| Do you remember the 2008 primary, when all of the nation's media was in love with talking about how California's Republicans were sooooo liberal. And remember how us Democrats here in California laughed at that notion? Well, here's some proof.
Some math/political nerds at the University of Chicago did some analysis of the two parties in each state Legislature and compared them with other states and the Congress. I'm clearly not doing the math of that justice, but you can find the full details at the author Boris Shor's blog. Apparently he has a paper coming out soon that will explain a lot more about how he got to these numbers.
But for a general explanation, left is liberal and right is conservative, with 0 being the base. As you can see California's legislative Dems are amongst the most liberal, and are about the same as several other states that you'd expect to see us tied with: New York and Washington, and some that you wouldn't Utah and Arizona. But to those who say that you'd expect California Republicans to be moderate: hear me now and believe me later: They are as wingnut as you get.
No other state is even close to our wingnut Republicans. They are waaaay to the right of even states like Georgia and Wyoming. No other state is really even close.
Some will blame this on districting, but I will instead point them to the simple fact that we Californians have self-sorted ourselves better than any other state. Democrats hang out in certain counties, and Republicans in others. And the Republican primary electorate consistently organizes around the most conservative candidate.
And so we get our right-wing Republicans in the Legislature and nothing actually gets done to help the state. Yay, us!
UPDATE: On a related note, the Republicans have now reached a new low in popularity across the nation.