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Seal of California.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
California

The recent and current politics of the U.S. state of California are complex and involve a number of entrenched interests. (For historical politics, see Politics of California before 1900).

Government[edit]

The Big Five is an informal institution of the legislative leadership role in California's government, consisting of the governor, the Assembly speaker, the Assembly minority leader, the Senate president pro tempore, and the Senate minority leader.[citation needed] Members of the Big Five meet in private to discuss bills pending in the legislature. Because the party caucus leaders in California's legislature also control the party's legislative campaign funds, the leaders wield tremendous power over their caucus members. They are thus able to exert some influence in their caucus's votes in Big Five meetings. Therefore, if all five members agree to support a Bill, it will likely pass into law.[citation needed]

Electoral system[edit]

Only the Democratic Party and Republican Party currently have representation in the State Legislature. However, for a brief period around the turn of the 21st century, one member of the Green Party was a member of the State Assembly, representing the eastern San Francisco Bay Area.

California currently uses the plurality voting system ("First-past-the-post") in its elections, but some municipalities such as San Francisco and Berkeley have opted to use a system of preferential voting, currently used in Australia and Ireland, more popularly known in the United States as instant-runoff voting or ranked choice voting.

Local elections in California at the county and city level are officially non-partisan and political party affiliations are not included on local election ballots.

Political parties[edit]

Presidential election results[1]
Year Republican Democratic Others
2012
37.12%   
4,839,958
60.24%  
7,854,285
2.77%   
361,572
2008
36.91%   
5,011,781
60.94%  
8,274,473
2.19%   
296,829
2004
44.36%   
5,509,826
54.40%  
6,745,485
1.34%   
166,548
2000
41.65%   
4,567,429
53.45%  
5,861,203
4.90%   
537,224
1996
38.21%   
3,828,380
51.10%  
5,119,835
10.69%   
1,071,269
1992
32.61%   
3,630,574
46.01%  
5,121,325
21.38%   
2,379,822
1988
51.13%  
5,054,917
47.56%   
4,702,233
1.31%   
129,914
1984
57.51%  
5,467,009
41.27%   
3,922,519
1.22%   
115,895
1980
52.69%  
4,524,858
35.91%   
3,083,661
11.40%   
978,544
1976
49.35%  
3,882,244
47.57%   
3,742,284
3.08%   
242,589
1972
55.01%  
4,602,096
41.54%   
3,475,847
3.46%   
289,919
1968
47.82%  
3,467,664
44.74%   
3,244,318
7.44%   
539,605
1964
40.79%   
2,879,108
59.11%  
4,171,877
0.09%   
6,601
1960
50.10%  
3,259,722
49.55%   
3,224,099
0.35%   
22,757
1956
55.39%  
3,027,668
44.27%   
2,420,135
0.34%   
18,552
1952
56.83%  
3,035,587
42.27%   
2,257,646
0.91%   
48,370
1948
47.13%   
1,895,269
47.57%  
1,913,134
5.30%   
213,135
1944
42.97%   
1,512,965
56.48%  
1,988,564
0.55%   
19,346
1940
41.34%   
1,351,419
57.44%  
1,877,618
1.22%   
39,754
1936
31.70%   
836,431
66.95%  
1,766,836
1.35%   
35,615
1932
37.39%   
847,902
58.39%  
1,324,157
4.23%   
95,907
1928
64.69%  
1,162,323
34.19%   
614,365
1.11%   
19,968
1924
57.20%  
733,250
8.23%   
105,514
34.57%   
443,136
1920
66.20%  
624,992
24.28%   
229,191
9.52%   
89,867
1916
46.27%   
462,516
46.65%  
466,289
7.08%   
70,798
1912
0.58%   
3,914
41.81%   
283,463
57.61%  
390,594
1908
55.46%  
214,398
32.98%   
127,492
11.56%   
44,707
1904
61.84%  
205,226
26.94%   
89,404
11.22%   
37,248
1900
54.50%  
164,755
41.34%   
124,985
4.16%   
12,578
1896
49.16%  
146,688
48.51%   
144,766
2.33%   
6,965
1892
43.78%   
118,027
43.83%  
118,174
12.39%   
33,408
1888
49.66%  
124,816
46.84%   
117,729
3.50%   
8,794
1884
51.97%  
102,369
45.33%   
89,288
2.71%   
5,331
1880
48.89%   
80,282
48.98%  
80,426
2.14%   
3,510
1876
50.88%  
79,258
49.08%   
76,460
0.04%   
66
1872
56.38%  
54,007
42.51%   
40,717
1.11%   
1,061
1868
50.24%  
54,588
49.76%   
54,068
0.00%   
0
1864
58.60%  
62,053
41.40%   
43,837
0.00%   
0
1860
32.32%  
38,733
31.71%   
37,999
35.97%   
43,095
1856
18.78%   
20,704
48.38%  
53,342
32.84%   
36,209
1852
N/A
53.02%  
40,721
46.98%   
36,089

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.[2]

Of the 18,245,970 California voters registered for the November 6, 2012, general election:[3]

  • 43.7% were Democrats
  • 29.4% were Republicans
  • 6.0% were affiliated with other political parties
  • 20.9% were unaffiliated ("Decline to State" or "No Party Preference") voters

Political issues[edit]

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 multi-billion 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[citation needed] dubbed "constitutional crises" by their opponents, over the last thirty-two years including:

  • the passage of term limits for the California legislature and elected constitutional officers, which was hotly argued state-wide, and debated in the Supreme Court of California;[citation needed]
  • a test of the ratification process for the Supreme Court, in which a liberal chief justice, Rose Bird, and two liberal associate Justices, Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso, were ousted;[citation needed]
  • a full-fledged tax revolt, "Proposition 13", which resulted in the freezing of real estate tax rates at 1% of the property's last sale price (plus a modest 2% maximum annual inflator);
  • a test of the state recall provision, in which Governor Gray Davis was recalled in a 2003 special election.[citation needed]
  • a failure to pass a budget until almost three months after the constitutional deadline (2008).

Northern California's inland areas, the Central Valley, and Southern California outside Los Angeles County are mostly Republican areas. Coastal California, including such areas as the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County and as well as Sacramento are mostly Democratic areas. As most of the population is in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area, California as a whole tends to be liberal.

California was a Republican stronghold in presidential elections from 1952 until 1992. During this period, the Republicans won California in every election except the election of 1964. In these years, the GOP regularly nominated Californians as presidential candidates: Richard Nixon in 1960 and 1972, and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. Since then however, the Democrats have carried the electoral rich state since 1992. The immigration of Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans and migration of northern liberals, who tend to vote Democratic, and the flight of white, middle and upper-middle class suburbanites out of the state shifted the balance in favor of the Democratic Party.

Among the state's divisive issues are water and water rights, resulting in the California Water Wars. Lacking reliable dry season rainfall, water is limited and available surface sources are extensively developed through dams, canals, and pipelines. The principal water sources are mountain runoff from wet season rains and higher altitude snowpack (70%), wells (limited by salt-water incursion and overuse), and some Colorado River water supplying southern California (strictly limited by treaties with the other western states and Mexico). Waste water reclamation in California is already routine (for irrigation and industrial use). Most water is in the north of the State, while most people are in the south. Water viewed as excess by the south is viewed by the north as environmentally essential for agriculture, fisheries, and wildlife. While the southern electorate has a greater portion of the population it is not as unified in its viewpoint as is that of the north, so ballot propositions such as those promoting a Peripheral Canal to transport water to the south have failed.

Land use is also divisive. High land prices mean that ordinary people keep a large proportion of their net worth in land. This leads them to agitate strongly about issues that can affect the prices of their home or investments. The most vicious local political battles concern local school boards (good local schools substantially raise local housing prices) and local land-use policies. In built-up areas it is extremely difficult to site new airports, dumps, or jails. Many cities routinely employ eminent domain to make land available for development. A multi-city political battle was fought for several years in Orange County concerning the decommissioning of the huge El Toro Marine airbase. Orange County needs a new airport (pilot unions voted the existing airport, John Wayne, the least safe in the U.S.), but the noise could reduce land prices throughout the southern part of the county, including wealthy, politically powerful Irvine.[citation needed]

Gun control is another divisive issue, which stems at least partially from the fact that California's constitution does not explicitly guarantee the right for ordinary citizens to keep and bear arms. In the cities, California has one of the U.S.'s most serious gang problems, and in some farming regions, some of the highest murder rates. The state also contains many individuals who desire to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, and property. The legislature has passed restrictive gun control laws. Private purchase of "assault" weapons (generally, semi-automatic rifles that look like military rifles) is a felony. The law does not, however, prohibit sales of semi-automatic hunting-style civilian weapons, leading many to question the effectiveness of the cosmetic distinction. Pistols may be purchased and kept in one's home or place of business (however, they are required to be registered to the state and must be considered a "safe" handgun (see AB_1471), but it is illegal to carry weapons or ammunition outside these areas without a concealed weapons permit, except in a locked area (car trunk) to licensed practice ranges or other legitimate uses (hunting, repair, collection, etc.) Open carry of an unloaded firearm in some areas is legal but very uncommon due to the confusing web of state and federal laws, such as the Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which makes it a felony to carry a gun within 1000 feet of a school, even without malicious intent. As of 2012, open carry of firearms is for the most part banned, with exceptions made for law enforcement, hunters, and individuals in rural areas of the state. Except in a handful of rural counties, most people find it impossible to get concealed weapons permits since they are issued at the discretion of the local law enforcement officials; California is not a "shall issue" state for concealed weapons permits. Because of the importance of local law enforcement's discretion, some counties are nevertheless virtually "shall issue" while others are de facto "no issue", leading to the peculiar situation of rural residents of one jurisdiction being able to legally carry their handguns in areas where the local residents cannot.

Influence of special-interest groups[edit]

Because California is the most populous state in the United States, legislation and policies that are enacted by the government of California often have significant implications on major political issues at the national level. Throughout the 20th century, political decisions in California have wielded substantial influence with Congress while considering legislation at the federal level. Because of the potentially nationwide implications for political decisions made in California, special-interest groups, many of which are based outside of California, play a greater role in California politics than in most other states,[citation needed] by contributing large amounts of money into lobbying, litigation, and producing media advertisements to influence voters and elected officials on major political issues. The California Fair Political Practices Commission regulates campaign finance and lobbying in California.

Bi-partisan gerrymandering[edit]

A gerrymandered congressional district, the 11th CD of CA, drawn to favor Republican Richard Pombo. While the Danville area is a traditional Republican stronghold, Morgan Hill is not, and it was added to obtain the proper population numbers for the 11th after Livermore was assigned to the 10th at the behest of the incumbent Democrat, since it contains the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (located near the "580" shield) and she sat in the House Energy Committee. The 10th CD is immediately north of the 11 in Contra Costa and Solano Counties See text below and the California's 11th congressional district election, 2006 for an unexpected result that overcame this gerrymander.
Carved out with the aid of a computer, this congressional district is a product of California's incumbent gerrymandering. This is the district of Democrat Grace Napolitano, who ran unopposed in 2004.

After the 2000 year census, the legislature was obliged to set new district boundaries, both for the state Assembly and Senate and for federal congressional districts (CDs). The Republican and Democratic parties came to an agreement to gerrymander the boundaries. It was mutually decided that the status quo in terms of balance of power would be preserved. With this goal, districts were assigned to voters in such a way that they were dominated by one or the other party, with few districts that could be considered competitive.

In only a few cases did this require extremely convoluted boundaries, but resulted in preservation of existing strongholds: in the results of the 2004 election, a win by less than 55 percent of the vote was quite rare—only five of eighty Assembly districts, and two of 39 Senate district seats, and no seat was changed in the party of its winner, and neither was any U.S. Congressional seat.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed placing the redistricting process in the hands of retired judges, which was on the November ballot as an initiative in a special election (called by the Governor on June 14, 2005), Proposition 77. The special election was held on November 8, 2005. However, the initiative was defeated, with 59.5% No votes. All initiatives, including those proposed by the Governor's allies and several independent initiatives, failed.

The United States House of Representatives districts are less competitive than the state districts with only three out of 53 congressional districts being won with less than 60 percent majority.

Considering the 10th CD in the San Francisco Bay Area, in earlier elections the almost evenly divided district was a focus of national attention, owing to its balanced electorate with a slight Republican edge in registration and a Republican advantage in electoral participation. The district had been held since its creation in 1990 by a Republican, Congressman Bill Baker, a former State Assembly member, for whom the district was designed. After several weak challenges to the seat by Democrats, the election was hotly contested in 1996 by a newcomer to politics, Ellen Tauscher, a candidate with sufficient funds of her own to be competitive against the incumbent. Receiving a great amount of grassroots support from local Democratic clubs and votes from moderate Republican women, her defeat of Congressman Baker was considered a great victory for what many consider a "middle of the road" Democrat. Her redrawn district is now "safe" (she won reelection with 75.6 percent of the vote in 2002) and subsequent full-term congressional elections drew no national attention to California.

As desired by the two major parties, in the 2004 elections there was no change of political party in any of the district-elected offices at either the State or Federal level - no member of the State Assembly, State Senator, or U. S. Representative was not of the same party as their predecessor.

Despite the supposed uncertainty for Republican prospects of dominance in the U.S. Congress in the November 2006 elections, no California seats in the House of Representatives were considered to be "in play" by national analysts within several months of the election, although a few Republican-held seats offered at least improved prospects for Democrats during this cycle. Republican Representatives Richard Pombo (11th CA) and John Doolittle (4th CA) each hosted President Bush in October 2006 for fundraisers, a rare event in California (and also rare for Bush in this election cycle) that may have been indicative of perceived insecurities in these seats (these Representatives had strongly supported the Bush Administration).

In an unexpected turn of the 2006 elections in California, Democrat Jerry McNerney, although never having held an elective office, defeated incumbent Republican Richard Pombo, 53% to 47%. In 2004 the same pairing resulted in 62.5% for Pombo. There has been some demographic change in the district in the Pleasanton area, but not sufficient in itself to account for the difference, and the victory is considered by many (given the gerrymander of the district) to be an overwhelming repudiation both of President George W. Bush and of many of the stands taken by Pombo, particularly concerning environmental matters. This district was the sole exception, as none of the remaining 99 federal and state district legislative elections involved a change of party.

Official California preliminary 2006 election returns are available at http://vote.ss.ca.gov/

A California constitutional amendment to be presented to the electorate and designed to encourage competitive districts (but with significant loopholes included) was passed by the California Senate for transmittal to the Assembly on the last possible day for the 2006 election cycle, with Assembly Democratic legislative functionaries claiming that it was not received in time. Although this could have been corrected with little effort by additional legislation, the issue was killed for the 2006 electoral cycle, with some asserting that the death of the bill was not accidental [1].

Consequences[edit]

Negative results for the effective operation of the political process can be seen directly in California's 2008 budget impasse,[4] extending for 76 days since June 1, with an agreement announced September 15.[5] The high turnover due to term limits combined with "safe" districts makes it more likely that "hard liners" will be elected (via competitive but narrow primary elections) and that the legislators will lack experience in dealing across party lines in a collegial manner — there is now a complete lack of senior leadership capable of creating and enforcing cross-party compromise.[6]

Repeating budget crisis[edit]

California's budget as it stood projected a deficit of over fifteen billion dollars[when?], requiring program cuts and/or additional taxes, as the California budget used to require a 2/3 "supermajority" for passage (after the passage of California Proposition 25 (2010), the 2/3 supermajority is only required for tax increases), the Republican minority could stick to their pledge of no additional taxes without consideration of compromise with Democrats who have pledged to not balance the budget solely by reducing services to children, impoverished citizens, or the elderly.[7] As a substantial portion of the budget is fixed by statute, state constitutional amendment, or by Federal court decisions regarding prison health care[8] there was little room for maneuver in reducing expenditures without adversely affecting programs (such as public transportation and education) or for raising taxes. In fact, the "solution" involved no new taxes (but closing of some loopholes), and minor program cuts, with the bulk of the solution being creative accounting methods (such as accelerating revenue collections) that are likely to make the problem more severe in 2009 if there is not an exceptional (and unexpected) improvement in the economy. Under a veto threat[9] by Governor Schwarzenegger some modifications were made and California in 2008 achieved a budget, almost three months late,[10] with the structural deficit problems deferred until 2009.

Continuing problems were widely recognized in late 2008 with predictions that ongoing construction projects could soon be impacted and projected deficits of up to $42 billion over the next 18 months.[11] The state is projected to exhaust its supply of ready money in mid February, 2009.[12] Tentative agreements were obtained for a balanced budget in July 2009, achieved in part by "borrowing" some six billion dollars from county and city governments, an action further postponing a significant portion of the problem while likely having a severe and impact upon public safety, health, and social services. Lawsuits by the local governments are expected upon budget approval. The solution includes the continued issuing IOUs to vendors at least until October 2009 and reducing state employee's working hours and salary by 15 percent.[13] The Governor's proposal to release some 27,000 prisoners has aroused opposition[14] Since some of the term limited legislators were expecting to run for higher office, the budget of July 2009 (for fiscal year 2010) was divided into 30 bills, allowing candidates to vote no on selected bills so that a yes vote could not be used against them in later primary contests.

In 2011, The California State Parks officials under the direction of Governor Brown proposed the closure of seventy state parks necessitated largely by the failure of Brown's obtaining an early 2011 ballot position for a proposal to extend existing taxes due to expire, due to the opposition of the Republican legislative minority. As with Governor Schwartzenegger's 2009 proposals, subsequently rescinded, this may be a ploy to influence middle-class voters to bring pressure on the legislators to permit a 2012 proposition, or to take action directly through the initiative process.

Little effect upon legislators[edit]

With the safety of legislative districts prior to 2012, any negative consequences of voter dissatisfaction were highly unlikely while the consequences of breaking with party stances (especially for Republicans) could be severe. In 2004, of the four Republicans who broke with party discipline, two retired and two were defeated in Republican primary contests[citation needed], while in 2008 a Democratic member of the Assembly was reassigned to a much smaller office remote from the Capitol building, as punishment for her abstention from a vote during the 2008 budget impasse.[15] In February, 2009, the Senate Minority leader was removed from his position by the Republican caucus after brokering a deal to settle the budget issue but failing to deliver the one additional Republican vote needed.[16] It was not until February 20, 2009, that a budget agreement was signed by the governor, under a plan that combines spending reductions, additional taxes, and borrowing against state lottery revenues and removing funds from certain mandated programs, with the price of the bargain being various enabling proposals to be presented to the electorate in a May 2009 special election and in 2010. All of the May 2009 propositions (other than one intended to punish the legislators) were overwhelmingly defeated, throwing the budget crisis back to the legislature, with the Governor continuing to oppose any tax or fee increase (fees may be increased by a simple majority vote). The budget again went substantially past its deadline in June 2009 and the Governor proposed the closure of two hundred state parks.[17] Closure of state parks would save little or no money and the proposal was widely believed to be a ploy to cause pain to California's middle class in order to bring constituent pressure upon the Legislature.[citation needed] Park closure is (as of Fall 2009) now seen as unlikely, but a substantial reduction in admission hours for many parks is now probable. Budget deficits are expected continue in 2010, estimated in January at $20 million, with the resolution under the current political structure expected to have severe impacts upon public education, public transport, corrections, and health and welfare.

Remedies[edit]

In a direct response to the conflict of interest inherent in legislative redistricting and the legislature's repeated failures to meet constitutionally required budget deadlines, and after numerous failures of the legislature to present to the voters an amendment to the California Constitution, in 2008 the voters decided on Proposition 11[18] an Initiative. This proposition removes state office redistricting from the legislature and turns it over to a mixed panel of unelected designates (members of the two largest parties in the state, currently the Democratic and Republican Parties, and unaffiliated voters) whose composition is determined by a complex multi-step nomination, selection, and rejection process (Proposition 11 was passed in the November 2008 election). The initiative process, introduced to California in the "trustbusting" reforms of 1911 allows the circulation of petitions to amend the constitution, which if appropriately written (e.g., concerning only a single subject) and receiving the signatures of a sufficient number of registered voters, directs the measure to be placed before the voters. Proposition 11 was largely formatted under the guidance of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Originally written to include congressional districts these were removed from the proposition at the behest of the dominant political parties.

More drastic remedies include 2009 calls for a California Constitutional Convention, hedged with restraints to prevent runaway changes, including both upfront restraint of topics to be addressed and requirements for final voter approval by the electorate.[19]

Actual changes (2010)[edit]

The November elections of 2010 brought more propositions regarding redistricting and gerrymandering. Two propositions were on the ballot. Prop 20 would extend Prop 11 to the redrawing of CDs in addition to the state districts encompassed by Prop 11. Prop 20 passed. Prop 27, put forward by legislators, would have repealed Prop 11 from 2008. Prop 27 failed to pass. The timing of these two propositions is important to the redistricting plans for 2011. The impact of this new system can not be predicted, but any redistricting is likely to change the status quo.

Another proposition in an earlier 2010 election, Proposition 14, passed, creating nonpartisan blanket primaries, in which the top two candidates advance to the general election, regardless of party, with all registered voters allowed to vote for any candidate. This is expected to break down the strength of party extremes. Under the previous rules a candidate successful in either of the dominant parties would likely be politically to the extreme, since primary voters tend to be more active and passionate about such positions. The presence of a larger electorate will (presumably) tend to lead to more moderate candidates succeeding under some theories since non-party (largely "swing voters") would be more "middle of the road". Combined with the redistricting propositions noted above this will likely lead to unexpected effects (owing to the potential for cross-party michief), and it is generally agreed that some districts may present two Democrats or two Republicans in opposition in the general election. In theory, in a general election, especially if of the same party, the more moderate candidate would be more likely to succeed.

The city of Oakland had earlier adapted ranked choice voting, with the interesting result that the candidate that ranked second in the first round eventually won, overcoming an 11 percent deficit (35 to 24) of first round votes,[20] defeating a well known professional politician[21] who ranked first in that round. The victor in the Oakland election explicitly campaigned to be a favored "second choice".

Actual changes (2012)[edit]

While the concept of non-partisan districting was initially promoted by Republicans under the leadership of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the results were highly unfavorable to the party.

The U.S. Congressional, State Assembly, and State Senate were significantly affected by both the non-partisan redistricting and the open primaries.

Proposition 40 presented[edit]

An initiative beneficial to Republicans to repeal the non-partisan redistricting in future State Senate elections was confusingly worded and presented ( voting "No" would not continue the current neutral party redistricting to overturn the California State Senate redistricting plan approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission and so restoring the status quo anti for that chamber). This presenters of the proposition were defeated (since the measure passed).[22] In other words, the promotors of the referendum were intending it to fail. Owing to widespread support for continuation of neutral redistricting they did not sponsor the usual media effort, and most voters were made aware of the nature of the proposition through various media editorials, these largely in favor of continuing neutral redistricting. A related referendum to nullify the Congressional District Boundaries Plan did not qualify, having received insufficient petition signatures.

Effect of new election processes (2012)[edit]

California Assembly and State Senate[edit]

The results in the California Assembly and California State Senate were shocking to the Republicans, as now more than 2/3 of the members of each house are Democrats. Where Republicans could block certain legislation requiring a supermajority (notably those concerning taxes), they no longer have that power, although for any issues in which the Democrats are divided the Republicans will in certain circumstances continue to have significant power. This situation is not expected to be long-lived due to future special elections.

California delegation to the U. S. House of Representatives[edit]

After the 2000 U.S. census, California gained one seat. The 2010 U.S. census, however, kept the state's apportionment at 53 seats.

The new reapportionment method resulted in a re-numbering of districts, many of which covered areas previously assigned to other numbers. As a consequence, most incumbents ran in newly numbered districts, yet these remained favorable to their re-election. Some incumbent members chose to run within a similar geographic region yet were required to change their residence.

A new "open primary" system was instituted, where members of any party or of no party could vote for any of the candidates. This allowed unaffiliated voters to cast ballots also. Owing to the results of this system, some incumbents were placed against opponents of their own party in the general election, while a number of others ran against unaffiliated opponents (indicated below by the California Election Code designation DTS, "Decline To State"), commonly referred to as independent (bundled here with a term with similar effect, "NPP" - "No Party Preference").

In the 2012 table row, below, in other than the typical Republican-Democratic party matches the affiliations are noted (e.g. R-R for Republican vs. Republican, D-DTS for Democrat vs. Decline To State, etc. One result of the new procedures was the 15th district defeat of a twenty-term Democratic representative, Pete Stark, by a young and fellow democrat, Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell, a same-party turnover that would have been highly unlikely under the previous primary system, which highly favored incumbents.[23] One columnist suggests that competitive and well financed same-party general election challenges could become the new norm for districts of this type.[24]

The demographics of many of the regions have shifted considerably since the turn of the 21st century. While the previous "gerrymandered" districts would have protected most of the incumbents, the new districting did not offer such protection except incidentally, owing to the non-uniform geographic distribution of various subsections of the electorate. In addition, significant changes in the racial makeup of the electorate, the addition of and turnout by younger voters, and the continued evolutionary changes in voter attitudes toward socially divisive issues all currently tend to favor the Democratic Party,[citation needed] but this is largely due to the current attitudes and policies of the Republican party - those being at least potentially subject to future change. One notable contest that could guide such changes was the election of Republican and Portuguese-descended David Valadao, in a district with registration favorable to the Democrats and against an Hispanic opponent.[25] This contest is arguably the only delegation's House seat "win" for the Republicans, as all others could be considered to be "holds" or "losses".

Congress District District District District District
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 25th 26th 27th 28th 29th 30th 31st 32nd 33rd 34th 35th 36th 37th 38th 39th 40th 41st 42nd 43rd 44th 45th 46th 47th 48th 49th 50th 51st 52nd 53rd
108th
(2003–2005)
Mike Thompson (D)

2012: To 5th, elected.
Wally Herger (R)

2012: Retired.
Doug Ose (R) John T. Doolittle (R) Robert T. Matsui (D) Lynn C. Woolsey (D)

2012: Retired
George Miller (D)

2012: To 11th, elected
Nancy Pelosi (D)

2012: To 12th, elected
Barbara Lee (D)

2012: To 13th, elected
Ellen O. Tauscher (D) Richard W. Pombo (R) Tom Lantos (D) Pete Stark (D)

2012: To 15th, defeated (D vs. D)
Anna G. Eshoo (D)

2012: To 18th, elected
Mike Honda (D)

2012: To 17th, elected
Zoe Lofgren (D)

2012: To 19th, elected
Sam Farr (D)

2012: To 20th, elected
Dennis Cardoza (D)

2012: Retired
George Radanovich (R) Calvin M. Dooley (D) Devin Nunes (R)

2012: To 22nd, elected
Bill Thomas (R) Lois Capps (D)

2012: To 24th, elected
Elton Gallegly (R)

2012: Retired
Howard McKeon (R)

2012: Same district, reelected
David Dreier (R)

2012: Retired
Brad Sherman (D)

2012: To 30th, elected (D vs. D) (Both incumbent)
Howard L. Berman (D)

2012: To 30th, defeated (D vs.D) (Both incumbent)
Adam Schiff (D)

2012: To 28th, elected
Henry Waxman (D)

2012: To 33rd, elected
Xavier Becerra (D)

2012: To 34th, elected
Hilda L. Solis (D) Diane E. Watson (D) Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)

2012: To 40th, elected
Maxine Waters (D)

2012: To 43rd, elected
Jane Harman (D) Juanita Millender-McDonald (D) Grace F. Napolitano (D)

2012: To 32nd, elected
Linda T. Sánchez (D)

2012: To 38th, elected
Edward R. Royce (R)

2012: To 39th, elected
Jerry Lewis (R)

2012: Retired
Gary G. Miller (R) Joe Baca (D)

2012: To 35th, defeated (D vs. D)
Ken Calvert (R)

2012: To 42nd, elected
Mary Bono Mack (R)

2012: To 36th, defeated
Dana Rohrabacher (R)

2012: To 48th, elected
Loretta Sanchez (D)

2012: To 46th, elected
Christopher Cox (R) Darrell Issa (R)

2012: Same district, reelected
Duke Cunningham (R) Bob Filner (D)

2012: Retired
Duncan Hunter (R) Susan Davis (D)
109th
(2005–2007)
Dan Lungren (R)

2012: To 7th, defeated
Doris Matsui (D)

2012: To 6th, elected
Jim Costa (D)

2012: To 16th, elected
John Campbell (R)

2012: To 45th, elected
Brian P. Bilbray (R)

2012: To 52nd, defeated
110th
(2007–2009)
Jerry McNerney (D)

2012: To 9th, elected
Kevin McCarthy (R)

2012: To 23rd, elected
Laura Richardson (D)

2012: To 44th, defeated (D vs.D) (Both incumbent)
Jackie Speier (D)

2012: To 13th, elected
111th
(2009–2011)
Tom McClintock (R)

2012: Same district, reelected
Duncan D. Hunter (R)

2012: To 50th, elected
John Garamendi (D)

2012: To 3rd, elected
Judy Chu (D)

2012: To 27th, elected
112th
(2011–2013)
Jeff Denham (R)

2012: To 10th, elected
Karen Bass (D)

2012: To 37th, elected
Janice Hahn (D)

2012: To 44th, elected (D vs. D) (Both incumbent)
113th
(2013–2015)
Doug LaMalfa (R)
1st T.
57.8%

                 

Jared Huffman (D)
1st T.
70.1%

                 

John Garamendi (D)
2nd+ T.
53.8%

                 

Tom McClintock (R)
3rd T.
61.1%

                 

Mike Thompson (D)
7th T.
74.1%
Doris Matsui (D)
5th- T.
74.1%

                 

Ami Bera (D)
1st T.
50.1%

                 

(R-R)
Paul Cook (R)
3rd T.
57.6%

                 

Jerry McNerney (D)
4th T.
54.1%

                 

Jeff Denham (R)
2nd T.
53.8%

                 

George Miller (D)
20th T.
69.1%
Nancy Pelosi (D)
14th T.
84.7%

                 

(D-DTS)
Barbara Lee (D)
8th+ T.
86.2%

                 

Jackie Speier (D)
4th T.
78.1%

                 

(D-D)
Eric Swalwell (D)
1st T.
53.1%

                 

Jim Costa (D)
5th T.
54.5%

                 

Mike Honda (D)
7th T.
73.2%

                 

Anna Eshoo (D)
11th T.
69.9%

                 

Zoe Lofgren (D)
10th T.
72.4%

                 

Sam Farr (D)
10th+ T.
72.9%

                 

David Valadao (R)
1st T.
59.9%

                 

Devin Nunes (R)
6th T.
63.1%

                 

(R-DTS)
Kevin McCarthy (R)
4th T.
73.8%
                 
Lois Capps (D)
6th T.
54.8%

                 

Howard McKeon (R)
10th T.
55.2%

                 

Julia Brownley (D)
1st T.
51.7%

                 

Judy Chu (D)
3rd T.
63.4%

                 

(D-DTS)
Adam Schiff (D)
7th T.
76.1%

                 

(D-DTS)
Tony Cardenas (D)
1st T.
74.2%

                 

(D-D)
Brad Sherman (D)
9th T.
60.5%

                 

(R-R)
Gary Miller (R)
8th T.
55.2%

                 

Grace Napolitano (D)
6th T.
65.4%

                 

(D-DTS)
Henry Waxman (D)
20th T.
53.7%

                 

Xavier Becerra (D)
6th T.
85.6%

                 

(D-D)
Gloria Negrete McLeod (D)
1st T.
55.7%

                 

Raul Ruiz (D)
1st T.
52%

                 

Karen Bass (D)
2nd T.
86.4%

                 

Linda T. Sánchez (D)
6th T.
67.2%

                 

Ed Royce (R)
11th T.
59.1%

                 

(D-D)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)
6th T.
59.4%

                 

Mark Takano (D)
1st T.
56.4%

                 

Ken Calvert (R)
11th T.
61.4%

                 

(D-D)
Maxine Waters (D)
12th T.
70.6%


                 

(D-D)
Janice Hahn (D)
2nd- T.
60%

                 

John Campbell (R)
5th T.
59.4%

                 

Loretta Sanchez (D)
6th T.
60.5%

                 

Alan Lowenthal (D)
1st T.
55.3%

                 

Dana Rohrabacher (R)
12th T.
61.4%

                 

Darrell Issa (R)
7th T.
58.9%

                 

Duncan D. Hunter (R)
3rd T.
68.5%

                 

Juan Vargas (D)
1st T.
69.9%

                 

Scott Peters (D)
1st T.
50.2%

                 

Susan Davis (D)
7th T.
60.4%

                 

As previously stated, under the previous decade's apportionment and primary system a win by less than 55% was rare. In the 2012 elections, there were eleven such contest victories. The 2014 elections will be informative as to the durability of these conditions, as many first-term representatives will then be running as incumbents, usually an advantage. This typical advantage will likely be affected by the new open primary system in some manner.

Prior to the two major changes in California elections (neutral reapportionment and open primaries), Republicans controlled nineteen of the delegation's House seats, subsequently, only fifteen, a loss of four seats, a significant number considering that nationwide only a total of four additional House seats were lost to the party.[26] The low congressional losses in other states may be due to 2010 Republican gains in various state's legislature control that enabled significant gerrymandering success for the party.[27]

The combination of pre-election retirements and electoral defeats of a total of 14 incumbents has also led to a significant reduction in the overall seniority of the delegation, important in the obtaining of committee chairmanships for the House majority party, "ranking member" status for certain members of the minority party, and for leadership and policy committee positions within the respective party caucuses.

Seven incumbents retired prior to the 2012 election:

Seven incumbents lost seats:

2012 Term limits modification (California Assembly and Senate only)[edit]

In the 2012 June primary election, voters passed (by a 61 percent vote)[30] Proposition 29, despite a well-funded opposition telephone robo-calling effort calling it a "scam". (Propositions are presented to the electorate by the legislature.) In light of the failure of earlier term limit modification attempts it was carefully written to only apply to newly elected legislators and effectively reducing the maximum combined Assembly and Senate service from 14 to 12 years. Previously, an Assembly member could only serve three two-year terms and if achieving a Senate seat, two four-year terms, for a potential service time of 14 years. This proposition allows a member to serve for a total of twelve years in any combination of Assembly and Senate terms. Thus a member initially elected to the Assembly may serve up to six two-year terms, or if initially elected to the Senate, three four-year terms. It is expected that this will ultimately enhance the experience level of Legislators and their focus on the jobs to which they were elected. With more experienced members able to guide and assist new members, and less pressure to "make a mark" quickly, it is hoped that the hasty introduction of lobbyist-written bills will be reduced.

Congressional representation[edit]

The most populous state, California has the largest Congressional delegation of all the states with 53 representatives and two senators.

Many leading members of Congress are from California. Among the Democrats are:

  1. Rep. Nancy Pelosi from the 12th District (Minority Leader)
  2. Rep. George Miller from the 11th district (former Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor)
  3. Rep. Henry Waxman from the 33rd district (former Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce)
  4. Senator Barbara Boxer (Chairwoman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works)
  5. Senator Dianne Feinstein (Chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence)

Among the Republicans are:

  1. Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the 23rd district (Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives and former Chief Deputy Whip)
  2. Rep. Buck McKeon from the 25th district (Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services former Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - Presidential General Election Results Comparison - California". 
  2. ^ http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_f.htm
  3. ^ "Report of Registration as of October 22, 2012". Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  4. ^ New York Times: California Embroiled in a Battle Over the Budget
  5. ^ Legislators reach accord on state budget SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle)
  6. ^ Capital talks split novices, pros. Downside of term limits: Inexperienced lawmakers struggle to negotiate viable deals. (Contra Costa Times - Bay area news group Morning Report, Sunday July 26, 2009, section AA, page 1)
  7. ^ California Department of Education News Release
  8. ^ Prison overseer: $8 billion for med facilities SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle)
  9. ^ Governor says he'll veto budget; override vote looms SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle)
  10. ^ Governor cuts, signs long-overdue budget SFGate.com (San Francisco (Chronicle).
  11. ^ Governor blasts GOP for lack of progress on California state budget deficit (Whittier Daily News)
  12. ^ 'We can't pay you yet,' California to tell creditors (CNN.com, US edition)
  13. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/07/23/MNE218TFMR.DTL State budget deal back on track (San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 2009)
  14. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/07/22/MN8118SVPJ.DTL Inmate release plan imperils state budget pace (San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 2009)
  15. ^ Central Valley Lawmaker Kicked Out of State Capitol SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle)
  16. ^ California senate Republicans oust leader as budget impasse continues (guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 18 February 2009 18.31 GMT)
  17. ^ State Parks on Chopping Block (Effects upon northern California) SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle)
  18. ^ Proposition 11 (Ballotpedia.org),
  19. ^ Repair California Proposing a California Constitutional Convention
  20. ^ Jean Quan wins Oakland mayor's race SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle newspaper website)
  21. ^ Oakland mayor: Perata's lead seems insurmountable SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle newspaper website)
  22. ^ California Proposition 40 ballotpedia.org, accessed Nov 21, 2012.
  23. ^ Pete Stark defeated after 40 years in Congress Politico website
  24. ^ Pete Stark's defeat marks end of an era -- and start of 2014 campaign San Jose Mercury News column by Josh Richman
  25. ^ Strassel: GOP Lessons in the San Joaquin Wall Street Journal Online
  26. ^ Dems gained 8 House seats overall--201 total Democratic Underground website updated to Nov 29, 2012
  27. ^ Why John Boehner Has Gerrymandering to Thank for His Majority Mother Jones (national magazine website)
  28. ^ How to Oust a Congressman Superpac Style NPR radio station WBUR website
  29. ^ Opinion: John Longville suggests Rep. Joe Baca should look to his own faults for the reason he lost Daily News, Los Angeles
  30. ^ Election Results: Proposition 28 Passes, Proposition 29 Defeated (Beverly Hills Courier)

External links[edit]

Archival collections[edit]

Other[edit]


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