The Future American Electorate Is California

SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, senior fellow, USC Price School of Public Policy, and DOUGLAS JEFFE.

This op-ed originally appeared at Reuters.

The changing face of the American electorate is etched all over the map of California. The Golden State may no longer be a partisan battleground, but it continues to be a reliable bellwether for the evolving national political landscape.

Even as President Barack Obama won a second term with an electorate that mirrored the demographic trends that have made California deep blue, Golden State voters chose to raise taxes to fund education and gave Democrats a two-thirds “supermajority” in both houses of the state legislature—meaning Democratic lawmakers will have the ability to raise taxes without a single Republican vote.

This willingness to increase taxes to pay for schools and other long-underfunded public services, coupled with California voters’ rejection of the GOP’s “no new taxes” mantra—up and down the ballot—could well echo across the nation, just as the passage of the state’s Proposition 13 ignited the anti-tax movement more than three decades ago.

Once upon a time, the Golden State was a Republican bastion. From 1952 through 1988, only one Democratic presidential candidate — Lyndon B. Johnson — carried California. It may have helped that a Californian — either Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan — was on the GOP ticket for seven of those 10 elections. Until former Governor Jerry Brown’s “Back to the Future” victory in 2010, Republicans had won 10 of the previous 15 gubernatorial elections.

For the full op-ed, go here.



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