Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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Five Initiatives . . . Which Three Will Pass?

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Over the past two decades, 225 initiatives have qualified for the ballot in California — 40% of them, for primary elections.

64% of those primary initiatives were actually approved by voters (as opposed to a 49% approval rate in general elections).

So with five initiatives set for a thumbs-up or -down in two weeks, and history telling us that three-fifths of primary initiatives succeed, the question is: which three measures on this year’s ballot will get a thumbs-up, and which two will receive a thumbs-down?

Let’s assume that Proposition 13 passes. It stipulates that construction to seismically retrofit buildings won’t trigger reassessment of property-tax value. Sounds simple enough.

Let’s assume that Proposition 17 passes — if for no better reason that it has a clever, deliberately semi-informative/semi-nebulous title (“Allows Auto Insurance Companies to Base Their Prices in Part on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage”), not to mention  at least $10 million to spend thanks to one California insurer. 

And, while we’re at it, let’s assume that Proposition 15 goes down in flames.  It’s a tough environment in which to be selling voters on the idea of public financing of political campaigns.

So far: two initiatives yea, one initiative nay.

That leaves two ballots measures, Prop 14 and Prop 16 — in theory, one passing and the other one failing to give us that customary 3-2 score.

If Prop 16 fails, it would be one of the epic financial upsets in state history.

At last count, Pacific Gas & Electric had invested more than $44.2 million to amend the California Constitution so that a two-thirds vote is required before a local jurisdiction can provide cheaper retail power than PG&E.

Meanwhile, the anti-16 campaign has managed to scrape together only $36,000 — making for dollar disparity of roughly $1,227-$1.

Credit: Julia Vann/USC Daily Trojan

So if Prop 16 passes, does that mean Prop 14 is a goner?

Not necessarily, maintains Joel Fox, over at the Fox & Hounds Daily poli-biz blog.
His reasoning:

1) The most recent Public Policy Institute poll has the measure ahead, 60% to 27% lead, with independent voters also strongly behind it, 67% to 19% — and independents stand to play a strong role in state politics this year than they have in previous election cycles.

2) The last time primary reform was up for public discussion (1996’s Proposition 198), it received 60% of the vote.

3)  The best hope of defeating Prop 14 would be rallying both parties’ faithful — the ones who care not for a ‘top-two” primary system. Problem is, turnout may be low among Democrats, what with Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer facing token opposition. And the prevailing negative tone of the Whitman-Poizner primary may convince some GOP loyalists that it’s time to do things differently.


Written by Bill Whalen

May 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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