Following the latest Field Polls released last week showing an increase in independent voters as well as self-identifying Democratic voters, many have been quick to conclude that California is becoming more “left” or “liberal” than it was 30 years ago. While California is more left-leaning than it was relative to 30 years ago, I think it’s a misguided conclusion to say that the Field Poll proves California is becoming “liberal” overall. I actually think it shows more that California will see a push for Moderate Democrats.
The problem comes with the relationship between liberal and Democrats, and the stereotype that they are one in the same. They are not. Meet a Democrat from Fresno and then meet a Democrat from Los Angeles or San Francisco. They are quite different. Democrats from the Central Valley are largely moderate, leaning more conservative on the fiscal side of policy and moderate on the side of social, with liberal and conservative views on issues ranging from same-sex marriage, abortion and the environment. Given the current economic crisis we face in California and the evidence the Field Poll shows in the dwindling cohorts of the Republican Party in California, I am led to believe that districts once held by republicans will start to turn more purple as the non-staunch conservatives bail on their Republican representatives for more moderate leaning Democratic opponents. Similarly, in Democratic districts once held safely by staunch liberal Democrats may soon face strong opposition from moderate Democrats challenging them in primary fights, running on fiscal conservatism and liberal social values.