(Editor’s Note: With an eye on the upcoming election, the Public Policy Institute of California takes a detailed look at the California voters — their demographic characteristics, party affiliations, political ideologies, and views on key issues. Yesterday we published California Voter and Party Profiles. Today, PPIC’s authors cover California’s Likely Voters.)

Voter registration has grown since 2010, but it is down for both of the major parties.
At the close of registration for the June 2014 primary election, 17.7 million of California’s 24.2 million eligible adults were registered to vote. Since 2010, the last gubernatorial primary year, the share of eligible adults who are registered has grown from 72.4% to 73.3%. The share of voters registered with the Democratic Party (43.4%) is down slightly from 44.5% in 2010, as is the share registered with the Republican Party (30.8% to 28.4%). The percentage of voters without a party preference is up from 20.2% in 2010 to 21.2%.

Likely voters, infrequent voters, and unregistered adults lean Democratic and are ideologically mixed.
Among likely voters in our surveys, 44% are Democrats, 32% are Republicans, and 19% are independents (also known as decline-to-state or no party preference). Of those we consider infrequent voters, 44% are Democrats, 30% are independents, 22% are Republicans, and 5% are registered with other parties. Among independent likely voters, 40% lean toward the Democratic Party, compared to 29% who lean toward the Republican Party and 31% who volunteer that they lean toward neither major party or are unsure. Among unregistered adults, 47% lean toward the Democratic Party and 21% toward the Republican Party; 32% lean toward neither party or are unsure. Ideologically, 34% of likely voters are politically liberal, 29% are moderate, and 38% are conservative. Identical shares of infrequent voters consider themselves conservative, moderate, or liberal (33% each). Unregistered adults are also ideologically mixed: 35% are conservative, 33% are liberal, and 32% are moderate.

Table_LikelyVotersLikely voters are disproportionately white.
Whites make up only 44% of California’s adult population but represent 62% of the state’s likely voters. In contrast, Latinos comprise 34% of the adult population but just 17% of likely voters. Asians make up 14% of the population and 11% of likely voters, while blacks comprise 6% of both the population and likely voters, and “other race” and multiracial adults make up 3% of both the population and likely voters. More than a third (37%) of infrequent voters are white, and 31% are Latino. Sixty percent of unregistered adults are Latino; fewer are white (23%), Asian (13%), or black (3%).

The regional distribution of likely voters echoes that of the state’s adult population distribution.
The share of likely voters in each region mirrors the region’s share of the state’s overall adult population: Los Angeles County (27% of adults, 25% of likely voters), the San Francisco Bay Area (20% of adults, 22% of likely voters), Orange/San Diego Counties (17% of adults, 18% of likely voters), Central Valley (17% of adults, 16% of likely voters), Inland Empire (11% of adults, 9% of likely voters). The largest shares of infrequent voters (30%) and unregistered adults (27%) live in Los Angeles County.

Likely voters are older, more educated, more affluent; they are homeowners and born in the U.S.
Californians age 55 and older represent 31% of the state’s adult population but constitute 45% of likely voters. Young adults (18 to 34) make up 32% of the population but only 18% of likely voters, while adults ages 35 to 54 are proportionally represented. Among likely voters, 41% are college graduates and 41% have at least some college education; 18% have no college education. Forty-one percent of likely voters have annual household incomes of $80,000 or more, while 30% earn between $40,000 to under $80,000 and 29% earn $40,000 or less. The vast majority (72%) of likely voters are homeowners (28% are renters). In contrast, 67% of unregistered adults and 63% of infrequent voters are renters. Eighty-three percent of likely voters were born in the U.S. (17% are immigrants). Women (51%) and men (49%) make up similar shares of the likely voters in California.