Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, California
The two major political parties claim that their policies will lead to better outcomes. What does the data show?
At Ballotpedia, we explored these issues in a three-part study, Who Runs the States.
This page takes a specific look at how California performed in the study.
Background about the study
- See also: Ballotpedia: Who Runs the States
Part One examines the partisanship of state government from 1992-2013. Part Two establishes a State Quality of Life Index (SQLI), aggregating a variety of existing state indices into one measurement. Part Three will overlay the two reports, looking for trends and correlations.
Part 1: Partisanship analysis
From 1992 to 2013, there were Democratic governors in office for eight years while there were Republican governors in office for 14 years. During the final three years of the study, California was under Democratic trifectas.
Across the country, there were 493 years of Democratic governors (44.82%) and 586 years of Republican governors (53.27%) from 1992-2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
From 1992 to 2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the California State Senate for all 22 years. The California State Senate is one of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
California State Assembly
From 1992 to 2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the California State House of Representatives for all 22 years. The California Assembly is one of 18 state Houses that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992 to 2013. During the final three years of the study, California was under Democratic trifectas.
Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican state houses of representatives from 1992 to 2013.
Partisan control changes
There were three partisan control changes in California during the study period. The average number of changes in the 50 states was four, putting California slightly lower than the average.
Part 2: State Quality of Life Index (SQLI)
California’s average ranking over the course of the study period was 35.81, which puts it at 40th in the overall SQLI ranking.
- The years that California had the highest ranking were 1998 and 1999, in which it ranked 28th.
- The year that California had the lowest ranking was 2012, in which it ranked 48th.
- The index types that California had the highest ranking in were Government employment as a percentage of population and Real GDP per capita, in which it ranked 9th.
- The index type that California had the lowest ranking in was State credit rating, in which it ranked 50th.
|California SQLI 1992-2012|
|24/7 Wall St Best/Worst Governed States||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||49||50||50|
|America's Health Rankings||23||25||28||26||24||22||22||22||19||20||19||18||18||18||21||22||24||23||26||22||22|
|Chief Executive Magazine Best and Worst States for Business Survey||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||50||50||50||50||50||50||50||50|
|CNBC Top States for Business||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||28||25||32||32||32||40|
|Forbes Best States for Business||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||36||34||40||38||39||39||41|
|Govt. Employment Share Population||11||10||10||8||7||7||5||6||8||9||11||9||7||9||10||11||10||9||7||7||6|
|Personal Income Per Capita||10||11||13||12||13||12||9||8||8||8||9||10||8||9||7||8||12||12||16||17||15|
|Real GDP per capita||11||13||14||13||13||17||17||12||11||12||12||12||10||8||8||8||8||10||11||11||N/A|
|S&P Credit Rating||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||46||47||49||49||48||49||49||49||50||50||50||50|
|State Govt. Spending/GDP||25||33||33||22||23||22||21||22||22||27||27||32||27||27||26||25||27||25||23||29||N/A|
|State & local tax burden||39||38||35||37||40||40||40||42||44||43||43||43||44||42||43||47||47||46||47||N/A||N/A|
|Tax Freedom Day||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||39|
|Unfunded Pension Liabilities per capita||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||19||34||32||N/A|
Part 3: Partisanship and SQLI Overlay
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Arkansas state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. California has never had a Republican trifecta, but did have Democratic trifectas between the years 1999 and 2003 and again after 2010 to the present. California fell steadily in the SQLI ranking until finally reaching the bottom-10 in 2010. The state reached its highest ranking (28th) in 1998 and 1999, first under divided government and then under a Democratic trifecta. The state’s lowest ranking (48th) occurred recently in 2012 under a Democratic trifecta. Except for the years 1995 and 1996, the California legislature has been consistently under Democratic control.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 37.00
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
- SQLI average with divided government: 35.21
- Ballotpedia:Who runs the states
- Governor of California
- California State Senate
- California House of Representatives
- Note: The average rank is compiled by adding up all years of rankings and then dividing by 21 to obtain the average state ranking. This average figure is ranked relative to the rest of the 49 states to derive an overall SQLI ranking.