San Diego County

Jurisdiction Analysis
Jurisdiction map

San Diego County's political landscape is influenced by its geographic diversity, encompassing coastal areas, urban centers, and rural hinterlands. This variety creates a complex mosaic of voting behaviors and political affiliations. The county is a mix of urban, suburban, and rural communities, each with distinct demographic profiles and economic bases that shape their political leanings.

The coastal communities, with their significant tourism industry, tend to be more progressive, attracted by policies that support environmental conservation and tourism-related business interests. These areas often prioritize issues such as climate change, conservation, and sustainable development, reflecting their economic dependence on the natural beauty and resources of the coastline.

In contrast, the urban center of San Diego, with its diverse population, showcases a blend of cultures and ethnicities, contributing to a more liberal political outlook. The city's demographics include a large Hispanic population, influenced by its proximity to the Mexican border. This diversity is reflected in cultural festivals, bilingual education, and cross-border economic activities. The urban areas also host a variety of industries, including technology, biotechnology, and healthcare, attracting a workforce that tends to support progressive policies, particularly in areas related to healthcare access, education, and economic opportunity.

Suburban areas of San Diego County exhibit a range of political perspectives, often influenced by the socioeconomic status of their residents. Some suburbs are known for their affluent populations and tend to have more conservative views, emphasizing lower taxes, property rights, and business-friendly policies. Other suburban areas, with more mixed-income populations, might lean towards moderate or liberal positions, depending on the issues at stake, such as public education and local governance.

The rural parts of San Diego County, including the inland valleys and mountainous regions, have traditionally maintained conservative values, with a strong emphasis on agricultural interests, water rights, and land use regulations. These areas, characterized by their agricultural production, including avocados and citrus fruits, often prioritize policies that support rural and agricultural businesses. The political leanings in these areas are also shaped by concerns over state regulations, taxes, and government overreach, reflecting a broader trend seen in rural areas across the United States.

San Diego's position as a border county significantly influences its politics, especially on issues related to immigration, border security, and international trade. The complex relationship with Mexico impacts local economies, cultures, and daily life, creating a unique set of priorities and concerns among the county's residents. This proximity to an international border results in a political dialogue that is deeply engaged with issues of immigration policy, border infrastructure, and bi-national relations, distinguishing San Diego from other regions in the country.

The military presence in San Diego, with several major Navy and Marine bases, adds another dimension to its political landscape. The military and defense industry is a significant part of the local economy and community, influencing the perspectives and voting patterns of both service members and civilians connected to the military. Issues related to national security, veterans' affairs, and military spending are of paramount importance in the region, shaping political discourse and election outcomes.

The government of San Diego County operates under a Board of Supervisors, which plays a central role in the governance of the county. This board is composed of five members, each elected to represent one of the five supervisory districts within the county. These districts are designed to ensure equal representation for all residents of the county, covering its diverse geographical and demographic makeup.

San Diego County implemented term limits for its Board of Supervisors through Measure B, approved by voters in June 2010. Under this measure, members of the Board of Supervisors are limited to serving two four-year terms​​. This was a significant change aimed at fostering new leadership and ensuring that fresh perspectives are brought into the county government.

Elections for the Board of Supervisors are held in line with the California state laws governing local elections. There is no automatic win for candidates receiving over 50% of the vote in the primary election; instead, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of their primary vote percentage. This "top-two" primary system is designed to increase competitiveness and ensure that elected officials are representative of a broad spectrum of the county's residents.

The Board of Supervisors is responsible for making important decisions on county policies, budget allocations, and other critical areas impacting the lives of San Diego County residents. The governance model is structured to balance the need for experienced leadership with the injection of new ideas through term limits, aiming to address the county's needs in an equitable and responsive manner.

List of Offices & Districts
Current Registration Data (As of January 02, 2024)
1,927,058 41.54% 27.05% 31.40% D +14.49%
Candidate Performance
Election DEM REP Margin Turnout
2022 Gubernatorial Newsom - 55.78% Dahle - 44.22% D +11.6%
2020 Presidential Biden - 60.21% Trump - 37.46% D +22.75% 83.45%
2018 Gubernatorial Newsom - 56.86% Cox - 43.14% D +13.72% 67.40%
2016 Presidential Clinton - 56.07% Trump - 36.43% D +19.64% 81.48%
2014 Gubernatorial Brown - 51.07% Kashkari - 48.93% D +2.14% 44.76%
2012 Presidential Obama - 52.51% Romney - 44.95% D +7.56% 76.98%
Ballot Measure Performance
Ballot Item Description Yes No Margin
Prop 51 (2016) School Facility Bonds 54.26% 45.74% 8.51%
Prop 62 (2016) Death Penalty Repeal 45.06% 54.94% -9.89%
Prop 6 (2018) Gas Tax Repeal 50.95% 49.05% 1.89%
Prop 15 (2020) Prop 13 Split-Roll 44.06% 55.94% -11.89%
Prop 16 (2020) Repeal Affirmative Action 39.94% 60.06% -20.13%
Prop 21 (2020) Allow Local Rent Control 37.86% 62.14% -24.28%