I think things like starting families also tends to make people think more conservatively because then you have more than yourself to worry about...I see it all the time with idealistic young folks out here that then settle down; their focus on the city/state/country/world's problems mostly shifts to their own households...it's the natural way of things.
I love California, best state in the Union IMO. Geographically we have mountains, forests, coastline, farmland (ag is the biggest industry in the state) and deserts. The population is a mix of so many types of people. It creates craziness for sure which can be good and bad. The state is nearly bankrupt but at the same time the state's economy has at times been the 5th or 6th largest in the world...but also it's one of the worst states to start and run a business because of taxes (way too many inefficient state run programs)...there's so much chaos and creativity here. and all that is even more so in the crazy cosmopolitan city of SF.
I actually voted for the Republican Meg Whitman for Governor (not an ideal choice IMO...but then you never get an idea choice i suppose: See "Douche & Turd" episode from South Park). I liked her proposal for state business development incentives (reducing the tax burden on businesses...which in turn gets existing businesses to cut less employees, and slow the exodus of companies out of the state) and helps new businesses start up with less of an initial cost burden (and as I tried to explain to a more liberal friend who doesn't like corp taxes to be lowered...more small businesses = more jobs = possible future big companies and more jobs). Brown's plan was to focus on "Green" job creation...which all sounds good...hey who doesn't want to help the environment and create jobs?....but "Green" jobs have failed to materialize solid sustainable companies that produce jobs. But Brown is frugal guy and the state needs that. He's produced a budget that slashed the hell out of things and weren't one time (temp) financial fixes (our Terminator Guv was good at temp fixes) and he attempted to do so with minimal cuts to K-12 school budgets....state colleges, community colleges and the UC systems have take HUGE hits but what can ya do during these tough economic times I suppose.
If there's one point I like to make to those discussing "liberal" vs. "conservative" and the democrats and republicans is that it really isn't that simple. what is simple that the nation as a whole has been spending too much. it's been overspending and using borrowed money for the past 40 or so years which has spanned multiple administrations both democrat and republican. the governments have basically funded everything with future revenue (future taxes) = run an ongoing deficit that keeps growing. the only philosophical difference between the democrats and republicans is that democrats borrow money to fund government programs (which are arguably necessary or unnecessary) and republicans borrow money to keep taxes low (the idea that low taxes will spur the economy and pay for borrowing....which doesn't quite work in it's purest form in a world economy)...both parties are borrowing from peter to pay paul. it's also why the moderate republicans (Bush) were the worst...they lowered taxes, lowered interest rates to spur more borrowing, increased spending which increased the deficit...again borrowing now with the hopes we can pay it off later. It's why when I see any nice new social welfare proposition (and there are some good ones) I automatically vote against it if the words "approved bond funding" is in it.
sorry for the long rant...but the basic way I explain all good social welfare reform is that if your house has a roof that leaks, you don't go into massive credit card debt to fix it if you're unemployed and close to bankruptcy. you focus on getting a job (job creation), saving some money (government spending cuts) and then fixing the roof.