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United States presidential election results for California[1]
Year Republican / Whig Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 6,006,518 34.30% 11,110,639 63.44% 395,108 2.26%
2016 4,483,814 31.48% 8,753,792 61.46% 1,005,843 7.06%
2012 4,839,958 37.07% 7,854,285 60.16% 361,572 2.77%
2008 5,011,781 36.90% 8,274,473 60.92% 296,829 2.19%
2004 5,509,826 44.36% 6,745,485 54.30% 166,548 1.34%
2000 4,567,429 41.65% 5,861,203 53.45% 537,224 4.90%
1996 3,828,380 38.21% 5,119,835 51.10% 1,071,269 10.69%
1992 3,630,574 32.61% 5,121,325 46.01% 2,379,822 21.38%
1988 5,054,917 51.13% 4,702,233 47.56% 129,914 1.31%
1984 5,467,009 57.51% 3,922,519 41.27% 115,895 1.22%
1980 4,524,858 52.69% 3,083,661 35.91% 978,544 11.40%
1976 3,882,244 49.35% 3,742,284 47.57% 242,589 3.08%
1972 4,602,096 55.00% 3,475,847 41.54% 289,919 3.46%
1968 3,467,664 47.82% 3,244,318 44.74% 539,605 7.44%
1964 2,879,108 40.79% 4,171,877 59.11% 6,601 0.09%
1960 3,259,722 50.10% 3,224,099 49.55% 22,757 0.35%
1956 3,027,668 55.39% 2,420,135 44.27% 18,552 0.34%
1952 2,897,310 56.35% 2,197,548 42.74% 46,991 0.91%
1948 1,895,269 47.13% 1,913,134 47.57% 213,135 5.30%
1944 1,512,965 42.97% 1,988,564 56.48% 19,346 0.55%
1940 1,351,419 41.34% 1,877,618 57.44% 39,754 1.22%
1936 836,431 31.70% 1,766,836 66.95% 35,615 1.35%
1932 847,902 37.39% 1,324,157 58.39% 95,907 4.23%
1928 1,162,323 64.69% 614,365 34.19% 19,968 1.11%
1924 733,250 57.20% 105,514 8.23% 443,136 34.57%
1920 624,992 66.20% 229,191 24.28% 89,867 9.52%
1916 462,516 46.27% 466,289 46.65% 70,798 7.08%
1912 3,914 0.58% 283,436 41.81% 390,594 57.61%
1908 214,398 55.46% 127,492 32.98% 44,707 11.56%
1904 205,226 61.84% 89,404 26.94% 37,248 11.22%
1900 164,755 54.37% 124,985 41.25% 13,264 4.38%
1896 146,688 49.16% 144,766 48.51% 6,965 2.33%
1892 118,027 43.78% 118,174 43.83% 33,408 12.39%
1888 124,816 49.66% 117,729 46.84% 8,794 3.50%
1884 102,369 51.97% 89,288 45.33% 5,331 2.71%
1880 80,282 48.89% 80,426 48.98% 3,510 2.14%
1876 79,258 50.88% 76,460 49.08% 66 0.04%
1872 54,007 56.38% 40,717 42.51% 1,061 1.11%
1868 54,588 50.24% 54,068 49.76% 0 0.00%
1864 62,053 58.60% 43,837 41.40% 0 0.00%
1860 38,733 32.32% 37,999 31.71% 43,095 35.96%
1856 20,704 18.78% 53,342 48.38% 36,209 32.84%
1852 35,972 46.83% 40,721 53.02% 117 0.15%

The politics of the U.S. state of California form part of the politics of the United States. The politics are defined by the Constitution of California.

Government

Title pages of the original English (left) and Spanish (right) versions of the 1849 Constitution of California.

Main article: Government of California

California's government consists of three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The California State Legislature is bicameral. The lower house, the California State Assembly, has 80 members, and the upper house, the California State Senate, has 40 members.[2] The executive branch is led by the Governor of California.[3] The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court of California, the California Courts of Appeal, and the California superior courts.[4]

Electoral system

Main article: Elections in California

California currently uses the nonpartisan blanket primary in its elections, where candidates regardless of party, including multiple nominees from a single party, contest the ballot and the candidates with the two highest numbers of votes are entered into a general election.[5] Some municipalities, such as San Francisco and Berkeley, have opted to use instant-runoff voting for local elections.[6]

Political parties

Further information: Political party strength in California

As of 2023, the two major political parties in California that currently have representation in the State Legislature and U.S. Congress are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. There are four other parties that qualify for official ballot status: the American Independent Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, and Peace and Freedom Party.[7] There are also other minor parties in California that are not ballot qualified including the American Solidarity Party, National Party and Reform Party.

California voter registration statistics as of
January 5, 2024[8]
Party Registered voters Percentage
Democratic 10,323,214 46.76
Republican 5,332,858 24.16
No party preference 4,845,113 21.95
American Independent 835,277 3.78
Libertarian 242,770 1.10
Others 160,328 0.73
Peace and Freedom 133,914 0.61
Green 102,599 0.46
Unknown 101,339 0.46
Total Registered Voters 22,077,412 82.84
Total Eligible Voters 26,649,323 100.00

History

Further information: Politics of California before 1900

The first presidential election the state participated in was 1852. For the next few decades after the Civil War, California was a Republican-leaning but a very competitive state in presidential elections, as in voted for the nationwide winner all but thrice between statehood and 1912, with the exceptions of 1880, 1884, and 1912. Beginning with the 1916 election, the state shifted into a bellwether. Between 1916 and 1948, it voted for the nationwide winner every time, and was critical to Democratic victories in 1916 and 1948, as well.

Franklin Roosevelt carried all but one county in the state in 1932, and in 1936 all counties. Roosevelt's third and fourth presidential elections saw him win by smaller margins. In 1948, the state narrowly voted for Truman. Beginning with the 1952 presidential election, California became a Republican-leaning battleground state. The Republican candidate won California in every presidential election in the next 36 years except the election of 1964, often by a margin similar to the national one. In these years, the GOP nominated two Californians as presidential candidates during four presidential elections: Richard Nixon in 1960 and 1972, and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

Beginning with the 1992 presidential election, California has become increasingly Democratic. The state has voted Democratic in every presidential election since then, usually by lopsided margins, and starting in 2008, Democrats have consistently gotten at least 60% of the vote. Voting patterns since 1992 have remained consistent by and large, with Democratic presidential candidates carrying the coastal counties and Republicans the inland counties, though Democrats have gained in many Southern counties as well.

At the state level, California has had more mixed voting tendencies until more recently. Six of the state's first seven governors were Democrats; during subsequent decades, control of the governorship frequently shifted between the two parties. In the 20th century, 13 of the state's 20 governors were Republicans, but Democrats have held the governorship since 2011. The 2018 election marked the first time Democrats won more than two consecutive gubernatorial elections in the state's history.

Northern California's inland areas and the Central Valley are mostly Republican areas. Historically, parts of Southern California, such as Orange County and Riverside County were Republican bastions, however, they have continued to trend Democratic in recent decades, with all five congressional districts flipping Democrat in 2018. Coastal California, including the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento, is mostly Democratic-leaning. In the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, Democrats won all of California's coastal counties except for Del Norte. As most of the population is in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, California as a whole tends to be liberal.

Political issues

Many of California's governmental agencies, institutions, and programs have been established in the Constitution of California. Additionally, the state constitution establishes mandatory funding levels for some agencies, programs and institutions. This issue came to the forefront when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature attempted to cut spending to close the state's multibillion-dollar budget deficits during the 2000s. Consequently, affected agencies with support from special interest groups, successfully pressed the California Supreme Court to order the restoration of funding to a number of agencies and programs which had been cut.

There have been several events, many[9] dubbed "constitutional crises" by their opponents, over the last thirty-two years including:

Water and water rights have been notable issues due to California's limited water supply. Various parts of the state have vied for water rights. In the California Water Wars, the city of Los Angeles conflicted with farmers from Eastern California over water rights. Most water is in the north of the State, while agriculture, the largest user of stored water in California, is most prevalent in the central and southern areas. There have been various proposals to transport additional water to the south, such as the Peripheral Canal, but these proposals have failed.

Land use is also divisive, with the California housing shortage being a significant issue.

Gun control is another divisive issue, with California having some of the most restrictive gun laws in the United States.

Federal representation

Main articles: United States congressional delegations from California and Redistricting in California

Since it is the most populous state, California has the largest Congressional delegation of any state, with 52 representatives and two senators. In the 118th Congress, 40 of California's seats are held by Democrats and 12 are held by Republicans. There are as follows:

(D)

California is currently represented by Democratic senator Alex Padilla, serving since 2021, and Laphonza Butler, serving since 2023 following the death of Dianne Feinstein.

California is part of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in the federal judiciary. The district's cases are appealed to the San Francisco-based United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - Presidential General Election Results Comparison - California". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  2. ^ Constitution of California, article 4, section 2(a)
  3. ^ "Government". sos.ca.gov. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  4. ^ "About California Courts". California Courtss. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  5. ^ "Primary Elections in California". www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  6. ^ Lavin, Nancy. "Ranked Choice Voting: The New Norm Across the Bay Area". National Civic League. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  7. ^ "Qualified Political Parties - Elections & Voter Information - California Secretary of State". Archived from the original on 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
  8. ^ "Report of Registration by County" (PDF). California Secretary of State. January 5, 2024. Retrieved February 6, 2024.
  9. ^ "Fixing California's Constitutional Crisis Won't Be Easy". KCET. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  10. ^ Purdum, Todd S. (1997-04-24). "California State Term Limits Overturned by Federal Judge". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  11. ^ Kenneth P. Miller. "The California Supreme Court and the Popular Will" (PDF). Chapmanlawreview.com. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  12. ^ O'Leary, Kevin (2009-06-27). "The Legacy of Proposition 13". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  13. ^ Sun, Baltimore. "Calif. official urges court to reverse ruling on recall". Baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  14. ^ "California in Crisis". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2017-09-13.

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