JoinCalifornia: Election History for the State of California

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Founded: 1832 at Baltimore, Maryland
Highest Office Won: Governor (14 times)
Current Party Ranking: Largest of Six Qualified Parties in California
Voter Registration: 
46.13% of California's voters (10,170,317 registered voters as of December 2020)
Highest Assembly Representation: 68 of 80 Assembly seats (85%)
Highest Senate Representation: 32 of 40 Senate seats (80%) in 1883*

  • On the first day of the 1852 Session, 26 of 27 Senate seats were held by Democrats (92.8%)

Party History
The Democratic Party is California's largest party and holds strong majorities in the State Senate and Assembly. The majority of California's Congressional delegation, including Senators Boxer and Feinstein, are Democrats. Following the 2002 General Election, Democrats held all nine of California's statewide elected offices and significant majorities in both the State Senate and Assembly. The party lost two of the most important statewide offices, those of Governor Gray Davis and Secretary of State Kevin Shelley.

The Democrats were one of California's original five parties to qualify for primary elections in 1910. In 1922, at a time when Republicans controlled the state, Democrats had less than one registered voter for every three Republicans. The party saw major gains in the next decade and had become California's largest party by 1934. The Democrats have held the lead in registration since.

  • NOTE: In 1897, a left-wing 'third party' named the Social Democratic party was founded, and ran candidates in California in 1900. The party was much more a Socialist party than an off-shoot of the Democratic Party.


From 1854 until the outbreak of the Civil War, the Democratic Party was divided over the issue of slavery.
Northern Democratic (1854), Anti-Lecompton Democratic (1859), Douglas Democratic (1860), Union Democratic (1861-1862)
Southern Democratic (1854), Lecompton Democratic (1859-1860), Breckinridge Democratic (1860-1862).