Governing California: Politics, Government, and Public Policy in the Golden State (3rd edition)

  • Who are the people of California, and what do they believe politically?
  • How do Californians choose their leaders, and how do those leaders govern once they are in power?
  • How has California confronted some of its greatest public policy challenges?

These are the questions that underlie this in-depth and careful examination of America’s mega-state. This book uses the latest research and scholarship to explore California’s civil society – how an extraordinarily complex state of 37 million people governs itself through politics and policy.

The results paint a complex and ever-changing picture, one not nearly so simple as the handy California stereotypes. Are Californians really worse off than they used to be? Are they all Hollywood liberals far to the left end of the ideological spectrum? Are the recent reforms in their political systems making much of a difference? Who really governs the state – its world-famous governors or its highly professional legislature? How can a state often derided as a hopeless failure be leading the way on one of the most important public policy issues of our time? All of these questions are examined in this new edition of Governing California, updated to reflect the results and changes of the 2012 election.

Almost one out of every eight Americans lives in California – the largest proportion for any single state since before the Civil War. That fact alone gives great weight to what happens in California. Governing California provides the detailed assessment that such a state deserves.

Table of Contents



I. California and Californians

1. Well-Being in the Golden State: The Five Californias of the Human Development Index
Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis 

2. State of Change: Immigration Politics and the New Demography of California
Jack Citrin, Morris Levy, and Andrea Campbell 

3. California’s Political Geography: Coast vs. Inland and Increasingly Blue
Frédérick Douzet and Kenneth P. Miller 

4. Medium Blue: Partisan Politics and Ideological Polarization in California
Corey Cook and David Latterman 

II. Politics in the Golden State

5. Direct Democracy: The Initiative, Referendum, and Recall
Kenneth P. Miller 

6. Redistricting: Did Radical Reform Produce Different Results? 
Vladimir Kogan and Eric McGhee 

7. Polarization Interrupted? California’s Experiment with the Top-Two Primary
Seth Masket 

III. Governing the Golden State

8. Goodbye to All That: Mending California’s Budget
John Decker 

9. Governors and the Executive Branch
Ethan Rarick 

10. The Legislature: Life under Term Limits
Thad Kousser, Bruce Cain, and Karl Kurtz 

11. Partisan Polarization and Policy Gridlock: Does One Lead to the Other?
Thad Kousser 

12. The California Judiciary
David A. Carrillo 

13. Local Government: Designing and Financing the Cities and Counties of California 
Max Neiman 

IV. Policy Challenges

14. Education: Back from the Brink
David N. Plank and Susanna Loeb 

15. Water: A Case Study in Federalism
Megan Mullin 

16. Climate Change Policy: A Race to the Top
Daniel A. Mazmanian, Hal Nelson, and John Jurewitz 

Ethan Rarick, editor
Publication date: 
November 23, 2013
Publication type: 
California Politics & Government