Californians decided major issues in Tuesday’s election, including whether to abandon the death penalty, label genetically modified foods and raise taxes to fund schools. We discuss those propositions and more results from local and state races.

Show Highlights

State Propositions

On How Prop. 30 Passed

We talked a lot about how the Governor struggled, I think, to clarify what the message was, the television ad said, you know, "Accountability, Schools," he would go out on the stump and say, "The budget and jobs," and it was a little confusing.

But the bottom line here was that the state budget was built in with these automatic spending cuts if Prop. 30 failed. And when you looked at the polls, and you saw the questions that people were asked, they were very, very concerned. I think 75 percent in the last field poll said they were worried about those trigger cuts and they oppose them as automatic cuts. I think at the end of the day, that's what got the Governor over the top – people said, 'I don't love the taxes but I don't want those cuts.'"

– John Myers

On How Much Relief Prop. 30 Offers to School

You saw a number of school districts around the state who made budgets earlier in the spring for this year; they made a budget assuming Prop. 30 would fail because they wanted to be conservative, they didn't want to have to cut in the middle of the year. So, in those school districts that made those plans it is a question of mine…Are there school districts that now go, 'Hey look, we were conservative, now we actually have the money, can we do some things here."

But the bottom line is — I do have to point this out to the listeners — this is a band-aid approach; I mean, this does not bring a lot of new money into the schools. That would have probably been Prop. 38. It will bring a little bit of new money, but it is a bit of a budget band-aid until [hopefully] the economy recovers and some other tax issues are resolved in the state.

– John Myers

On Prop. 34: Repeal the Death Penalty

We've had capitol punishment on the books since the voters put it in place in 1978 in California, it has always polled well, that is, people have supported the death penalty. In the early parts of this election cycle, Prop. 34 looked like it was doing better, there were people who were really, seriously considering doing away with it because of the financial costs of all of the appeals that death row inmates get, but as the race went on, and as the polling went on, the measure got lower and lower, and as, you know, you said, about a five point loss at this point for Prop. 34 supporters and the death penalty would stay in place. So I will point out, that the people who said, who were opposed to Prop. 34, have already issued a statement this morning saying, 'Let's fix the system, it does not work well in California, let's deal with all the death row inmates, let's deal with the block on executions in the state, you know, lets try to fix it."

– John Myers

There hasn't been an execution in California since 2006. There are 14 inmates on death row who have exhausted their appeals and so right now there is still a moratorium from the courts but if California does again proceed with executions, perhaps with a different protocol than the three drug protocol that they had been using, you know, we could begin to actually see some executions. It's been a long time, that could change public opinion too.

– Scott Shafer

On Prop. 37: Labels Genetically Engineered Foods

The big food companies across the country and the agriculture interest spent a tremendous amount of money on ads, raising a lot of questions about how Prop. 37 would work, that the labels wouldn't have really told you anything, that there were too many opportunities for frivolous lawsuits and on and on and on. And to me that's another reminder that the television ads work, and the campaigns work, and when you can poke a hole in an initiative, the default measure of Californians, typically is no.

– John Myers

Bay Area Races

On San Francisco's Board of Supervisors Race in District One

This is the most expensive supervisorial race in San Francisco history and a ton of outside money, independent expenditures. I mean, mailings everyday, door hangers everyday.

Eric Mar appears to have held on to his seat, he was, I think, an embattled incumbent, I think there are a lot of folks who thought this would be an incredibly close race – as of the current counting, I think he has a 16 percentage point lead, which is sizable. I mean when he was elected he narrowly won his seat in the first place.

– Corey Cook

On San Francisco's Board of Supervisors Race in District Five and Seven

The most progressive district in San Francisco, which is District 5, appears to have elected London Breed, who is regarded as the most moderate of the candidates in that district. She is ahead by 8 or 9 percentage points on first place tallies. The department of elections — this is a rank choice election — so they actually ran the rank choice tally last night, to give a preliminary count and she actually picks up votes every round so she's in pretty good shape.

So to replace, in effect, Ross Mirkarimi, London Breed is likely to be the victorious candidate in that race.

District 7, which is considered the most conservative district in San Francisco, appears to have elected a progressive. And so these two districts somewhat appear to have swapped themselves. And so I think we have this?largely the same sort of balance we had before, bur for very different reasons. And I think people are going to be sorting out what exactly happened in 5, what happened in 7 for a while.

– Corey Cook

On the Race for Berkeley's Mayor

The Berkeley Mayoral race [hasn't] been close, and I'm a little bit disappointed as somebody who studies rank choice voting, because we had not only candidates that were endorsing each other but actually sharing a headquarters together, which we haven't seen before. And so these three candidates who are opposing Tom Bates actually shared headquarters, they ran together, they said 'Vote for all three of us.' And it appears that Tom Bates will have won without even a rank choice election occurring.

– Corey Cook

On Changes in Oakland

Rebecca Kaplan appears to have won. The challenger Ignacio De La Fuente, challenged her for the city wide seat  — there's one city wide city council seat in Oakland. There is going to be a lot of turnover in Oakland, there's going to be three new city council members, all in races that are too close [too call], where there are vacancies, so open seats. So three of the eight city council members will be new, which is, I think going to be significant in Oakland.

[Mayor Jean Quan] was at loggerheads with the city council so it certainly can't hurt. Her closest ally on the board was Rebecca Kaplan, her biggest opponent was Ignacia De La Fuente, so a lot of attention [paid] to this race.

– Corey Cook


Corey Cook, associate professor of politics and director of the Leo McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the University of San Francisco
John Myers, political editor for KXTV in Sacramento and former Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News
Scott Shafer, reporter and host of KQED's The California Report

  • John_Sellers

    Please look into the fact that the mail-in voting and walk-in voting are most often tallied at the precinct level and then commingled together before being totaled at the County level. This means no comparisons between mail-in or walk-in voting are rolled up to the State level.

    I used a spread sheet to analyze the mail-in and walk-in voting in Santa Clara County in Primary elections 4 years ago and found that all the gambling issues won in the mail-in voting and lost in the walk-in voting. The mail-in and walk-in totals in the largest precinct in the County differed by as much as 20%. I was not able to compare the rest of the state because i would have had to analyze every precinct in the state in order to do so.

    Don’t you think it would be a good idea for this information to be gathered at the state level?

  • I am relieved that Prop 30 is passing. As a single parent with a daughter in the state university system this was really important to my personal financial well being and as a strong supporter of public education as the most important aspect of a functioning democracy this is important to me as a citizen.

    • TrainedHistorian

      As a single mother you should understand that sales taxes, which Prop. 30 raises, are extremely regressive, and thus damaging to those of modest means. Sales taxes should not be raised for education & transportation as this is a massive shift of the tax burden onto those of modest means.The small amount raised from the tiny number of people making over $250,000 is dwarfed by the huge amount raised from the higher sales taxes that we lower-income folks will have to pay on necessaries (toiletries, shoes, clothes, detergent, etc.).

      • @TrainedHistorian:disqus You are right. In principle I don’t like sales tax as a way to solve our economic needs. However, we Californians don’t appear ready to deal with big problems like Prop 13 and higher personal income taxes. If someone’s got the time and energy to deal with these sign me up.

  • TimR

    With the results we have in hand, one can say that republican Super Pacs turned out to be a great means to tax the rich. And again, California is a model for the country, super majorities for the democrats and fair taxation of the upper class. Well, lets see how super majorities work out.

    • That wasn’t an efficacious “tax” though. All that money goes nowhere worthwhile. I think they can use whatever is leftover however they want.

    • TrainedHistorian

      “Fair taxation of the upper class?” Utter malarkey. Because of Brown’s increase in the sales tax, coupled with increases in the already outrageously high local county sales tax, we lower-income folks in Northern Calironia are the most highly and regressively-taxed in the nation. And Northern California has the gall to think it’s more “progressive” than the Midwest, where sales taxes are far lower? When oh when will so called progressives understand that income taxes, and to a lesser extent property taxes, are the progressive ones since lower income people are entirely exempt from income taxes, but can’t afford 8-9-10% sales taxes. The small amount raised from the tiny number of people making over $250,000 is dwarfed by the huge amount raised from the sales taxes that we lower-income folks must pay on necessaries (toiletries, shoes, clothes, detergent, etc.). So called “Democrats” should be ashamed at the extent to which they continue to shift the tax burden onto those of modest means

  • Fairly devastated that 34 didn’t pass. Beyond other states passing Marijuana & Gay Marriage rights, I am just shocked at California. 34 saves millions a year. Whether you are locked away for life or dead is the same thing to the general public…. so why? My friend, Troy Davis, was wrongfully put to death in Georgia. His memory will lead the charge in overturning it, but in such a sea change election, it speaks to one thing:

    There is no such thing as a fiscal conservative. Republicans go against state’s rights and conservative spending whenever their belief system finds it convenient. Upholding Capital Punishment either means Californian’s were confused, or the religious right still swings a big stick.

  • Kim A

    Prop 37 is a wake up call not just for the food movement, but a warning for the electorate of the dominance of corporate influence in our lives. We’re too busy to investigate the details, and we’re living as sheep following the empty corporate values of consumerism and convenience.

    • Aaron

      How do you know why people vote the way they vote? I voted against Prop 37 because I think penalizing the retail outlets misses the target.

      • Sylvia Walker

        The criticisms of Prop 37 were spin, including that retail outlets would be penalized. The large companies that put so much money into defeating Prop 37 used an old tried and true (and deceptive) method to defeat the measure: Repeat some often enough and people start to believe it or are confused enough to just vote No.. The Pro 37 people didn’t have the money soon enough to counter the misinformation.

  • Chemist150

    The citizens are passing more laws than the politicians. Can we eliminate their jobs yet?

  • Chemist150

    Suckers. Prop 30 is like every other law promised to be “for education”. It can go for many other things other than education if you read it. If every tax that was “for education” actually went to education, there would be plenty of money for education. When no one is looking one or two years later, the money goes somewhere else and there is another money issue in education once more.

    Where did it go?

    Once again, the voters failed to hold their elected leaders
    responsible, liable and accountable for promises.

  • Mason Samuel Wolf

    Prop 37 failed because it lost the endorsements of all the major newspapers in liberal areas. That was why I voted against it, even though I really do want to know what’s in my food. The ads on TV had no effect on me. I saw it as another proposition in the mold of 65 (and written by the same person, no less!) that simply results in meaningless signs EVERYWHERE (think “this area contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer) that have no value for consumers, but simply are attempts to head off a deluge of frivolous lawsuits.

    • Sylvia Walker

      Unfortunately, the newspapers, including the liberal ones, are dependent
      on the big companies that put $45M into defeating Prop 37 for
      advertizing revenue. Prop 37 had safeguards against the frivolous
      lawsuits. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough money to counter the
      misleading information that was put out incessantly in the media.

  • Tommy Dee

    voted against the GMO initiative because it should, like many other issues, be dealt with by the legislature. Hearings, testimony, expert analysis, not mailers and 30 second spots. Hello, legislators, do your job.

  • Michael:

    Do you think that the passing of Prop 30, the election of Elizabeth Warren in MA, and the decisive way Obama won, together,

    could build momentum towards increasing taxes for the top 1% at the Federal level, & real financial reform to root out the possibility of another mishandling of the 2008 Lehman crisis,

    despite a Republican Congress.

  • Amy Weiss

    RE: Prop 37, you mention the ads opposing it and the money from large agri business, which may have led to its’ defeat, however you don’t mention that both the SF Chronicle and LA Times were also opposed to it due to the details of how it would be enforced (through personal lawsuits) and the onus placed on retailers to make sure labeling happens. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the majority of Californians want GMO labeling but does your panel think this proposal was this the best way to go about it?

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Major newspapers were worried about losing ad revenue. What puzzles me is California is the food basket of the world and EU. Russia, Japan already do NOT allow GMO foods, which means we have ag folks here in the state who already sell non GMO food to other countries and have no problem with that. So if its good enough for those clients why not good enough for we Californians?

  • DofCS

    Will the super majority tighten CA gun laws in 2013, in particular, Leland Yee’s ban on “assault rifles” that have removable magazines?

  • white elephant

    does anyone know anything about Mitt Romney’s tax dealings that is so outrageous that he would not reveal his taxes ? Any good links to read about this?

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