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Report · January 2020

California’s Future: Political Landscape

Eric McGhee and Dean Bonner

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the PPIC Corporate Circle and the PPIC Donor Circle.


California has had a Democratic governor since 2011 and the Democrats have a supermajority in the legislature. This has allowed for progress toward Democratic policy goals. Most Californians have been supportive of Governor Newsom’s agenda thus far, and there is widespread support for state opposition to some federal policies. But one-party dominance carries a risk of lower accountability, particularly when it comes to issues outside the public spotlight.

While voter turnout has improved in California, it continues to lag behind turnout in other states, and the demographic differences between voters and nonvoters reflect a growing economic divide. Californians who vote regularly tend to be older, white, affluent, college educated, and homeowners, while nonvoters are more likely to be younger, Latino, lower income, less educated, and renters. Voters are more likely to identify as “haves” and nonvoters more likely to identify as “have nots.” Nonvoters tend to prefer a bigger government that combats income inequality, while those who vote regularly tend to prefer a smaller government; this has important implications for policymaking.


Political Landscape Statewide Survey