California’s One-Party State, the Blue Wave Machine

As the electorates in political battlegrounds across America endure what may be weeks of turmoil, in California the post-election environment is that of a mature one-party state. The population is quiescent, having at last count rejected President Trump by a more than two-to-one margin.

In California, it doesn’t matter that only 11.5 million votes have been reported, when 21 million voters received mailed ballots. The ruling party has everything working in its favor.

The Republicans had to scrap for every donation, with most GOP donors considering California a lost cause and sending their money out of state. The Democrats, on the other hand, had mega-donors willing to spend any amount, joined by public sector unions that, year after year, collect and spend nearly $1 billion in dues from government workers.

This outrageous financial disparity—all the more decisive because of its perennial, unceasing reliability—pays for a trained field army of public sector union activists who are mustered by the thousands every election season and joined by activists, often paid, from California’s powerful network of environmentalist and social justice pressure groups. There is absolutely nothing remotely comparable on the Republican side.

This translates into ballot harvesting on an epic scale, but it also translates into superior messaging. Political consulting and public relations are a lot like professional baseball. The best players get hired, at astronomical rates, by the richest owners. In California, the A-Team works for Democrats, because year after year, the Democrats throw down more money. A lot more money.

Election observers with decades of experience in California politics are shaking their heads. Nothing is known. There’s a record turnout, but how many people is that? In 2016, 14.2 million Californians cast a ballot. How many of those 21 million mailed ballots will be returned and counted? That will eventually be known, but don’t hold your breath. The California State Legislature has deemed that any ballots postmarked by November 3 can be received up to 14 days later, November 17.

But in California, why worry? In the one-party state, elections are a formality, sort of like they are in places like North Korea. The only difference is North Korea’s tyranny is overt and brutal, whereas California’s remains more akin to Huxley’s Brave New World, with Sexophones and Soma lulling the voters into believing whatever they’re told to believe.

As it is, from the results so far, the one-party state may actually pad its dominance in the state legislature. Half of the state senators face reelection this year, and of the 20 seats, GOP candidates are only leading in two races, with both of those too close to call. One of the brightest GOP Senators, John Moorlach, may be headed for defeat. His story exemplifies what Republicans are up against.

Moorlach, the only certified public accountant in California’s state legislature, made the mistake of explaining to that handful of financially literate Democratic senators (a few do exist) how to reform public sector pensions before they bankrupt the state. For that, and despite his strong record of support for law enforcement, Moorlach earned the enmity of the prison guards union, which poured money into the campaign of his Democratic opponent. Moorlach stepped on the wrong toes, and in California politics, that’s a sure path to oblivion.

Republicans at this point are not doing any better in the state assembly races, where all 80 seats are up for grabs. Only 19 of those races currently show a GOP candidate in the lead, and 13 of those are too close to call. Most of the races aren’t close at all. In four of them, there isn’t even a GOP candidate on the ballot, thanks to California’s “top-two” primary system.

While Republicans have picked up a few congressional seats elsewhere in America, not so much in California. In 2018, the year Tom Steyer and the public sector unions perfected ballot harvesting, California’s share of the state’s whopping 53 congressional seats dropped from a paltry 14 to an abysmal seven. As of noon on November 4, Republicans led in 10 of them, not exactly a complete claw back. And of those 10, only three, the 4th Congressional District held by the redoubtable Tom McClintock, the 22nd Congressional District held by the great Devin Nunes, and the 23rd Congressional District held by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have been called. The rest are cliffhangers.

When it comes to early returns versus final returns, California’s Republicans have little cause for optimism. Harvested ballots, due to the far more professional and pervasive harvesting operations of the Democrats, tend to skew heavily Democratic. They also tend to get counted late. The wild card remains the cache of mailed-in ballots, where some GOP optimists claim the majority of ballots mailed at the last minute came from seniors who skew Republican.

If there is any reason for hope in California, it is with respect to some of the state ballot initiatives. 

California’s voters have the ability to pass laws and constitutional amendments, and they voted on 12 of them this election. Notable among these were Proposition 15, which would raise property taxes, and Proposition 16, which would resurrect racial preferences in hiring, college admissions, and state contracts, and Proposition 21, which would allow statewide rent control. Early returns show all three of these losing, which means Californians haven’t totally lost their minds.

Early returns also show voters approving Proposition 22, which would allow rideshare app drivers to continue to work as independent contractors. But even this is a mixed bag. The only reason it may pass is that Big Tech companies spent more than $90 million to promote it, yet in the initiative they wrote and put onto the ballot, they were unwilling to protect the rights of other independent contractors, such as court reporters, real estate appraisers, translators, caregivers, and countless others.

And on the other hand, it looks like Californians will not approve Proposition 20, which would have restored stronger penalties for property and drug crimes. How Californians expect to get their streets back, when they’ve effectively legalized theft and the distribution and use of hard drugs, is anybody’s guess.

All in all, there isn’t much good news coming out of California today. 

And will any of it hold up? In 2018, early returns had Democrats trailing in all but one of the GOP-held seven districts they eventually flipped. More recent evidence of how ballot harvesting favors Democratic candidates and causes in California comes from the March 2020 primary, in an analysis of nearly 100 local tax and bond proposals. Early results had 33 percent of local bonds and 31 percent of local taxes leading, whereas final counts showed 39 percent of local bonds and 48 percent of local taxes being approved by voters. Nearly every contest deemed too close to call in the early tallies ended up passing in the final count. 

And while Californians in March 2018 did not approve new local taxes and bonds in the percentages they’ve done historically, the Democratic machine just keeps putting them on the ballot until they do get passed. This November, nearly 300 were on the ballot.

The lessons from the 2018 general election and the 2020 primary in California seem to be that ballot harvesting favors Democrats, mail-in ballots are a wild card, and every political advantage that can possibly be deployed—money, professional consulting, paid foot soldiers, and support from all forms of media—overwhelmingly favors Democrats.

California is a blue wave machine. Melded with the corrupt big-city Democratic machines in their urban strongholds from Minneapolis to Atlanta, and with the complicity of every co-opted American institution, they are going to be tough to stop.

About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

Support Free & Independent Journalism Your support helps protect our independence so that American Greatness can keep delivering top-quality, independent journalism that's free to everyone. Every contribution, however big or small, helps secure our future. If you can, please consider a recurring monthly donation.

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

8 responses to “California’s One-Party State, the Blue Wave Machine”

  1. The only vote that matters in CA is with your feet.

  2. I think discussions of this nature have proven to be less than useless. Discussing strategies and pondering paths Republicans can take to gain more influence in the state are meaningless because they rest in a dependence, reliance and faith of a system that has been demonstratively proven to be completely corrupted and the perpetrators are completely immune to any measure of being held accountable. You bring up ballot harvesting as just another political tool that favors democrats when it is a crime against our entire nation. We’re watching a Presidential election being stolen right before our eyes while the perpetrators are not even trying to hide the fraud – and instead of screaming from the rafters – the elected Republican representatives did not….and are not…not taking any actionable measures.

    It reminds me of the scene from the film “As Good As it Gets” when Jack Nicholson’s character screams “I’m drowning here…and you’re describing the water!”

  3. California is voting DEMOCRAT for one reason and one reason only.

    MASSIVE VOTER FRAUD that is institutionalized, systematic, formalized and decades long in the making.

  4. The upside is that when they tax everyone out of existence and turn the state into a third world abattoir I for one will be laughing.

  5. No, the people in California just need to reach their breaking point. They will eventually. To the people of California: These people are burning your state down, calling it global warming and convincing you you’re the only ones in the world the Earth is mad at. The truth is they stole all your money and can no longer take care of your dams or your forests and everybody knows it. They want you all in electric cars but can’t keep the electricity on to even charge them up. And that’s only two issues. Meanwhile it’s issue after issue after issue. You called your own Governor “Moonbeam” and thought it was a good thing. Reagan tried and you wouldn’t listen. Arnold tried to try and you wouldn’t listen. I just love the new Green Arnold with his six H-1 Hummers. Oh, but he made one electric didn’t you hear, so it’s all better now. Does he know how to play you fools or what? He got that from the Kennedy side of the family. California doesn’t even resemble the United States anymore. Your government DOES NOT have your best interests at heart and we don’t have to convince you. It’s total madness and one day you will have enough. One thing I do know for sure, Biden is spending in NY and California and both are in play or he wouldn’t be doing it. If either one flips, there will no longer BE a Democrat party. The black vote may flip NY by itself and I can’t believe I’m saying that. The Democrat party has been losing ground ever since the very first year Obama got elected. Across the board including State and local races. And they will continue too lose ground until they’re down to the 2% fringe Bernie’s always been. That’s the Obama/ Clinton’s real legacy. They took a once proud Democrat Party that mattered; and because of their total corruption and racism, turned it into a 2% fringe party in only 8 years. And California WILL reach it’s breaking point too. But remember California, you shouldn’t wait very long. You people are causing more air pollution than just about any country in the world. AND THAT’S OUR SKY’S YOUR SCREWING WITH! You stink so bad we don’t want to be down wind from you on your best day. And that’s on you people for voting them in, in the first place. So excuse us if none of us want you any where near us. You California voters are like the plague. You’ve taken too many hard drugs, like “Moonbeam” and destroy everything you touch. And a simple truth: We’re all on our own in this life, nobody’s going to take care of us. You have to take care of yourself. And in the United States of America, you can. That’s the promise of America, NOT the Peoples Republic of California. Your Governor wants to tax you into oblivion while he owes over 20,000 dollars in back taxes. That’s your Peoples Republic of California. And stop listening to the Russia, Russia, Russia line. Russia has a smaller GDP than Texas and isn’t a threat to anybody. In their wildest dreams, they couldn’t have done a fraction of what our own Government has done to itself.

  6. I think it is time to let California leave the nest, and become its own sovereign state. Think of how much better the rest of America would be if we did not have to worry about its craziness affecting the rest of us. And it would serve as a sink for all the Leftists living in the other 49 states and DC to go and try their socialist experiment there.

    Would there be an economic price to the 49 states left? Absolutely, but nice things cost money. Their departure would be worth it 10x over.

    And as a bonus, they could take half of Oregon with them as well. We’re keeping Seattle, though.

  7. Every productive human with a brain is leaving the Democratic Peoples Republic of Kalifornia is leaving for states with smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.

  8. I’ve lived in California for. 70 years, am an Independent ( former R) and am stunned at what the democrats have not just allowed to happen, but worked relentlessly to create. Wake up people, they are not interested in your welfare. It’s a power grab. Look at your state… it’s a mess, and yet stunning complacency on those who could make such a difference. My father said” we get the government we deserve” I guess he had a point.

    I’m going to stick it out as this is my home, but what a tragedy. Breaks my heart.