So, back in the 60s & 70s, California gave us Richard Nixon. In the 80s, President Reagan hailed from the state. At least as late as 1984, California was considered a safe Republican state. During my politically active life, however (I started caring late 80s and was eligible to vote in the early 90s), California has always been seen as one of the most liberal states in the union.
One would assume that as a microcosm of America, something as essential should at least be competitive - but I can't remember it ever being so.
So, what changed in the 80s to turn California Democrat, and what keeps it so solidly so, especially at the Presidential level?
Note: There has been a valid objection raised to the idea that California is a solidly Democratic state. Namely, what about Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be an exception rather than the rule. He won election after the recall of an unpopular governor, in a very, very crazy election
He always had to deal with a hostile, Democratically controlled legislature
Even now, that legislature has a super-majority of Democrats.
Even beyond Arnold Schwarzenegger, however:
- The state hasn't voted for a Republican in a statewide election since 1988. The Republican party hasn't even been competitive since then.
- The Senate Delegation is entirely Democrat, and very liberal at that.
- Nancy Pelosi hails from CA.
and the list goes on.