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Californians share left-leaning views of Democratic leaders

LOS ANGELES (AP) – California voters elected a governor Tuesday who reflects their left-leaning, anti-Trump attitudes.

Incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s elected Democrats have relished being leaders of the “resistance” to President Donald Trump. They have fought Trump’s efforts to roll back environmental protections and expanded protections for immigrants living in the state illegally.

Their positions broadly reflect the views of most Californians, according to results from AP VoteCast, a survey of the American electorate.

About two-thirds of Californians are opposed to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and 8 in 10 say immigrants living in the country illegally should be offered a chance at legal status. Three in 4 said it’s the government’s responsibility to provide health care, while more than 8 in 10 say climate change is a major concern. About half of Californians said they voted to express opposition to Trump.

“If you can combine the Democrats and the independents in California you have a recipe for some very left-of-center policy making which will contrast what we see going on in the rest of the nation,” said Kim Nalder, director of the Project for an Informed Electorate at the California State University-Sacramento. “If we continue to see numbers like this in California, Gavin Newsom will absolutely be emboldened to pursue more liberal policies than we’ve seen under the current governor.”

AP VoteCast is an innovative nationwide survey of about 139,000 voters and nonvoters – including 3,769 voters and 617 nonvoters in California – conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Newsom has already outlined the stakes of California’s battles with Trump under his leadership, telling supporters Tuesday it’s “California’s moment.”

He supports a government-run universal health care system, opposes Trump’s border wall and backs a host of liberal policies on climate change, gun control and protections for immigrants who entered the country illegally.

California has moved consistently left over the years, particularly since Trump’s election. Democrats held almost every statewide office in Tuesday’s contest.

Just one race, the contest for insurance commissioner between Democrat Ricardo Lara and Steve Poizner, a former Republican running as an independent, had not been called by AP on Wednesday. The GOP has fallen to third party status behind voters who choose no party affiliation.

Newsom is replacing Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who held the seat a record four terms – first in the 1970s and 1980s – and again since 2010. Brown has battled fiercely with the Trump administration on climate change policies but resisted big-ticket spending.

While the electorate supports progressive policies in broad brushes, Newsom could see less support on specific proposals if they are expensive, said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.

“Where the support starts to erode is when you’re asking to raise new taxes or you’re doing things that the public might view as more financially risky than Gov. Brown did,” he said.

The state’s elected Democrats widely support expanding access to health care, but there are deep disagreements over policy details. Newsom supported a bill to create a government-run health care system that would eliminate insurance companies and cost an estimated $ 400 billion. It died in the Assembly last year.

Brown has aggressively pursued policies to curb carbon emissions and slow the effects of climate change, and the survey showed California voters broadly agree climate change is a major concern.

California is suing to protect stricter standards for vehicle emissions that the Trump administration is trying to repeal and the state is reducing its reliance on fossil fuels for electricity.

The survey in many ways aligns California with global attitudes on issues such as health care and climate change, Nalder said.

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