|Gary Johnson, Libertarian for President, sign photographed in the wine country of Livermore, California on September 23, 2016. Livermore was Johnson's best city in the "East Bay" portion of the San Francisco Bay Area. Photo by CalPolitiCal.|
Although many registered Republican and Democratic voters were dissatisfied with their parties' presidential nominees in 2016, relatively few California voters supported third party candidates (Jill Stein, Green; Gary Johnson, Libertarian; Gloria Estela La Riva, Peace & Freedom). Statewide, 5.9 percent of votes went to these three third-party candidates collectively (3.3% Libertarian, 1.1% Green, 0.5% Peace & Freedom).
In just a dozen California cities, at least ten percent of voters voted for candidates other than Clinton or Trump in the 2016 presidential election:
(1) Arcata (Humboldt Co.), 13.9%
(2) Sand City (Monterey Co.), 12.2%
(3) Mt. Shasta (Siskiyou Co.), 11.7%
(4) Blue Lake (Humboldt Co.), 11.5%
(5) Pt. Arena (Mendocino Co.), 11.2%
(6) Nevada City (Nevada Co.), 10.8%
(7) Rio Dell (Humboldt Co.), 10.6%
(8) Eureka (Humboldt Co.), 10.5%
(9) Crescent City (Del Norte Co.), 10.4%
(10) Vernon (Los Angeles Co.), 10.4%
(11) Dunsmuir (Siskiyou Co.), 10.1%
(12) Lakeport (Lake Co.), 10.0%
Clinton won ten of these cities; Trump won two: Rio Dell and Crescent City.
Most of these "high third party" cities are in in northwestern California. They tend to be pro-Green Party hot spots. In Arcata, for example, Stein (Green) won 10.1 percent of the vote.
The third-party vote in Crescent City likely swung that city into Trump's column. The Crescent City vote was 515 Trump, 498 Clinton, 59 Johnson (5.2%), 47 Stein (4.1%), 12 La Riva (1.1%). Crescent City has supported the national winner of every presidential election since 1964, with one exception (1988).
California Cities Wherein Libertarian Gary Johnson Won More Than 5 PercentThe Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld won 3.3 percent of the statewide vote. The Libertarian ticket won more than five percent of the vote in 49 California cities.
Here are Johnson/Weld's top twenty-five California cities in the 2016 presidential election:
(1) Ridgecrest (Kern Co.), 7.5%
(2) Rio Dell (Humboldt Co.), 6.6%
(3) Montague (Siskiyou Co.), 6.5%
(4) Sand City (Monterey Co.), 6.4%
(5) Loomis (Placer Co.), 6.4%
(6) Atherton (San Mateo Co.), 6.3%
(7) Angels (Calaveras Co.), 6.3%
(8) Lakeport (Lake Co.), 6.2%
(9) Ross (Marin Co.), 6.1%
(10) Auburn (Placer Co.), 6.0%
(11) Hermosa Beach (Los Angeles Co.), 5.9%
(12) Livermore (Alameda Co.), 5.9%
(13) San Luis Obispo, 5.9%
(14) Placerville (El Dorado Co.), 5.9%
(15) Grover Beach (San Luis Obispo Co.), 5.9%
(16) Folsom (Sacramento Co.), 5.8%
(17) Amador (Amador Co.), 5.7%
(18) Fort Jones (Siskiyou Co.), 5.7%
(19) Twenty-nine Palms (San Bern. Co.), 5.7%
(20) Rocklin (Placer Co.), 5.7%
(21) El Segundo (Los Angeles Co.), 5.6%
(22) Colfax (Placer Co.), 5.6%
(23) Arroyo Grande (S.L. Obispo Co.), 5.6%
(24) Chico (Butte Co.), 5.6%
(25) Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz Co.), 5.6%
The top Libertarian (Johnson/Weld) cities were in a few clusters:
(A) military base towns (Ridgecrest, Twenty-nine Palms),
(B) Sierra foothills (Loomis, Angels, Auburn, Placerville, Folsom, Amador, Rocklin, Colfax),
(C) San Luis Obispo area (San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande) and
(D) beach communities south of LAX Airport (Hermosa Beach, El Segundo).
Ridgecrest, in the Mojave Desert portion of Kern County, was the Libertarian ticket's best city in California in 2016. It is adjacent to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. Ridgecrest voted two-to-one for Trump: Trump 60.4%, Clinton 30.1%, Johnson 7.5%. Many of the Johnson voters in Ridgecrest likely were traditional Republican voters who disfavored Trump. In 2012, Ridgecrest voted Romney 66.3%, Obama 30.0%, Johnson 2.3%. Ridgecrest was Johnson's best California city in 2016, but just his sixth best in 2012.
Strength of the Libertarian ticket in Folsom helped to tip that city to Hillary Clinton. Clinton won Folsom by 61 votes (Clinton 15,118 votes, 46.6% vs. Trump 14,957 votes, 46.1%). The Johnson/Weld ticket garnered 1,876 votes in Folsom (5.8%). In 2012, the Libertarian Party won just 449 votes in Folsom (1.5%) as Republican "Mitt" Romney (16,831 votes, 55.4%) defeated President Obama (12,818 votes, 42.2%). Republican President George W. Bush trounced Democrat John Kerry in Folsom in 2004 (Bush 17,234 votes, 63.2% vs. Kerry 9,808 votes, 36.0%). Over 12 years, the Republican ticket lost nearly 2,300 votes as the Democratic ticket gained nearly 5,300 votes in Folsom. The 2016 presidential election was the first in 40 years in which Folsom backed a Democrat; Folsom supported the Republican presidential ticket from 1980 to 2012.
Similarly, in Placentia in Orange County, strength of the Libertarian party aided Hillary Clinton. Clinton won Placentia by fourteen votes (Clinton 9,828 vs. Trump 9,814); Libertarian Gary Johnson won 852 votes there (4.1%). Placentia had not voted Democratic for president in more than 50 years. Clinton won Seal Beach in Orange County by 67 votes (7,087 Clinton vs. 7,020 Trump); Johnson won 493 votes (3.3%) in Seal Beach. The last time that a Democrat won Seal Beach in a presidential election was 1992, when Bill Clinton narrowly defeated Republican President George H.W. Bush; Perot votes aided Bill Clinton in winning Seal Beach in '92 (Bill Clinton 6,289 votes vs. Bush 6,176 votes vs. Perot 3,234 votes).
Unincorporated San Luis Obispo County traditionally has been a Republican area in presidential elections, but Hillary Clinton won that area in 2016 by 23 votes (Clinton 26,775 votes vs. Trump 26,752 votes). The Libertarian ticket won 2,473 votes there (4.3%), likely swinging this jurisdiction into Clinton's column. Obama lost unincorporated San Luis Obispo County to Romney in 2012 by 3,300 votes [when Libertarian Johnson won 687 votes (1.3%)]; Obama lost this jurisdiction to McCain in 2008 by 1,097 votes. Bill Clinton lost unincorporated San Luis Obispo County to George H.W. Bush by 321 votes in 1992, when Perot won 11,293 votes. Prior to 2016, the last time that unincorporated San Luis Obispo County voted Democratic in presidential election was in the 1964 Lyndon Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater landslide.
Three San Francisco Bay Area cities were among the top Libertarian cities in California in 2016: Atherton, Ross and Livermore. All three cities voted for Clinton in 2016, but they are all "upscale" communities that had been Republican-dominant until a generation ago. Atherton was one of the two Bay Area cities that supported Republican "Mitt" Romney in 2012. Ross is among Marin County's most conservative cities, backing Republicans for president from 1964 (Goldwater) to 1988 (George H.W. Bush). Livermore was Trump's best city in Alameda County in 2016 (35.1%); Livermore backed George W. Bush in 2000.
California's Top 20 Green Party (Jill Stein) Cities in 2016 Presidential ElectionThe Green Party presidential ticket won 1.1 percent of the statewide vote. Whereas the Libertarian Party presidential ticket won at least five percent of the vote in 49 California cities in 2016, the Green Party ticket won at least five percent in 11 cities. The top 20 Green Party presidential vote cities in California in 2016 were:
(1) Arcata (Humboldt Co.), 10.1%
(2) Pt. Arena (Mendocino Co.), 9.7%
(3) Blue Lake (Humboldt Co.), 8.1%
(4) Nevada City (Nevada Co.), 7.7%
(5) Trinidad (Humboldt Co.), 7.6%
(6) Mt. Shasta (Siskiyou Co.), 7.2%
(7) Vernon (Los Angeles Co.), 6.3%
(8) Eureka (Humboldt Co.), 5.9%
(9) Sand City (Monterey Co.), 5.8%
(10) Willits (Mendocino Co.), 5.5%
(11) Sebastopol (Sonoma Co.), 5.1%
(12) Dunsmuir (Siskiyou Co.), 4.9%
(13) Santa Cruz, 4.8%
(14) Fairfax (Marin Co.), 4.6%
(15) Berkeley (Alameda Co.), 4.6%
(16) Grass Valley (Nevada Co.), 4.4%
(17) Ukiah (Mendocino Co.), 4.4%
(18) Clearlake (Lake Co.), 4.3%
(19) Cotati (Sonoma Co.), 4.2%
(20) Crescent City (Del Norte Co.), 4.2%
California's top Green Party cities are concentrated in the North Coast counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin, plus Lake County a bit inland. College towns also rank high on the Green Party top cities list: Arcata (California State University-Humboldt), Berkeley (University of California) and Santa Cruz (University of California). Berkeley was the only California city wherein Trump placed third; the Green Party presidential ticket won 2,947 votes compared to 2,031 votes for Trump.
Nevada County's three cities, no. 4 Nevada City, no. 16 Grass Valley and no. 32 Truckee, rank high on the pro-Green list. Two Siskiyou County cities rank high on the Green Party list: Mt. Shasta and Dunsmuir. (Two different Siskiyou County cities, Montague and Fort Jones, are among the high Libertarian Party performers.)
Vernon and Sand City are "outliers" in that there is no simple explanation as to why they are so pro-Green Party. Both have small populations (Sand City, 334 population in 2010 Census; Vernon, 112 population in 2010), so every Green Party vote has a major effect on the city-wide percentages. Both cities also disproportionately have industrial or commercial land uses relative to residential land use. Taxable sales per capita in Vernon in 2015 were $2.28 million compared to $10,000 in the neighboring city of Huntington Park. Taxable sales per capita in Sand City in 2015 were $531,300 compared to under $17,700 in the neighboring city of Seaside. Sand City has an artists' colony in its West End, which may have supplied many of the Green Party votes. Vernon was one of just twelve cities in Los Angeles County that supported Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama in 2008. Vernon is an especially peculiar city in that many of its residents are municipal employees who live in city-owned dwellings. Efforts have been made to "disincorporate" the city.
Top Peace & Freedom California Cities in 2016 Presidential ElectionThe Peace & Freedom Party ticket (Gloria La Riva) won around 0.47 percent of the vote statewide in the 2016 presidential election in California. The top twenty cities were:
(1) Irwindale (L.A. County), 2.2%
(2) Plymouth (Amador Co.), 2.0%
(3) McFarland (Kern Co.), 2.0%
(4) San Juan Bautista (San Benito Co.), 1.6%
(5) Calipatria (Imperial Co.), 1.6%
(6) Loyalton (Sierra Co.), 1.5%
(7) Firebaugh (Fresno Co.), 1.4%
(8) Commerce (L.A. Co.), 1.3%
(9) Wasco (Kern Co.), 1.3%
(10) Corcoran (Kings Co.), 1.3%
(11) Etna (Siskiyou Co.), 1.3%
(12) Cudahy (L.A. Co.), 1.3%
(13) Woodlake (Tulare Co.), 1.3%
(14) Greenfield (Monterey Co.), 1.3%
(15) Pico Rivera (L.A. County), 1.2%
(16) Barstow (San Bernardino Co.), 1.2%
(17) Baldwin Park (L.A. Co.), 1.2%
(18) Soledad (Monterey Co.), 1.2%
(19) Isleton (Sacramento Co.), 1.2%
(20) Guadalupe (Santa Barb. Co.), 1.2%
No clear geographical trend can be discerned among the top Peace & Freedom cities in California. Many La Riva voters may have been "none-of-the-above" voters, who voted Peace & Freedom on a whim, almost randomly. The ticket tended to perform best in small cities, where each additional vote had a greater effect on the ticket's overall performance in that city (the Peace & Freedom ticket won fewer than ten votes in four cities on the top 20 list). Among the top twenty Peace & Freedom cities, four (Plymouth, Loyalton, Etna and Barstow) supported Trump.
Irwindale was the best Peace & Freedom Party city in California in 2016 (2.2 percent), but a mere fourteen votes were recorded for the La Riva ticket there. Irwindale and South El Monte are the "stalwart" Democratic cities in the San Gabriel Valley; they have always voted for a Democrat for president from 1964 to 2016.
La Riva appeared on the presidential ballot in eight states in November 2016: California, Washington (Socialism and Liberation Party), New Mexico (Socialism and Liberation), Colorado (Socialism and Liberation Party), Iowa (Socialism and Liberation Party), Louisiana (Socialism and Liberation Party), New Jersey (Socialism and Liberation Party) and Vermont (Liberty Union Party).