The latest attempt to carve up California has qualified for the ballot, but it stands little chance of passing, and it would probably not win the required congressional approval. Nor is it likely to win support from backers of a “State of Jefferson.”
The initiative would create three new states. “Northern California” would stretch from just north of Monterey to the Oregon border and east to the Nevada line. “California” would include the coastal counties from Monterey south to Los Angeles. “Southern California” would stretch from Madera County to the Mexico border.
The primary backer, billionaire and venture capitalist Tim Draper, argues the existing state of California is “ungovernable” because of its size and regional economies. While there is some truth to that, it’s hard to see how creating two new state government bureaucracies would be an improvement.
According to an analysis by the newsletter Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, Northern California and California would be solidly Democratic, while Southern California could be a swing state, based on how the various collections of counties voted in the last two presidential elections.
A poll in April showed the proposal failing 72 percent to 13 percent. Some residents of far northern California still support the “State of Jefferson” concept, but they are largely conservative, and no fans of the San Francisco Bay Area, which would continue to dominate them politically under the three-state scenario.
It’s safe to say three Californias is not an idea whose time has come.