California has become a laboratory for progressive policies. (Illustration by Dan Hubig for CalMatters)

Local News Matters weekly newsletter

Start your week with a little inspiration. Sign up for our informative, community-based newsletter, delivered on Mondays with news about the Bay Area.


With Democrats holding all the political power in California for nearly the last decade, the Golden State has evolved into a laboratory for big blue ideas. Put a price on carbon? We’ve done it. Provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants? We do some of that too. Gun control, minimum wage hikes and heavy taxes on the rich are also realities here.

Democratic candidates for president — with rare exceptions — don’t typically point to California as a model, at least not explicitly. But many of the major policies they’re proposing are already happening here to some degree. Below are some key ways Democratic presidential candidates want to make the United States more like California, along with analysis of what the state’s policy experiments reveal so far.

Tom Steyer is the only Californian who remains in the race. Others taking a page from us include Michael Bennett, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

* CalMatters reporters Felicia Mello and Judy Lin contributed to this report. is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Laurel Rosenhall