Does California ever affect the results of the presidential election in the Electoral College?

Skeptics of the Calexit Campaign fear that if California were to exit the Union, we would essentially be guaranteeing that a Democrat would never win the White House again. They believe this because California has the most number of votes in the Electoral College (55). Therefore, on the surface it seems California has a strong impact on who becomes the President of the United States and thus removing California from the Electoral College would drastically change the political dynamics of presidential politics.

First, there is a critical background point which should be obvious but is often overlooked. The number of California’s Electoral College votes has changed every ten years with the Census due to our changing population. Our state currently has 55 votes in the Electoral College but that hasn’t always been the case.

The question is: if California never had any votes in the Electoral College since 1852 (the first presidential election in which we participated as a state), nor had its current 55 Electoral College votes, would we be abandoning the rest of the country to permanent Republican control of the presidency? The short answer is no.

Since California became a state in 1850, we have participated in presidential elections 41 times. If we were to erase California’s Electoral College votes from history, the United States would have had a different president only once. In 1876, Democrat Samuel Tilden lost to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes 185-184 in the Electoral College. In that election, California cast its six Electoral College votes for the Republican, helping him win the presidency.

That election was one of the most disputed presidential elections in American history. Before 20 disputed electoral votes from three states were eventually awarded to Hayes, he trailed Tilden 165-184 in the Electoral College. Without California’s electoral votes that year, Tilden would have been elected the 19th President of the United States. Ironically, Tilden won the popular vote that year but lost the election in the Electoral College thanks, in part, to California’s six electoral votes.

And that’s it. There has only been one instance in history where California has impacted the result of the Electoral College and in that case California helped a Republican win. Let’s examine the historical record. Of the 40 remaining presidential elections in which California has participated, there are two scenarios.

The first scenario is as follows: California cast its Electoral College votes for the losing candidate. In other words, without California’s Electoral College votes, the losing candidate would have simply lost by a greater margin. This happened in 1880, 1884, 1912, 1960, 1976, 2000, 2004, and 2016.

The second scenario is as follows: California cast its Electoral College votes for the winning candidate. In every election where California’s electoral votes were cast for the winning candidate, that candidate won by a margin larger than the number of California’s electoral votes. In other words, without California’s Electoral College votes, the winning candidate would have simply won by a smaller margin.

Here’s a case in point: In 2012, Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney 332-206 in the Electoral College. The margin in that election was +126 for Obama. California had 55 electoral votes which were cast for Obama. Without those votes, Obama still would have won but only by a margin of 71 electoral votes.

In 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McCain 365-173 in the Electoral College. The margin in that election was +192 for Obama. California had 55 electoral votes which were cast for Obama. Without those votes, Obama still would have won but only by a margin of 137 electoral votes.

And the presidential elections of 1852-1872, 1888-1908, 1916-1956, 1964-1972, and 1980-1996 all follow this same pattern.

Just think: with California in the Union as it currently is, and its 55 electoral votes, Donald Trump is President of the United States today and the Republicans have controlled the White House for 20 years since 1980… and the Democrats for 12.

So, what does that tell you about our impact?

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Does California affect the balance of power in the House of Representatives?

Skeptics of the Calexit Campaign fear that if California were to exit the Union, we would be condemning the rest of the country to permanent Republican control. They believe this because California with its 53 members of Congress has the largest delegation of all the states. Therefore, on the surface it seems California carries major influence in the balance of power in Washington and thus removing California from that equation would drastically change the political dynamics of Congress.

However, that is not the case.

First, let’s point out what should be obvious but is often overlooked. California is a blue state – no doubt about it. But of California’s 53 members of the House of Representatives, only 39 of them are Democrats. Therefore, the impact we have on ensuring a Democratic majority in Congress is limited because our state will inevitably send at least some Republicans to Congress.

There is a second point which should be obvious but is also overlooked. The number of California’s representatives to Congress changes every ten years with the Census. Our state currently has 53 representatives but that hasn’t always been the case and therefore we should remember that California hasn’t always had the largest congressional delegation. In fact, California has only had the largest congressional delegation since the 19th reapportionment in 1970.

The question is: if California no longer sent 53 (for now) representatives to Congress, most of them Democrats but some of them inevitably Republicans, would we be abandoning the rest of the country to permanent Republican majorities in Congress? The short answer is no.

Since California became a state in 1850, we have participated in congressional elections have sent a growing number of congressmen and women to represent our growing population a total of 84 times. If we were to erase California from history and thus remove its elected members from the House of Representatives, there would be only two times in history where the balance of power would have shifted from one party to another.

First, in 1930. That year, the Republicans held onto a slim majority in the House of Representatives, 218-216 over the Democrats. Ironically, removing California’s delegation to Congress that year would have given a 215-208 majority to the Democrats. Another overlooked point: California’s congressional delegation to Washington hasn’t always been majority Democrat.

The second (and last) time California’s congressional delegation impacted the balance of power in the House of Representatives was in 1952. That year, the Republicans held onto a 221-213 majority over the Democrats. Removing California from the equation would have given the Democrats a 203-201 majority over the Republicans.

And that’s it. There have only been two occurrences in history where California has impacted the balance of power in the House of Representatives: 1930 and 1952. Both times California’s delegation helped establish a Republican majority whereas without California the Democratic Party would have had the majority.

There was a close call in the 1916 elections, where the Republicans came out on top 216-214 over the Democrats. Without California, the Republican majority would have shrunk to 211-210.

We also played no role one way or the other in the Republican Revolution under Newt Gingrich in 1994, when California sent an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to the House of Representatives, meaning the Republicans still would have won back control of Congress after forty years if California was not a part of the Union.

The idea is simple: the balance of power in the House of Representatives is rarely within the margin of the number of representatives California has in Congress. This means that our ability as a state to impact the balance of power is weak.

In 1850 when California became a state, the difference between the majority Democratic Party and the minority Whig Party was 44 seats. California had two at-large representatives: George W. Wright, an independent who was elected as a Democrat after California was officially a state, and Edward Gilbert, another Democrat.

In 1950 when California was commemorating its 100th anniversary of statehood, the Democrats enjoyed a healthy 235-199 majority over the Republicans. That majority would have been 225-186 without California’s delegation. The point is clear: California’s exit from the Union won’t affect the balance of power much or bring about permanent Republican control in Congress.

Just think: with California in the Union as it currently is, and its 53 members of Congress, the Republicans control the House of Representatives today and have controlled that chamber for 19 of the past 23 years.

So, what does that tell you about our impact?

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Debt is not a synonym for bankrupt (and Calexit is not cuckoo for cocoa puffs)

This week, David Ross, a resident of southern California, expressed his opinion that Calexit is “cuckoo for cocoa puffs” in a recent submission to his local newspaper. In his submission, he wrote: “…an interesting idea. To create a nation that, from its birth, would be bankrupt. Although, I guess, when you are a country, instead of merely a state, you can print money and inflate your way to fiscal independence.”

Our response:

Dear Mr. Ross, let’s not mince words: cereal box mottos fall below bumper sticker slogans in the hierarchy of intelligent public discourse. However, perhaps you are one of President Donald Trump’s “poorly educated” supporters (which he loves, by the way, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of). If that’s the case, allow us to borrow another cereal box motto and assure you that the Calexit movement is magically delicious.

As you stated, a good percentage of Californians do believe the rest of the country made the wrong choice in November. But you know what: California has one of the highest educational attainment rates in the country, with a third of us having attained a college degree. So who knows, maybe they’re on to something. Yes, we educated, free-thinking Californians have begun a movement to secede from the United States and establish for ourselves a new nation conceived in such principles as liberty, justice, and democracy.

Can you imagine that?

And no, Mr. Ross, this new nation of California would not be bankrupt from its birth. Economically speaking, California’s Gross Domestic Product is the fifth or sixth largest in the world. Out of the nearly 200 nations on Earth, only four or five of them will have an economy larger than ours.

Does California have a lot of debt? Sure it does, but debt isn’t a synonym for bankrupt. One of the reasons California has accumulated so much debt is because a good chunk of our federal taxes are redistributed to support and subsidize other states – particularly those states in the deep south which would truly be failed states without the federal government.

Over the past twenty years, we have lost an average of $16 billion annually subsidizing these other states. Instead of those taxes being returned to California via federal investments in our infrastructure, education, and healthcare, Sacramento has often been forced to issue bonds or otherwise borrow money to make up this difference.

What’s $16 billion a year over twenty years, Mr. Ross? $320 billion. The sum of all state and local debt in California is $460 billion, according to the U.S. Debt Clock for California. In other words, approximately 70% of all state and local debts could have been paid for over the past twenty years with the tax money we Californians paid to the IRS and never saw again.

Calexit changes California’s course to one of fiscal responsibility and solvency by redirecting our tax dollars from Washington, D.C. to Sacramento.

Bankrupt? Isn’t the United States of America bankrupt? The United States is approaching $20 trillion in debt (that’s $61,000 per citizen), and the debt to GDP ratio is currently over 104%. How’s California doing, by comparison? As mentioned, California has about $460 billion in debt (that’s less than $12,000 per citizen), and the debt to GDP ratio is just over 17%.

But, debt is not a synonym for bankrupt and California will surely have much less debt once it is emancipated from the fiscal exploitation of the United States. So, the Calexit movement lives on. Where are we headed? Forward. Like Toucan Sam says: just follow your nose!

Calexit campaign relaunches under new leader


SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, July 4, 2017– The Yes California Independence Campaign relaunched this morning with the announcement of a new president. Marcus Ruiz Evans, a co-founder of Yes California who previously served as the organization’s vice president, has taken the helm of the organization and has vowed to continue the effort of advocating for California independence.

“A third of Californians support independence. Virtually every day we have a new example of the growing divide in this country between Americans and Californians, between their government in Washington and our government in Sacramento, and between the policies they voted for in November, and our civil rights and liberties. The growing number of Californians who support independence deserve to be heard and Yes California will once again be a voice for them,” Evans said in a statement.

Among the first actions Evans took in his new role was to close the doors of the organization’s embattled representational embassy and culture center opened last year in Moscow.

“Although well intentioned, it was a distraction, a point of contention, and a source of division among supporters of California independence. It needed to close and now it is closed,” Evans said of the embassy.

Evans also invited the organization’s former president, Louis Marinelli, to serve as a permanent member on the organization’s new board. Marinelli, who founded the movement together with Evans in 2015, accepted the invitation to serve as an advisor, but will not be an officer of the organization.

Meanwhile, Evans vowed as president of Yes California to work cooperatively with “any organization in California that supports California’s independence,” hinting that under his leadership, the various pro-independence organizations in California will be more united than before.

“The cause of independence is already an uphill battle as it is. None of us can afford to be cutting each other off at the knees. We will put our differences aside – be they personal or political – and work together to achieve our common goal, to realize our common dream of an independent Republic of California”

However, the organization stopped short of endorsing a ballot initiative currently pending at the California Attorney General’s Office that, if passed by voters in 2018, would have the governor of California negotiate with the U.S. government to attempt to increase California’s autonomy within the United States, but does not call for a vote on independence to be put directly before the voters.

“The purpose of our campaign at its heart is to give the people of California for the first time in history, a chance to vote yes or no on the question of independence. We believe in a yes-or-no, nationhood-or-statehood referendum. It’s why the name of our organization is Yes California. We’re campaigning for the Yes vote,” Evans explained.




Media Inquires:

Marcus Ruiz Evans
phone: 415-595-3394


Brexit vote an historic and inspiring example of self-determination

The Yes California Independence Campaign announced this evening that while it does not take a position on whether the United Kingdom should or should not have voted to exit the European Union, it applauded the process as a shining example of the right of peoples to self-determination.

“It was exciting to watch self-determination in action, and in the end the majority of the British people determined for themselves in a historic and inspiring election that their future would be better off independent of the European Union. Today’s results provide us with a modern-day, western-world example of peaceful and legal secession from a political union and we intend to mimic that process here in California by putting an independence referendum on the ballot so we can exercise our right to self-determination and vote to leave or remain part of the American Union,” Louis J. Marinelli, the president of the organization said.

The organization argues that now as the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland.

“California is the 7th largest economic power in the world. We’re competing with nations like Brazil and France, not states like Florida,” Governor Brown wrote in a letter to the Florida governor earlier this year before new economic data moved California into sixth place.

Yes California sees parallels between the #Brexit vote to exit the European Union and its planned referendum on California leaving the American Union and cites (1) how power has shifted from the state to the federal level for decades, (2) that the federal government is a broken, corrupted, and bureaucratic mess, (3) that lobbyists, special interests, corporations, and wealthy campaign contributors control the country due to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, (4) that the country’s flawed immigration system forces millions of Californians to live without documents and makes it illegal for them to work, and (5) that California is forced to subsidize the other states with its taxes all as reasons justifying independence.

“Our continued membership in the American Union means California will continue subsidizing the other member states to our own detriment and to the detriment of our children,” Marinelli said. “Whether we discuss issues of peace and security, government and elections, trade and regulation, health, education, and infrastructure, or natural resources and the environment, California is better off independent of the American Union and the District of Columbia just as the British people have now determined their future will be better off independent of the European Union and Brussels.”

June 23rd’s #Brexit vote resulted in 52% of the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union. An informal poll of 9,000 Californians conducted by the organization this past February resulted in 41% in favor of California leaving the American Union.

Establishing an Independent California is a Very American Idea

The idea that land we call California becoming its own independent republic is a very American idea. In fact, it’s difficult to get any more American than Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, regarded as perhaps the most important figure of the American Revolution who later became the United States’ first secretary of state, its second vice president, and third president.

In 1813, Jefferson wrote of an American settlement on the west coast, that he viewed it as a seed of “a great, free, and independent empire on that side of our continent, and that liberty and self-government, spreading from that as well as this side, will insure their complete establishment over the whole,” he said, further writing that he looked forward, “with gratification, to the time when its descendants shall have spread themselves through the whole length of that coast, covering it with free and independent Americans, unconnected with us but by the ties of blood and interest, and employing like us the rights of self-government.”

Clearly Thomas Jefferson envisioned an independent republic sprawling along the North American coast of the Pacific Ocean. He envisioned this independent republic populated by Americans sharing with the United States the values and principles upon which that country was founded. Today we have a republic on the Pacific coast, though it is not independent. To make it independent, as Yes California seeks to do, would be to realize Thomas Jefferson’s inspired prophecy that would become echoed by various other American leaders in the first decades of American history. One of such leaders was Senator Thomas Hart Benton, the architect and champion of Manifest Destiny – the policy of American westward expansion.

In 1825, a year before Thomas Jefferson died in his bed in Virginia, he said, “the ridge of the Rocky Mountains may be named without offense, as presenting a convenient, natural and everlasting boundary. Along the back of this ridge, the Western limit of the republic should be drawn, and the statue of the fabled god, Terminus, should be raised upon its highest peak, never to be thrown down. In planting the seed of the new power on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, it should be well understood that when strong enough to take care of itself, the new Government should separate from the mother Empire as the child separates from the parent at the age of manhood.”

Senator Benton believed that the American settlements on the Pacific coast would spout into a new republic on the west coast that perhaps for some time would be bound to the Union but that eventually “when strong enough to take care of itself” it would “separate from the mother Empire,” referring to the United States, as “a child separates from the parent at the age of manhood.” Yes California believes now as the 7th largest economy in the world with nearly 40 million citizens, that California is strong enough to take care of itself and this campaign is precisely about separating from the American Empire – an emancipation so to speak – now that California has sufficiently matured.

It wasn’t just those first fragile decades of American history when this notion of a separate republic establishing itself on the shores of the Pacific Ocean was a part of the American dialogue. In fact, one of the earliest American settlers west of the Rocky Mountains, Henry H. Spaulding, said in 1846 that, “soon this little, obscure point upon the map of the United States will become a second North American Republic, her commerce whitening every sea and her crowded ports fanned by the flags of every nation.” It was that same year that the Bear Flag Revolt occurred, and that American settlers in Alta California declared their independence from Mexico, establishing the California Republic along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

However, the journey for the establishment of a great Pacific Republic as Thomas Jefferson envisioned came across a fork in the road: One direction led to the fulfilment of Jefferson’s prophesy; the other to statehood. The path the California Republic would take was decided in 1850, when California was used as a bargaining chip in a compromise over slavery. In that year, the northern states agreed to the Fugitive Slave Act, which required northerners to return escaped slaves to their owners in the south, and the northern states agreed to the expansion of slavery into the New Mexico and Utah Territories. In exchange for all this, the southern states agreed to the admission of California as a free state.

A decade later, it was clear that civil war had still not been completely averted. The notion of the United States going to war led one California Congressman, Charles L. Scott, to declare in 1860, “if the Union is divided, and two separate confederacies are formed, I will strenuously advocate the secession of California, and the establishment of a separate republic on the Pacific. If California links her destiny with the northern government, crippled and ruined as she must necessarily be by the separation and withdrawal of her southern allies, California, instead of being benefited and receiving aid from the northern Confederacy, will be heavily taxed to carry on the machinery of their government.” 

“Will be heavily taxed to carry on the machinery of their government.” Let that sink in. Is that not what is presently occurring? While this country is not on the verge of a civil war in 2016, there is no doubt that the partisan and ideological division and animosity in this country are at levels unseen since the Civil War. Today, California is a “donor state”, a nice way of saying we Californians pay, on average, $50 billion more in federal taxes than we receive in federal funding. On top of that, much of these excess taxes we pay are spent in the states of the old southern Confederacy. States like Mississippi receive $2-3 in federal funding for each $1 they pay in federal taxes.

Mr. Scott was not alone. The Governor of California at that time, Governor Weller, shared this sentiment, saying if California had to choose between the Union and the Confederacy, that “California will not go with the south or north, but here upon the shores of the Pacific, found a mighty republic, which may in the end prove the greatest of all.

The Sonora Democrat, a widely-distributed newspaper at the time also wrote that if the northern and states separated for good, that California should “cut loose from both sections and not involve herself in the general ruin. She has all the elements of greatness within her borders. Situated thousands of miles from the distracted States, she would be an asylum of peace and safety – and many thousands would flock to her shores – the effect of which would be to build upon the Pacific a mighty, prosperous and independent nation.

In the end, the admission of California as a free state turned out to be a crucial event in the preservation of the Union, when the Civil War broke out shortly thereafter. It was during that war that General Grant said, “I do not know what we could do in this great national emergency, were it not for the gold sent from California.”

Indeed, California was very generous with its financial contributions to support the North, in fact becoming the primary sponsor of the United States Sanitary Commission, a federal relief program supporting sick and wounded Union Soldiers of the Civil War. However, although thousands Californians organized into battalions to fight alongside the Union Army, the Americans did not want them.

A hundred and fifty years later, California is still making financial contributions (in the form of excess taxes) to the United States in order to support “the machinery of their government,” as Congressman Scott said in 1850. Yes California believes it is time to pick up that mantle of Thomas Jefferson’s independent republic of the Pacific, one populated by Americans, sharing American values, and preserving the core principles of the American Revolution. It is, by the way, the reason why several northern Californians who want to secede from California dream of a new state by the name of Jefferson.

Yes California believes independence will keep California together as a united Pacific republic as Jefferson envisioned.

Five Reasons the U.S. Won’t Shut off Water from the Colorado River

Many critics of the Yes California campaign say if California were to secede, the United States would cut off our supply of water from the Colorado River. Of course if the United States did that, the $50 billion on average we currently spend annually subsidizing the old Confederacy – but that would be kept in California after independence – would certainly allow us to do industrial scale desalination. We are more than capable of meeting our own water needs if we focus our energies and resources here at home. Even so, Yes California argues it is unlikely the United States would deprive California of water from the Colorado River Basin, some of which is geographically within California’s borders anyway, and this post explains five reasons why.

There are a number of issues to consider when deciding whether or not that California would, as a result of its independence, automatically lose access to one of our primary sources of water: the Colorado River. Here are five reasons why Yes California disagrees with the sentiment that the United States would stop water allocations to California.

  1. Yes California’s plan for obtaining independence from the United States employs a peaceful and constitutional strategy. That means our independence will come through the consent of Congress and the consent of at least three-fourths of the states. In other words, the Americans won’t be out to punish California for seceding from the Union after they’ve just granted their consent for us to do so. In truth, an independent California will be the realization of Thomas Jefferson’s prediction that Americans would settle the west coast and split away from the United States as a separate nation.
  2. When California becomes a separate nation, many U.S. citizens residing in California at the time will likely choose to remain citizens of the United States and continue to vote in American elections. The United States will certainly have an interest in ensuring continued access to water for millions of its citizens living here.
  3. Yes California’s plan for life after independence includes a Military Base Agreement whereby the United States will keep its military bases in California over some period of time in exchange for a land lease. Many of these military bases are located in Southern California which imports much of its water from the Colorado River. The United States will need California to continue importing this water to support their military presence here.
  4. California is the source of about 20% of Americans’ dairy products, and the sole producer of America’s almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, grapes, raisins, kiwifruit, olives, pistachios, pomegranates, sweet rice, and walnuts. Because of California’s unique Mediterranean climate and geography, this is the only place in North America where many of these staple foods can be grown. The United States will need us to continue importing its water so that our farmers can continuing growing and shipping these foods to supermarkets across the continent where they are in demand. California will need to meet this market demand so American consumers can continue buying these food items at or near their current prices. That gives California significant leverage in ensuring our access to water from the Colorado River.
  5. The United States and Mexico signed a pact in 2012 to grant Mexico access to more water from the Colorado River Basin (in the midst of the California drought, mind you), amending an existing treaty on Mexico’s access to Colorado River water dating back to 1944. There is a treaty between the United States and Canada on the diversion of water from the Niagara River for power generation. The United States makes pacts with its neighboring countries to deal with water issues and an independent California will likewise forge binding international treaties governing fair use and access to water from rivers originating in the United States. What more simple trade is there than “Food for Water”?

In short, there is no reason to expect the United States to treat us as an enemy instead of an ally.

For the pessimists, however, it’s worth pointing out that Israel has a much drier climate than California and they do a tremendous job supplying their people with water through a combination of technologies. In fact, Israeli engineers helped California build the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere in Carlsbad, which just opened last year. Certainly California can and has learned from Israel’s successes, and if the Americans bit off their nose to spite their face by denying California access to the Colorado River, we could utilize a number of strategies to preserve our way of life.