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Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 14:59 UK

State profile: California

California map
California is America's most populous and wealthy state, with 55 electoral college votes.

Politically it leans Democrat, although the election of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor in 2003 was a reminder that the state was a Republican stronghold in the 1970s and 80s when voters were keen to support fellow Californians Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

The tensions in the state remain between the left-leaning immigrant communities and the famous Californian "alternative" lifestyles on the one hand, and the conservatism which propelled Mr Reagan to the governor's mansion on the other.

KEY FACTS
Population: 36,457,549 (ranked 1 among states)
Governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)
Electoral College votes: 55
Nevertheless, the state has been solidly Democrat in recent years. Democratic presidential candidates won here in the last four elections and polling suggests that Democrat Barack Obama is likely to do the same in 2008.

California has been a place of opportunity and economic vitality since the Gold Rush and the birth of Hollywood.

The city of Los Angeles, despite having no natural resources and no natural harbour, has the nation's largest port and is its second largest manufacturer.

IN CONGRESS
House of Representatives:
34 Democrat, 19 Republican
Senate: 2 Democrat

Computer technology is thriving, fuelled by a concentration of venture capital and a large immigrant workforce.

California has the most urbanised population in the nation, with over 90% classified as living in urban areas. More than three-quarters of all Californians live in LA, San Francisco and San Diego metropolitan areas.

But California also has social problems. Although its companies develop some of the world's most sophisticated technology, it has some of the worst elementary and secondary schools in the country.

VOTING RECORD
2004: Bush 45%, Kerry 54%
2000: Bush 42%, Gore 53%
1996: Clinton 51%, Dole 38%
California's diversity extends to its ethnic mix: successive waves of immigration over the last two centuries have bequeathed it large Asian and Latino populations.

This has not come without tension, and in 1996 a referendum was passed which abolished racial preferences in higher education.

This direct democracy process has continued since, with Californians passing propositions on a number of issues. In 2003, Californians used a referendum to force the "recall" of Governor Gray Davis, allowing Arnold Schwarzenegger to take his place.


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Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
365
McCain - Republican
173
Select from the list below to view state level results.


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