Last fall, as Republicans swept statehouses across the nation, California’s party was moving the other direction. It lost the two statewide offices it held and a legislative seat it had held for two decades. The highest state office Republicans now hold in California is on the Board of Equalization.
Part of the reason is demographics. California's relatively large shares of Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and African-Americans tend to skew Democratic. That contributes to the Democrats' advantage in voter registration: 44 percent of voters register as Democrats, compared with 31 percent as Republicans, and 25 percent as third-party or decline-to-state.
For Hispanic voters in particular, the state GOP's decade-plus hard line on immigration has been a turnoff. In the midterm elections, Hispanic voters favored Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer over her Republcian opponent by 38 percentage points, according to a Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California September poll. Hispanic voters favored Brown by 19 percentage points over Republican Meg Whitman.