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Politics of the United States' West Coast

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Pacific CoastThe three states bordering the Pacific Ocean all appear on the list of top ten least conservative states in America (2015). California ranks above the others, and Washington rounds out the list as 10th. If you plan to move internationally, you will reach the most liberal parts of the coast as you drive south. Oregon and Washington may lean towards the Democrats, but California solidly favors the party.

San Francisco bore the hippie counterculture in the 1960s, and the American film industry calls Los Angeles home. Coastal Californians, with their proximity to the Pacific Ocean as well as several national parks, have a reputation for being serious environmentalists. California bleeds conscious liberalism and surfing slang. 

About 40% of the state’s revenue is spent on education, and California houses several notable universities and colleges including Caltech, Claremont College, Stanford University, and the University of Southern California (USC).

Examples of liberal California legislature:

  • AB 775 enforces reproductive freedom by requiring unlicensed clinics disclose this information to patients. Crisis pregnancy centers, typically run by conservative Christians, pose major risks to pregnant women by providing deceitful information to push a pro-life agenda.
  • ABX2 15 provides dignified death options to terminal patients by legalizing physician-assisted euthanasia.
  • SB 358 amends California’s Equal Pay Act which bans employers from paying female employees with equivalent experience less than their male counterparts. It strengthens the previous law by protecting workers from retaliation.

Oregon, renowned for its pioneer trail and subsequent educational computer game, was originally inhabited by Native Americans. Contrary to popular belief and television depictions (IFC’s “Portlandia”), Oregonians do not identify themselves as liberal as Californians. Because settlers moved west and detached from religious constructs, Oregon can be considered more of a moderate state that consistently votes blue.

If you are searching for racial diversity, Oregon should not be your first choice. The US Census shows white adults make up 87.6% of the state’s population as of 2015, and minorities cited isolation and intimidation as main reasons for leaving the state.

Examples of liberal Oregon legislature:

  • SB 1547 helps the state lead the pro-climate and clean-energy movement by phasing out coal.
  • Oregon allows health care coverage for -- and has no major restrictions against (ie: waiting periods or parental involvement) -- abortion.
  • SB 1511 grants card holding patients tax-free access to cannabis, extracts, and marijuana-infused edibles.

Canadians reach Washington first, so should they just stay there? Named after the first American president, Washington used to be a swing state but has regularly voted for the Democratic presidential nominee since the '80s. The Cascade mountains separates the conservative, rural east from the liberal, urban west. The state also birthed two punk rock related music movements in the early 1990s (grunge in Seattle and riot grrrl in Olympia).

The state, once known for its loggers and fisherman, can now boast five of the top 20 most admired companies in the US: Amazon, Costco, Microsoft, Nordstrom, and Starbucks. If you are immigrating, inquire at these reputable corporations for a career opportunity.

Examples of liberal Washington legislature:

  • Washington was the first state to target toxic flame retardant chemicals in household products.
  • HB 1682 eases the homeless student problem by budgeting more money to housing assistance, shelters, and liaisons in schools.
  • HB 2636 establishes a universal policy on body mounted cameras to support police accountability while maintaining personal privacy.


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on January 4, 2017 - Moving Expert
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