Whatever your opinion on same-sex marriage, here's something all Californians might agree upon: there's never been a more wasteful campaign than Prop 8.
Determining the "most wasteful" campaign is a subjective judgment of course, but it's hard to imagine topping Prop 8. Consider:
- $83 million was spent for and against Prop 8, making it the most expensive campaign in California history involving a social issue. (Campaigns on business issues have involved more spending).
- None of that money made any difference in the outcome, according to this independent study. That's right. Researchers found that for all the money spent on both sides, voters' minds weren't changed. Those who opposed Prop 8 going into the campaign opposed it at the end. Those who supported Prop 8 at the beginning of the campaign supported it at the end.
- The victory of Prop 8 at the polls has now been overturned by a federal judge, who found the initiative itself is unconstitutional. If that decision is upheld on appeal, Prop 8 will be officially confirmed as a waste of time and money.
And here's the important point: Prop 8 isn't the only ballot initiative to cause a furor and draw in money, only to be overturned in the courts. (Prop 187, the immigration initiative in 1994, is another such measure). How can California prevent similar wasteful measures? One possible method would be to require each initiative to get a legal review for constitutionality before it goes on the ballot. Yes, that would give judges power over what gets on the ballot. But it also might save Californians considerable time and money.