Outcomes and Politics

from Barrett Snider, Partner, Capitol Advisors Group

While Tuesday’s election results showed the Nation turning red, California got bluer. Hillary Clinton received roughly 62% of the vote in California and the number of Democrats in the State Legislature increased. California voters passed all tax increases on the ballot and elected the first Indian-American woman to the U.S. Senate. They said no to requiring condoms in porn, eliminated English-only instruction in schools, significantly relaxed sentencing standards for criminals, enacted firearm and ammunition sales laws, upheld the ban on single-use plastic bags, and legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

In the immediate shadow of the election, a stark contrast of a National identity and a California identity has emerged for many Californians. This is amplified by the fact that this is the most divided our Nation has felt in a very long time. Last night, from my home a few blocks from the State Capitol, we could hear the Trump protesters that had gathered outside and the helicopters flying overhead – it was an extension of those in other urban areas like LA, Chicago, Portland, New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. Social media is buzzing with references to #CalExit, a movement by some to have the blue states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada secede from the United States and create a new country (which they argue would be the fourth or fifth largest economy in the world). While that is almost certainly politically unachievable, it demonstrates the disconnect many are feeling. This is the backdrop against which California policymakers will have to engage Washington D.C. – possibly for the next four years.

Below we explore some of the potentially relevant impacts of a Trump presidency and the outcome of the other races in California.

President Trump

U.S. Supreme Court – One of the most significant implications of a Trump presidency is his ability to fill vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently, there is one seat open on the court, left by unexpected passing of Justice Scalia. Trump has said he will appoint a conservative judge with many court watchers expecting him to appoint a conservative inclined to abolish Roe v. Wade, support traditional marriage, abolish affirmative action, maintain Citizens United, and diminish union power (a new Friedrichs case), among others.

One of the most impactful issues for schools and the influential role of unions could be the second round of Friedrichs. Watch for anti-union groups to bring a case to the Supreme Court that asks the court to address union membership and the collection and use of union dues in political campaigns.

Repeal/Replace Obamacare – Trump has indicated his intention to immediately begin work on replacing Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts along with the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines and letting states manage Medicaid funds. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also said he expects this issue to be one of the first things Congress tackles when it returns to work. There has been a lot of speculation over the preserving the popular components of Obamacare (inability to deny insurance for pre-existing conditions, ability to remain on parents’ insurance until age 26, etc.), but there has been little to explain how that might happen, so far.

Abolish U.S. Department of Education? – While Trump indicated he would abolish the U.S. Department of Education, that isn’t a practical reality. However, many of those we work with in Washington D.C. believe there will be a significant structural shakeup that will diminish the role and size of the agency. Many expect a mass exodus of career-long staffers.

Education Secretary Ben Carson? – That is the name many are hearing being floated to take over once Trump assumes office. Another is Gerard Robinson from the American Enterprise Institute, who held the top education spots in Florida and Virginia. The role of the next Secretary of Education will be important as they will have to approve the ESSA state plans.

Traditionally Conservative Education Policies – On Trump’s transition website, it says his administration will “advance policies to support learning-and-earning opportunities at the state and local levels – where the heart and soul of American education takes place. We will accomplish this goal through high-quality early childhood, magnet, STEAM or theme-based programs; expansion of choice through charters, vouchers, and teacher-driven learning models; and relief from U.S. Department of Education regulations that inhibit innovation. A Trump Administration also will make post-secondary options more affordable and accessible through technology enriched delivery models.”

For-Profit Education – President-Elect Trump will soon be defending himself against fraud allegations in federal court over his for-profit education venture Trump University. Meanwhile, many are calling the Trump presidency a victory for the for-profit education industry. Since the election, Wall Street has been bullish on several for-profit companies (DeVry Education Group, Career Education Corporation and Strayer Education, Inc.).

Cyber Bullying and Child Care – It is notable that new first lady Melania Trump has indicated an interest in addressing cyberbullying on social media and Ivanka Trump has urged her father to address the issue of affordable child care.

U.S. House and Senate Races

Senate Race:

Kamala Harris easily won the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barbara Boxer, beating fellow democrat Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez by more than a million votes. Senator-elect Harris is the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate and she is easily the biggest winner in California politics coming out of Tuesday’s election. Many are floating her name for Governor in two years and several articles have her on lists as a potential candidate for President in 2020 (some may recall another first-term U.S. Senator that ran for President and won – Barack Obama).

While Democrats picked up a few seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, the red wave of voters helped Republicans retain a majority of both houses, giving them control of both the Legislative and Executive branches of Government.

United States House of Representatives – Key California Races:

Congressional District 7 (D)

Ami Bera (D):                           50.6%

Scott Jones (R):                       49.4%

Congressional District 10 (R)

Michael Eggman (D):               47.6%

Jeff Denham (R):                     52.4%

Congressional District 21 (R)

Emilio Huerta (D):                    41.4%

David Valadao (R):                  58.6%

Congressional District 24 (D)

Salud Carbajal (D):                  53.8%

Justin Fareed (R):                   46.2%

Congressional District 25 (R)

Bryan Caforio (D):                   45.7%

Steve Knight (R):                     54.3%

Congressional District 49 (R)

Douglas Applegate (D):           48.9%

Darrell Issa (R):                       51.1%

California Ballot Propositions

California voters approved the major education-related measures on the ballot, Prop 51 (the state school bond) and Prop 55 (the extension of current tax rates on the top income earners). We were pleased to see that we were correct in our prognostications that Prop 51 would pass. A number of other folks were predicting failure and giving folks heartburn.

While there are still votes being counted around the state, no one expects the outcome of the ballot propositions to change, so below are the vote tallies for all 17 measures on the November ballot.

Proposition 51 – School Bond                                              Yes: 54.0%                  No: 46.0%
Proposition 52 – Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program               Yes: 69.6%                  No: 30.4%
Proposition 53 – Voter Approval of Revenue Bonds          Yes: 48.5%                  No: 51.5%
Proposition 54 – Legislative Procedure Requirements      Yes: 64.3%                  No: 35.7%
Proposition 55 – Extension of Prop 30 Taxes                     Yes: 62.1%                  No: 37.9%
Proposition 56 – Cigarette Tax                                             Yes: 62.9%                  No: 37.1%
Proposition 57 – Criminal Sentences/Proceedings             Yes: 63.6%                  No: 36.4%
Proposition 58 – Multilingual Education                             Yes: 72.4%                  No: 27.6%
Proposition 59 – Corporate Political Spending                   Yes: 52.3%                  No: 47.7%
Proposition 60 – Adult Film Condom Requirements          Yes: 46.1%                  No: 53.9%
Proposition 61 – State Prescription Drug Purchasing        Yes: 46.3%                  No: 53.7%
Proposition 62 – Repeal of Death Penalty                           Yes: 46.1%                  No: 53.9%
Proposition 63 – Firearms and Ammunition Sales              Yes: 62.6%                  No: 37.4%
Proposition 64 – Marijuana Legalization                             Yes: 56.0%                  No: 44.0%
Proposition 65 – Carryout Bag Charges                              Yes: 44.7%                  No: 55.3%
Proposition 66 – Death Penalty Procedure Limits              Yes: 50.9%                  No: 49.1%
Proposition 67 – Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags              Yes: 52.0%                  No: 48.0%

California State Legislative Races

In this election, Democrats were attempting to regain 2/3 control of each house of the State Legislature. They needed to pick up one seat in the State Senate and two seats in the State Assembly and it appears they came up short in the Senate (though the race is technically still too close to call).

Assembly Democrats appear to have regained two seats that had gone to Republicans in the last election two years ago. The democratic pick-ups:

  1. Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva will return to represent Assembly District 65 (Orange County), defeating Republican Young Kim by about 1,500 votes (50.8% to 49.2%).
  2. Democrat Al Muratsuchi will return to represent Assembly District 66 (Torrance), defeating Republican David Hadley by about 8,000 votes (53% to 47%).
  3. Democrat Sabrina Cervantes unseated incumbent Republican Assembly Member Eric Linder in Assembly District 60, beating him by just under 4,000 votes (52.2% to 47.8%).

In the State Senate, there was only one race where Democrats had a realistic chance of a pickup – Senate District 29 (Diamond Bar area), the seat being vacated by termed-out Senator Bob Huff (R). Assembly Member Ling-Ling Chang (R) went up against Democrat Josh Newman and it appears she will win and retain the seat for Republicans. As we send this, Chang leads Newman by 3,853 votes (50.9% to 49.1%).

Below are the results from a number of closely-watched State Legislative races.


Assembly District 16 (R)

Cheryl Cook-Kalio (D):             44.2%

Catherine Baker (R):               55.8%

Assembly District 35 (R)

Dawn Ortiz-Legg (D):              45.4%

Jordan Cunningham (R):         54.6%

Assembly District 38 (R)

Christy Smith (D):                    46.9%

Dante Acosta (R):                    53.1%

Assembly District 40 (R)

Abigail Medina (D):                  47.7%

Marc Steinorth (R): 52.3%

Assembly District 60 (R)

Sabrina Cervantes (D):            52.2%

Eric Linder (R):                        47.8%

Assembly District 65 (R)

Sharon Quirk-Silva (D):           50.8%

Young Kim (R):                        49.2%

Assembly District 66 (R)

Al Muratsuchi (D):                    53.0%

David Hadley (R):                    47.0%


Senate District 5 (D)

Cathleen Galgiani (D):             55.6%

Alan Nakanishi (R):                  44.4%

Senate District 21 (R)

Johnathon Levar-Ervin (D):     45.2%

Scott Wilk (R):                             54.8%

Senate District 25 (D)

Anthony Portantino (D):           57.5%

Mike Antonovich (R):               42.5%

Senate District 27 (D)

Henry Stern (D):                      55.0%

Steve Fazio (R):                      45.0%

Senate District 29 (R)

Josh Newman (D):                   49.1%

Ling Ling Chang (R):               50.9%

Nick Romley and Caitlin Jung contributed to this summary and analysis. Please let us know if we can provide any additional information.