California has basically a one-party system. Though it technically discounts about 35% of voters, few would argue with the conjecture that everyone in California votes Democratic. And yet even in a state notable for progressive groupthink, there are numerous shades to the way people vote, especially down the ballot, and with regard to Propositions. Through an analysis of in-depth voting data from last year’s election, we can uncover intriguing trends, and even speculate upon different Political “tribes” within the supposed monoculture. In this article, I will focus on voting data regarding two propositions that California voters were presented with in 2020: Prop 16 and Prop 19.
In my last article, White Millennials: America’s Sacrificial Lamb, I discussed California’s two ballot initiatives, Prop 16 which failed but would have reinstated affirmative action, and Prop 19 which did pass and will allow for those over the age of 55 to transfer their lower property tax rates if they decide to relocate within the State .
I joked that due to the measures explicit favoritism based on age and race, that if both were to pass it would have been a huge middle finger to all White Millennial citizens of California.
Prop 16 was Endorsed by the California Democratic Party and virtually every powerful figure in the state including, but not limited to, Governor Gavin Newsom, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, and the mayors of LA, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose, not to mention the LA Times and other major newspapers, the University of California’s Board of Regents, and large corporations including Facebook, Wells Fargo, Uber, and United Airlines. On top of all the high-profile lip-service, the measure was also bankrolled by billionaire s.
Despite almost unanimous institutional support, the measure was rejected by a majority of voters including many Biden voters. Pre-election polling showed that it was rejected by both Whites and Asians, and divided Latinos evenly, with African Americans as the only demographic to support the measure by wide margins.
Prop 16 Vote:
The counties that supported Prop 16 were Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Alameda, and Los Angeles with everywhere else rejecting it.
Regarding Prop 19, in my last article, I expressed concern that by favoring those who already benefit from California’s Prop 13, Prop 19 would further exacerbate the inter-generational wealth gap.
There was also a progressive case made for the measure, however, which cited how it would close and replace the “Big Lebowski” loophole that allowed for the lower tax rates from Prop 13 to be passed down to heirs.
This logic appeals to progressive notions of dismantling inherited privilege—i.e. making life harder for White Millennials—while turning a blind eye to the privilege it would perpetuate for wealthy Boomers.
In my article The Real Wealth Gap, I explore the blind spots in the Woke narratives surrounding privilege and inheritance by contrasting the racial vs. generational wealth gap, and highlighting the latter as a much more significant chasm. The Woke narrative always focuses on the supposed benefits that younger Whites are inheriting, with one Medium writer advocating for a 100 % inheritance tax on all Whites. Never, it seems, are the actual holders of a majority of the nation’s wealth asked to give any amount of it up. To suggest this would be to rock the boat too much, perhaps.
Overall Left leaning organization were divided on the measure with the progressive voter guide advising no on the grounds of widening the generational wealth gap. The California Democratic Party, however, endorsed the measure. Whether this was as a woke means to mitigate the passing on of privilege, or simply because the party and its most affluent constituents are wealthy Boomers, is for you to decide.
Prop 19 Vote:
Prop 19 was much more popular than 16 with support from Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Lake, Napa, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Benito, Yolo, Solano, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Alpine, Ventura, LA, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Imperial County.
The Counties which supported both Prop 16 and 19 were Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Alameda, and LA.
There were no counties that voted for 16 but against 19 and the counties that voted for 19 but against 16 were Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Monterrey, Lake, Napa, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Benito, Yolo, Solano, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Alpine, Ventura, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Imperial.
The counties of Orange, Santa Barbara, San Louis Obispo, Riverside, Kern, Tulare, Fresno, Stanislaus, Yuba, Del Norte, and Inyo rejected both, as well as most of the Central Valley minus Sacramento and the Bay Area exurb of San Joaquin, and the Sierra Nevada region minus Alpine County.
On the surface it seems that it was well-off, liberal, urban, and coastal regions that gave the biggest middle finger to White millennials and it is also noted that these counties have the lowest fertility rates in California across all racial lines and some of the nation’s most expensive real estate with the average home price of $1.57 Million for both San Francisco and San Mateo County and $1.45 Million for Marin County.
The counties that rejected affirmative action but supported the tax break for older home owners have reputations as more moderate suburban regions, including many White flight suburbs, and rural areas that appeal to retirees, including areas impacted by wildfires such as Sonoma and Lake, which prop 19 promised to help.
The areas that rejected both tended to be more conservative and rural, but also included many majority Latino counties in the Central Valley as well as Orange County which is fairly wealthy, suburban, and has swung blue in recent years.
When you look at the local level results from the counties that supported both measures, however, things become more nuanced.
How LA voted on Prop 16 to reinstate Affirmative Action:
- Green = majority non-White where prop 16 passed
- Blue = majority White where prop 16 passed
- Yellow= majority non-White where prop 16 failed
- Red = majority White where prop 16 failed
Looking over the map it appears that non-White support for affirmative action was concentrated in LA’s inner-city core of Downtown LA, East LA. South LA, and Koreatown, as well as the dense poorer Latino parts of the San Fernando Valley.
White Support was primarily concentrated around the flatlands of the Westside, around the Mid-City Hollywood area, and pockets around Long Beach as well as the South-Eastern portion of the Valley including Studio City and North Hollywood.
Non-White opposition was strongest among the Asian ethnoburbs of the San Gabriel Valley, Diamond Bar area, and the Gateway Cities, and also notable in some diverse middle-class pockets of the San Fernando Valley, Middle Class Latino areas in the San Gabriel Valley and Gateway Cities, and the exurban Antelope Valley which parallels the trend of the Inland Empire and Central Valley where Latinos are more politically moderate than their urban counterparts.
The breakdown in support by majority non-White cities shows strong support in historically Black cities and poorer Latino communities, mixed results in more-middle class Latino cities, and opposition from majority Asian communities.
White opposition was primarily in the northern portion of the county and also many well-off areas including Malibu, the Southwest portion of the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, and the suburban South Bay region.
Intensity of support for prop 16
The only region which had a notable unanimous intensity of support was LA’s historic African American Core
White support was overall less intense but locations with intensity in support include an area around the historically Black Baldwin Hills, Venice, West Hollywood, much of the Hipster corridor of Echo Park to Highland Park, pockets around Inglewood, and an area in the eastern edge of Culver City which has recently undergone gentrification. This fits with the narrative that White gentrifiers are the most woke.
Besides Asian ethnoburbs such as the San Gabriel Valley, there’s another pocket of strong non-White opposition in an area between the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita which is fairly sparsely populated, and another around Lancaster showing a strong suburban vs. urban divide among non-Whites.
There was also an area of intense non-White opposition around Ladera Heights which is the third wealthiest majority Black community in the nation and one of the rare majority Black areas to reject the measure.
The most intense White opposition to affirmative action was from the working class and middle class traditionally conservative suburban strongholds in north county and the more affluent foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Close up on the Westside:
Looking closely at the Westside there is much more nuance than the stereotype of Woke champaign socialist s that one often hears from right wing media.
The core of support for Affirmative Action on the Westside was in the flatlands from Santa Monica to Westwood, down into Culver City, parts of Brentwood and the Pacific Palisades, the rich ageing Hippies of Topanga Canyon, the Hollywood Hills including Laurel Canyon, most of Mid-City including West Hollywood, Hollywood, the Fairfax district, and Beverly Grove, and then into the Hipster corridor around Los Feliz and Silver Lake.
This area does include some ultra-wealthy enclaves like Topanga Canyon and the Hollywood Hills but for the most part this is the upper-middle class flatlands of the Westside in contrast with the wealthier, less densely populated areas of the Santa Monica Mountains north of Sunset, stretching from Beverly Hills to Malibu which includes Bel Air, and much of Brentwood and the Pacific Palisades.
Contrary to stereotypes about California limousine liberals, many wealthy areas including Calabasas, most of Malibu, part of Marina Del Rey, the interior of the Santa Monica Mountains, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and the Orthodox Jewish enclaves of Hancock Park and Pico Robertson rejected the measure.
The most intense opposition was in Beverly Hills north of Sunset, and small pockets in Culver City and West LA which border and are similar to the areas that supported the measure, with the UCLA area as one pocket of diverse support.
It is also noted that the only parts of the Westside where Trump won a significant amount of votes were in Beverly Hills and Pico Robertson with support from both the Orthodox and Persian Jewish communities, groups that are classified as White on college admissions but lack the historic White guilt. There has also been a Jewish divide between liberal Westside vs. moderate Valley Jews which goes back to the opposition to school busing in the 70s.
It is notable that there is a correlation between wealthier areas in the core of LA, where public schools score lower, being more likely to support affirmative action than those with higher scoring schools that are more family oriented. In Calabasas which rejected prop 16, 25% of the population is under 18 in contrast with Santa Monica which supported the measure and has a long history of school integration, where only 14% of the population are under 18.
Those who have offspring will vote in their children’s immediate interest, which is getting them into a good University, rather than voting to feel hip and signal for moral validation in line with a certain cultural hegemony. It is not to be underestimated how blood-lines, even here, run deeper than politics.
In contrast with the more conventional and family-oriented communities, the trendier wealthy areas that are more linked to Hollywood such as Laurel Canyon and Studio City backed affirmative action.
Also of note is that there seems to be a degree of a donut hole effect with corporate CEOs and much of the urban professional class supporting affirmative action, but the wealthy in-between being more cynical about its impacts.
Next we take a look at how LA voted on 19 and contrast that with 16.
LA Vote on Prop 19
Yellow and green voted Yes and blue and red voted no:
The map also deals with the failed prop 15, which would have reformed commercial property taxation. There us more info on the link, but I’m focusing just on 19 which deals with residential property taxation.
Support for this age-favoritist measure has some degree of overlap with support for the race-favoritist measure but contrary to my initial assumption that prop 19 would have had stronger support among the wealthy, the wealthy of LA rejected prop 19 by even wider margins than 16. This includes wealthier areas that have the most senior citizens and areas that rejected both measures which tend to be those that are more family oriented. I’d asses that the reason there was strong opposition from the wealthy was that they were concerned about their heirs paying higher taxes in the long run under prop 19.
The exceptions were much of Santa Monica and West Hollywood, plus a small pocket in the Hollywood Hills, areas which have many longtime residents who are house rich but cash poor and many well off DINKS: Double Income No Kids who are less invested in the future. This measure is especially beneficial to wealthy couples without offspring who are looking to relocate out of LA for retirement.
The most significant divergence of support for the measures were in areas that are dense but upscale that include many renters, including much of the flatlands of the Westside, and parts of the Mid-City including Beverly Grove: basically areas that have lots of millennial young professionals who are renters. This demographic that rejected 19 but supported 16, likely includes many Millennial heirs to well-off boomer parents.
The pockets of areas that did support 19 but opposed 16 include middle class Asian parts of the San Gabriel Valley and some middle-class White parts of the San Fernando Valley.
Overall the strongest opposition to Prop 19 was from the conservative strongholds of north county and the strongest support for 19 was from working class communities of color, including many areas of single family homes and recently gentrified areas of single family homes such as the southern portion of the Mid-City area.
The one thing that stood out was the amount of areas of lower income renters who voted for the measure which could be that the long term tax increase on heirs is expected to bring in more revenue for the state but for the most part it seems there are many poor people who are uniformed about politics and are thus likely to just follow the Democratic Party’s endorsement as opposed to the more-informed Bernie supporting progressives in the Hipster corridor and wealthy people who voted their pocket book.
Next let’s take a look at how the Bay Area voted taking note that like LA, the three counties listed voted yes on both 16 and 19.
San Francisco’s votes on Prop 16 to reinstate affirmative action:
Fitting with the City’s woke reputation, about 64% of San Franciscans voted to reinstate affirmative action, the highest for any county in the state, with support from a wide swath of geographic regions of the City.
The strongest support was around the central core including the Mission District and Castro with the wealthy North West corner supporting the measure, albeit more tepidly.
The parts of San Francisco that rejected the measure included the heavily Chinese areas of the Sunset District, Chinatown, and Portola, also Rincon Hill where a lot of new luxury high rises have been constructed, and pockets of the western portions of Pacific Heights and Marina District which have wealthier Whites and are more family-oriented.
It is also noted that despite Trump failing to win a single precinct in SF, some precincts did reject prop 16. The Chinese American community in San Francisco largely voted for Biden but strongly opposed affirmative action which is also the same case for the many well off White’s with kids in the city, underscoring the earlier-made point that even many who subscribe firmly to liberalism have their limits when it comes to propositions that would have tangibly negative effects on their families.
San Francisco’s votes on Prop 19
Support for prop 19 in San Francisco roughly mirrors support for 16 with a slight shift west around Presidio Heights. SF’s wealthy appear to be much more leftwing than LA’s and prop 19’s stronger showing among the wealthy makes sense in a county with California’s lowest fertility rates at 1.05 for all and 1.02 for Whites. As with LA the more family-oriented areas, both White and Asian, were more likely to reject both measure but 19 had much stronger support from upscale areas of renters than in LA.
San Mateo’s votes on Prop 16 to reinstate affirmative action:
Looking over San Mateo County’s vote for affirmative action the results appear closer to LA’s model of a divided upper class. Remember that this is the hub of the Silicon Valley elite and that many prominent tech CEOs endorsed 16. The strongest opposition was in the ultra-wealthy areas of Hillsborough, Atherton, and Belmont but there were plenty of wealthy pockets of support including Menlo Park, Portola Valley, and parts of Woodside. The heavily Asian and tech centric Foster City also rejected the measure.
The strongest support for prop 16 was in the majority Asian city of Daly City (which is more Filipino rather than Chinese), much of the heavily Latino Redwood City, and the lower income, heavily Black and Latino, East Palo Alto. It seems that communities of color helped prop 16 win in San Mateo County by a slim majority.
San Mateo’s votes on Prop 19
Prop 19 was supported by a wider geographic region than 16, ranging from lower income East Palo Alto to well off areas around Menlo Park, Portola Valley and Half Moon Bay. The only strong opposition was around ultra-wealthy pockets around Hillsborough and Atherton.
The measure did better with the wealthy than in LA but the divide seems to be the moderately wealthy supporting it vs. rejection from the ultra-wealthy.
The Tax Fairness Project’s Tax fairness Map of the Bay Area shows the areas that are the most heavily subsidized by the existing Prop 13. It seems these heavily subsidized wealthy areas in the Bay Area were in fact divided on prop 19.
Alameda county’s votes on Prop 16 to reinstate affirmative action
Looking at how Alameda County voted on Affirmative Action there is a general divide between the very urban and diverse Inner East Bay which largely supported the measure in contrast with the more suburban inland Tri-Valley Area which rejected it.
Oakland and Berkeley have long been centers of leftwing politics so the support for prop 16 makes sense and there was also strong support in the ultra-wealthy Berkeley Hills with more tepid support in the wealthy Piedmont area.
The inland suburbs of the Tri-Valley that largely rejected the measure have historically been a White flight zone but also have a rapidly growing Asian population. There was also a small pocket of opposition in the wealthy Oakland Hills, and in Fremont, which is more South Asian than East Asian, there was a divide on the measure.
Alameda county’s votes on Prop 19
Prop 19 was supported by much of the same areas that supported prop 16 including Berkeley, most of Oakland, and some ultra-wealthy areas such as the Berkeley Hills.
Berkeley does fit a similar profile to Santa Monica in that it has a history of liberal activism, is very expensive with home prices at almost $1.4 Million due to active restrictions against new housing, was the center of the school bussing debate, and has a population of which only 12% is under the age of 18.
The only areas with strong opposition to both measures were the more rural and exurban parts of the Tri-Valley around Livermore and Sunol, including ranchlands and vineyards, plus one other semi-rural pocket of the Oakland Hills.
The areas which rejected prop 16 but supported prop 19, include much of the Tri-Valley cities of Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore, which parallel LA trends of many middle-class Asians and older middle class Whites but also includes some fairly wealthy areas.
The areas that voted no on prop 19 but yes on prop 16 include much of wealthy Piedmont, which votes Democrat but is much more moderate and family oriented than its neighbors, as well as pockets of new apartments near downtown Oakland that house young professionals much like the Hipster parts of LA.
While symbolism plays a bigger role with electing politicians at the end of the day people vote in line with their own interests. With voting patterns on these citizens referendums, one gets a better understanding of the demographics of California and it’s many political tribes than looking at partisan affiliation. It is also noted that voting patterns are usually in blocks showing that people tend to live near other people who think alike and have similar personal interests.