Most expensive loser

There’s losing. And then there’s losing.

DraftKings, FanDuel and other supporters of Proposition 27, a measure that would have legalized online sports gambling in California, poured $169 million into the campaign.

It didn’t work. At last count, the measure won over just 17% of California voters. 

Combine near record-breaking spending with a near record-breaking blowout and you get one of the worst returns on political investment in California history. For every 1% of the electorate’s support, the Yes on 27 campaign spent nearly $10 million. 

That’s 50 times more than the backers of Prop. 28 spent. That measure, which will require the state to spend more on arts and music education, had the advantage of being so popular that nobody bothered to file an official ballot argument against it. That allowed backers to spend just $11 million — couch cushion change for a California ballot measure — to win nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Success shouldn’t only be measured in terms of passage and failure.

Prop. 29, the third attempt at the ballot box to regulate dialysis clinics that California voters have faced since 2018, went down to another predictable defeat. But the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers, which has sponsored each of these measures, got this year’s decisive defeat for a relative steal. The campaign spent a little more than $8 million in an effort that opponents characterize as a hardball tactic against dialysis clinic chains DaVita and Fresenius, whose workers the union hopes to organize. 

To defeat the measure, those two companies spent more than $80 million.