Election 2020

California Voters Rebuked Their Governor, Legislators at the Ballot Box

With several ballot initiatives on Election Day, voters decisively rejected California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state's politically dominant unions, and the legislature.

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If my social-media and news feeds were an accurate indication, many Californians had focused inordinate attention on the granular election tallies in such far-off places such as Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and Clark County, Nevada, as the nation awaited the final verdict in a cliff-hanger presidential election.

But there's a closer-to-home result that we could immediately understand without relying on election experts. Voters decisively rejected California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state's politically dominant unions, and the legislature. Although Californians are overwhelmingly Democratic and chose Joe Biden over Donald Trump by 4 million votes, their choices on statewide initiatives were remarkably conservative.

As Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R–Rocklin) pointed out, voters shredded the Legislature's priorities in the four statewide measures that dealt directly with its actions. In each case, voters unambiguously rejected the prerogatives of the state's Democratic leadership on issues involving labor law, affirmative action, the justice system, and voting rights. It's the latest example of how far out of step the legislature is from California's voters.

The obvious good news: Voters approved Proposition 22 by a whopping 2-million vote margin. Placed on the ballot by Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, the ballot measure allows drivers for ridesharing and delivery services to keep working as independent contractors. Its passage signified the final and long-needed gutting of A.B. 5, which codified a California Supreme Court decision making it nearly impossible for companies to hire contractors.

Go figure, but instead of forcing companies to bring these workers on board as permanent employees, it led to widespread layoffs, the shuttering of theater groups and musical gigs, and the collapse of freelance opportunities just when Californians needed them the most—in the midst of pandemic-related stay-at-home orders. To blunt its effects, the legislature previously carved out exemptions for 100 industries. Voters finished the task by exempting drivers.

The rebukes keep coming. The legislature had placed Proposition 16 on the ballot, which attempted to deal with the nation's ongoing racial strife by re-imposing race-based hiring and university admissions at public institutions. It would have overturned a 1996 initiative (Proposition 209) that banned race-based decisions. Voters were unambiguous, rejecting this measure by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin.

Voters also derailed the legislature's attempt to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they turned 18 by the time of the general election (Proposition 18). Eighteen has long been the standard age for voting and many other adult things, so it was hard to understand the impetus beyond the cynical goal of boosting the ranks of young, liberal voters. The legislature nevertheless placed this oddity on the ballot—and the voters said, "no, thank you."

California voters rejected, by a solid 55-percent to 45-percent margin, Proposition 25, which would have eliminated the use of money bail to release defendants from their pre-trial detention. This was a referendum—a "yes" vote kept the new law in place, whereas a "no" vote overturned it. I support bail reform, given that the bail system is based more on finances than risk, but there's no question voters soundly stymied the legislature.

The result could still change with final counting, but Proposition 15 is losing by more than three points. This measure, placed on the ballot by unions and backed by Newsom and the Democratic establishment, would eliminate Proposition 13's tax protections for commercial and industrial properties. Its likely loss would be great for taxpayers, but terrible news for a spendthrift Legislature that wants ever-higher taxes so that it doesn't have to reform its current spending.

In another great-news, damn-the-Legislature story, voters have once again rejected one of the most noxious ideas imaginable: rent control. Such controls not only deprive owners of their property rights, but they destroy housing markets wherever they are implemented—by discouraging the construction of new rental housing and reducing owners' incentive to upgrade their properties.

Proposition 21 would have allowed localities to pass even the strictest form of rent controls—including vacancy controls that forbid landlords from raising rents even between tenants. It is getting trounced, 60-40—a fascinating result that, as The Los Angeles Times notes, "shows that despite California's reputation as a progressive bastion, voters here are far from willing to support one of the most well-known housing ideas championed by the left."

The measure is the second one in two years that voters handily defeated. Yet after voters said "no" to that 2018 rent-control plan in the midst of a Democratic wave election, Newsom signed a statewide rent-control law. So much for the will of voters. By the way, Californians on Tuesday also nixed a union attempt to hobble kidney dialysis clinics (Proposition 23) backed by the state Democratic Party.

This year's initiative results need no microanalysis, but what are the chances that Newsom and Democratic supermajorities will recognize that even California's liberal electorate is not on board their far-reaching progressive agenda?

This column was first published in The Orange County Register.

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  1. They won’t care what the vote was. They know what is best and will do it anyway. They have good intentions.

    1. Not feeling any pity for the voters. All the results of those referenda combined (and those of previous years) clearly show Californians to be more conservative than the Democrats they keep electing.

      Some 8 years ago, when some guy at some New York firm was asked why do most people in Manhattan voted like 90% Dem, he was asked, “Wouldn’t Romney’s policies be actually better for your firm?” That mid-level manager was like, “Yeah, I guess, but people around here just don’t vote Republican. It’s a cultural thing.”

      In other words, some Californians would rather die than vote out the Democrats, regardless of how much they agree with the GOP on policy.

      So what can I say? Enjoy your “culture”, Californians! Nobody deserves thieving taxation and unions running amok more than you do.

      1. California has a lot of immigrants, from many different countries in Latin America and Asia. Some of them are culturally conservative, some are fiscally conservative and very few of them came here for more socialism. But they all see the Republican party as anti-immigrant and won’t vote for Republicans. When they get a chance to vote against the hare-brained ideas of the Democrats directly, they take it.

        1. Something amusing I’ve witnessed is children of parents who came here illegally supporting Republicans and their anti-immigration policies. Progressives assume that people like this will support their bullshit, but from what I’ve personally seen, no, often they won’t.

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        2. Immigrants are told, as ethnic minorities are, that the GOP is anti-immigrant, anti-minority, by the DNP. When folks take the time to examine policies and outcomes, it becomes obvious that this is not the case, that the DNP has no real interest other than their vote, in minorities. With luck folks will be able to undo the damage of the education system and media and engage in critical thinking, to make a choice on their own about whom to support.

          1. Let’s not kid ourselves – aside from trump, all politicians are cool with illegals.

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    2. Commifornia will get what they vote for.

      Luckily, the rest of the USA will still have Trump for 4 more years.

      Republican state legislatures in WI, MI, PA, AZ, and GA preparing to send Trump Electors to vote for Trump because of the mail-in ballot election fraud scheme by Democrats. MSM wont cover it.

      1. The MSM is switching to defense about Trump campaign successes with other Republicans willing to fight the Democrat Election Fraud of 2020.

        1. Many Americans have no idea how elections work.

          Democrats are blabbing about how Electors must vote. They have no idea that its Republican state legislatures in WI, MI, PA, AZ, GA that pick the Electors.

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            1. to examine policies and outcomes, it becomes obvious that this is not the case, that the DNP has no real interest other than their vote, in minorities. With luck folks will be able to undo the damage of the education system and media! CCC exam

      2. Republican state legislatures in WI, MI, PA, AZ, and GA preparing to send Trump Electors to vote for Trump because of the mail-in ballot election fraud scheme by Democrats.

        Link??

        1. The repugnant plan brewing for state legislatures to steal the election must be stopped

          The electoral college count is going against President Trump. His efforts to overturn those results in courts are unlikely to succeed. So some Republicans — including the president’s son — are starting to promote a bid to have GOP-controlled state legislatures undo the will of the voters in states won by former vice president Joe Biden.
          Follow the latest on Election 2020

          They would accomplish this undemocratic feat with the electoral college version of the nuclear option. The ordinary practice in a state where Biden won the popular-vote total would be that state officials certify the election results and send a slate of electors pledged to Biden to Congress for its formal approval.

          But state legislatures that conclude the popular-vote total has somehow been corrupted could claim the constitutional authority to submit competing slates of pro-Trump electors and ask Congress to accept that result instead. That radical move would set up a potential clash between the House, with its Democratic majority, and the Senate, which is likely to remain in Republican hands. This bicameral breakdown would create electoral chaos and a constitutional crisis.

          Thanks God for the US Constitution.

          1. Yes, the Constitution gives state legislatures the technical power to appoint electors.

            Here comes the hammer Democrats!

            1. Let’s see if unreason hacks cover this election news.

            2. You just look pathetic. Stop it.

          2. So their plan to counter suspected fraud they can’t prove in court is to toss out all the votes and just steal the election? The optics of that won’t be good.

          3. I bet you this same author supports the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact where electors could vote contrary to a state’s popular vote.

            1. I bet you no one gives a shit either way.

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    4. I guess they probably do believe their intentions to be noble, but more importantly they have gerrymandered districts which ensure their re-election so long as voters in CA never figure out that so many of the policy ideas they’re rejecting are the bread-and-butter dogma of the half-wits they keep sending to Sacramento.

      It probably doesn’t help that the state GOP doesn’t really offer much better of an alternative and the bulk of the electorate still buys into the idea that any other party “can’t win”. Also, with schools like LAUSD, the education system leaves too many residents apparently unable to understand that with enough votes, any party can win and that the “viable” parties concept is self-fulfilling only because most people continue to believe it.

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  2. “If my social-media and news feeds were an accurate indication . . . ”

    They are not.
    Never have been.
    Never will be.

    1. Unfortunately, the social networking giants have learned a lot this election. It’s bad enough that there are no consequences to their suppression of speech and burying of major stories. This year they’ve learned that there’s no consequences to being caught suppressing speech and burying stories. The next step is coordinated fabrication, I suppose.

    2. I didn’t believe someone literally wrote that until I read it.

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  4. They rebuked the Democratic dominated legislature, but voted to give Democrats a larger majority.

    1. A net of half a million people (counting based on tax return filings) have fled the state in domestic migration since 2016, and the net flow has been heading out of the state every year since the mid 1990s or earlier. There’s a decent reason to believe that the people leaving are more likely to be opposed to the current policy directions the state government is driving toward and the result of that could be some districts drifting to be more “blue”, especially considering the population is still growing due to births (more young new voters) and illegal immigration (which the Dem party wants to allow to vote, and many activists might be finding “creative” ways to make that happen)

      1. the outflow will be even greater this year and next, with many companies allowing work-from-home for a year, or even indefinitely, and with more bad ideas like the wealth tax on the way.

  5. When it comes down to Democrat vs Republican candidates, the TV networks and the LA times, SF Chronicle, and Sacramento Bee make it clear that the one is good and the other racist and probably evil. So most vote as they are told, wanting to be on the side of good.
    Propositions are much less clearly a good vs evil choice. Even though one side may have the strong support of the unions, Democrats, and the media the issues still stand alone because they are harder to portray as racist Republicans. People vote with the proper cynicism they carry throughout their own private lives. The public do not trust the government to do the best thing and to do it well, so they voted to protect themselves from the juggernaut. It doesn’t hurt that the state has a long history of temporary taxes that just keep on going.

    1. The unions own the legislature, but they don’t own the people.

    2. One thing that was interesting according to the voter guide is that on at least three of the major ballot props the NAACP and the state Dem party were on opposite sides of the endorsements (Property taxes, Contract Driving Jobs, and Eliminating Cash Bail), and on the rent control prop both the NAACP and Dem party were on the opposite side of the “progressive”/DSA/BLM alliance.

      1. Bail bond companies get a bad rap, but people who deal with them and with the justice system trust the bail bond companies more.

    3. So the strategy would be to get entrenched bureaucrats to support the dems and then people wouldn’t trust them? We tried that, they still trusted dems over trump.

      Propaganda was off the chain against trump. Never seen anything like it. It almost makes you wonder if there was something in the water.

  6. If Californians had voted for Trump, Sacramento wouldn’t be getting a bailout from the Biden administration, and instead of Sacramento trying to raise taxes on people and businesses, they’d be forced to cut spending.

    Oh well, lesson not learned.

    1. Don’t worry, the lockdown will revitalize the economy.

  7. …AND Trump won 5,521,319 and counting votes in Commifornia.

    Trump received 4,483,810 votes in 2016.

    Poor unreason. The Biden “won” Narrative is falling apart. As Democrats asked, ballots are still be counted and tossed.

    Trump has PA judge side with his campaign to toss tens of thousands of mail-in ballots.

    Trump asking to have 1.5 Main-in ballots tossed in MI. Democrat and Republican illegal ballots.

    1. This isn’t even remotely close to what is understood as consensus reality. I’m so goddamn sick of believers everywhere I go. Fuck belief. Fuck believers. And most of all, fuck partisans.

      1. I used to be fiscal conservative left leaning libertarian. Now I’m just the opposite of what idiots believe.

  8. Although Californians are overwhelmingly Democratic and chose Joe Biden over Donald Trump by 4 million votes, their choices on statewide initiatives were remarkably conservative.

    This shows the power of the media in politics. Trump was characterized as Hitler and Stalin rolled into one on a daily basis, with any positive acts of his Administration ignored or maliciously misreported. The media outlets also amplified the state religions of global warming and open borders that have led to asinine policies like the green bad deal. They are truly evil.

    But what’s a citizen to do?

    1. Don’t let the Communist propagandists at unreason and MSM get away with what they are doing.

      Convince as many people as you can about the Democrat Party being the Party of slavery, KKK, and segregation.

      1. You may not be aware of this, but there hasn’t been slavery, segregation or a KKK lynching is a very long time.

        1. Mute him: his content is on sqrlsy’s level at this point.

  9. Same kind of pattern in Colorado. Voters went more D for federal and state candidates (with a few fun exceptions), but voted for an income tax rate reduction.

  10. Won’t matter it’s a dem supermajority and they love authoritarian laws and regs. The boot of the hard left is still on your throat there.

  11. Did they vote someone else in in their place? No? Then the rebuke means nothing.

  12. If only Gov. Karen Tiresome had been on the ballot. He’s about as popular as getting goose droppings on your shoe.

    1. No one was gonna be able to do a good job with this shit, but Newsom took fucking his constituents to a new level. Like we couldn’t figure out our holiday plans without his fucking input. So, no holidays for my family. I’m just gonna take shrooms and forget it all for a week.

  13. a rebuke of the governor would be a 40,000 person thanksgiving dinner on the 405

    1. which is perfectly fine if you’re protesting systemic racism

      1. Peacefully. Mind you.

  14. No, this was not a rebuke because voting for Biden/Harris was a signal that all this should be done nationally. Until then Califirnians don’t want to suffer alone.

  15. Prop. 22 left behind a bunch of freelancers and independent contractors to suffer under AB5. It would have been better to have worded the proposition so that the little guys could have ridden on the coattails of the big three.

  16. California democrats have a horrible time representing the will of the people.

    1. The people have failed them.

  17. Californians on Tuesday also nixed a union attempt to hobble kidney dialysis clinics (Proposition 23) backed by the state Democratic Party.

    Wait, what?

    1. they would literally rather see people die than to let dialysis clinics not hire union nurses

      1. Well unions can get fucked. Kidneys may have to fail.

  18. It’s the latest example of how far out of step the legislature is from California’s voters.

    It’s also the latest example of how far out of step the legislature can be from California’s voters, and yet they get re-elected every year.

    1. Lots of districts around my area had the Ted Wheeler effect – you had a choice between the incumbent and a literal crazy person.

    2. That’s fake news. I’ve asked everyone I know online and irl – nobody – and I mean nobody – has ever voted for pelosi. God what a cunt. Nor has anyone voted for boxer or that other bitch Feinstein. Fucking wrinkled old bags looking like Shar pei’s.

  19. Maybe Greenhut can get an inside line on whether any libertarians made it onto city councils. In Texas the politicians pretend those races are “nonpartisan” to prevent voters from turning out everyone EXCEPT libertarians. This lying-in-labeling keeps us from working out the statistics, and makes it harder to know who to vote against.

  20. Prop 15 lost because of all the extra BS they tried to shove in there – like dedicating funding to schools, tampering with how the tax exemptions worked, etc. If they had just kept it clean and said that commercial properties had to be assessed at market value, it would have won.

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  22. Hi-Yo, Heave-Ho,
    Karen Newsom’s got to go.

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  25. It’s the latest example of how far out of step the legislature is from California’s voters. good Presentation skills

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  28. Think about the prop 209, 44% of those in California support racist policies. Even though the issue did not pass isn’t it disgusting we are still that far from treating all people equally?

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