Category ►►► California Redistricting

November 9, 2005

Same Old Same Old

California Redistricting , Politics - California , Politics - National
Hatched by Dafydd

Post-Mortem and Dead-Dog Party

Well, very disappointing results in California. I tend to be optimistic (have you noticed?), so it's always a shock to me when Republicans get in a "mood," sit home, and sulk, ceding the election to the Democrats -- and then complain that Gov. Schwarzenegger isn't doing enough conservative stuff!

But taking the long view across the nation, what we saw was a "status-quo" election: voters everywhere decided not to change anything. That was bad for Republicans in California, New Jersey, and Virginia (two liberal Democratic states and one mixed state), but good for them in New York City, Texas, and Ohio.

  • California: every initiative failed -- the Governator's four, parental notification, both the consumer activist phramaceutical plan and the one pushed by the pharmaceutical companies, and even energy reregulation, a big deal with the California Democrats. Short-term fallout: bad news for Arnold; unless he creates a huge turnaround in GOP support (or the Dems nominate a doofus), he's a dead duck in 2006. But the legislative Democrats don't fare any better.
  • New Jersey: Sen. Jon Corzine won as governor; ho-hum. This one was never in any doubt. And of course, NJ was already in Democratic hands before the election, so it's not a crushing defeat for the Republicans or a "harbinger" of 2006, no matter what the MSM tries to sell you. Short-term fallout: Corzine may now fancy himself a serious contender for the presidency, having been both a senator and a governor. But massive vote buying ($60 million to buy his senate seat, another $30 to buy the governor's mansion) may play well in Sopranos territory, but it's not the righteous stuff to get elected president.
  • Virginia: I thought we had a shot in this one; Jerry Kilgore started out the campaign strong, but he was a weak finisher, and he was hurt by Republican apathy in the wake of the various setbacks of the first year of Bush's second term. Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, buoyed by the stratospheric approval ratings of Mark Warner (the outgoing Democratic governor), finished strong, persuasively beating Kilgore by five points. Note that, again contrary to the MSM spin, Virginia is not a "red state," at least as far as the governorship goes. As Rich Galen points out, four of the last six governors of Virginia have been Democrats. Short-term fallout: Mark Warner's stock for 2008 significantly improved, which may cause problems for La Hill, giving her another strong competitor to the "moderate" mantle she is (falsely) trying to claim. I don't believe she will even be nominated, and this is just one more straw on her camel's back.
  • New York City: the huge surprise was that Mayor Michael Bloomberg got only 59% of the vote, instead of 99%. This is the fourth straight election in which Democrats have been thumped in the city they have long thought of as their capital... and it's the most decisive drubbing in modern New York City history, larger even than Fiorello LaGuardia's 1937 landslide of 19%. Short-term fallout: shellshocked New York Democrats will huddle to decide whether they would have better luck running a Chupacabra in 2009.



  • Texas: another entry in the "I saved traditional marriage" sweepstakes! There are now nineteen states (I believe) that have passed explicit constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Short-term fallout: one out of every twenty-three left-liberals in the country will spontaneously combust.
  • Ohio: curiously, in Ohio, it was the Democrats who were desperate to have someone other than the legislature draw the district boundaries. I have no idea if the Ohio redistricting (State Issue 4) was as egregious a gerrymander as the one in California -- it's hard to top "perfection" (not a single seat changing parties in 2004). But in any event, the voters rejected the identical change whether it would benefit Republicans (California Proposition 77) or Democrats (Ohio). Short-term fallout: nothing changes (same with 77). Ohio State Issue 4 was rejected by an even bigger margin (70 to 30) than was California Proposition 77 (59-40)... and three other significant, Democrat-backed changes to Ohio elections procedures (State Issues 2, 3, and 5) were likewise turned back.

So not a great day, but not a catastrophic one, either. Basically, everything was put on hold by the voters until 2006 (or 2009, in the case of New York).

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 9, 2005, at the time of 3:27 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 8, 2005

Vote Early, Vote Often!

California Redistricting , Politics - California
Hatched by Dafydd

All of the polls on the important California ballot inititatives have turned south, but I'm not buying their turnout models. For one thing, the idea that Californians would vote down an initiative to require that before minors can get an abortion, they merely have to notify (not even get permission from!) their parents is troubling to me. Well, we'll see how it turns out.

There are two initiatives that are worth the entire rest of the ballot put together: Proposition 75 (paycheck protection) and Proposition 77 (redistricting reform). The first is slightly leading or trailing, depending on the poll, and will definitely be decided on turnout: if we do better than expected, we'll win this one!

Prop 77 is dicier: it will take every concerned Republican to go and vote for us to pull this one out... but arguably, it would have been a slam-dunk, were it not for the lying, tendentious campaign against it. A campaign that was so scurrilous and tricky, it actually sucked in some well-known neocons to rail against the silly caricature of Proposition 77 that the Left put out... including David Horowitz as the prime "useful idiot!"

Horowitz was somehow led to believe that it was "judicial activism" to allow retired judges to draw the proposed district lines -- which would then have to be approved by a vote of the people before it could be used. I understand now why Horowitz was so easy to convince that in the 1960s that Marxism was the wave of the future: he's just plain gullible.

All we need to do is beat expectations, and we'll win this election. If we live down to the sniggering presumption that Republican bumpuses won't bother to show up and vote -- I guess we're too busy picking fleas out of each others' hairy pelts and peeling bananas with our feet -- then we'll lose. It's as simple as that.

But even if you are a Democrat, you should vote for both of these: why should unions be able to extort dues from members then use them to promote policies and candidates that the member hates? That's just plain nuts. Vote YES on Proposition 75 to force the unions to get prior written consent before using a member's dues for that purpose. That is as fair as can be.

And second, right now, your vote counts for nothing -- even if you are a Democrat! This is because right now, there is exactly zero incentive for any strong challengers in this intensely gerrymandered legislature. It makes no difference how you vote; they don't need to listen to you, and they don't care about you.

They don't have to care: their seats are all assured. In 2004, despite scores of seats up for "election," not one single seat changed parties!

Vote YES on Proposition 77 -- erase all these "safe" seats and bring back competitive districts, as God and the Founders intended.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2005, at the time of 6:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 2, 2005

Swervy Surveys

California Redistricting , Elections , Politics - California , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

The latest surveys from various sources are still mixed -- but now they're virtually incomprehensible. As always, Daniel Weintraub leads the way with his Sacramento Bee-blog California Insider.

The disappointment is SurveyUSA, which consistently had all four of the Schwarzenegger initiatives up; now it has Proposition 73 (Parental Notification Before Abortion) winning by 55-44, 77 (Redistricting Reform) losing by 44-53, and 74 (Teacher Tenure Reform), 75 (Paycheck Protection), and 76 (State Spending Limitation) all dead even.

One caveat: SurveyUSA uses short, punchy descriptions of the ballot initiatives. But they did a "split ballot" on Proposition 76 this time and noticed that the longer their description was, the worse the initiative did: with the original description of 36 words, the measure ties 49-49; with a longer description of 51 words, Proposition 76 loses by 42-56; and with the third description of 54 words, it loses by a whopping twenty-five percent: 36-61!

Bear in mind, these descriptions are all read to the respondents over the telephone (by a recorded voice); they do not have them in written form before them. It's entirely possible that the longer a description that the respondents have to listen to on the phone, the more lost they become -- and when they get lost, they tend to vote No. Interestingly, SurveyUSA noted that the longest description they read is similar to the descriptions read by the other two phone pollsters, the Field Poll and the PPIC poll... both of whom showed strikingly similar results for Proposition 76: losing by 28% and 32%, respectively.

By contrast, a new Knowledge Networks Poll conducted by the Hoover Institute of Stanford University shows a kinder picture, with only Proposition 76 (State Spending Limitation) losing, by 10 points (45-55). The other initiatives are all winning.

Once again, the...

Table 1: Justifiably World Famous Big-Lizards Vote-At-a-Glance Table

Survey USA (in bold); Stanford Knowledge Net Poll (in italics)

  • Prop 73: Parental Notification Before Abortion
    55 yes, 44 no (2% undecided) lead: +11
    58 yes, 42 no (0% undecided) lead: +16
  • Prop 74: Teacher Tenure Reform
    49 yes, 50 no (1% undecided) trail: -1
    53 yes, 47 no (0% undecided) lead: +6
  • Prop 75: Paycheck Protection
    50 yes, 49 no (2% undecided) lead: +1
    64 yes, 36 no, (0% undecided) lead: +28
  • Prop 76: Limit State Spending Growth
    49 yes, 49 no (2% undecided) Tie: 0
    45 yes, 55 no (0% undecided) trail: +10
  • Prop 77: Redistricting Reform
    44 yes, 53 no (3% undecided) trail: -9
    55 yes, 45 no (0% undecided) lead: +10

(The Knowledge Net Poll is a "forcing poll," where respondents do not have the option of voting "no opinion" or "undecided;" just as with the real ballot, they can vote Yes, vote No, or skip the question -- in which case they are not counted for that question. That is why all questions have 0% undecided above.)

I have one reason to be somewhat skeptical of the Knowledge Net Poll -- and one reason to consider it more reliable:

  • My back of the envelope calculations indicate the poll may have oversampled Republicans.

Assuming that roughly the same people voted on each question, taking the first three questions, turning everything into matricies and inverting, I ended up calculating 42% Republicans, 25% Independents, and 34% Democrats. Now, bear in mind that the initial sample was probably closer to the state party percentage; it's possible this simply represents a "side prediction" that turnout will be higher among Republicans. But I'm still a bit worried, and this makes me somewhat skeptical about the results.

Therefore, I recalculated all the question results using two alternative turnout models; see Table 2 below.

  • On the other hand, unlike the other polls, the Knowledge Networks Poll is not a telephone poll. Instead, respondents vote on a simulated paper ballot, just as they would vote in the voting booth.

The ballot descriptions are there in front of them, and they can read and reread as necessary, rather than just listening over the phone. This makes it a better simulation of the actual vote than a telephone poll.

As in the 2003 California Recall Election Surveys conducted by Stanford University and Knowledge Networks, the wording from the actual ballot was presented to survey respondents. Therefore, there was not provided to respondents a category to capture “undecided” or “not sure” responses. Respondents were forced, as in the actual ballot, to make a “vote” decision or to skip a ballot question. Also, as in an actual vote decision, the interview simulated conditions in the ballot box in that an interviewer did not administer the ballot questions; the questionnaire is self-administered.

(Daniel Weintraub opines that during the 2003 California Recall election, both the SurveyUSA poll and the Knowledge Networks Poll "pretty much nailed it.")

Here is a table contrasting what you get with the original mix, as above (in bold); then after correcting the percentages of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats to 37.5%, 25%, and 37.5% (equal numbers of Rs and Ds, italics); and then finally correcting again to flip the percentage of Rs, Independents, and Ds to 34%, 25%, and 42% (ordinary Roman text):

Table 2: Knowledge Networks Poll, Three Turnout Models

  • Prop 73: Parental Notification Before Abortion Robust Lead
    58 yes, 42 no -- lead: +16
    56 yes, 44 no -- lead: +12
    55 yes, 45 no -- lead: +10
  • Prop 74: Teacher Tenure Reform Shaky Lead
    53 yes, 47 no -- lead: +6
    50 yes, 50 no -- Tie
    48 yes, 52 no -- trail: -4
  • Prop 75: Paycheck Protection Robust Lead
    64 yes, 36 no -- lead: +28
    61 yes, 39 no -- lead: +22
    59 yes, 41 no -- lead: +18
  • Prop 76: Limit State Spending Growth Loser
    45 yes, 55 no -- Trail: -10
    41yes, 59 no -- trail: -18
    39 yes, 61 no -- trail: -22
  • Prop 77: Redistricting Reform Good Lead
    55 yes, 45 no -- lead: +10
    52 yes, 48 no -- lead: +4
    50 yes, 50 no -- Tie

I define an initiative as having a "robust lead" if it wins in all three turnout models; it has a "good lead" if it wins in two of the three; it has a "shaky lead" if it leads only in the first; and one initiative is a "loser," losing in all three turnout models.

So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2005, at the time of 12:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 28, 2005

Survey Says... Whaddit Say?

California Redistricting , Elections , Politics - California , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, Big Lizards offers a delectable Smorgasbord of poll results... take your pick!

Daniel Weintraub's Bee-blog California Insider links to a poll by the left-leaning* Public Policy Institute of California; he previously linked to Survey USA's poll of the same race; and he quotes from Governor Schwarzenegger's team on their internal polling on the four issues the governor put on the ballot. This table compares all three sources. Note that the governor's campaign polling did not issue actual figures, but they characterized them.

Frankly, I'm inclined to go with the third, the governor's version: first, it's in between the other two; second, campaign polling is often the most accurate of all -- unless they're lying about it, of course. But it doesn't sound like it, or they would have said they were all leading (since then Survey USA would give them cover).

In any event, I'll post 'em all here, so that everybody on all sides can feel depressed and anxious!

Survey USA (in bold) has all the measures up! Public Policy Institute (italics) has all of them down! The Governator's campaign polling (ordinary Roman type) has the results mixed!

  • Prop 74: Teacher Tenure Reform
    53 yes, 45 no (1% undecided) lead: +8
    46 yes, 48 no (6% undecided) trail -2
    "Dead even."
  • Prop 75: Paycheck Protection
    56 yes, 42 no (2% undecided) lead: +14
    46 yes, 46 no, (8% undecided) dead even
  • Prop 76: Limit State Spending Growth
    54 yes, 41 no (5% undecided) lead: +13
    30 yes, 62 no (8% undecided) trail -32
    "Trailing narrowly."
  • Prop 77: Redistricting Reform
    54 yes, 41 no (5% undecided) lead: +13
    36 yes, 50 no (14% undecided) trail -14

Well... now you know why I tend not to take polling very seriously!

* "Left leaning Public Policy Institute of California": in the poll, 60% disapprove of George Bush, but only 29% disapprove of Barbara Boxer. There are a lot of liberals in California, but not that many! If there were, then why did the 2002 gubernatorial election go down to the wire with Gray Davis winning only 47.4% to 42.4% against one of the (let's face it) geekiest major electoral candidates ever, Bill Simon?


Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 28, 2005, at the time of 10:28 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 25, 2005

The Great Debate on the Fate of the State

California Redistricting , Elections , Politics - California
Hatched by Dafydd

It ain't too late!

Daniel Weintraub live-blogs the debate last night in Walnut Creek (just across the bay from San Francisco) between legislative Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. They each bobbed and weaved and managed to slip many audience jabs; but in the end, voter information was inadvertently generated -- to the advantage of the Governator, in Weintraub's expert scoring.

Start here, then just keep reading and clicking the "forward" links (the ones that include ">>") until you get to the post titled My take.

Lotsa fun and laffs!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 25, 2005, at the time of 3:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2005

Everybody's Gone Survey, SurveyUSA - Page 2

California Redistricting , Elections , Politics - California , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

Daniel Weintraub notes in his Bee-blog, California Insider, that the leads enjoyed by Governor Schwarzenegger's five ballot initiatives for California' special election on November 8th have narrowed from their Olympian heights two weeks ago; but they are still considerably ahead.

According to SurveyUSA's latest poll, four of the five still hold commanding, double-digit leads; only Proposition 74's lead (reforming teacher tenure) has dropped into single digits, down to 8% from 11% two weeks ago.

Here are the current results:

Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #7189

Filtering: 1,200 California adults were interviewed 10/15/05 - 10/17/05. Of them, 963 were registered voters. Of them, 609 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 73. 613 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 74. 609 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 75. 594 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 76. 600 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 77. Crosstabs reflect "likely" voters. Voter interest in this election has increased: in an identical poll of 1,200 California adults 2 weeks ago, at most 529 voters were judged to be "likely" to vote on any question. No change was made to the way voters were filtered or the way questions were asked.

Questions on Propositions 73, 74, and 75 have a margin of error of 4.0%; questions on Propositions 76 and 77 have an MOE of 4.1%.

  • Prop 73: 60 yes, 38 no (2% undecided) lead: +22
    Parental Abortion Notification
  • Prop 74: 53 yes, 45 no (1% undecided) lead: +8
    Teacher Tenure Reform
  • Prop 75: 56 yes, 42 no (2% undecided) lead: +14
    Paycheck Protection
  • Prop 76: 54 yes, 41 no (5% undecided) lead: +13
    Limit State Spending Growth
  • Prop 77: 54 yes, 41 no (5% undecided) lead: +13
    Redistricting Reform

My own speculation is that much, if not all, of the movement comes from Democrats "coming home" to oppose the measures, following the many, many millions of dollars spent on attack ads by the teachers unions and other hard-left sources, ads that skirt as close to flatly lying as the FEC and FCC will allow. We'll see if the ads produced by the governator and the Cal-GOP ads that will debut next week can bring these waverers back into line.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 19, 2005, at the time of 6:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2005

Teachers Union Spending Tomorrow's Dues Today

California Redistricting , Elections , Politics - California
Hatched by Dafydd

Both Daniel Weintraub, on his Sacramento Bee-blog, and Brit Hume on Fox News Channel report that the California Teachers Association, the state's largest teachers' union -- in fact, at 335,000 members, the largest union in the state, and the local affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA) -- has already blown the $50 million they had budgeted to fight against all four of Governor Schwarzenegger's ballot initiatives:

  • Proposition 74 - teacher tenure reform
  • Proposition 75 - paycheck protection
  • Proposition 76 - limit state spending growth
  • Proposition 77 - redistricting reform

(For an example of how unbiased is the union's political use of member dues, come gawk at their web site!)

That $50 million was taken from a union-dues surcharge; it is, of course, precisely the sort of political spending of member dues that would be banned under Proposition 75, paycheck protection. So now that they have spent all the money they could afford, and the initiatives are doing better than ever in the polling, what is the "poor" union to do next?

Simple: since they know they won't be able to spend dues tomorrow, after the initiative passes, they've decided to spend tomorrow's dues today. The CTA is arranging a $40 million line of credit to continue spending every dime of their members' money that they can shake loose, with complete disregard for the political leanings of those teachers.

But it's even worse than that: on Monday's Special Report With Brit Hume, Hume reports that the union has already borrowed as much as $34 million for their previous spending spree:

The group has already spent the $50 million it raised to fight the initiatives — which would make it easier to fire teachers with tenure and increase restrictions on unions using members' dues for political campaigns.

Now, the CTA is asking for an extra $40 million in credit to keep up the fight — on top of $34 million in loans the union is already paying down.

If maths were not your long suit, that works out to $90 million of union dues going to fight against a ballot initiative that would restrict the use of union dues for fighting ballot initiatives! Plus enough previous debt to raise the total debt to $74 million. Now that's what I call painting yourself into a hole!

And be sure to note that the CTA is not only opposing Propositions 74 and 75, which arguably affect teachers, but also 76 (which simply caps state spending growth) and even 77, which changes how the legislature is reapportioned; neither of these two have any direct connection with teachers, schools, students, or education whatsoever.

[Hat tip to Cloud Master for catching a typo in the last paragraph!]

They also support Proposition 79, one of the two prescription-drug price-control initiatives, and Proposition 80, to completely re-regulate the electrical grid. I have a hard time seeing what any of that has to do with teachers, either. The fact that both initiatives are heavily supported by the Democrats in the state legislature (and Schwarzenegger's initiatives are opposed) is the most likely explanation for the CTA's cheerleading.

The message is clear: never argue with a union that buys red ink by the barrel!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 11, 2005, at the time of 4:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 5, 2005

Everybody's Gone Survey, SurveyUSA, Addendum

California Redistricting , Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

Per Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee and his BeeBlog, California Insider, three heavy-hitter "reform" groups have just endorsed Proposition 77, the Redistricting Reform initiative:

Three prominent reform groups -- Common Cause, CalPIRG and -- have endorsed Prop. 77, the redistricting reform measure. These groups, especially Common Cause, have been working for fair, independent district boundaries for a long time. Perhaps their backing of this measure will help dispel the opposition argument that it's a partisan power grab -- for either the Republicans or the Democrats, depending on who is making the accusation.

I think we're finally starting to roll here!

Speaking of which, I spoke to the California Republican Party yesterday, and they said that they were going to "roll out" a major ad campaign for all the governator's initiatives around "October 25th or 26th." I guess this is breaking news; I certainly haven't seen this mentioned elsewhere, not that I've been poring over the newspapers lately.

We'll see if they keep their word this time. I still remember Dan Lungren, Stealth GOP Nominee for Governor in 1998. I think the CA-GOP's slogan that year was "No ads -- no votes -- no problemo!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 5, 2005, at the time of 4:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 4, 2005

Everybody's Gone Survey, SurveyUSA

California Redistricting , Elections , Politics - California , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

Daniel Weintraub's always-excellent California Insider flagged new survey results on various California state ballot initiatives.

In an abrupt and rather stunning turn-around, SurveyUSA, the newest poll of the five California initiatives being pushed by Gov. Arnold Schawarzenegger, Propositions 73-77, shows all of them running ahead for the first time.

The smallest lead is held by Prop. 74, which requires teachers to serve for five years before getting tenure, rather than the two years they have to serve today; Prop. 74 leads by only 11%. The largest leads are held by Props. 75 and 77, both of which lead by 23%: Prop. 75, Paycheck Protection, requires prior written approval by a public-employee union member before the union can use any part of his dues for political purposes; Prop. 77, Redistricting Reform, requires districts to be drawn by a 3-judge panel and approved by voters, rather than allowing the legislature to draw the district lines, as they do today.

Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #7043

Filtering: 1,200 California adults were interviewed 9/30/05 - 10/2/05. Of them, 989 were registered voters. Of them, 529 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 73. 528 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 74. 529 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 75. 507 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 76. 517 were judged to be "likely" voters on Proposition 77. Crosstabs reflect "likely" voters.

All survey questions have a margin of error of 4.3%, except for Prop. 76, where the MOE is 4.4%.

  • Prop 73: 59 yes, 39 no (2% undecided) lead: +20
    Parental Abortion Notification
  • Prop 74: 55 yes, 44 no (2% undecided) lead: +11
    Teacher Tenure Reform
  • Prop 75: 60 yes, 37 no (3% undecided) lead: +23
    Paycheck Protection
  • Prop 76: 58 yes, 36 no (6% undecided) lead: +22
    Limit State Spending Growth
  • Prop 77: 59 yes, 36 no (5% undecided) lead: +23
    Redistricting Reform

SurveyUSA breaks down the vote by various demographics; their site is pretty cool and well designed -- if you have a recent browser -- I have no idea how well it would work on Internet Explorer 4.0!

This is truly excellent news. Previous polls had shown the measures limping towards defeat, but in each case with very large "undecided" respondents. I almost blogged about this earlier, but I wasn't sure how to explain it: the problem in the earlier polls were lengthy, hard-to-parse questions and no explanation of any of the measures. I was certain that most people's reaction was "huh? I don't get it," and that was artificially lowering the Yes vote.

But in the SurveyUSA poll, the measures are clearly, succinctly, and impartially explained. For example, Prop. 75, what I call Paycheck Protection, is explained thus:

Next, Proposition 75. Proposition 75 prohibits public employee unions from using union dues for political purposes without the written consent of union members. If the special election were today, would you vote Yes on Proposition 75? Or would you vote no?

And my favorite, Prop. 77, which I call Redistricting Reform:

Finally, Proposition 77. Proposition 77 changes the way California draws boundaries for Congressional and legislative districts. District boundaries would be drawn by a panel of retired judges and approved by voters in a statewide election. If the special election were today, would you vote Yes on 77? Or would you vote no?

Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight: when these simple and obvious reform measures are actually explained to the voters, the voters are overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

So chin up, folks; I think we're going to see some significant changes in the structure of California in just a few years. Redistricting Reform alone will break up the Democratic gerrymander and make a great many seats in the Assembly and State Senate competitive again.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 4, 2005, at the time of 8:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 19, 2005

California Linking Rings

California Redistricting , Matrimonial Madness , Politics - California , Scaley Classics
Hatched by Dafydd

Two great issues divide the most populous state in the Union. But they are inextricably linked together... and for those of us who support a California ruled by the people, not by professional liberals, it is vital that we win on both of them.

The first will also come to a head the quickest: the drive to take redistricting out of the clutches of the Democratic dominated legislature, which has gerrymandered the state so severely that the ordinary functions of democracy have been stifled. In the 2004 election, not one single seat in the legislature changed hands from Democrat to Republican -- or from Republican to Democrat. We remain encased in amber, like the hundred million year old mosquito in Jurassic Park.

The second great issue is longer term, and it will not be resolved this year; but it has a much greater potential to damage Western Civilization so severely it may never recover. That issue is the defense of traditional marriage from leftist suggestions for "improvement," such as "gender-neutral" marriage, polyamory, or the abolishing of marriage altogether.

Both of these issues will soon burst forth: the first in this November's special election, and the second in either the primary or the general election in 2006. And the two are linked, because it is the gerrymandered legislature, which has lost all fear of the electorate, which is trying to force same-sex marriage down our throats.

Not every blog has a focus, but some do: Power Line became the central blog in the Dan Rather-60 Minutes forgery; Captain's Quarters is the go-to blog for the news on Able Danger (and before that scandal broke, CQ was the blog of record for the Canadian parliamentary shenanigans); and of course, Patterico's Pontifications absolutely owns the Los Angeles Times -- or as he used to call it, the L.A. Dog Trainer.

Ordinarily, I'm not a "theme" guy; but these two issues are so important to me -- and to California, and I believe to our country -- that I will return to them again and again. So today, I only want to set the stage.

Note: This post is a rewrite of a Scaley Classic that was first posted on Patterico's Pontifications under the title Dafydd: Only a Brief Respite. It's longish, so read on only if you care anything about the culture you live in, you Philistine. (Not that I'm trying to load any guilt on you; if you don't care about anything, I'll just sit here in the dark and suffer. Oy.)

Traditional Marriage

Earlier this month, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that he would veto the same-sex marriage bill, which had been greased through the legislature by the underhanded Democrats while real Americans were distracted by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This gave the state some breathing room. But make no mistake: this is not victory for those who support keeping the traditional definition of marriage (that would be about 61% of the California electorate); it's only a brief reprieve.

His reason for the veto is not any heartfelt objection to same-sex marriage but rather the obnoxiousness of the legislature trying to enact same-sex marriage just five years after the electorate voted overwhelmingly to ban it. Proposition 22 passed with 61.4% of the vote; it read: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Simple, direct, straightforward... but not to a leftist who knows better.

Schwarzenegger has since announced that he is running for reelection; but the odds that he'll win reelection in 2006 are at best 50-50; on the flip of a coin, the Democratic nominee may be the new governor.

California is not fundamentally a liberal state; but it's a split state with the Democrats stronger than the Republicans. And the California Republican Party is in such disarray -- probably the worst in the country -- that Democrats consistently win nearly all statewide offices. Arnold's win in the Davis recall election was a fluke; he was an outsider to California politics, and approval of the insiders was at its lowest ebb that I can recall since I was old enough to notice politics.

But now Schwarzenegger is an insider, too; add to that his abysmal job-approval numbers (unfair in my opinion, but my opinion is irrelevant), and the stage is set for the governorship to return to the party of Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, unless Arnold can pull another Hasenpfeffer out of his hat.

The Democrats have made themselves clear: the moment one of them is in the governor's mansion, the state senate and assembly will immediately (possibly on the first day of the new session) approve same-sex marriage, and to hell with the voters. The bill will quickly be signed by the new Democratic governor. There will be a donnybrook in the courts; maybe we'll win... maybe we won't.

So for anyone who believes it's important to stop the recognition of same-sex marriage, it is now more important than ever before to enact a traditional definition of marriage into the state constitution in the 2006 election (primary or general, depends on when the initiative petitions are filed).

I will not here explain why same-sex marriage is so dangerous. But I will post an article this week to this site (and excerpt and link it on this blog) that argues, from a completely secular viewpoint, why traditional marriage must be preserved and must be the only form of legal relationship specifically approved by the state. Patience the way of the Jedi is!

That still will not protect us from the numerous "Thelton Hendersons" infesting the federal district courts in California and the 9th Circus Court of Appeals. For that, we need a strong and conservative Supreme Court ("conservative" in the sense of ruling on the basis of what the Constitution says, not what they wish it said). But a state constitutional amendment will protect us from rampaging state judges, who tend to be far more numerous and aggressively prejudiced than their federal counterparts.

There are three initiatives to protect the special status of traditional marraige that are in various stages of preparation; they will shortly go to the people for signatures and eventually, I hope, be placed upon the ballot. Two of them also ban (or at least discourage) so-called "domestic partnerships." There was a time when I supported domestic partnerships; but since the California Supreme Court ruled that the state had to treat such relationships exactly the same as marriage, I changed my mind. To the court, it's just marriage under another name. I argue my case here.

Proposition 77 - Fair Redistricting

It is also vital to change the redistricting rules to have the lines drawn not by the state legislature but by retired judges. This is the crux of Proposition 77, which has already qualified for the ballot in this November's special election. (State Attorney General Bill Lockyer -- a Democrat, of course -- pulled a dirty trick to force Propl 77 off the ballot; it took the state supreme court to overturn the unjust appellate-court decision and restore the people's right to vote on the initiative.)

Under ordinary circumstances, I would be on the other side; I don't like judges, even retired ones, intruding into the democratic process. Alas, the California state legislature is so mind-bogglingly partisan, patrician, and pandering, that we no longer have a democratic process in this state. The legislature is under the complete dominance of the Democrats... and they have used their majority to lock in the gerrymander to end all gerrymanders. It is currently impossible for the Republicans to make any gains, no matter how close the parties grow... and indeed, even if the Republicans were to become the majority party, the Democrats would remain the majority in the legislature -- and would therefore control redistricting in 2010, as well, allowing them to protect their gerrymander.

That is why the Democrats are so willing to spit in the faces of the California voters: they know they are immune. There is virtually nothing voters can do about them, because the election process itself has been rigged. So long as the Dems pander to their überleft base, Republicans are locked out. And the Democrats have shown, time and again, that whenever they have the power to draw the lines, they will gerrymander to the fullest extent.

Therefore, the power to redistrict must be taken out of the hands of the corrupt legislature. Paradoxically, we must shift it to the undemocratic decision of retired judges in order to restore democracy.

Anatomy of a Gerrymander

How does a gerrymander work? Simple example. Let's say a state has 1,000,000 residents. And let's say each resident either votes Democratic or Republican. 530,000 are registered Democrats, and 470,000 are registered Republicans. Assume 80% of each party always vote for their guy, while 20% of each comprises swing voters who might vote either way.

Now, this is a 53 to 47 split, fairly close; if there are ten districts, 100,000 residents each, you would expect to find 5 Democrats in the legislature, 4 Republicans, and one seat that is usually D but sometimes R. (Assume a unicameral legislature, just for simplicity.)

But check this out; the Democrats get a chance to redistrict, and they create the following districts:

  1. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  2. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  3. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  4. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  5. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  6. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  7. 69,000 Ds and 31,000 Rs;
  8. 15,000 Ds and 85,000 Rs;
  9. 15,000 Ds and 85,000 Rs;
  10. 17,000 Ds and 83,000 Rs;

Since 80% (loyal Democrats) of 69,000 is 55,200, which is 55.2% of the vote, the Ds are guaranteed to win 7 of the 10 seats, even if the 20% of swing voters defect. Whatever the Ds want passes the state legislature every single time... and they even have more than 2/3rds, enough to override the governor's veto, if they must. So a tiny advantage is converted into total and eternal domination, all by clever use of their redistricting powers.

Actually, it's even worse: suppose Democrats go absolutely off their rockers, and this results in the Republican Party growing stronger. Let's say that 5000 Democratic residents of each district convert to the Republican Party. Then each of the seven Democratic districts would have 64,000 Ds and 36,000 Rs, while each of the three Republican districts would have 10,000 Ds and 90,000 Rs (actually, one would have 12,000 Ds and 88,000 Rs, but that's not important).

In this case, Republicans would outnumber Democrats statewide by 520,000 to 480,000, almost the reverse of the first example... yet the Democrats would still control those same 7 out of 10 districts. This is exactly what happened in Texas, resulting in a strong majority of Republican voters -- but an equally strong majority of Democratic legislators. It took political dynamite (and a powder-monkey named Tom DeLay plus many years of fighting) to finally correct that ludicrous situation.

Although this is a simplified example, this is basically the situation we're in right now, except the Democrats don't quite have enough guaranteed seats to override a veto, thank goodness.

Thus, even though the Dems would still have a legislative majority under fair districts, it wouldn't be as overwhelming as it is now... and it would be much harder to enact insane, hard-left legislation, because there would be a lot more districts whose voters were moderate and could flip either way. Seats would flip from Democratic to Republican, and that itself will force moderation on the Democratic Party.

In most other states, I agree the legislature should draw the district lines; but when the majority proves itself to be functionally incapable of behaving in a democratic fashion, they should not have the power to predetermine the results of the very elections that are the only way to redistribute power. It's like electing a party whose main platform is to abolish all future elections; if you do it, you're sunk.

Linked Rings

The two quests are tied together, because if we don't fix the shattered redistricting process, we'll have to face the same challenges to traditional marriage over and over, every election cycle, ad nauseum. And if we allow same-sex marriage to be crammed down Californians' throats, then there will be such bitterness and disgust within the Republican base that many will just drop out of politics altogether (or move out of the state) -- which is exactly what the Democrats hope for. (I would say "pray for," but, you know -- Democrats are to prayer as Superman is to Kryptonite.)

We need unassailable victories on both fronts. We need to win both of these for the Gipper.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 19, 2005, at the time of 5:13 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

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