California voters may experience a small silver lining amid the coronavirus pandemic: a shorter November ballot, featuring fewer of the statewide propositions that often put voters in the middle of confusing industry fights.
Initiative proponents have until the end of April to collect the signatures they need to put their ideas on the ballot — and with millions of Californians staying home, and practicing social distancing when they go out, it may be impossible for some campaigns to collect enough signatures in time.
“People aren’t out in public, and those who are out in public aren’t inclined to approach a stranger, take a pen, and stand within 6 feet to put something on the ballot,” said Brian Brokaw, a Democratic political consultant who has been involved in several potential ballot measures.
Normally presidential election years attract a slew of initiatives, as campaigns — particularly those pushing liberal ideas — seek approval from a larger and more diverse electorate. Though we won’t know until July exactly how many propositions will be on the ballot, it appears likely that it will be a lot less than in 2016, when Californians voted on 17 statewide ballot measures. Political insiders estimate the final number for 2020 will be in the range of six to 10.
That’s good news for election officials, who could face lower costs for printing and mailing shorter ballots, and for voters who may find the decision-making easier when faced with fewer proposals, said Kim Alexander, president of the nonprofit California Voter Foundation.Read More
If there was ever a time for reasoned and clear-eyed leadership, it’s now.
The coronavirus pandemic is a public health crisis that’s spawned a global economic crisis. Schools and businesses are closed. Jobs are being lost. Retirement savings have been decimated. Citizens are being told to shelter in place. Our health care system is being stressed and providers are sounding alarms about equipment and facilities shortages. Dysfunction in Washington only makes things worse.
There will be a time to ask how we got here, and what we need to do better.
But the immediate question all leaders must answer is: “What now?”
To arrest the chaos that’s brought our health care system and economy to the brink, the first step is to stop the lethal virus that’s causing it. And it’s not just the virus, but the mixed messages about it, that are creating equal parts false hope and panic.Read More
What to do when your party wants one thing, but your state wants another?
It’s a perennial quandary for the California GOP. And primary election results in Orange County are once again raising the question.
In a Westminster Assembly race, an incumbent Republican with a history of voting for Democratic legislation appears to have been kicked to the curb by members of his own party, failing to qualify for the general-election ballot thanks to a challenge from the right. The results are not yet final — the county is still tallying ballots — but already the message seems clear: GOP politicians stray from the hard party line at their peril.
In two neighboring state Senate districts, in Costa Mesa and Fullerton, Democratic candidates have earned more than half of the vote. That’s an ominous sign for the two Republican incumbents, both of whom will face single Democratic challengers in November.
The messages there: Orange County, like nearly every other county in the state, is drifting ever more reliably into the Democratic column. Politicians stick with the party label at their peril.Read More
California voters have rejected Proposition 13, the only statewide measure on the March 3 ballot, making it the first failed state school bond proposal in more than two decades.
Early voting results showed the measure, which aimed to borrow $15 billion to modernize and build public schools, community colleges and universities, trailing by a significant margin. While the gap incrementally narrowed in the days following the Super Tuesday primary, the latest results Wednesday showed Prop. 13 was still behind, 46%-54%.
By late Wednesday morning, as hopes for a turnaround became increasingly unlikely, the measure’s campaign conceded its defeat in a tweet.
Voters’ rejection of the largest school bond proposal in state history, as well as that of dozens of local school bond measures, sharply contrasts the support they’ve consistently shown in recent decades for borrowing money to build and maintain classrooms.
Prop. 13 enjoyed widespread support from state officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said the bond was urgently needed to address a backlog of maintenance needs for public schools. Leading up to the primary, supporters expressed confidence that voters would sign off on the measure. They pointed out that voters had said “yes” to five state school bonds since 1998, including the most recent $9 billion ask in 2016 that Gov. Jerry Brown opposed.Read More
Steve Fox appears to have once again secured himself a spot on the general-election ballot, but no one can agree on how he did it.
As a matter of arithmetic, the answer is simple. Ballots in his Antelope Valley Assembly race are still being counted, but the Democratic attorney from Lancaster, who held the seat between 2012 and 2014 and has been trying to get it back ever since, maintains a significant second-place lead, with 17% of the votes at last count. That’s far behind Assemblyman Tom Lackey, the only Republican in the field of eight, who has 55%, but it’s nearly 6,000 votes ahead of the third-place finisher.
Fox has twice been accused of sexual harassment, and his surprise victory has not been welcome news to much of the California Democratic establishment, with one political consultant likening it to a war crime. How was Fox apparently able to snag one of the top two spots needed under California’s nonpartisan primary system to advance to November? That remains a matter of some debate.
It’s also the latest in what is now a common story in California politics. Thanks to the state’s election system, in which all non-presidential candidates compete on the same ballot and only the first- and second-place winners move on to the general election regardless of party affiliation, campaigning doesn’t just mean attacking all political foes. Sometimes it helps to boost your favorite opponent.
Case in point: Fox’s probable second-place finish.Read More
While we’re still waiting for the final vote count from California’s fiercely contested presidential primary on Tuesday, here’s another number: $169 million.
That’s about how much presidential candidates from all parties spent on their respective bids for the White House just in California from the beginning of 2019 through January 2020 (February spending, sure to be significant in the lead-up to California’s March 3 election, won’t be published until later this month.)
This chart shows how much each candidate spent cumulatively from one month to the next.
The two largest bars belong to ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund success turned activist Tom Steyer. What the two men have in common: Both are billionaires and both are no longer in the race.
Neither are former South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who spent the third and fourth-most.Read More
The results are in.
No, not the results you were waiting for, the final tally of California ballots cast for the state’s Super Tuesday presidential primary. We might not have those for days to come and they won’t be officially certified until April.
But this afternoon state officials published their first estimate of how many ballots are left to be counted.
In a state that holds an “election month, not election day” — where results will trickle in for weeks to come, sometimes flipping the outcomes of tight elections in the process — this is an election nerd’s landmark. It also gives us a few more clues about the final shape of California’s various primary contests.
According to estimates published by county election registrars, as of Thursday night, there are 3.5 million ballots left to count. (The Secretary of State's office showed a count of about 3.3 million, but that did not include the latest updated numbers from Los Angeles County.)Read More
For a generation, school bonds have been more or less a slam dunk in California. Locally and statewide, voters consistently have supported borrowing to build and maintain classrooms.
Not this election. As the state slowly tallies the returns from Super Tuesday, the numbers are painting a decidedly unfamiliar picture: Proposition 13, the sweeping $15 billion bond for school construction, was trailing late Thursday with only 44.6% approval. It threatened to become the first state bond measure rejected by voters in nearly three decades. Meanwhile, at the district level, some 70% of the 100-plus local K-12 school bond measures appeared bound for failure or too close to call, according to a CalMatters tally of early results.
With roughly 3.5 million votes still to be counted, the tally could take weeks to become conclusive, and updated returns have shown Prop. 13 gaining, slightly. (Early returns tend to skew conservative in California, and many Democrats voted at the last minute, waiting to see whether their chosen presidential nominees would drop out.)
But at the moment, Prop. 13 needs at least 58% of the outstanding vote for passage. And the current numbers — which could impact decisions on whether to put bond measures on the November ballot — so far contrast sharply with past elections: In the 2018 midterms, voters approved 80% of the 105 measures on local ballots. Since 1998, voters have passed five state school bonds, including a $9 billion measure in 2016 that Gov. Jerry Brown opposed.
What happened?Read More
As you read this article, Proposition 13, the $15 billion school construction bond either failed by a historically wide margin, or it didn’t.
Likewise, Bernie Sanders bulldozed the competition, beating out California’s second place Democratic finisher, Joe Biden, by hundreds of thousands of votes. Or he didn’t.
And turnout might have been historically high — who knows?
Like Schrodinger’s Cat, the ambiguously fated feline in the physicist’s thought experiment who is both alive and dead simultaneously, California election results currently exist in a kind of quantum state of uncertainty. Hundreds of thousands — or is it millions? — of ballots remain to be counted.
“California has election month, not election day,” said Mike Young, political director at the California League of Conservation Voters. So strap in.Read More
This article was updated March 11.
California is notoriously slow to tally its votes (to the frustration of campaigns, voters and political reporters alike). In a state where most ballots are cast by mail, "100% precincts reporting" on Election Night still meant "a whole lot more ballots to count." According to the Secretary of State, there are more than a million left to tally.
But here's what we've learned thus far, and what we’re still watching. You can follow the results as they continue to come in here.
The Associated Press called California for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as soon as the polls closed.
His apparent first-place finish in the popular vote for the Democratic nomination is a testament to the Sanders campaign's Golden State focus: He took California's early position in the primary calendar more seriously than any other candidate. He's visited the state 41 times, according to the Sacramento Bee, and his campaign set up 23 field offices across the state.Read More