Californians don’t vote with the Democratic Party; they vote with Newsom

Gavin+Newsom

Thomas Hawk

Gavin Newsom poses with his family during the San Francisco Pride event in 2015 as he meets with members attending the event.

Amy Parker, ASCC Contributor

The 2022 general election’s ballot measures went exactly as expected; the tribal and gambling initiatives failed, as well as the dialysis and wealth tax measures.

The flavored tobacco ban was upheld, arts funding was increased and abortion was added as a right in the state constitution.

This was fully in line with all of the polling but was it exactly what was expected in such a pure Democratic state as California – wait, what?

This wasn’t what the Democrats wanted at all, The California Democratic Party actually supported the dialysis and wealth tax measures; this is a surprise to no one, as both align with their party platform.

So what went on here? Was there some Republican surge on just these specific ballot measures that pushed them over?

Nope, the party distribution didn’t have an effect.

Instead, all signs point to one particular individual wielding the power in whether Californians voted for ballot measures this previous general election – Governor Gavin Newsom.

In terms of ballot measure endorsements, he got everything he wanted; openly contradicting his party not only didn’t cost him politically, he won out on his agenda in the end.

This seems strange, given the previous effort to recall Newsom.

Sure, it failed, but it still overall showed that the state had a large distrust of Newsom and his governorship; while they might back him for office, it seems strange that they would follow him instead of the party.

But that recall seems to actually be the drive behind why Californians are backing him.

After all, of the personal attacks against him, and even some flank opposition from within his own party, it appears that California Democrats felt directly tied to him – they began to trust him more than ever, and sought to defend him; Thus why Newsom got what he wanted in these last elections.

Prop 29 was already somewhat likely to fail; although it had stronger backing than ever this cycle, equivalent bills had already failed in 2018 and 2020.

However, Prop 30 was the big switch as most polls had it winning out, from either a very tight split to a landslide.

Yet, it still failed – with almost 58% of the state voting against it.

Democrats have always been extremely passive in their politics as they tend to just sit back, call out to their voters for support, and hope they win.

In comparison to the Republican Party’s more active efforts, it’s honestly impressive.

But this new faction, led by Newsom – who’s gone outside of his state to go after Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbot – shows a new type of Democrat, ones who break away from party strategy and ideology to back popular, ferocious leaders.

This new faction plays more like the California of the past decade, and thus no wonder why Californians are leading its charge.

This leads to new political questions in California, as the party and this new faction drift further apart, will the party adapt, the faction fall or a new era of partisan systems emerge?

It’s time for all of us in California to be more aware of this split – and to be ready, if things get dirtier, to be ready to choose and stand firm with a side throughout the political turmoil.