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California Politics
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California Politics
A Primer

Sixth Edition


January 2021 | 256 pages | CQ Press
Help students to understand how California's political system works with this concise text, thoroughly revised for the Sixth Edition. Author Renée Van Vechten presses students to think about how history, political culture, rules, and institutions conspire to shape politics today, and how they will determine the state of affairs tomorrow. From the structure of the state's government to its local representatives, policies, and voter participation, California Politics: A Primer provides the concepts and details students need.
 

Instructors! The Instructor Resource Site gives you access to all of the resources included with this text. Learn 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

 
Unleashing the Initiative

 
Hyperdiversity in a Modern State

 
Recalling and Replacing a Governor

 
The Return of Jerry Brown

 
Governor Newsom and the Season of Unrest

 
Conclusion: Political Earthquakes and Evolving Institutions

 
 
Chapter 3: Direct Democracy
The Statewide 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

 
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

 
Juries

 
Criminal Justice and Its Costs

 
Conclusion: Access to Justice

 
 
Chapter 7: Other Governments
County Governments

 
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

 
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 Action

 
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
Online resources included with this text

The online resources for your text are available via the password-protected Instructor Resource Site, which offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides.

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"This text does an excellent job providing a broad based understanding of the California governance. It is easy to read and the publisher
provides resources to assist in teaching."

Dr. Roger Lang
MSJC

"I feel the text covers the basics of state government in California and provides a solid foundation from which to expand an examination
of the system of government in the golden state...One of the better texts covering the California government."

Steven Marin
Victor Valley College
Key features
NEW TO THIS EDITION:
  • Updated coverage on California’s racial and ethnic politics, its situation in a federal system, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the relationship between tribal governments and the state.
  • 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 topics like California’s sanctuary state status, immigration policies, 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 emission 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.
  • Updated coverage of the “Five Californias” gives students a better understanding of California’s political geography, racial and ethnic divides, 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, charts, and graphs depicting party control of state government, the scale of protest activity, and other important data released by the secretary of state, public affairs research organizations, and state agencies.
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.

For instructors

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