Is Bakersfield, California a Liberal City?

The southern city center downtown area of Bakersfield aerial view illuminated by late afternoon light

Politics is the source of a lot of controversies, and many people want to know that those around them have similar political beliefs to their own. So, Are the residents of Bakersfield, California more likely to be liberal or conservative?

Bakersfield, California is not liberal, but it is moderately conservative. The city voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election since 2000. Kern County, Bakersfield’s county, is also moderately conservative, but California is a moderately liberal state.

There are a lot of factors to the political climate of a city. To figure out if Bakersfield is largely liberal or conservative, we need to look at the results of presidential elections, the local leaders, the policies that are supported, and the demographics.

Presidential Elections

The results of presidential elections in a city are a big indicator of whether it is liberal or conservative. The two major political parties in the United States, the Democratic party and the Republican party, are representative of the liberal and conservative perspectives. If the majority of residents in a city vote for the Democratic candidate, then the majority of residents are liberal. If the majority of residents vote for the Republican candidate, the city is mostly conservative.

The winner of the election is not the only thing we need to look at. Another indicator is the number of votes that the winner won by. A certain percentage of the votes will have been for the Democratic candidate, and another percentage will have been for the Republican candidate. To determine by how much a candidate won, look at the voting percentages. If the difference is high, the winning candidate won by a lot, and the city is solidly liberal or conservative. If the difference is low, the city is more evenly split between liberal and conservative.

California is a moderately liberalOpens in a new tab. state. The majority of California residents voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since 2000. The difference between the percentage of Democratic and Republican votes was higher than 20% except in 2000 and 2004. The lowest difference was 9.9% in 2004, and the highest difference was 30.1% in 2016.

In the 2020 presidential election, 63.5% of California residents voted for the Democratic candidate and 34.3% voted for the Republican candidate. The difference between the percentages was 29.2%, the second highest after that in 2016.

Kern County, the county that Bakersfield is in, is a moderately conservativeOpens in a new tab. area. The Republican candidate has won in the area in every election since 2000. The difference between the percentage of Democratic and Republican votes was between 10% and 25% except in 2004. The highest difference was 34% in 2004, and the lowest difference was 10.2% in 2020.

In the 2020 election, 53.88% of residents voted for the Republican candidate and 43.68% voted for the Democratic candidate. The difference between the percentages was 10.2%, the lowest it was during that 20-year period.

Bakersfield, like its county and the opposite of its state, is a moderately conservativeOpens in a new tab. city. The Republican candidate won in every election from 2000 to 2020. The difference between the percentages of Democratic and Republican votes was higher than 10% every year. This means that Bakersfield has been solidly conservative for at least the last 20 years.

From 2018 to 2021, there were 14,125 financial contributions to the Democratic party in Bakersfield. These added up to $976,201. In the same time period, there were 8,549 contributions to the Republican party, totaling $7,080,366. There were almost twice as many contributions to the Democratic party, but the Republican party received 7 times the amount of money. This is because the donations to the Republican party were 12 times larger on average than those to the Democratic party. There were more people willing to donate to the Democratic party in Bakersfield, but those who donated to the Republican party were willing to donate more money.

Local Leaders

The local leaders of a city represent the city’s political climate. The people elected the local leaders because of their political affiliations and promises. Looking at the party affiliations, enacted policies, and campaign platforms of the local leaders of Bakersfield can give us an idea of the political climate.


The mayor of Bakersfield is one of the most important elected officials in the city. The mayor is elected by the whole city to represent the people of the city in state, national, and international matters. The mayor also leads city council meetings and city ceremonies.

The current mayor of Bakersfield is Karen GohOpens in a new tab.. She was elected in 2016, then was reelected in 2020. Her current term will end in 2025. In 2016, she was elected with 52.75% of the vote, winning by 6,198 votes. She was reelected with 83.5% of the vote, winning by 53,243 votes.

Mayor Goh has had three key focuses as mayor: jobs, public safety, and education. She wants more jobs with better pay available to citizens. She wants a stronger relationship to be built with police officers. She also wants to have the government and businesses work more closely with schools.

The mayoral elections in Bakersfield are nonpartisan, so Mayor Goh does not belong to a political party. However, she has been known to be affiliated with the Republican party. Her focuses as mayor are also consistent with a conservative point of view.

City Council

The Bakersfield City CouncilOpens in a new tab. is a board of elected officials that is the legislative part of the local government. The city council is responsible for adopting the budget, approving the appointments of the mayor, imposing taxes, and creating or changing laws. There are eight members of the city council including the mayor. The mayor is elected by the whole city, but the other seven members are each elected by one of the city’s seven wards.

The city council has established its goals as the following:

  • Reducing crime
  • Addressing homelessness
  • Maintaining fiscal solvency
  • Enhancing the quality of life of residents
  • Strengthening the economy
  • Improving infrastructure
  • Developing the downtown area.

All of the current members of the city council are nonpartisan. However, the goals of the city council are consistent with a largely conservative city council.


The policies that the residents of a city support are another indicator of the political climate. Certain policies are more likely to be supported or opposed by liberals or conservatives. Fewer abortion laws, more gun control laws, and legal same-sex marriage are likely to be supported by liberals and opposed by conservatives.


Abortions in California must be performed before 24 weeksOpens in a new tab. of pregnancy unless the mother or child’s life is in danger. Unlike many other states, California does not require patients to get counseling or an ultrasound before receiving an abortion. Health plans, public funding, and private insurance policies will cover abortions.

In 2017, there were 419 facilities in California that offer abortions. 161 of them were clinics. This is a 6% increase from 2014. 40% of California counties don’t have clinics providing abortions, leaving only 3% of California women without access to abortion clinics.

Bakersfield residents tend to oppose the low number of abortion laws in California, wanting an increase in laws or the complete banning of abortion altogether. This is consistent with a conservative perspective rather than a liberal one.

Gun Control Laws

California had the 7th lowest gun death rate and 5th lowest crime gun export rate in 2020. California has the strongest gun control laws in the United States. California gun laws includeOpens in a new tab.: universal background checks, domestic violence gun laws, assault weapon and large capacity magazine bands, waiting periods, concealed and open carry regulations, minimum age laws, safe storage laws, lost/stolen firearm reporting, a ghost gun ban, and regulation for gun dealers.

Bakersfield residents tend to oppose the high number of gun control laws in California, wanting a decrease in gun laws. This is consistent with a conservative perspective.

Same-Sex Marriage

California legalized same-sex marriage on June 28, 2013Opens in a new tab., and was the 10th state to do so. This was two years before the Supreme Court mandate requiring all states to legalize same-sex marriage was instituted. Bakersfield residents tended to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, which is consistent with a conservative perspective.


vineyard for famous california wine at Bakersfield, California, USA

The populationOpens in a new tab. of Bakersfield is about 385,725. The population density is about 2,576 people per square mile. 51.0% of the population is female and 49.0% is male. The median age is 30.2 and the average number of people per household is 3.2.

The racial makeupOpens in a new tab. of Bakersfield is as follows:

  • White: 33.7%
  • Black: 7.1%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 49.2%
  • Asian: 7.2%
  • Native American: 0.4%
  • Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.2%
  • Two or More Races: 2.1%
  • Other: 0.2%

The average incomeOpens in a new tab. in Bakersfield is about $23,786 per year. The median household income is about $56,842 per year. The unemployment rate is 8.0%. The sales tax rate is 7.3%, and the income tax rate is 9.3%.

80%Opens in a new tab. of residents are high school graduates and 24.7% are only high school graduates. 14.2% of residents have two-year degrees, 21.5% have four-year degrees, 1.5% have master’s degrees, and 0.9% have professional degrees.

49.4%Opens in a new tab. of Bakersfield residents are religious.

Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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