November 5th, 2012

California and its electoral votes

The other day I came across some statistics that reminded me that electoral-vote-heavy California, one of the most reliably Democrat states these days in presidential elections, didn’t used to swing that way.

The change came rather recently. Take a look: from 1972 to 1988, solid Republican. From 1992 on, solid Democrat.

It matters a lot. California now has 55 electoral votes, the equivalent of the sum total of the states of Montana, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alaska combined. And California’s electoral votes are now a given for Democrats.

Other electorally hefty states such as New York (29) and Texas (38) sort of cancel each other out, and biggish Florida (29) is a toss-up. But California the jumungous stands alone, and is responsible for the fact that a Republican candidate often has an arduous uphill battle to offset it.

I wonder whether, as California goes down the tubes, enough of its residents will wise up (or leave the state and reduce its electoral share) to make a difference. And I wonder how long that might take to happen, and what the state of this country will be by then.

28 Responses to “California and its electoral votes”

  1. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    The time period begins to coincide with the peak of the exodus of traditional industry in CA. LA used to be one of the centers of aircraft manufacture and today all that is gone. Shipyards, mines, oil etc. all left. In addition the surge of Mexican immigration (legal and illegal) peaked as well. The democrats did not have to cater to the industrial workers or agricultural interests, but could coopt the greens, finance and new welfare clients. Much the same thing has happened in NYS. Upstate steel, aerospace and heavy manufacturing was chased out. NYC provides the bulk of the revenues from high earning finance types and the pols cater to the urban poor for votes.

    There is no reason these very large states should not be more representative of the national average mood. A prime example of progressive governments living off the votes of their clients.

  2. DonS Says:

    I’m a lifelong Californian, and my family has been here since the 1870s.

    There are large numbers of conservatives in CA. The sad aspect is all our electorial votes go for Democrats. I wonder, what was the CA popular vote split for Bush/Kerry in 2004?

  3. Holmes Says:

    54/44 in 2004, according to this.

    Let’s not forget the easy W of Illinois and its 21 electoral votes.

  4. Mr. Frank Says:

    Any Democrat starts with California, Illinois, and New York and 95% of black voters. None of those is likely to change no matter how bad things get. That’s quite a mountain to climb. The Obama years have been brutal for young people and blacks. They haven’t noticed yet.

  5. Bill West Says:

    Californians will not wise up. Public employee unions, social “progressives” and new arrivals all believe that the state is the benefactor and that the rich should give more.

    I was at a lunch last Friday where Gov. Jerry Brown was the featured speaker. He said, “According to the Book of Luke, ‘to whom much was given, of him much will be required’ .” Therefore, taxing the rich is a biblical imperative.

    The legislature is overwhelmingly Democrat and not likely to change. A Republican governor can try to circumvent the legislature via the ballot initiative process, but the entrenched interests have nearly unlimited funds to defend themselves. The fate of Proposition 32, which limits unions and corporations in ther efforts to take money from employees for political purposes, will tell the story.

  6. Teri Pittman Says:

    We like to blame Californians for turning Oregon and Washington blue 🙂 I got out of there in the 70s, because I didn’t like the direction it was headed in. As they drive out more and more businesses, you are left with government workers, well to do liberals from the tech industry and immigrants legal/illegal. I don’t see a way to build a conservative base out of that. It would take a boom in the California economy for that to happen.

  7. James Drake Says:

    My wife and I were from southern California. Over-regulation of air pollution drove many industries out the state: a GM plant, a helicopter plant, and various aerospace/defense plants. Together these carved out many good middle and upper-middle class jobs.

  8. M J R Says:

    I am now a Californian only since this past July, and obviously not for political considerations. It’s a certifiable basket case here, statewide — as many writers have pointed out abundantly.

    One personal (VERY) bright spot — I’m in the congressional district of Darrell Issa (R-Ca). I’d read about him since well before moving here, and I’m ^so^ pleased to ^finally^ be represented by a congressperson who’s not a statist/redistributionist [I had lived in Maryland or Dee Cee since the fabled 1960s].

    Where I now live, we’re a patch of red in a sea of blue. But the blue is threatening to reach tsunami magnitude nationwide — whether aided by or in spite of the election results tomorrow. The national demographic projections are not favorable; ’nuff said? I’ll make it to my grave okay (probably), but I do fear for my children.

  9. Ann Says:

    Way back in 1960, it was very, very close in California: Nixon 50.10% to Kennedy’s 49.55%.

    That figure really surprised me.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    Ann: California was very different then. And Nixon was from California, as well.

  11. Retail Lawyer Says:

    I’m a 5th generation native of California, and we’ve always lived in the Bay Area. I was in college when Reagan was the governor.

    It certainly has changed. The coastal white people are pretty much liberal – so much so that candidates are simply put up by the Democratic party machine, and then they don’t even bother to campaign, hold town hall meetings, or be available in any way. The conservatives in the remainder of the state are outnumbered by minorities tending democratic. I wonder why the Mexican immigrant thinks more Mexicans are a good thing. Soon enough you have virtual Mexico, just like what they had to leave.

    I don’t see any sign of that changing and resulting in a different contribution to the electoral college or the congress.

    But California will change as it goes bankrupt and becomes a 3rd world society by almost any measure. The whole world will notice, and many lessons will be on offer.

  12. Ann Says:

    Yeah, but Nixon’s win was certainly by a whisker.

  13. dbp Says:

    It takes a while to fade. NY had 47 EV 70 years ago and now has 29. As I see it, California will slowly fade, just as the Empire State has.

  14. Otiose Says:

    Another factor in California’s descent into the dark side is that as the old residents left for other states they were more than replaced by immigrants from abroad. It’s not just Latinos but also a lot of Asians too. Barone points out in one of his books (‘Our Country’?) there is a longstanding tendency for new immigrants to vote left of center – recent history that means for Democrats – so might well take several decades for California to move back toward right of center and that assumes we see a slacking of immigration and/or of California as a major destination for newcomers.

  15. Tesh Says:

    I wonder if there’s much stock in my suspicion that people fleeing CA tend to bring the liberalism with them rather than leave it behind. I keep meaning to look into potential numbers for that.

  16. davisbr Says:

    I was born in California.

    Today is the one year anniversary of our move away from California.

    I consider it more of an “escape” than a “move”.

    …at 60, I guess I’m one “old residents” …and I’d concur there was nothing I could see going forward that would cause me to feel the least bit optimistic about Cali’ over the next two decades.

  17. Mr. Frank Says:


    Yankees who move south bring their liberal ideas with them. That’s how states like Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia can be battleground states. They seem to forget why they left. Californians have done in Oregon and Washington. Colorado is next.

  18. parker Says:

    All residents of CA & IL (along with NY & NJ) should be issued Greek passports and encourage to immigrate.

  19. Ann Says:

    Hey, be a little easier on Californians — they really aren’t all alike, you know.

    There was a Nov. 2 presidential poll Nov. 2 presidential poll there, and it showed Obama with a smaller lead than in 2008: a 14-point lead rather than the 2008 24-point lead.

    And there’s also this:

    This year’s poll also shows a significant drop in support for the president in the region of the state that includes Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Four years ago, Obama led that part of the state by a slim margin in the final days before the election, and he went on to win both counties, which have traditionally leaned Republican.

    Today’s poll, however, shows Romney with a commanding 53 percent to 38 percent lead — a virtual reversal of the statewide numbers — in portions of Southern California outside Los Angeles and the South Coast.

  20. Wry Mouth Says:

    Consider this also: as a Californian (soon, sadly, to be ex-), recall that since 10% of the nation resides here, that means that about 4.5 % of the POPULATION OF THE USA — Republicans all — are held hostage, and their votes essentially don’t count in presidential elections.
    Still, soldier on, I would say to my GOP friends. Keep true.

  21. Tesh Says:

    @Wry Mouth

    That’s where I wonder again why most states award their EC votes as an “all or nothing” proposition. It seems… unwise. It marginalizes the smaller states… at least, from where I sit.

  22. parker Says:


    I realize that all Californians are not alike, same goes for Iowans; but over the last 4 decades a majority of Californians have voted for politicians who have put in place precedences that ‘progressives’ have championed even in Iowa. I don’t blame you personally.

  23. neo-neocon Says:

    Here’s a column by Randy Barnett, addressed to libertarians, that’s well worth reading.

    Barnett, by the way, is a libertarian.

  24. Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master Says:

    Dave Leip has far and away the best election atlas.

    Historical data going back just about as far as it exists.

    Note that he’s refused to change colors like the Big Media did when they noticed that the Dems (historically Red) were … gosh, kind Marxist and all that… “Red stuff”. about 12-16 years ago when suddenly “Dems” were “Blue” and the “GOP” was “Red”.

    He uses the same consistent colors that have always been used for decades.

  25. Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master Says:

    Wry: Republicans all — are held hostage, and their votes essentially don’t count in presidential elections.

    The smart Republicans are leaving California. What fool wants to be there when the whole thing collapses?

  26. davisbr Says:

    I’m going to go out on a speculation limb here (though it’s based upon familiarity and experience of the history of the thing):

    The Californians who moved to Oregon and Washington in the first Cali’ emigration wave – say 1970’s to late 1980’s – were primarily people who had made a killing on the appreciation of the value of their homes in the hyper-inflated CA real estate market of the period (there’s all kinds of reason for that hyper-inflated market, but the biggie was immigration: Cali’ more than doubled in population between 1960 and 1980 …homes were a premium in any location).

    They’d bought homes in the 50’s-60’s (and into the mid-70’s or so), and found that a home they’d paid around $15K-$30K for, was worth a quarter mil’ to a half mil’ (keep in mind that’s in 1970’s dollars, and adjust accordingly to gauge the financial impact in current terms).

    And their property taxes had been/were being raised commensurately (hence the success of Prop. 13 …though in a lot of ways, the Rubicon had already been crossed).

    But they could move to Portland say, or one of Seattle’s bedroom communities, and buy a much nicer place, and still have the vast majority of their equity to invest in, live on, look for a new career, whatever. With a whole different order of taxation. (As in much less.)

    So …they left. It was kind of a no-brainer. If you could stand the northwest’s weather, you moved.

    Those people were mostly liberal (not!!! all though) and were leaving based upon financial considerations …and they took their politics with them (even conservative Californians are very laissez faire in their social tendencies).

    The result was a liberal “California” political “shift” in Oregon and Washington (and the locals of that more conservative period in both states both noticed, and resented this – whoo boy, did they resent this) …and a sociocultural one, too (eventually).

    The new “millenium wave” leaving California since 2000, though, are primarily conservatives. And they are bringing their political tendencies with them as they exfiltrate to Oregon and Washington, too.

    I do have a prediction about the future of politics in both Oregon and Washington as this new wave of California emigrants settle in for the long haul.

    We’ll see than, won’t we.


  27. blert Says:

    When an American minority group — nationally — comes to hold a decisive chunk of the local political landscape, their tendency to vote as a bloc — for one party — causes that party to morph into a sectarian machine.

    These machines become so hyper-dominant that their relation to their national party is but token.

    The Japanese community in Hawaii is approximately 25%ish of the census. However, 100% of the civil service secretaries working for the state government are Japanese. (circa 1996)

    When that stat was revealed by the local, dominant newspaper there was no Federal outcry, no plea that Hawaii obey Federal laws.

    Having worked within the Hawaii State civil service, I can attest that an astounding number of said secretaries have husbands contracting business with the State of Hawaii — typically in construction. Which explains why non-Japanese never seem to win any State contracts, until the scale is too large for local talent.

    [ The H-1 Freeway viaduct in front of the airport was locally contracted. The overpass join was so screwed up by the ‘amateurs’ ( North and south cantilevered elements were off by an astounding 84 vertical inches; thus, unable to meet. ) that work stopped for nine months while a fresh contract was cut to rescue the local (Japanese-American) dunces. I happened to talk to the CEO and COO of the rescuing contractor: it was the worst boner they’d ever seen.]


    My Ashkenazi neighbor re-settled in the islands, in a bygone era. He was hyper-active in Democrat politics — a big time contributor with a wallet to match.

    He fled the Islands after a year. He discovered that the Democrat Party of Hawaii has no real connection to the national party — and that, while they’d certainly take his big money, under no circumstances would they accept any political impact from an ‘immigrant’/ off-the-jet liberal Jew.

    Indeed, he discovered anti-Jewish sentiment that would meld with Imperial Japan, circa 1944.

    The local party was completely in its own orbit. ( This was also true for the unions. The AFL-CIO at the national level was dissed and snubbed at every turn. )


    All of the above should be kept in mind when prognosticating California.

    That state shall certainly devolve into ethnic bloc voting, and cause her golden age to entirely close.

    The productive population will displace by ethnicity. African Americans will return to Atlanta. The North European Americans will head north and east; making those states boom in the Electoral College.

    Snake Plissken’s time will come.

  28. davisbr Says:

    Snake Plissken’s time will come.

    Why I Left California.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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