Trumped-up coverage and lackluster state races leave Californians disengaged from state issues

A lot of Californians pay little attention to their state’s politics and policy debates, and making it easier to vote is unlikely to change that, say state political insiders.

In the latest edition of the Target Book Insider Track survey, over half of respondents say the daily President Trump news cycle and a high number of non-competitive statewide races reinforce Californians’ disengagement from their state government.

As Trump sucks up media attention by, for instance, tweeting about an approaching caravan of over 5,000 Central American immigrants and trying to switch the nickname he gave Texas Sen. Ted Cruz from “Lyin’ Ted” to “Beautiful Ted,” Californians are likely to see, hear and read less about California politics.

The race for governor has also lost some of its heat as public opinion surveys find Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom still holding a comfortable lead over Republican candidate John Cox. Races for lesser statewide office such as controller and secretary of state also evidence wide funding disparities, with incumbent Democrats heavily favored in such a blue state as they face off against lesser known Republican rivals.

When asked about voter turnout, more than two-thirds of insiders who responded say California has made it easy enough to vote, and no proposal to make it easier to do so will really matter. The state deadline to register has passed, but California has conditional voter registration that allows Californians to register and vote up to the Nov. 6 midterms.

While some races may seem low energy, at least one is hotly contested. Candidates for the state’s nonpartisan Superintendent of Public Instruction have raised millions for their campaigns. Other races are also sparking heated campaigns, with millions spent in particular places. The candidates for a state Senate seat in the 12th district—in the heart of the Central Valley—have already spent a reported $6 million-plus combined on their campaigns. If a Democrat wins, it could create a supermajority in the state Senate.

The Target Book survey included 25 respondents—including lobbyists, campaign consultants and other politicos.

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