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‘Three Californias’ would likely mean four more Democrats in U.S. Senate

How a new ballot measure would split California three ways

Venture capitalist Tim Draper’s new plan to break up California is on the November 2018 ballot. This time he wants to split the Golden State into three states. Here's what that would look like.
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Venture capitalist Tim Draper’s new plan to break up California is on the November 2018 ballot. This time he wants to split the Golden State into three states. Here's what that would look like.

A tech billionaire's proposal to split California into three states would, at least in the short term, likely put more Democrats in the U.S. Senate, according to a Bee review of voter registration and election data.

The upcoming ballot initiative would designate three states: Northern California, California and Southern California.

All three of those new states would have more Democrats than Republicans. Counties in all three of those new states collectively cast more votes for the Democratic presidential candidate than the Republican candidate in each of the last three elections.

Splitting California into three states would create four new U.S. Senate seats because two U.S. Senate seats are apportioned to every U.S. state. Republican Senate candidates would have an uphill battle winning any of the new states.

The new state of Northern California roughly covers the areas north of Merced and San Jose. Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one in the counties that would make up the state. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by nearly two million votes in those counties.

The new state of California covers Los Angeles and five nearby coastal counties. Democrats outnumber Republicans by a factor of 2.5 to 1 in the counties that would make up the state. Clinton gathered nearly triple the number of votes cast for Trump in 2016.

The new state of Southern California would likely be the most competitive. It includes traditional conservative bastions like San Diego, Kern and Orange counties.

But even in that state, Democrats would outnumber Republicans by about 200,000. The counties that make up the proposed state cast more votes for Clinton in 2016 and former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 than their Republican challengers received during those years.

If voters approve the proposal, the governor would provide a copy of the election results to the U.S. Congress on Jan. 1, 2019. Congress would be given 12 months to sanction the split, according to language in the ballot initiative. With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, such approval seems unlikely given the impact on the Senate.

Phillip Reese is The Bee’s data specialist and teaches at Sacramento State: 916-321-1137.
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