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California gubernatorial election, 1978: Map

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The 1978 California gubernatorial election occurred on November 7, 1978. The Democratic incumbent, Jerry Brown, defeated the Republican nominee, Attorney General Evelle J. Younger, in a landslide.

Primary election summary

In the Republican gubernatorial primary, California Attorney General Evelle Younger (who was the only Republican elected to a statewide office in the post-Watergate Democratic onslaught in the 1974 California general election) defeated Ed Davis (State Senator and former Los Angeles Police Chief), Ken Maddy (State Senate Minority Leader from Fresno), and Pete Wilson (Mayor of San Diego). Incumbent Jerry Brown had only minor opposition in the Democratic Primary. The most newsworthy battle in this primary election was Proposition 13, the initiative authored by Howard Jarvis which sought to drastically reduce property taxes and change the way property taxes were calculated. Younger and most Republicans supported Proposition 13 while Brown and most Democrats opposed it. The initiative passed with 64.8% of the vote; it is still in effect, and many other states passed similar laws.

Primary Election-Republican June 6, 1978
Candidate Party Votes %
Evelle J. Younger Republican 1,008,087 41.0
Edward M. Davis Republican 738,087 30.0
Kenneth Maddy Republican 484,583 19.7
Pete Wilson Republican 230,146 9.3


Primary Election-Democratic June 6, 1978
Candidate Party Votes %
Jerry Brown(i) Democrat 2,567,067 77.5
David Rock Democrat 132,706 4.0
John Hancock Abbott Democrat 127,506 3.9
Others Democrat 357,245 14.6


General Election

What followed in the general election was one of the most remarkable turnarounds in California election history. Younger attempted to seize the momentum from his support and passage of Proposition 13, but was a drab speaker, dull campaigner, and lacked an effective organization. In addition, the tough primary battle left him short of money. On the other hand, Brown, who opposed Proposition 13, used the power of incumbency and announced "the people have spoken, and as Governor I will diligently enforce their will." Thus Brown turned a negative into a positive. In addition, since he was relatively unchallenged in the primary, he had a much bigger campaign war chest. Brown ultimately won reelection in a landslide.

Results by county

County Brown Votes Younger Votes Clark Votes Others Votes
San Franciscomarker 69.46% 156,601 22.81% 51,429 5.13% 11,577 2.60% 5,858
Alamedamarker 63.81% 217,746 25.97% 88,619 7.13% 24,336 3.08% 10,516
Santa Claramarker 61.35% 227,493 29.79% 110,444 6.89% 25,550 1.97% 7,296
Santa Cruzmarker 60.85% 40,490 31.11% 20,698 5.21% 3,470 2.83% 1,882
Yolo 59.39% 24,357 30.97% 12,703 7.47% 3,064 2.17% 891
Solanomarker 58.05% 34,513 33.94% 20,176 6.17% 3,670 1.84% 1,093
San Diegomarker 57.49% 316,223 35.85% 197,167 4.72% 25,964 1.94% 10,653
Los Angeles 57.34% 1,178,368 36.23% 744,491 4.56% 93,692 1.87% 38,461
Santa Barbaramarker 56.68% 59,933 36.56% 38,656 4.50% 4,763 2.25% 2,379
San Mateomarker 56.18% 113,402 34.25% 69,131 7.47% 15,072 2.10% 4,243
Marinmarker 55.75% 49,759 33.49% 29,888 8.61% 7,683 2.16% 1,925
Fresnomarker 55.67% 71,657 39.58% 50,950 2.84% 3,653 1.91% 2,459
Mercedmarker 55.62% 16,825 40.21% 12,165 2.50% 756 1.67% 505
Stanislausmarker 55.62% 36,676 38.29% 25,247 3.85% 2,539 2.25% 1,481
Plumasmarker 55.48% 3,599 39.17% 2,541 3.21% 208 2.14% 139
Shastamarker 55.26% 19,432 36.11% 12,698 6.42% 2,256 2.21% 777
Sacramentomarker 54.91% 139,821 34.74% 88,445 8.30% 21,137 2.05% 5,211
Yubamarker 54.84% 6,434 37.52% 4,402 5.75% 675 1.88% 221
Sonomamarker 54.29% 56,920 35.85% 37,584 7.16% 7,506 2.70% 2,836
Contra Costamarker 54.27% 122,565 35.79% 80,821 7.97% 17,989 1.97% 4,458
Riversidemarker 54.23% 101,377 40.42% 75,564 3.74% 6,982 1.61% 3,007
Mendocinomarker 54.14% 11,877 36.09% 7,916 6.57% 1,442 3.20% 702
San Bernardinomarker 54.01% 115,082 40.66% 86,638 3.36% 7,151 1.98% 4,224
Kingsmarker 53.84% 8,794 42.49% 6,940 1.72% 281 1.96% 320
Mariposamarker 53.02% 2,361 39.84% 1,774 4.76% 212 2.38% 106
Lakemarker 52.87% 6,670 39.72% 5,012 5.16% 651 2.25% 284
Venturamarker 52.78% 75,173 40.57% 57,777 4.86% 6,916 1.80% 2,557
Alpinemarker 52.74% 202 39.43% 151 4.70% 18 3.13% 12
Montereymarker 52.35% 34,649 41.07% 27,180 4.95% 3,278 1.63% 1,080
Maderamarker 52.17% 7,529 43.16% 6,230 2.87% 414 1.80% 260
San Joaquin 52.17% 49,169 41.84% 39,425 4.31% 4,063 1.68% 1,582
San Luis Obispomarker 51.20% 25,695 43.22% 21,689 3.53% 1,772 2.05% 1,030
Placermarker 51.12% 20,384 39.03% 15,563 8.38% 3,342 1.48% 589
Siskiyoumarker 51.11% 6,851 42.88% 5,747 3.71% 497 2.31% 309
Tuolumnemarker 51.09% 6,772 43.44% 5,757 3.61% 478 1.86% 247
Napamarker 50.53% 19,202 41.11% 15,621 6.48% 2,461 1.89% 717
Trinitymarker 50.39% 2,215 40.24% 1,769 6.78% 298 2.59% 114
Humboldt 50.37% 21,243 39.49% 16,658 6.60% 2,783 3.54% 1,494
Lassenmarker 50.34% 3,377 42.47% 2,849 4.83% 324 2.37% 159
Tehamamarker 50.25% 5,986 41.99% 5,002 5.33% 635 2.43% 289
Amadormarker 49.65% 4,144 42.34% 3,534 5.71% 477 2.30% 192
Buttemarker 49.65% 26,051 42.20% 22,142 5.79% 3,038 2.37% 1,243
Sierramarker 49.45% 725 43.93% 644 4.84% 71 1.77% 26
San Benitomarker 49.23% 2,805 42.31% 2,411 6.12% 349 2.33% 133
Calaverasmarker 48.74% 4,019 44.76% 3,691 4.57% 377 1.93% 159
Orangemarker 48.68% 299,577 44.21% 272,076 5.67% 34,903 1.43% 8,821
El Doradomarker 48.35% 13,832 42.60% 12,187 6.36% 1,819 2.69% 771
Kernmarker 47.71% 49,144 40.32% 41,531 10.25% 10,560 1.71% 1,760
Tularemarker 46.80% 24,989 48.95% 26,136 2.48% 1,322 1.78% 949
Imperialmarker 46.05% 8,385 47.39% 8,629 4.78% 870 1.78% 324
Nevadamarker 45.36% 9,016 42.09% 8,365 11.25% 2,236 1.30% 259
Colusamarker 45.01% 1,958 46.09% 2,005 7.22% 314 1.68% 73
Monomarker 44.82% 1,042 50.06% 1,164 3.27% 76 1.85% 43
Suttermarker 44.09% 6,357 47.65% 6,871 6.96% 1,003 1.30% 188
Glennmarker 42.98% 3,120 48.51% 3,521 6.12% 444 2.40% 174
Del Nortemarker 41.73% 2,451 49.93% 2,933 3.20% 188 5.14% 302
Modocmarker 40.28% 1,235 52.71% 1,616 4.47% 137 2.54% 78
Inyomarker 39.53% 2,540 55.42% 3,561 3.39% 218 1.65% 106


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