How Different is California From the Rest of the United States?

It has been said that in many ways—including politically—the Golden State seems to march to the beat of its own drum.  Accordingly, it comes as little surprise that the red Republican breaker that swept across the United States in last Tuesday’s election caused only a small wave in deep blue California. 


Nationally it appears that the Republicans picked up at least 12 seats in the House of Representatives, giving them the party’s largest House majority since 1949. 

In California, with 53 seats in play on Election Day, the Republicans appeared to have picked off at least three Democratic incumbents in Congressional Districts (CDs) 7 (Bera), 16 (Costa), and 52 (Peters).  But with more than 70% of all ballots in the state now being cast early or by mail, the final count is slower.  Late in the day on November 12 – eight days after the election – Democratic incumbents in all three races had moved ahead of their Republican challengers in the vote totals, with the count still not yet final.  If the margins hold, there will be no Republican House seat pickups in California, and only one Democratic pickup (CD 31 - Aguilar). 

Although Republicans gained at least eight seats in the U.S. Senate, neither of California’s Congressional Senate seats was up for election this year. 

Statewide Offices

In last Tuesday’s election, the Democratic candidates won every one of the six statewide partisan posts, as they did in 2010.  Governor Jerry Brown was elected to a fourth term as Governor in a stunningly low-key campaign. 

State Legislature

In the State Assembly, with all 80 seats up for election, the Republicans picked up seats previously represented by Democrats in Assembly District (AD) 36 and AD 65.  The Democrats picked up one seat previously held by a Republican (AD 39).  This was the first time in 20 years that the Republican Party picked up a seat in the Legislature from the Democrats.  The new Assembly convening December 1, 2014 (the 2015-2016 Regular Session) will have 51 Democrats and 29 Republicans (down from the previous session’s 55-25 Democratic majority).

In the State Senate, the only party switch in the 20 seats up for election came in SD 34 (Nguyen), which went from Democratic to Republican.  The Senate will change from 25 Democrats and 12 Republicans (with one vacancy and two suspensions) to 25 Democrats and 13 Republicans, with two suspensions and one vacancy. 

The new Legislature convening next month in Sacramento will have at least 26 freshmen in the Assembly. The returns in one district are still too close to call (AD 39).  Although the person elected in that district will be a Democrat, the difference in the count between the candidates has been as narrow as seven votes. 

The 40-member Senate will have 10 freshmen. Five of the freshmen have previously served in the Assembly, including one who served as Assembly Speaker. 

Local Ordinances

Proposals to increase minimum wages were approved overwhelmingly in San Francisco and Oakland.  In Eureka, Measure R, which would have raised the minimum wage in that city, was defeated by a margin of 62-38%. 

Berkeley voters approved, but San Francisco voters rejected, proposals to tax sugary soda drinks.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.