Santa Clara, California is a beach city that is surrounded by large metropolitan areas, and while it is not very large itself, it attracts many people. With more than 126,723 residents, there are many differing opinions and views among this large population. This can lead many people to wonder about the political views and majority in the city of Santa Clara as a whole.
Santa Clara, California is a strongly liberal city. When the voting history, size and location, diversity, demographic, and general education level of the city were compared to research on these factors, the implications are substantially supportive of this claim.
It is interesting to see how each of these factors influences the city of Santa Clara to be as liberal as it is, both individually and together. The following statistics and information are given to help people learn more about Santa Clara and the political views of its residents.
Voting and Political History
In the 2020 presidential election, 72.6% of registered Santa Clara County residents voted Democrat and only 25.2% voted for the Republican Party. This is in overwhelming favor of the Democratic Party, which implies that Santa Clara has a substantially large Democratic population. While those statistics reflect the county as a whole, it was determined that the city of Santa Clara itself is also strongly liberal.
Between 2018 and 2021, it was reported that 40,168 contributions were made to the Democratic Party and other liberal campaigns by residents of Santa Clara County. These contributions ended up with a grand total of $4,401,786.
In the same 3-year time frame, only 3,187 contributions from this area were made to the support of any Republican Party and conservative campaigns, equaling only $606,670. As these statistics clearly show, there are far more supporters of the Democratic party and liberal views’ campaigns within Santa Clara than are shown to their opponents’ Republican party and conservative campaigns within the same city.
This county’s presidential election voting statistics were compared to that of California and the United States, and it was found that Santa Clara is both more liberal and less conservative than the average California or United States county.
It is important to note that Santa Clara is also becoming increasingly polarized. Their voting history entails a 60.6% Democratic vote and a 34.4% Republican vote in the year 2000. In 2004, 63.94% voted liberally, while 34.63% voted conservatively. Then, in 2008, this statistic drastically polarized to a 69.45% Democratic vote and 28.55% Republican vote. This polarization continued in 2012 with a 70.1% Liberal vote and a 27.19% Republican vote. The gap got even larger in 2016, with 72.71% of the population voting Democrat and 20.58% voting Republican.
This difference in the amount of liberal and conservative voters in Santa Clara was tracked. Starting in 2000, liberal voting dominated by 26.2%. then in 2004 it was 29.31%, 40.9% in 2008, 42.91% in 2012, and 52.13% in 2016. So, from the year 2000 to 2016, Santa Clara County has shifted 25.93% towards being more liberal than conservative. These numbers continue to rise drastically as the Democratic party support continues to increase amongst residents in the city.
Size and Location of Santa Clara
While Santa Clara is only 18.28 square miles, it is home to about 127,647 residents as of the 2020 census, taken by the US Census Bureau. Although this does not qualify it to be a big city, Santa Clara is basically a coastal city, so it attracts an incredibly large amount of people.
It is also located near big cities like Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, which are largely populated cities that also lean liberally. Liberal areas tend to attract more liberal newcomers, further establishing the political majority in an area. The same can generally be said of strongly Republican areas and the incoming population of these areas.
In a study done by Washington University in St. Loius, they found that the urban-rural political divide is founded in the geography of the areas and not just in the different types of people living there. More specifically, they concluded that how close a resident lives to a major metropolitan area and the population density of their city are very influential in how individuals shape their political beliefs. Their data suggested that a person living in a densely populated area is 11% more likely to identify as a strong Democrat than someone of the same gender, age, and income in a rural area.
It is important to take into consideration that in this study, researchers defined a major metropolitan area as a city with over 100,000 people. This means that Santa Clara itself is a major metropolitan area, which makes it a lot more likely that the residents here would identify as liberal.
It is also close to two other major metropolitan areas, including San Jose and Sunnyvale, both of which are more populous and densely packed than Santa Clara. This means that they would also have a significant influence on the political stance of the city because they are so closely located. Additionally, many metropolitan areas with liberal reputations attract more liberal people, making them more liberal over time as the overall population continues to grow.
Being a densely populated coastal city, it makes sense that Santa Clara would be a liberal city because larger populations bring wider diversity, and wide diversity typically causes residents to have more liberal views.
The residents of Santa Clara are pretty racially diverse, as 41.5% of the residents are Asian, 33.1% are White, and 17.1% are Hispanic. While these are the most populous three races in Santa Clara, 4.1% of residents are mixed race (two or more), and 3.4% are African American. People of Native American, Hawaiian, or Other descent make up less than 0.7% of the population.
Overall, just more than 30% of the entire city’s population is white. This shows great racial diversity within the city and among its residents as a whole population. As was mentioned beforehand, larger cities, more diverse populations, and liberal political views tend to work hand in hand in the majority of areas, populations, and situations.
It has recently been found that the younger generations are growing increasingly more liberal. Considering that Santa Clara University is located in Santa Clara and has a student population of about 9,015, it makes sense that this younger generation of college students would be influencing the political stance of the city.
The majority of these students are likely a large contributing factor to the area’s strength in the Democratic majority. Cities that have lots of colleges and universities are well known to be areas that have more liberal voting trends and statistics than others.
It is often found that people who have an advanced degree are more likely to be liberal rather than conservative. Considering the fact that Santa Clara has a large university, an adult education center, and many other educational resources, including something called a supplemental Migrant Education program, which provides specialized schooling to immigrants, it makes sense that Santa Clara would be mostly liberal when it comes to the political opinions of residents
They also spend more money on their students than the average US school. The average school across the nation spends $12,383 on each student, while Santa Clara schools spend about $15,355 on each child. The effect of this is shown through the fact that this area has a 92% high school graduation rate compared to California’s average of 82.5%. In addition to this, only 14.9% of Santa Clara’s residents stopped receiving education upon high school graduation, while California’s average is 21.5%.
For a 2-year college degree, Santa Clara beats the average California city, as 30.2% of residents have a 2-year degree, while only 20.4% of residents of most California cities have a 2-year degree.
Santa Clara significantly beats California’s average again when it comes to 4-year degrees. While 32.6% of the typical California city residents earn a 4-year degree, 57% of Santa Clara’s residents earn a 4-year degree. This is partially due to the fact that Santa Clara has its own university, which would draw more student residents to the area, and in doing so, there is an increase in the education rates of the city.
Like the state of California as a whole, Santa Clara is a strong supporter of the Democratic party and liberal views in terms of political stances. Most liberals believe that abortion should be made legal and easily accessible to anyone who wishes to have one performed. This opposes conservative views that abortions should be banned and that access to these procedures should be limited.
Santa Clara government officials and residents were outraged by the US Supreme Court ruling in June 2022 that made it possible for states to ban abortions completely. On the day of the announcement, many of these officials and residents gathered at the Robert Peckham Federal Building to rally support for reproductive rights and affirm their pro-abortion stance, despite this change in national law. Many protests and rallies were held in subsequent weeks and months throughout Santa Clara and are still being scheduled throughout the city months later.