When a state like South Dakota outlaws abortion or a state like Vermont legalizes gay marriage, it's because most voters in that state agree on that position. But when California makes a decision on a major cultural issue, it's like taking a sample of the nation.
Twelve percent of Americans live in California, and the state has the world's fifth largest economy. "It's a nation-state really," says Michael Barone. Ideologically, it's left-of-center, but it has enough political crosscurrents to be a good case study.
Let's take a look at how California voted on Prop 8 in 2008, which of course banned gay marriage and was struck down by Judge Vaughn Walker on Wednesday.
Prop. 8 was opposed mostly in Pelosiland (Frisco), Boxerland (Marin), Oakland, Berkeley, Silicon Valley, Wine Country, the Hippie Coast (Humbolt, etc...), and Santa Barbara.
Prop. 8 was supported in Reaganland (Inland Empire), Nixonland (Orange), San Diego, Palm Desert, Pomboland (Stockton area), McCarthyland (Kern), the Central Valley, Shasta Cascade, and pretty much everywhere else.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans areas largely supported it and Democratic areas largely opposed it, but dense suburban counties such as Los Angeles and Sacramento proved the tipping point.