California Election 2020 Results

California Government Update

Updated as of November 20, 2020

As the nation awaits the final formal actions necessary to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, California is finalizing the vote count following a turnout now estimated at 80% of the state’s 22 million registered voters—the highest statewide participation in 44 years. Californians decided 12 statewide ballot measures, 53 congressional district elections and 100 state legislative races, plus numerous local bond measures and some major state and local social justice reform proposals. With nearly all of the 17.5 million votes counted, only a handful of legislative elections and state ballot measures are still too close to call.

California and the COVID-19 Economy

California will likely continue on its current cautious path regardless of the presidential election. Governor Newsom’s commitment to a “slow and stringent” approach to reopening will continue while the country awaits a game-changing antiviral treatment and widely available vaccine. The health of California state and local budgets is also in play given the continuing shortfall in tax revenues, dwindling cash reserves available to fund safety net programs, permanent business closures and record unemployment throughout the state. President-elect Biden’s likely win improves the chances that state and local governments will receive a significant infusion of direct economic aid from Washington to reduce the threat of huge deficits, safety net cuts and wholesale service reductions. However, with control of the U.S. Senate still in the balance, the prospects for substantial state aid remains uncertain. The ultimate question is whether any aid package will be enough to help California weather the COVID-19 recession and come back strong in 2021.

Political Ripples

With the vacancy created when U.S. Senator Kamala Harris becomes Vice President Harris, Governor Newsom will name a new senator, who can stand for election in their own right in 2022. The Governor’s decision is already drawing scrutiny and heavy lobbying from multiple interest groups with different priorities. Whatever choice he makes will ultimately lead to applause but also criticism from some quarters. If he selects one of the state’s current constitutional officers or a county supervisor for the U.S. Senate seat, the selection may also provide the Governor the opportunity to make one or more additional appointments to fill the resulting vacancies.

From a state governing perspective, this election demonstrates that California remains the leading state for progressive and leftward-leaning politics. Democrats will maintain and possibly add to their overall numbers in the California Legislature. While the number of seats Democrats hold may have increased, recent history makes clear that bigger majorities don’t automatically translate into lockstep unity on every policy issue or unbroken unanimity on the priorities for the allocation of scarce funding for public services. This is likely to continue the growth of internal policy divisions between the various Democrat caucuses, including those who believe climate change should be the state’s top priority to those who believe some form of universal healthcare should come first, and from those who are strong supporters of the labor movement to those who are more attuned to the emergent “gig economy.”

Ballot Propositions

California’s progressive-leaning politics are clearly reflected by the Democrats’ supermajority control of both houses of the state legislature as well as the Newsom Administration’s well-known “loyal resistance” to many Trump Administration policies. This year, however, although the progressive agenda was also reflected in the state’s 12 ballot measures, the outcome is a mix of wins and losses that suggests a 2020 California electorate that was strongly united against the re-election of Donald Trump—who will lose the state by as many as 6 million votes—but more cautious and conservative when considering the other measures and candidates on the ballot.

Among other proposals, voters were asked to decide whether to modify the 42-year-old Proposition 13 limits on taxing commercial properties, adopt nation-leading consumer privacy protections, restore affirmative action, extend the vote to 17-year-olds and paroled felons, adopt a statewide policy favoring rent control, and eliminate the cash bail system.

As of this update, what we do know is five of the 12 ballot measures have likely passed and seven appear to have failed. The biggest winner of the night appears to be the technology business-backed Proposition 22. It has the widest support margin of any proposition at this time.

= Passed/Passing
X = Failed/Failing
? = Too Close to Call

Result What Happens Next?
✓ Proposition 14 In 2004, California voters funded the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative by authorizing a $3 billion bond to fund a stem cell research program. Proposition 14 authorizes an additional $5.5 billion to fund the program.
X Proposition 15 One of the most controversial measures on the ballot, Proposition 15 would lift a 1978 vote limiting property tax increases in California. Proposition 15 focuses on commercial properties only, and would allow non-agricultural commercial properties worth more than $3 million to be assessed at their current market value. New assessments are projected for 2022, with full implementation expected in 2026.  
X Proposition 16 In 1996, Californians voted for Proposition 209 to bar affirmative action in government contracting and university admission. Proposition 16 would repeal Proposition 209.
✓ Proposition 17 California’s Constitution permits parolees to vote upon completion of their parole. Proposition 17 allows parolees to vote while on parole, restoring the franchise to an estimated 50,000 people on parole.
X Proposition 18 Nearly 20 other states permit 17-year-olds to vote if they will be 18 in time to vote in the general election. California voted to oppose this change to its state constitution.
✓ Proposition 19 Proposition 19 is a response to the state’s record level of wildfires. It allows homeowners dispossessed due to a wildfire to transfer their property tax basis to anywhere within the state and allow tax assessments to be transferred to a more expensive home with an upward adjustment.
X Proposition 20 A response to earlier ballot measures to reduce punishments for certain crimes, Proposition 20 would have increased penalties for certain property crimes and repeated parole violations, made it more difficult for some convicted felons to qualify for early parole and release from prison, and would have also required law enforcement to collect DNA samples from people convicted of certain misdemeanors, including shoplifting, forgery and illegal drug possession.
X Proposition 21 Proposition 21 was an effort to adopt a statewide rent control policy and would have allowed local governments to adopt rent control far more broadly than is the case now. A similar version of this initiative failed in 2018, with 59% of Californians voting against it.
✓ Proposition 22 Reviving an old-school fight between business and labor, Proposition 22 reverses a labor-backed state law that narrowed the definition of independent contractors so that most were deemed employees. Uber, Lyft and DoorDash—the biggest backers of the measure—argued that their business models are successful because of independent contractors.
X Proposition 23 Proposition 23 would require dialysis clinics to have at least one physician present during all operating hours—usually six days a week—and clinics would be required to meet new standards of care.
✓ Proposition 24 Proposition 24 may refine and strengthen the 2019 California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), but whether or not the measure improves on the CCPA has been a debate since before the measure qualified for the ballot. The next step is implementation by 2023.
X Proposition 25 Proposition 25 was an effort to use the state referendum process to veto a law enacted in 2018 that would replace the existing cash bail system with a new points system. SB 10 was passed with supermajority support and signed by Democrat Governor Jerry Brown, but opposed by the ACLU of Northern California and the bail industry.

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Assembly Races

With all 80 seats in the Assembly up for election this year, Democrats led by Speaker Anthony Rendon started with a commanding majority of 61 Democrats, 18 Republicans and 1 Independent. This lopsided majority was already the largest margin for any party in more than 150 years, and it won’t be significantly eroded this year. The Assembly Democrats believe they will end up with a net loss of one seat (Assembly Member Christy Smith’s seat), which would change their supermajority to 60 Democrats, 19 Republicans and 1 Independent (Chad Mayes, who appears to have won).

District Democratic Candidate Republican Candidate Other Party
District 1

Elizabeth Betancourt

Megan Dahle (i)

District 2

Jim Wood (i)

Charlotte Svolos


District 3

James Henson

James Gallagher (i)

District 4

Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (i)

Matthew Nelson

District 5  

Frank Bigelow (i)

District 6

Jackie Smith

Kevin Kiley (i)

District 7

Kevin McCarty (i)


James Just (Libertarian Party)

District 8

Ken Cooley (i)

Cathy Cook

District 9

Jim Cooper (i)

Eric Rigard

District 10

Marc Levine (i)
Veronica Jacobi

District 11

Jim Frazier (i)

Debra Schwab


District 12

Paul Akinjo

Heath Flora (i)


District 13

Katherine Miller
Carlos Villapudua

District 14

Tim Grayson (i)

Janell Proctor

District 15

Buffy Wicks (i)


Sara Brink (Independent)

District 16

Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (i)

Joseph Rubay

District 17

David Chiu (i)


Starchild (Libertarian Party)

District 18

Rob Bonta (i)

Stephen Slauson

District 19

Phil Ting (i)

John McDonnell

District 20

Bill Quirk (i)
Alexis Villalobos

District 21

Adam Gray (i)

Joel Campos

District 22

Kevin Mullin (i)

Mark Gilham

District 23  

Jim Patterson (i)

District 24

Marc Berman (i)

Peter Ohtaki

District 25

Alex Lee

Bob Brunton

District 26

Drew Phelps

Devon Mathis (i)

District 27

Ash Kalra (i)

G. Burt Lancaster

District 28

Evan Low (i)

Carlos Rafael Cruz

District 29

Mark Stone (i)

Shomir Banerjee

District 30

Robert Rivas (i)

Gregory Swett

District 31

Joaquin Arambula (i)

Fernando Banuelos

District 32

Rudy Salas (i)

Todd Cotta

District 33  

Rick Herrick
Thurston Smith

District 34

Julie Solis

Vince Fong (i)

District 35

Dawn Addis

Jordan Cunningham (i)

District 36

Steve Fox

Tom Lackey (i)

District 37

Steve Bennett

Charles Cole

District 38  

Lucie Lapointe Volotzky
Suzette Martinez Valladares

District 39

Luz Maria Rivas (i)

Ricardo Benitez

District 40

James Ramos (i)

Jennifer Tullius

District 41

Chris Holden (i)

Robin Hvidston

District 42  

Andrew Kotyuk

Chad Mayes (i) (Independent)

District 43

Laura Friedman (i)

Mike Graves

District 44

Jacqui Irwin (i)

Denise Pedrow

District 45

Jesse Gabriel (i)

Jeffi Girgenti

District 46

Adrin Nazarian (i)
Lanira Murphy

District 47

Eloise Gomez Reyes (i)

Matthew Gordon

District 48

Blanca Rubio (i)

District 49

Edwin Chau (i)

Burton Brink

District 50

Richard Bloom (i)
Will Hess

District 51

Wendy Carrillo (i)

District 52

Freddie Rodriguez (i)

Toni Holle

District 53

Miguel Santiago (i)
Godfrey Santos Plata

District 54

Sydney Kamlager (i)
Tracy Bernard Jones

District 55

Andrew Rodriguez

Phillip Chen (i)

District 56

Eduardo Garcia (i)

America Figueroa

District 57

Lisa Calderon

Jessica Martinez

District 58

Cristina Garcia (i)


Margaret Villa (Green Party)

District 59

Reginald Jones-Sawyer (i)
Efren Martinez

District 60

Sabrina Cervantes (i)

Chris Raahauge

District 61

Jose Medina (i)

Ali Mazarei

District 62

Autumn Burke (i)

Robert Steele

District 63

Anthony Rendon (i)
Maria Estrada

District 64

Mike Gipson (i)
Fatima Iqbal-Zubair

District 65

Sharon Quirk-Silva (i)

Cynthia Thacker

District 66

Al Muratsuchi (i)

Arthur Schaper

District 67

Jerry Carlos

Kelly Seyarto

District 68

Melissa Fox

Steven S. Choi (i)

District 69

Tom Daly (i)

Jon Paul White

District 70

Patrick O'Donnell (i)

David Thomas

District 71

Liz Lavertu

Randy Voepel (i)

District 72

Diedre Nguyen

Janet Nguyen

District 73

Scott Rhinehart

Laurie Davies

District 74

Cottie Petrie-Norris (i)

Diane Dixon

District 75

Karen Schwartz

Marie Waldron (i)

District 76

Tasha Boerner Horvath (i)

Melanie Burkholder

District 77

Brian Maienschein (i)

June Yang Cutter

District 78

Sarah Davis
Christopher Ward

District 79

Shirley Weber (i)

John Moore

District 80

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (i)

John Vogel


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Senate Races

Twenty seats in the 40-member State Senate were on the ballot this year, and Democrats under the leadership of Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins started Election Day with an already powerful supermajority of 29 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Democrat Dave Min beat Republican incumbent Sen. John Moorlach, and Democrat Josh Newman beat Republican incumbent Sen. Ling Ling Chang. Two other possible Democratic pickups (Sen. Mike Morell’s vacancy in SD 23 and Sen. Scott Wilk’s seat in SD 21) are too close to call, but look to be out of reach for Democrats; nevertheless, the two-seat pickup for Democrats would bring the Senate supermajority to at least 30 Democrats, nine Republicans and one temporary vacancy created by the election of Democrat Holly Mitchell to the LA County Board of Supervisors. The vacancy will be filled by special election next spring, and the seat is in a heavily Democratic district.

District Democratic Republican Other
District 1

Pamela Swartz

Brian Dahle (i)

District 3

Bill Dodd (i)

Carlos Santamaria


District 5

Susan Talamantes Eggman

Jim Ridenour

District 7

Steve Glazer (i)

Julie Mobley

District 9

Nancy Skinner (i)


Jamie Dluzak (Libertarian Party)

District 11

Scott Wiener (i)
Jackie Fielder

District 13

Josh Becker

Alex Glew

District 15

Dave Cortese
Ann Ravel

District 17

John Laird

Vicki Nohrden

District 19

S. Monique Limón

Gary Michaels


District 21

? Kipp Mueller

? Scott Wilk (i)


District 23

Abigail Medina

? Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh

District 25

Anthony Portantino, Jr. (i)

Kathleen Hazelton

District 27

Henry Stern (i)

Houman Salem

District 29

Josh Newman

Ling Ling Chang (i)

District 31

Richard Roth (i)

Rod Taylor

District 33

Lena Gonzalez (i)
Elizabeth Castillo

District 35

Steven Bradford (i)


Anthony Perry (American Independent Party)

District 37

Dave Min

John M. W. Moorlach (i)

District 39

Toni Atkins (i)

Linda Blankenship


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Congressional Races

One Orange County Democrat, Harley Rouda, has conceded, and three more—Gil Cisneros, TJ Cox and Christy Smith—are currently behind in races still too close to call. All these races are for previously Republican seats Democrats flipped in 2018. The California congressional delegation is currently 45 Democrats, seven Republicans and one vacancy. When all votes are counted, the California congressional delegation will have between eight and 11 Republicans, contributing to national Republican gains in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

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