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Just the FACTS

California Voter and Party Profiles

    • Voter registration is up; the shares of Democrats and independents have increased.
      Eight in ten eligible adults (83%) are registered to vote in California as of July; this is a notable increase from the registration rate in July 2016 (73%), the year of the last presidential election. The share of the 20.9 million registered voters who are Democrats (46.3%) has increased 45.1% in 2016), while the share of Republicans (24%) has declined (from 27.1%). The share who say they are independent (also known as “decline to state” or “no party preference” voters) has been increasing and is now 24%, up from 23.3% in 2016. Our surveys indicate that 47% of those we consider most likely to vote are Democrats, while 26% are Republicans and 22% are independents.
    • 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 (46%) than Republican (37%); 17% did not lean toward either party. These shares have shifted slightly since 2016, when 41% leaned Democratic, 32% leaned Republican, and 27% did not lean toward either party. Independent likely voters are more likely to be moderate (41%) than liberal (27%) or conservative (32%).
    • Ideological and partisan divides are stark.
      Ideological and partisan divisions are especially evident in beliefs about the role of government. For example, when asked about the role of government, 75% of Democrats say they would rather pay higher taxes and have a state government that provides more services, while 80% of Republicans would prefer to pay lower taxes and have fewer services. Independents are divided (48% higher taxes, more services, 47% lower taxes, fewer services). Overall, three in four (77%) Republican likely voters say they are conservative, while 61% 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 55% of likely voters. In contrast, Latinos make up 35% of the state’s adult population but only 21% of likely voters. The shares of Asian American (15%) and African American (6%) likely voters are proportionate to their shares of the state’s adult population—14% for Asian Americans and 6% for African Americans. Just under half (46%) of Democratic likely voters are white; 26% are Latino, 16% are Asian American, and 9% are African American. An overwhelming majority (72%) of Republican likely voters are white; relatively few are Latino (13%), Asian American (10%), or African American (1%). Among independents, 54% are white, 20% are Latino, 17% are Asian American, and 5% are African American.
    • Demographic characteristics of likely voters vary across parties.
      Democratic likely voters are much more likely to be women (59%) than men (41%), while independents are much more likely to be men (59%) than women (41%); Republicans (53% men, 47% women) are more evenly divided. Independents (52%) are more likely to be college graduates than are Democrats (42%) and Republicans (35%). About one-third of Democrats (32%) have household incomes under $40,000, compared to about two in ten Republicans (22%) and independents (20%). Democrats (28%) are more likely to be young adults (ages 18 to 34) than are independents (20%) and Republicans (13%), while Republicans are more likely to be ages 55 and older (58%) than are Democrats (43%) or independents (41%).
    • Democrats and Republicans tend to live in different parts of the state.
      The regional distribution of likely voters mirrors that of the state’s overall adult population (26% Los Angeles, 21% San Francisco Bay Area, 18% Orange/San Diego, 16% Central Valley, 9% Inland Empire, 9% other counties). Most Democrats live in Los Angeles County (31%) or the San Francisco Bay Area (25%), while most Republicans live in the Central Valley (23%), Orange and San Diego Counties (23%), or Los Angeles County (19%). Independents are most likely to live in Los Angeles (26%) or the San Francisco Bay Area (24%).

California voter and party profiles

table - California Voter and Party Profiles

NOTES: “Likely voters” are registered voters meeting criteria on interest in politics, attention to issues, voting behavior, and intention to vote. For a full description of these criteria and regional definitions, visit www.ppic.org/wp-content/uploads/SurveyMethodology.pdf. For race and ethnicity, results are presented for Latinos, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic Asian Americans, non-Hispanic African Americans, and non-Hispanic “other race” and multiracial adults.

 

Sources: Seven PPIC Statewide Surveys from September 2019 to July 2020, including 11,725 adults and 7,243 likely voters. California Secretary of State, Report of Registration, August 2020. US Census Bureau, 2014–2018 American Community Survey.


Related Content

California’s Likely Voters
California’s Independent Voters
Millennial Voters and California Politics
Race and Voting in California

Supported with funding from the James Irvine Foundation

Authors

Mark BaldassareMark Baldassare
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dean BonnerDean Bonner
Associate Survey Director and Research Fellow
Photo of Alyssa DykmanAlyssa Dykman
Photo of Rachel LawlerRachel Lawler
Research Associate
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