While the voting and donation patterns in nearly every major urban center in the United States have trended overwhelmingly liberal the past several decades, the City of San Diego (America’s eighth-largest city), remains among the most evenly-split politically.
Although Democrats hold a 13 point registration advantage over Republicans, the partisan breakdown of San Diego's elected officeholders remains roughly evenly split. At the county level, the Democrat advantage shrinks dramatically to 2% - making San Diego one of the few truly “purple” regions in California.
Although party labels can certainly provide simple indications of partisanship and ideology, knowing where politicians receive their money, and who they give money to, can peel back the curtain on some of the more nuanced divisions within the political establishment. To do this, we integrated over a decade’s worth of local campaign finance records into our own historical database and mapped the City's top political leaders along an ideological spectrum based on their Crowdpac scores.
In such a politically divided city, elected leaders must work together in order to get things done. So it’s no surprise that members of San Diego’s 9-member council fall almost entirely within the “moderate” region of the spectrum - the exception being Councilmember, and former mayoral candidate, David Alvarez. Additionally, every elected GOP leader in the city, and two GOP members of the legislature, also fall within this moderate range.
And although they may be registered with a political party, data shows just how even-handed the political backing is of some of San Diego's most prominent politicians, including former Mayor Jerry Sanders (who now heads the local Chamber of Commerce), District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (who has run for office as a Republican, Independent and, most recently, as a Democrat).
Who are the most extreme San Diego politicos in either party? They tend to exist within the local congressional and legislative delegation. And it's no surprise that local party leaders Francine Busby, Tony Krvaric and Ron Nehring fall on the extreme ends of either end of the spectrum.
Now that you've seen how campaign finance data can shed light on where politicians stand, click here to view some of the hottest 2016 candidates and races in San Diego.
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