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5 Winners in California Elections

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There has been much celebrating after this week's elections, because there were many winners, particularly on the Democratic side. But who were the biggest winners?

    Here are Prop Zero's nomination for the top 5:

    5. Super-rich Bay Area Democrats with political ambition: Investor Tom Steyer sponsored Prop 39, a corporate tax change, and won. And former Facebook executive Chris Kelly backed Prop 35 and won easily.

    4. Jerry Brown: He said his measure would succeed politically and it did, winning a surprisingly large victory, by more than six points. Unfortunately, Prop 30's combination of temporary tax hikes and permanent spending changes won't fix the budget or schools. Brown will feel the political pain later.

    3. Death row inmates: Yes, Prop 34, which would have repealed the death penalty, lost. But many inmates didn't want the death penalty to go -- because their death row status gives them more chance of winning appeals of their cases.

    2. Campaign finance disclosure: An Arizona group that gave $11 million of unknown origins to the Yes on 32 No on 30 campaign effort earned criticism and may be fined. But the real damage of this gift was political. The anonymous donation effectively killed the Yes on 32 campaign and did no favors for the No on 30 effort. Anonymity doesn't make sense because, politically, it doesn't work.

    1. Trigger cuts: Californians approved Prop 30 -- a ballot initiative no one could love -- because they were afraid of $6 billion in trigger cuts to schools if the measure lost. Look for trigger cuts to be used on future initiatives that are priorities for governors and legislative leaders.

    Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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