Results of Ballot Propositions in ‘Not-So-Blue’ California

by on November 12, 2020 · 0 comments

in California, Election

By Doug Porter / WordsandDeeds / Nov. 10, 2020

Results for the dozen propositions on the 2020 general election ballot haven’t been finalized, but at this point it’s a safe bet to assume not much will change when it comes to the pass/fail question.

There are two types of electioneering for ballot measures, massive ad/publicity campaigns and door-to-door canvassing.

Even though California is an expensive ad buy, thanks to its size and population centers, flooding public consciousness with messaging has always been the preferred technique for big bucks campaigns.

By the time election day rolled around, I’m sure many Californians took it as gospel that Uber drivers thought the labor rules written for them by their bosses were a swell idea. Spend $200 million properly and in no time your message will be included in the “everybody knows” compartment of people’s assumptions.

By the way, that $200 million spent for Yes on 22 was a terrific investment. Uber stock valuation alone increased by $10 billion following November 3.

Given the restrictions placed on campaigning activities due to the coronavirus, canvassing activities were severely limited. For the folks arguing on the other side of big money supported measures, it was like fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

I would also argue that progressive enthusiasm for campaigning on ballot propositions was also diluted thanks to brute force attempts to refight past battles. Having repeat questions about rent control and regulation of dialysis clinics in consecutive elections, which liberal & progressive activists felt ideologically obligated to support, certainly didn’t help to bolster energy for newer props.

I can see where a good ground effort with an unambiguous set of ballot questions for voters would have given Prop 15, the split roll property tax concept, a 2% boost, putting it over the top.

Having said all that, I’m not sure an effective argument can be made –despite many outlets trying to do so– for drawing broad inferences about public sentiment from the election results.

The two worst performing propositions, 20 (tougher sentencing requirements) and 23 (dialysis clinics) drew supporters from ideologically opposite ends of the spectrum. Expanding voting rights for parolees –Prop 17– and allowing near 18 year olds to vote in primaries –Prop 18– would seem to be appealing to the same part of the political spectrum… except that they didn’t.

What I like to call the vanity propositions, i.e. ideas from wealthy individuals or specifically benefiting an interest group, passed.  I’m not passing judgement on the worth of these measures, just noting that they’re the product of a mostly singular supporter.

Prop 14, asking for bond monies for stem cell research was primarily funded by Robert N. Klein, a real estate investor, as well as Dagmar Dolby, the widow of Ray Dolby, the sound magnate.

Prop 19, allowing certain new homeowners — including wildfire victims — to keep paying taxes based on previous property’s old assessed value, was a repackaged project of the California Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors, designed to drive home sales.

Prop 24, a complex consumer privacy act, came via real estate investor Alastair Mactaggart.

Props 22 (gig workers) and 24 (consumer privacy) have national implications. 

Uber and the rest of the gig economy companies are laying plans to make this victory into a national standard. (See Cory Doctorow’s explanation of why this is a terrible idea)

A national consumer privacy act will gain momentum, spurred by California’s new rules and the restrictions imposed on internet companies by the European Union. The days of “we know what’s good for you” (and you’d better like it!) coming out of Silicon Valley’s regulation adverse companies are drawing to a close.

Here’s what the results on the propositions are currently showing. While the final percentages may vary, the status of these questions is most likely settled.

Each listing includes a link to my original analysis. Needless to say, I’m glad I wasn’t betting money on the results.

  • Proposition 14 (stem cell bonds), passed with 51.1% approval.
  • Proposition 15 (split roll property tax) failed with 48.3% support
  • Proposition 16  (undoing ban on affirmative action) failed with 43.5% approval
  • Proposition 17 (voting rights for parolees) passed with 59.0% support
  • Proposition 18 (primary voting rights for 17 yr olds) failed with 46.6% approval
  • Proposition 19 (property tax transfers) passed with 51.2% support
  • Proposition 20 (toughening up sentencing requirements) failed with 37.8% approval
  • Proposition 21 (local rent control option) failed with 40.4% support
  • Proposition 22 (gig workers labor law) passed with 58.4% approval
  • Proposition 23 (regulating dialysis clinics) failed with 36.4% support
  • Proposition 24 (consumer privacy act) passed with 56.1% approval
  • Proposition 25 (referendum to support alternative to cash bail law) failed with 44.1% support

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