Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Fine Cut

Fine Cut

Start watching
SoCal Wanderer

SoCal Wanderer

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
Tending Nature
New Special Airing Nov. 14

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Discover all the ways you can make a difference.
Support Icon
The Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams are here to help.

The Lessons of the June 5, 2012 Primary Election

Support Provided By
Photo: Jessica Levinson
Photo: Jessica Levinson

Last week Californians voted in primary elections for the president, federal and state representatives, judges, and proposed ballot initiatives. Actually, let me rephrase that: Last week a small percentage of eligible voters in California weighed in on various ballot questions. About one-in-four people who could vote, did vote, which may, in fact, be the lowest in recent history for a presidential primary.

Californians, or the few of us who mailed in ballots and went to the polls, were faced with two proposed ballot initiatives. First up, Proposition 28, the successful proposal to tinker with the state's term limit laws. Now, instead of being able to serve 6 years in the state assembly and 8 years in the state senate, for a total of 14 years of service, our state lawmakers can serve for a total of 12 years in either or both houses.

Does that sound like a relatively minor change? Well, it is. It will be hard to determine whether voters approved of Prop 28 because they thought they were shortening the amount of time lawmakers could serve as state representatives, or because they thought they were giving lawmakers more flexibility. In any event, this is not the type of large-scale reform that California needs.

While we may not know why voters approved of Prop 28, we do know that it faced little opposition. Few ads were taken out to opposed it. Negative advertising matters, particularly with respect to ballot initiatives.

That brings us to Proposition 29, which may be this cycle's poster child for showing why negative advertising matters. Prop 29 looks likely to fail. That proposal would have imposed a $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes and used the revenues for cancer research. There was a great deal of advertising against Prop 29. Unsurprisingly, tobacco companies were willing to shell out great sums to defeat the measure.

So what are the lessons from primary election day? First, few of us vote, despite new "good government" reforms such as open primaries and redistricting. Second, negative advertising regarding ballot initiatives is likely quite effective.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government every Monday. She is a Visiting Professor at Loyola Law School. Read more of her posts here.

Support Provided By
Read More
a fire truck with smoke in the background

California Tribes Support Each Other and Seek Inclusion in State Wildfire Response

State agencies' lack of familiarity with Native lands has often led to interference with tribal evacuation efforts and unnecessary destruction of culturally sensitive habitat. To address the significant gaps between tribal needs and available assistance, even the smallest tribes do whatever it takes to care for their members and support other tribes.
a man rides his bike across an intersection and the air in hazy

The Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke Hit Vulnerable People Harder

Wildfire smoke can travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles downwind, exacerbating health conditions and impacting marginalized communities most.
 Sign reading "Imperial Beach" with sunset in the background.

A Small-Town Mayor Sued the Oil Industry. Then Exxon Went After Him.

The mayor of Imperial Beach, California, says big oil wants him to drop the lawsuit demanding the industry pay for the climate crisis.