Democrats dominate statewide, legislative and congressional offices in California, making it a "decidedly blue" state, but its overall political matrix is much more complex, a new statistical study concludes.
"California's Political Geography" is being published by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), based on both official voting and registration data and PPIC's frequent opinion surveys and written by PPIC staffers Eric McGhee and Daniel Krimm.
"Although California votes solidly Democratic, Californians (including non-voters) hold important elements of conservative belief in most parts of the state," they write. "On an ideological scale ranging from strong conservative to strong liberal, public opinion data show the average Californian falling in the middle and leaning slightly conservative.
"Statewide, Californians are divided between those who say they are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services (48 percent) and those who would prefer paying fewer taxes and receiving fewer services (43 percent). And both non-Hispanic white and black Californians are slightly more likely to say that immigrants are a burden on the state (48 percent) rather than a benefit (44 percent).
"In fact, growth in Democratic support over time has not been uniform across the state, but has had a strong geographic dimension. It is common to say that a north-south divide - with the north voting Democratic and the south voting Republican - has been replaced with an east-west, or coastal-inland divide (with the coast voting Democratic and inland voting Republican). But this shorthand tells only part of the story."
The conclusion about an east-west split has been apparent in previous journalistic and academic surveys of the state's politics. And the paper's observations about the Democratic dominance being driven by the party's strength in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco area have long been apparent - in fact was a chapter in a similarly titled book, "The New Political Geography of California," written by the author of this Capitol Alert posting.