Tax Increase Measures in November Will Self-destruct – Read History!

Of the five proposed tax increases the Democrats are attempting to put on the November election ballot, none of them will pass.  Believe me.  All conservatives need do to derail these taxes is show up on election day no matter what, cope with a long ballot, and vote “no” on everything.

It will take a college degree to understand the Secretary of State’s voter information pamphlet for the November, 2012 election, given the partisan, pro-union move by the Legislature and the Governor to force measures off the ballot next June, and lump them all together in November.  The Democrats changed the balloting on propositions because they were afraid an “anti-union” proposed proposition had a less likely chance of passing in November rather than June.  However, history demonstrates they have made a big mistake, and will likely lose all five of their pending tax increase propositions also planned for the November ballot.  This is because past election results demonstrate that a crowded ballot really helps Republicans and the anti-government position on ballot propositions.  The reason is that voter demographics demonstrate that when a ballot is very crowded with candidates and measures, Republicans, seniors and conservative voters are at an advantage to win their issues, because they are better educated and more prepared to comprehend the information on the crowded ballot and actually vote, than voters registered in other parties in California.

Photo courtesy rwkvisual, Flick

Average citizens in California will be overwhelmed with a likely 200 or more page guide to ballot propositions that the Secretary of State will mail out five or six weeks before the November election. This monster “Official State Election Guide”  will create so much eye strain on the average citizen that it will be more useless to them than a telephone book.  Like the ubiquitous yellow page directories dropped off and quickly discarded at people’s homes and offices, the Secretary of State’s pamphlet will largely be sent right to the trash bin in most voting households. Because of jammed television and radio advertising for and against the much longer list of propositions to be considered next November, widespread voter fatigue will take hold and general voter turnout for the election will be somewhat depressed; and so-called “down ballot” voting (voting on items after someone votes in the Presidential election, which will top the ballot) on propositions will see significant drop-off because of voter confusion and lack of any knowledge about what the propositions really stand for.

The winning and losing sides will be decided by how well the California Tea Party, Republican party and conservative activists motivate their core supporters, and how well the unions motivate their voters.  But even if Obama is solidly ahead in California on election day, as expected, informed conservative voters may still get their way on most ballot propositions.  This is because disenchanted (and perhaps newly unemployed) young Obama voters who voted for him the “first time” in 2008, and likely some “Occupy” members upset with Obama, will just sit-out the next election.  These are exactly the voters that Democrats depend on to prop up their “tax-and-spend” dysfunction.  More importantly, many moderate/liberal occasional voters who do show up at the polls for Obama, will be bewildered by the crowded ballot, and will drop out of voting “down ballot” because of the confusion and fatigue on propositions.  Democrats will lose more votes there for their tax increases.  If the presidential election is (unlikely) competitive in California, conservatives will surely get their way.  In either case, better educated voters, who tend to be conservative and Republican, will persist and work through the ballot in higher percentages than other voting groups.  Their votes will be magnified by the drop out and drop off of the other voters the Democrats depend on.  I believe the Democrats have outsmarted themselves on jamming all the state’s ballot propositions into just one election next November, and history supports that a long, crowded ballot favors Republicans and conservatives.

The 2012 General election will surely have surely more than double the total number of ballot propositions (45 proposed ballot measures are actively in circulation now according to the Attorney General’s website) from the 2010 ballot.

The last time California experienced such a jammed statewide ballot proposition list was in November, 1990, when, even under the old rules of June and November balloting of propositions, there were 28 propositions on the ballot and the Secretary of State’s official voter guide was 224 pages long, broken down into a main mailing and a supplement, weighing about 3/4′s of a pound.  According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, though major newspapers write for citizens at the eighth-grade level, political scientist Philip Dubois at U.C. Davis said the ballot pamphlets are written at the “12th and 13th grade and above”, which is above the education level of the average California adult.  ”I don’t see how anybody can get through it” said Bruce Cain, then associate director of the Institute for Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley.

For November 1990, the State published 9.5 million of the 224 page voter pamphlets at a reported cost of $11 million, not including postage.  I suspect the State will need to publish 16 million of the pamphlets in November 2012.  Assuming costs have doubled, the printing would be between $35 and $40 million.  Nonprofit postage on a 3/4 pound bound printed mailer is about $1.25 per piece or, roughly, an extra $20 million or so.  Then there is the cost of list acquisition to be reimbursed to the Secretary of State.  I think it is fair to estimate that the real costs of just printing and mailing a “monster” voter pamphlet for the November election will be upwards of $65 million.  And it could end up being 250 pages long.

So the November, 2012 Secretary of State ballot pamphlet will be largely useless in informing voters.  In fact, it will confuse them more.  If the “Official Voter Guide” will be confusing, certainly there will be hundreds of thousands of confused potential voters on election day, and of those voters that actually go to the polls, they will continue to be confused.  If they vote down ballot on the propositions at all, the likelihood, according to most political scientists, is they will reflexively vote “no” on issues they do not understand.

Bruce Cain is still at U.C. Berkeley in a more senior role and it would be interesting to see if any otherwise lazy main stream media reporters pick-up on the idea of calling him to see what he thinks about the Democrats change in rules to an overloaded November ballot in 2012 and if his observations about the problems with the November 1990 ballot still apply.  I suspect he will say that an overloaded ballot is still a bad thing that reduces public participation in an election.  Meaning it works against less educated voters.  He might add that the Democrats should have known that when they changed the rules.  I will add once again that I think the maneuver will backfire on them.

Internet communications will benefit voters with computers and other communications devices in November 2012 when considering the propositions.  While young voters possess many of these assets, they are the least motivated voters according to statistics.  Highly motivated conservatives and tea party activists represent a demographic that possess these devices and computer knowledge of them in greater numbers than other voting demographics in this state.  These voters don’t need the Secretary of State’s voter pamphlet, because they will get voting clues in other ways, such as from political organizations and affinity groups that have their own voter guides.  They won’t be confused by the length of the ballot, will be able to see through the advertising campaigns, and will surely be very informed about the ballot propositions and how to vote on them.  They will also be motivated to vote by strong opposition to Obama.  While Obama will likely win the election for President in California, his voters will be generally less enthusiastic than four years ago, “Occupiers” will stay home, and a large swath of his voters that even do get to the polls can be expected to simply pass on voting on many of the other items that will be on the ballot, for reasons already stated here.

Oh, the results of that November 1990 election, the last time we had a really crowded proposition ballot? Republican Pete Wilson beat Democrat Diane Feinstein for Governor; the people rebelled against the Legislature and passed the current terms limits law, Proposition 140, proposed by conservative Lew Uhler of the California based National Tax Limitation Committee, even though it was out-spent 31-1; 12 of 14 bond measures for “emotional funding” issues were defeated; three proposed increases in taxes were defeated; a “green” measure (Proposition 141) was defeated; a tax revenue shift from motor vehicles to rail transit was defeated; a measure to allow outside contracting for prisons was approved (Proposition 139); and the only measure that passed that might otherwise be considered remotely “liberal” of the rest of the 28 propositions on the ballot was a measure to add gill and trammel net fishing to the list of sports fishing activities requiring a license.  In other words, the election result was a conservative grass-roots blow out.

(Jim Lacy is Publisher of California Political Review.  This article is adapted and revised for CPR from one previously published by Jim at on his blog string there.)



    The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars. Few people know how much money that is, so we created a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms. Let’s put the 2011 federal budget into perspective:”
    “”””• U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000″”
    “”””• Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000″”
    “”””• New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000″”
    “”””• National debt: $14,271,000,000,000″”
    “”””• Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)””
    “””” “”
    “”””It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to.””

    “”””Therefore, let’s “”remove eight zeros from these numbers”” and pretend this is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family.””
    “”””• Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700″”
    “”””• Amount of money the Jones family spent: $38,200″”
    “”””• Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500″”
    “”””• Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710″”
    “”””Amount cut from the budget: $385”

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