 6% for African Americans.
  • Just under half (46%) of Democratic likely voters are white; 27% are Latino, 15% are Asian American, and 9% are African American.
  • A strong majority (69%) of Republican likely voters are white; relatively few are Latino (16%), Asian American (9%), or African American (2%).
  • Among independents, 51% are white, 19% are Latino, 19% are Asian American, and 6% are African American.

Many demographic traits of likely voters differ across parties.

  • Democrats (28%) are more likely to be young adults (age 18 to 34) than are independents (23%) and Republicans (16%), while Republicans are more likely to be age 55 and older (55%) than are Democrats (43%) or independents (41%).
  • Democratic likely voters are far more likely to be women (60%) than men (40%), while independents are much more likely to be men (59%) than women (41%); Republicans (51% men, 49% women) are more divided.
  • Independents (48%) and Democrats (43%) are more likely to be college graduates than are Republicans (30%).
  • About one in four Democrats (26%) have household incomes under $40,000, compared to about two in ten Republicans (22%) and independents (21%).
Sources and Notes

Topics

Political Landscape Population Statewide Survey