California is undeniably a deep blue state, but that doesn’t mean the electorate is all that “progressive” (read: “liberal.” “left-wing,” or “Berniecrat”—your choice.) . The Golden State is Obama-Clinton-Jerry Brown territory, not the far-left bastion painted by national Republicans.

This year’s mid-term election results underscored that reality.

Governor-elect Gavin Newsom talked a progressive game and cruised to an easy victory; but he never really veered that much to the left when it came to specifics. During the last legislative session, Newsom captured the hearts of the California Nurses Association and their allies by advocating “single-payer” health care, but his espousal of “universal health care” during this year’s campaign is littered with caveats. In reality, Newsom pretty much segued to the same slightly left-of-center middle ground on health care and other issues that his main Democratic primary opponents, Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang, occupied.

Newsom is good at talking the talk that warms the hearts of Berniecrats, but walking the walk is another story. (Around San Francisco, Kaiser Health News observed, “Newsom was known as ‘Mayor Press Release,’ meaning he had a lot of big ideas but little follow-through.”)

Senator Dianne Feinstein handily won re-election, but her margin of victory was in single digits. Her opponent, State Senator Kevin DeLeon attacked her from the left. So, did Senator Feinstein’s centrist leanings cost her many votes? Not likely. Since the November race was between two Democrats, it was unequivocally a referendum on Feinstein. All the evidence points to many Republicans supporting DeLeon simply to vote against the high-profile Democratic incumbent, especially in the wake of Feinstein’s starring role in the Justice Kavanaugh melodrama. Ironically, DeLeon’s lack of funding inhibited his campaign’s ability to communicate his liberal positions, so GOP voters may have had little inkling of how liberal DeLeon is.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is caricatured by GOP ad makers as “a San Francisco liberal”, but she isn’t viewed that way in the Bay Area, where her most vocal critics come from the left. The ultimate pragmatist, Pelosi, and her Democratic colleagues, were able to increase their overwhelming domination of the California Congressional delegation—critical to helping national Democrats take back the House majority. In the Golden State, anti-Pelosi rhetoric failed to gain much traction with voters.

The major showdown between the Democratic Party establishment and the energized left came in the race to win Berkeley’s 15th Assembly District, which became open when Democratic Assemblyman Tony Thurmond opted to run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Jovanka Beckles was the choice of Berniecrats—including Bernie Sanders himself. Her opponent was Buffy Wicks—a former Obama staffer—who was endorsed by Barack Obama and other big-name Democrats. In the end, Wicks won handily.

Another moderate victory was scored when Proposition 10—the pro-rent control measure—was soundly trounced in a statewide vote despite the support of Bernie Sanders and the California Nurses Association.

And don’t forget that, in 2016 , Hillary Clinton convincingly defeated Sanders in the California Democratic Presidential Primary.

None of this is all that surprising, given California’s history of veering to the middle of the road in statewide elections. Sure, the state’s diverse electorate is decisively pro-choice and culturally tolerant, but it is often resistant to higher taxes and proposals that are perceived as anti-business.

Republicans have been doing so badly here because they have driven off the right shoulder of the road—and the bus driver is Donald Trump.

Conservatives like to paint California as an ultra-liberal Sodom and Gomorrah, but the reality is much different. Jerry Brown’s strategy of paddling a little to the left and paddling a little to the right, then cruising down the middle, is what resonates with California voters.