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California Politics
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California Politics
A Primer

Fifth Edition
Additional resources:


February 2018 | 224 pages | CQ Press

“A thorough yet concise overview of California institutions, politics, and initiative process, grounded in an overview of California’s political culture.”

—Ronnee Schreiber, San Diego State University

The thoroughly revised Fifth Edition of California Politics: A Primer concisely explains how California’s history, political culture, rules, and institutions come together to shape politics today and how they will determine the state of affairs tomorrow. Author Renee B. Van Vechten begins with a brief political history of California, then walks through direct democracy, the legislature, executive branch, and court system. She covers local government and concludes with a discussion of the state’s budget process, campaigns and elections, political engagement, and policy issues. From the structure of the state's government to its local representatives, policies, and voter participation, California Politics: A Primer delivers the concepts and details students need.

New to the Fifth Edition

  • An emphasis on California’s place in the federal system provides students with context around the state leadership's resistance to Trump administration policies on things like California’s sanctuary state status, immigration, the environment, and more.
  • Increased coverage of policy topics throughout the book helps students see how recent policy has impacted issues such as greenhouse gas emissions regulations, attempted “fixes” for water- and drought-related issues, new transportation projects, and prison reform.  
  • Extended discussions of elections-related innovations introduce students to recent elections-related topics such as the Top-Two Primary, efforts to increase voter registration, all vote-by-mail elections, and redistricting.
  • New coverage of the “Five Californias” gives students a better understanding of California’s political geography and how distinct segments of the population are primed for political engagement or disaffection.
  • New lists of key terms with clear definitions at the end of each chapter enable students to review the content more effectively.  
  • New and updated maps and graphics depict important topics such as California’s newly proposed high-speed rail project.
Instructors, sign in at study.sagepub.com/california5e to access test banks built on Bloom’s Taxonomy; editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides; a set of all the graphics from the text; and more!

 
About the Author
 
Preface
 
Chapter 1: Introduction
Principles for Understanding California Politics

 
 
Chapter 2: Critical Junctures
Early California

 
The Rise of the Southern Pacific Railroad

 
Progressivism

 
The Power of Organized Interests

 
Growth and Industrialization in the Golden State

 
The Initiative Process Takes Hold

 
Hyperdiversity in a Modern State

 
Recalling a Governor

 
Pushing Ahead with More Reforms

 
The Return of Jerry Brown

 
Conclusion: Political Earthquakes and Evolving Institutions

 
 
Chapter 3: Direct Democracy
The Statewide Initiative Process

 
Preparation Stage: Drafting, Public Review, and Titling

 
Qualification Stage: Circulating Petitions, Gathering Signatures, and Signature Verification

 
Campaign Stage: Persuading Potential Voters

 
Postelection Stage: Court Challenges and Implementation

 
The Power of the Initiative Process

 
Referendum

 
Recall

 
Direct Democracy at the Local Level

 
Conclusion: The Perils and Promises of Hybrid Democracy

 
 
Chapter 4: The State Legislature
Design, Purpose, and Function of the Legislature

 
California Representatives at Work

 
Lawmaking and Policymaking

 
Annual Budgeting

 
Constituency Service and Outreach

 
Executive Branch Oversight

 
Leaders

 
Conclusion: Of the People, for the People

 
 
Chapter 5: The Executive Branch
California’s Plural Executive

 
California’s Governor

 
The Constitutional Executive Officers

 
Administrators and Regulators

 
Conclusion: Leading State Government

 
 
Chapter 6: The Court System
The Three-Tiered Court System

 
On and Off the Court

 
Court Administration

 
Criminal Justice and Its Costs

 
Conclusion: Access to Justice

 
 
Chapter 7: Other Governments
County Government

 
Municipal Governments

 
Special Districts

 
School Districts

 
Regional Governments

 
Federalism

 
Tribal Governments

 
Conclusion: The State’s Interlocking Systems

 
 
Chapter 8: The California Budget Process
California Budgeting 101

 
Mechanics of Budgeting: Revenue

 
Mechanics of Budgeting: Expenditures, Deficits, and Debt

 
Political Constraints on Budgeting

 
Tax Burden: Highest in the Nation?

 
Conclusion: Budgeting under Variable Conditions

 
 
Chapter 9: Political Parties, Elections, and Campaigns
Democratic Stronghold, but Weakly Partisan

 
Party in the California Electorate

 
Party in Government

 
Party Organizations

 
Party in Informal Networks

 
Elections: Continuity and Change

 
California Campaigns

 
Conclusion: A Complex Electorate

 
 
Chapter 10: Political Engagement
Citizens and Politics

 
Predictors of Political Participation and Disengagement

 
The Five Californias

 
News and Media Habits

 
Types of Political Participation

 
Major Voting Trends

 
Special Interest Groups: Indirectly Connecting Citizens to Government

 
Conclusion: An Evolving Political Community

 
 
Chapter 11: Concluding Thoughts
 
Notes
 
Index

Supplements

Instructor Resources Site

Password-protected INSTRUCTOR RESOURCES you’ll actually use! 

Save time and ease class preparation with additional guidance and tools, including:

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for the course
  • A set of all graphics from the text, including maps, tables, and figures, in PowerPoint, .pdf, and .jpg formats for class presentations

“A thorough yet concise overview of California institutions, politics, and initiative process, grounded in an overview of California’s political culture.”

Ronnee Schreiber
San Diego State University

“Van Vechten renders the material approachable. Her writing style has a narrative flow, but the language is not simplistic. The clear visuals assist students in honing their abilities to comprehend non-narrative information.”

Maria Sampanis
California State University, Sacramento

California Politics provides students with the nuts and bolts necessary to understand what goes on in Sacramento, while also giving them the tools they need to delve deeper into the process if they desire.”

David Fisk
University of California, San Diego
Key features

 NEW TO THIS EDITION: 

  • An emphasis on California’s place in the federal system provides students with context around the state leadership's resistance to Trump administration policies on things like California’s sanctuary state status, immigration, the environment, and more.
  • Increased coverage of policy topics throughout the book helps students see how recent policy has impacted issues such as greenhouse gas emissions regulations, attempted “fixes” for water- and drought-related issues, new transportation projects, and prison reform.  
  • Extended discussions of elections-related innovations introduce students to recent elections-related topics such as the Top-Two Primary, efforts to increase voter registration, all vote-by-mail elections, and redistricting.
  • New coverage of the “Five Californias” gives students a better understanding of California’s political geography and how distinct segments of the population are primed for political engagement or disaffection.
  • New lists of key terms with clear definitions at the end of each chapter enable students to review the content more effectively. 
  • New and updated maps and graphics depict important topics such as California’s newly proposed high-speed rail project.


KEY FEATURES: 

  • Fast Facts boxes provide data and a snapshot of information on topics such as the legislature and plural executive.
  • Charts, graphs, and tables illustrate campaign and election trends, demographic patterns, and budgeting trends.
  • Photos, maps, and cartograms illustrate California’s diversity, government in action, and citizen engagement.

 

 

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 3: Direct Democracy


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