A Blue Tide in the Golden State: Ballot Propositions, Population Change, and Party Identification in California

Joshua J. Dyck, SUNY Buffalo
Gregg B. Johnson, Valparaiso University
Jesse T. Wasson


Party identification is notoriously "sticky," yet over the last three decades the California electorate has changed tremendously. A once red state has become one of the most reliable Democratic strongholds in the nation. What explains this change? One common explanation rests with population shifts and macropartisan trends. Another claims the combination of a rapidly expanding Latino electorate and a series of high-profile anti-immigrant ballot initiatives supported by the state's Republicans drove partisan change in California. Building off of previous research, we seek to reconcile the differential impacts of these factors on the state's Latinos and non-Hispanic Whites. Our analyses partially confirm and clarify previous findings regarding Latino partisan change, while directly challenging findings regarding partisan change among non-Hispanic Whites.