San Diego and Six Californias

Elliot Schroeder Elliot Schroeder 19 Comments


This week Venture Capitalist Tim Draper’s Initiative to divide California in to six states received approval to start collecting signatures.   Now the US Constitution requires that the State legislature and the US Congress both have to approve, but of course West Virginia didn’t really go that route, so there is still some legal ambiguity there.  Sharing statehood with the Bay Area frustrates me as much as anyone here, so I decided to see what this could mean for San Diego.  To help sift through the data I found that the the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has put out a report on the split.

San Diego County would be part of ‘South California,’ I’m not a fan of cardinal directions in state names so the name doesn’t fire me up.  But our county will be in there along with Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. It would be the second largest of the proposed six states with 10 million people.  Reviewing the LAO report there is a lot of info how the Bay Area’s high income dot-coms subsidize the much of the state. We all know how that money has strings attached since Sacramento is full of Bay Area Democrats who spend a lot of time thinking how to make the rest of the state just like their San Francisco Shangri-La.  But on the fiscal side ‘South California’ comes out fairly balanced statewide. At the county level,  Orange and San Diego residents may find themselves footing more of the bill for programs and services in Riverside and San Bernardino . But where things get real interesting is the political side.

I cobbled this graphic to see politically what kind of a state I would be in. Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties look like good company. In fact they all have higher GOP registered voters and voted higher for Meg Whitman in 2010. I’ve been skeptical about dividing California but if things come to pass it might not be bad for us after all.

Of course there is a huge hurtle in getting the federal government to approve the split. They still haven’t resolved Washington DC’s congressional representation or Puerto Rico’s. Like the debate in the 1800’s over balance of power in Congress, no one is ready to add more Senators. Really the best plan is to decentralize power away from Sacramento and give it to the counties.  That might be where Draper should take this. What are your thoughts?

Elliot Schroeder is Vice-Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of San Diego.


Comments 19

  1. Politically, it seems unlikely that Democrats would vote to allow some of California’s Electoral College votes to go Republican. On the other hand, the Democrats would probably benefit greatly having 12 Senators come from what is now California. I haven’t looked closely at the initiative, but I would guess at least 8 of the 12 Senators would likely be Democrats.

  2. Nice analysis, Elliot.

    No one state has split into two since the 1860s. Yet, someone with money thinks it’s possible to divide CA into six. Six. I’m open to a reasoned approach, if feasible. This isn’t it.

    Imagine Congress, knowing CA now has well over 10 percent of the House delegation, saying, “Hey, you know what, let’s just increase CA’s Senate clout from two percent to over ten percent.” CA’s six states would have 12 of the 110 senators. 

    It WON’T happen.

  3. Post

    Thanks, Barry. I don’t see it happening either. Previously, when we added a state it came as a compromise between slave and free states – so we actually got two at time. Since the 17th Amendment cut out state influence in DC and made the Senate a more partisan chamber it would have to be a deal between Republicans and Democrats. Two states at a time – they’d let the Bay Area and South California first and leave the others as territories until they could do trade offs. But if this passes statewide it will go to DC and languish there forever. America’s borders aren’t expanding so there is no need to expand membership in Congress.

    Note: I updated the graphic to include Imperial County’s statistics.

  4. The problem with dividing up the state is that no one wants LA. Perhaps we can con rabid-Democrat Hawaii in to annexing LA, giving them a foothold on the mainland.

    After all, there’s one born every minute.

  5. I want it on the ballot, if only for the discussion and debate that would ensue. The more discussion about the doomed nature and fatal flaws of our state, the better. And I’ll vote for it.

    Sadly, the CA “Dem vs. Rep” debate gets mired in tribal loyalties and GOP animosity towards minorities (real or imagined). Seldom does it become focused on the economic woes besetting our Golden State. The GOP will never again gain control of the state legislature — not even close (though we might still win a governorship sometime).

    This split state measure is a flawed solution and will never happen, but consider what WILL happen as it now stands. There really is no hope for the future of this state.

    I’m fortunate that I enjoy the (losing) battle — the smell of HSR in the morning. But like most modestly affluent CA conservatives and libertarians, I have a backup exit plan.

  6. Richard,

    Quick question: why is that the most liberal parts of California subsidize the rest of the state and the most liberal parts of the United States subsidize the rest of the country?

  7. HQ, I’m not convinced that the most liberal areas of California subsidize the rest of the state. Certainly San Jose area qualifies. Perhaps SF. But more populous LA? Oakland? Doubtful.
    Feel free to post references. I’m open to new information.

    But riddle me this — IF such is the case, why are liberals most opposed to cutting loose the conservative areas (letting them form their own impoverished states), and conversely the conservative areas most anxious to be cut loose? It’s a mystery.

    Perhaps conservatives feel guilty about taking all the wealth from the liberals. I guess that’s a plausible explanation.

  8. From

    “So what explains the distribution of federal taxing and spending? As you can see from the map, states that get the “worst deal”—that is, have the lowest ratio of federal spending to taxes paid—are generally high-income states either on the coasts or with robust urban areas (such as Illinois and Minnesota). Perhaps not coincidentally, these “donor” states also tend to vote for Democrat candidates in national elections. Similarly, many states that get the “best deal” are lower-income states in the mid-west and south with expansive rural areas that tend to vote Republican.”

    The above illustrates my previous point about the United States. I will try to find a citation for California.

  9. “IF such is the case, why are liberals most opposed to cutting loose the conservative areas (letting them form their own impoverished states), and conversely the conservative areas most anxious to be cut loose? ”

    Because we have the electoral votes they covet. It’s never about compassion and always about power.

  10. A key line from

    Marin County is the largest tax generator per capita, followed by San Mateo and San Francisco. All of these counties are represented by Democrats who support tax increases to help balance the state budget. And rural counties like Tulare, Modoc and Yuba that are the biggest users of state programs are represented by anti-tax Republicans.

  11. “why is that the most liberal parts of California subsidize the rest of the state and the most liberal parts of the United States subsidize the rest of the country?”

    Is that a problem? Why do you think it is?

  12. Dave,

    I don’t think that is a problem at all. I was simply responding to Richard’s constant rant that liberals are ruining the economy by asking why it is that, as a general rule, liberal areas are more prosperous than conservative ones.

  13. Tax breaks for the rich, no taxes from the poor…I’ve often thought about starting a charity that raises money to buy jet skis and RVs for middle class working families.

    Our fundraising dinner would serve Boy Scout popcorn and Girl Scout cookies. Who wants a ticket?

  14. This looks like a round-about way to avoid our half a trillion dollar debt. Might it be easier to avoid creditors by simply changing our state name to something like “North Mexico”? I’m not a pollster , but this seems like a sure thing for voters to support…

  15. I would say that cities have always been more liberal than the countryside. The most liberal states and areas tend to have large cities or be near the coast. And wealth has always flowed to cities and ports generate wealth.

    As to the tax receipt/payment disparity, the Tax Foundation pointed out years ago, “[t]he much more likely factor driving the persistent imbalance between federal taxing and spending isn’t the relative ability of lawmakers to “bring home the bacon,” but is the fact that higher income states bear a larger fraction of the federal tax burden—an imbalance that is sharply amplified by the progressive structure of the federal income tax.”

    So, it’s the progressive income tax that amplifies the disparity. To paraphrase Thomas Frank, what’s the matter with liberals that they keep supporting a tax policy that hurts their own economic interests?

  16. Without debating the national politics of such a plan being adopted. Conservatives should praise the concept for returning government to the people (i.e. local government should lead to smaller government). Our state government is like a second bloated federal government mooching off the populace and providing no valuable service that couldn’t be done entirely by counties, cities, and special act districts. How else do boondoggles like High Speed Rail come into existence but for our overreaching State government. Like the stock market, backward thinking has limited value. Forward thinking suggests a lot of potential positive outcomes despite the risks. State gerrymandering to favor Democrats will be gone. Right to work and school choice laws could be adopted. Even in Europe the rich always want a tax haven. A low tax, small government S. California will arise and the wealthy from the neighboring high tax nanny states will pour in just as they always do (as an example see: ). LA and SF state strongholds are focused on securing their hi-tech wealth, so expect some very radical laws protecting their e-commerce industries to arise. Demographics demonstrate the gentrification of asians and hispanics from the inner city LA neighborhoods to the suburbs of the Inland Empire (see ), and yet the GOP is still very competitive in the region. People change and politics isn’t static. Lower taxes, smaller government and more liberty have always been attractive, and more so in a heterogeneous population. The sooner we shed ourselves of the pension time bomb and control our resource destiny, the better we and others will be in the future. I would prefer five states over six by keeping Sacramento part of the bay area down to Santa Cruz, the Sierras together with Northern California, and Central Valley with Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Salinas, and Monterrey. No way Santa Barbara wants to be part of LA. Otherwise the LA and So. Cal plan makes sense, and gives us a better chance to control our water and our destiny.

  17. Dave,

    “To paraphrase Thomas Frank, what’s the matter with liberals that they keep supporting a tax policy that hurts their own economic interests?”

    I guess the same could then also be said about conservatives. Maybe we really are more generous and selfless than we get credit for.

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