Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Counting the Vote: Do Californians Care Anymore?



    California Attorney General and democratic candidate for governor Jerry Brown talks with reporters after voting June 8, 2010 in Oakland, California. California voters are heading to the polls to vote in the primary elections for governor, U.S. Senate and other statewide and local races.

    In 1974, Jerry Brown, then California's secretary of state, won the Democratic primary for governor with just a shade under 1.1 million votes. In that race, the tally represented nearly 38 percent of the vote. More than 2.8 million votes were cast in that Democratic primary.

    Last Tuesday, Jerry Brown, now California's attorney general, won the Democratic primary for governor with just under 1.6 million. But in that race, that tally represented more than 84 percent of the vote. Fewer than 2 million votes were cast, as of the last count.

    Here's what makes that doubly damning -- the damned being Californian Democrats who don't care enough to show up and vote: Cailfornia's population was a bit over 21 million in 1974. Now we are a state of 38 million.

    Think this is just a reflection of having a Democratic primary that wasn't much of a contest?

    Well, in 1974, Houston Flournoy won the Republican nomination for governor with 1,164,015 votes-- 63 percent of the vote. As of Sunday, Meg Whitman, who broke all spending records in claiming this year's GOP nomination, had just over 1.2 million votes -- or 64 percent of the vote.

    And yes, the state is twice as large. Californians only care half as much.