PoliticsCalifornia

Splitting California in 3 Is a Bad Idea

There may be a short term benefit, but in the end liberals would just end up getting more representation in D.C. (Plus it'll never pass)
4 min read
Original illustration courtesy William Bout, Chelsea Bock, Aniket Deole

I'm not against splitting up California per se, but the Cal 3 ballot initiative wants to do it in a really bad way. The whole point of splitting California should be to at least quarantine the greater San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. Cal 3 doesn't do that. The three resulting states would still each be the size of Illinois population-wise; hardly the smaller, more localized government the initiative is aiming for.

Here's what the ballot measure would look like:

Some conservatives support the measure because they think it will give them better representation in D.C. but I think the opposite will end up happening. While it may be possible for conservatives to pick up an extra House seat or two, the Senate is a different story.

The Senate would have 6 eligible seats (2 for each state) upping the grand total from 100 to 104. Right now, California controls 2% of the Senate. Best case, the split would create a navy blue new California (strong D), a purple Northern California (mixed), and a pink Southern California (leans R).

That would mean at least 3 of the 6 seats would go to Democrats, giving them almost 3% control of the Senate, a slight increase. Ultimately, I think liberals will end up getting all 6. This might not seem like a big deal, but the Senate is currently split with just a single seat majority.

To be fair, Cal 3 does have the potential to cut California's 55 Democratic electoral votes by roughly a third but, honestly, this doesn't seem likely to me either. Here are the results for the past two presidential elections:

California Presidential Election Results
Wikipedia

While Romney came close to winning the proposed Southern California in 2012, Trump did not in 2016 and his unpopularity in California is only partly to blame. Due to rapid demographic changes taking place, my guess is that it will be mathematically improbable for any real conservative to win any of the new states. Sure, someone with an 'R' next to their name might get elected, but their policies would most certainly be closer to present day Democrats.

Splitting the state would also require Congress to sign off on it, which won't happen. Democrats are not going to take any chance of giving up those very reliable electoral votes, and conservatives might not want to risk losing so many Senate seats, either.

Lastly, Cal 3 just isn't very popular. One survey found 72% opposed. Despite polls being trash these days, I haven't talked to many I know (on both sides of the aisle) that think this is a good idea.

Watering down the Senate is worse than losing the 20 potential electoral votes. Think of it this way, it's much better to stop really bad legislation from passing at the expense of some good legislation than vice versa. A few really bad bills (like amnesty) could ultimately turn the entire country blue, which is the path we're currently on.


Nothing Will Matter Without Fixing Immigration First

Long term, we're screwed any way you slice if we don't fix our immigration system; and it's a federal issue. There simply won't be enough votes to go around. Immigrants overwhelmingly support progressive policies and they are coming in at an astronomical 1-2 million per year lawfully. Their birth rates far exceed Americans too.

One could argue that Cal 3 would at least put us on the right path. The problem is that we're out of time. We only have until November, maybe longer if we're lucky. Even Texas is projected by some to turn blue in less than ten years.

One of the new states could pass more restrictive laws, but how long will it take until the 9th Circuit overrules them? How long until unscrupulous businesses start hiring illegals again? Without a national E-Verify mandate it will happen sooner than you think.


People Will Just Move to the Best State and Bring Their Politics With Them

Let's say that one of the new states manages to turn itself into a utopia, fixing all of old California's problems. Everyone will start moving there; great weather too. Sure, you'll attract conservatives, but you'll also get lots of progressives who outnumber conservatives in the region.

Until recently, Placer County (where I live) could boast of being one of the deepest red counties in California. Now, it's on it's way to turning purple. Overcrowding and the high cost of living in SF and LA has caused people to start looking elsewhere. Lo and behold, the same problems are starting to creep up here too.

A realtor I spoke with said that 80% of his home sales in Placer County now come from the SF and LA areas. I believe it too. According to Redfin's quarterly migration report, Sacramento is the top destination for San Franciscans. 3,000 people from the Bay Area moved to the Sacramento area in Q1 2018. That's 12,000 per year.

Placer County only has 33,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. Within 10 years, it could easily turn purple, probably much sooner.

Ultimately we'll be back to square one. Remember, California was a reliably red state until 1992, which is fairly recent. It wasn't just the regulations and high taxes that caused it to turn navy blue, Reagan's amnesty had a lot to do with it too.

My advice, which is often met with blank stares, is to forget about fixing big things locally and make as much noise as possible at the federal level. That's where the root of so many problems need to get solved. The swamp drains downhill and leaving the state will only delay the inevitable. Focus on congressional races, call Congress during key legislative votes, and force the Trump Administration to keep its campaign promises on immigration and trade.