Good morning, California.

By a 61-29 percent margin, likely California voters believe a third party is needed, the Public Policy Institute of California’s latest poll shows. The sentiment cuts across party, economic and demographic lines, and is especially strong in the Bay Area (70 percent), among college graduates (65 percent) and voters aged 18-44 (64 percent).


The payoff on those cig taxes and smoking bans

What a lot less lung cancer can buy a state

Nearly 5,000 lives and at least $500 million—that’s what California’s super-low mortality rate from lung cancer deaths saved Californians, just in 2014,  a CALmatters analysis in consultation with public health researchers has found.

  • A study this month from the UC San Diego School of Medicine found California’s rate of lung cancer mortality was 28 percent lower than the rest of the country in 2014, the most recent year of available data.
  • The authors attributed the low rate to the state’s early and aggressive anti-smoking initiatives. So CALmatters’ data reporter Matt Levin and public health experts at UC San Francisco and UC San Diego crunched some numbers to see how 28 percent fewer deaths from lung cancer pay off in reduced social and health care costs.

If California had the same rate of lung cancer deaths as the rest of the country, on average, roughly 4,700 more Californians would have died in 2014.

  • Those terminal patients would have cost an estimated $546 million in hospitalization expenses alone that year. That does not include other expensive components of cancer treatment that don’t require hospitalization, or savings from non-terminal lung cancer cases.
  • Factor in the continued earnings and other economic contributions of those saved lives, and the year’s savings top $1.5 billion —with a good chunk of those savings going to taxpayers, given that a third of Californians are on Medi-Cal.

For an uplifting look at the return on a smart policy investment, click here. 

Newsom's 'big, hairy, audacious goals'

Gavin Newsom, frontrunner to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political allies call him audacious and visionary. His foes call him a “snake oil salesman” and a “vapid pander bear.” But no one can accuse him of failing to think big.

CALmatters’ Ben Christopher gets Newsom talking about why he thinks every Californian should read the 1994 business book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies,” which advises managers to set “big, hairy, audacious” goals, even if most experts say they’re impossible to reach.

The frontrunner to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown has a bunch of “BHAGs,” as “Built to Last”  calls them, from “cradle to career” education and single-payer health care to a “Marshall plan” for housing, with statewide construction goal of 3.5 million new units within the next decade.

Newsom: “(State Sen.) Scott Wiener, nonstop, he’s like so ‘here’s my thoughts on the 3.5 million.’ It’s already the frame. The fact that we’re even having that conversation proves the success of at least establishing that benchmark and that goal. And that’s the point.”

If polls are right, Californians will be getting to know Newsom better in the next few years, and whether he’s built to last. Christopher’s profile offers a solid primer.

Feinstein, Newsom, gas tax up in PPIC poll

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a wide lead over Democratic state Sen. Kevin de León, beating him among all groups except for Republicans and conservatives, the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows.

Those Republicans probably don’t know that de León carried the 2017 bill that created the so-called “sanctuary’ state limiting the authority of local law enforcement to assist federal immigration agents. 

But they are aware he’s not Feinstein, a Democrat who won the Senate seat in 1992. And they know her well enough to not like her. The poll finds 64 percent of Republicans are unsatisfied with their choice, suggesting most will not vote for either candidate.

CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports other highlights here:

  • Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is maintaining an 11-point lead over Republican John Cox, but still has the support of less than half the voters in the race for governor.
  • Proposition 6, to repeal the gasoline tax and reduce funding for road and bridge repairs, is trailing.
  • Proposition 10, to repeal the rent control ban is down. Way down.

Could gerrymandering make a comeback in CA?

California’s method of drawing congressional districts could be at risk in the newly configured U.S. Supreme Court, UC Irvine law school professor Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert, writes.

  • By initiative, Californians created an independent citizens’ commission to draw congressional lines, unlike most states where the politicians in power decide district boundaries, typically to favor incumbents such as themselves.
  • Independent redistricting is a big part of why California has so many competitive races on the ballot this year, redistricting commissioner Stan Forbes noted in CALmatters earlier this week.

The law: In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote upheld the power of commissions to draw congressional lines. Justice Anthony Kennedy was part of the five-justice majority. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, saying only state legislatures had the power to draw congressional lines.

In the Harvard Law Review blog, Hasen suggests newly confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh could side with Roberts.

Hasen: “Within a few years, the Supreme Court may well hold unconstitutional state political processes that have produced measurably better redistricting reform for the drawing of congressional districts.”

For California Republicans, that would not bode well. There’s a reason U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy supported creating the independent commission when he was in the Assembly from 2002-06.

  • The GOP holds 14 of the state’s 53 seats. A Legislature controlled by Democrats could easily draw districts in ways that would favor Democrats and end some Republican careers.

Still confused about all these propositions?

If you don’t have dinner plans, join our reporters and editors for a props party on Facebook Live tonight at 7 p.m.

Order some takeout, pour a drink and tune in as we livestream our proposition explainer videos, discuss the ballot measures and take your questions.

Send any questions you have on the propositions to our social guru Trevor at [email protected], and we’ll incorporate them into our live props party. Cheers!

Commentary at CALmatters

Jerry Meral, Proposition 3 author: No issue is more important than water. It is our state’s lifeblood. However, the Colorado River is drying up, we are draining our underground water supplies, and most of the last 10 years have been dry—and yet the Legislature has refused to place a serious water bond on the ballot for more than four years. That’s why Proposition 3 is so important.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Lt. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Dianne Feinstein look like winners in a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, while the ballot’s two highest-profile measures look like losers.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.