6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

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
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

When it Comes to Presidential Politics, Does California Even Matter?

Support Provided By

Short answer: Not much. California has more electoral votes than any other state in the nation. That's right. We're number one. Once you win California's 55 electoral votes, you have one-fifth of the votes you need to work out of the Oval Office.

But really, who cares? Your vote doesn't really count in the Presidential general election. At least that is what those supporting Assembly Bill 459 are saying. AB 459 is a new bill that would ratify an interstate agreement that requires states to award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. AB 459 would, therefore, essentially eviscerate the Electoral College and dramatically change presidential campaigns.

The interstate compact would be become effective only if states possessing a majority of the total number of electoral votes ratify it. As of last month, seven states and the District of Columbia have ratified the compact. Those jurisdictions account for just shy of 30% of the total electoral votes needed, 270, for the agreement to be ratified.

As it stands, in 48 of 50 states, members of the electorate cast their ballot for their preferred presidential candidate. Then the candidate who obtains the most votes in the states gets all of that state's electoral votes. (In Nebraska and Maine electoral votes are apportioned by congressional district).

While one might think that California would be a sought-after prize, for the last two decades our state has leaned very predictably democratic, at least when it comes to selecting presidential candidates. If California's electoral votes went to a Republican in the near future, it would leave political pundits everywhere gasping for air (and airtime).

A new system could be a welcome change from our current winner-take-all system. Those of you who remember the protracted battle between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000 know that a candidate can win the national popular vote and lose the presidency. In addition, as discussed above, candidates ignore California for just about everything but money. Candidates would be forced to come and fight for California and other "safe" states.

This proposal has the advantage of not requiring a constitutional amendment because the idea of electoral votes would remain. Those votes would just be allocated according to a different formula.

There are, of course, also disadvantages to the program. Candidates could ignore rural, sparsely populate areas. Some, including former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, don't like the idea that a state's electoral votes could go to a candidate who the majority of the voters in the state did not support.

Another option would be to follow Maine and Nebraska's lead, handing out electoral votes district by district. Democrats tend not to like this idea because it would mean the state would not lean predictably for the Democratic presidential candidate.

If California is important at all this presidential cycle, it is because the Golden States is seen as a cash cow. Our state is often described as a candidate's ATM. Between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, there are many willing and able donors in our state. For that reason, California wields at least some indirect influence over candidates, as contributors give vast sums for candidates who then use that money in the so-called "swing states."

Support Provided By
Read More
A nurse in blue personal protective gear administers the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to a woman in a red shirt.

How to Schedule Your COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment in Southern California

Booking an appointment for your free COVID-19 vaccine is complicated. To keep track of all the moving parts, LAist reached out to cities and counties in the greater Los Angeles area for specifics. Find your location below for your guide to booking vaccine appointments in Southern California.
A person in a red sweatshirt administers COVID-19 vaccine to a young Black man. Both are wearing face masks.

State Sets Aside Vaccines for Hard-Hit Areas, Speeds Reopening Efforts

Southern California counties and others across the state could be cleared to open more businesses and lift other restrictions sooner than anticipated under a plan announced today that will prioritize COVID-19 vaccines in communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
A health care worker prepares a dose of China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a mass vaccination for vendors at the Tanah Abang textile market in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 17, 2021.

Jakarta Will Fine People Who Refuse COVID-19 Vaccines. Will It Work?

The city of Jakarta has taken the rare step of announcing fines and welfare penalties for anyone who refuses to get a COVID-19 vaccine, raising fears of inequalities