Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The "Chile Option" has nothing to do with farming

[From Calitics]

I interrupt your budget negotiation updates to bring you some...more math.

There was some discussion in a previous open thread about the so-called "Chile Option"--a move by certain conservative forces to split the state in two not based on North or South, but rather based on Coastal vs. Inland. Now, the argument behind this is supposedly that California's bleeding-heart urban populations don't understand farming, which means that farmers need to protect themselves by casting off the coastal population--and the group is thus named "Citizens for Saving California Farming Industries."

The argument made by this campaign (as seen in Teddy Partridge's post linked above) attempts to use Proposition 2--the animal rights initiative--as an example of why the Coast has got to go:

But the measure passed by a nearly 2-1 margin because voters in the high-population counties (from San Francisco along the coast through Los Angeles) cast their emotional, warm and fuzzy votes in favor of it. They never gave agriculture a thought.

It is definitely true that Proposition 2 passed with 63.5% of the vote. But what happens if we "protect the farms" and strip out the votes of the 13 counties that the "Chile option" seeks to remove?

Well, the answer is...not much changes. Removing the votes of the bleeding-heart coastal counties who know nothing about agriculture, the new vote totals are 59.2% yes, 40.8% no--still an absolute landslide. Not surprising, after all, since Proposition 2 was only defeated in 11 of the 45 remaining counties--including by only a 1% margin in Fresno County, the only county that voted no that has any significant population. And it stands to reason when one looks at the vote totals of the populous counties that are more conservative and thus not thrown into the "Coastal California" bleeding-heart subgroup:

Orange: 60% yes
San Diego: 65.5% yes
Riverside: 62.2% yes
San Bernardino: 61.6% yes
Sacramento: 59.3% yes
Solano: 65.2% yes

By contrast, Los Angeles County voted for the measure with 67.1% of the vote--a percentage not significantly far removed from some of these counties in the rural-aware California proposed under the Chile plan.

The bottom line is that if Prop 2 really is going to serve as an reason for pushing the Chile Option, one of two things must hold true:

a) it will be completely ineffective; or
b) it's really about the fact that they've given up on returning California to Republican rule and want to carve their own state out of it to have a better shot at it.

And really, given the fact that Orange and San Diego Counties--which voted heavily for Prop 2--tend to be politically conservative, I think it's pretty obvious that Prop 2 isn't the main motivation here.