The Washington Post

How the “Six Californias” proposal would shake up the electoral map

Let's start here:   Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper's plan to carve California into six separate states-- a proposal known as 'Six Californias' -- isn't likely to become a reality anytime soon or, probably, ever.


But, even if it never happens, the proposal creates any number of fascinating scenarios to examine for political junkies. And, no, we can't resist.

Let's start with the basics. The number of U.S. Senators would jump to 12 -- as each of the five new states would be allotted two Senators. As for the House, the addition of five new states would change the current dynamics but not dramatically; the most populous regions (which are heavily Democratic) would still have more representatives than the more sparsely populated ones.

"It seems like there is a net plus of safe Democratic seats in the Senate," said Rob Stutzman, a California-based GOP strategist, who added that while it seems far-fetched, the six-state plan is -- on its face -- plausible. "If you look at these proposed states in a vacuum, they all make sense."

Using 2012 presidential election vote tallies as a baseline, we've determined that the Six Californias would break down this way: 1) Three solidly blue states (North California, Silicon Valley, West California) 2) Three swing states (Jefferson, Central California and South California - two of which would lean Republican). Here's a breakdown of the politics of each one.

1. Jefferson (Swing state/leaning Republican)

The northern-most state under the Six California plan combines the state's 14 northern-most counties to form "Jefferson". It would be the smallest of the six Californias in terms of population. With roughly 950,000 residents, it would be the 7th least populous state, having roughly the same number of residents as Delaware.

Jefferson would include some of the most Republican-counties in all of the six Californias -- 11 of which backed Mitt Romney in 2012. In fact, had Jefferson been an independent state in 2012, Romney would have defeated Barack Obama there by more than 20,000 votes. There's a good chance that, with the right candidates, Jefferson could send a Republican-heavy delegation to Congress. Still, statewide elections in Jefferson would be competitive.

2. North California (Democratic state)

This is another of the smallest states -- in both geography and population -- of the six Californias. North California is home to Sacramento as well the crucial YOLO County (Ok, we're not actually sure if it's electorally crucial, but we had to find a reason to give this place a mention).

With about 3.8 million people, North Cali would  fall between Oklahoma and Oregon in terms of population. Not tiny, but not exactly huge either. While it contains a good number of Republican strongholds, a huge chunk of this state's population would come from counties that turned out in force for Obama in 2012 (Sacramento, Sonoma, Napa and, yes, Yolo).

In 2012, the voters of the newly-minted North California would have given this state's electoral college votes to President Obama, who earned almost 200,000 more votes here than Romney did.

3. Central California (swing state/leans Republican)

The only of the six Californias that would be completely landlocked, Central California would be a geographically sprawling, mountainous state. It's a combination of more than a dozen politically diverse counties. With about 4.2 million people, this state would be about as populous as Kentucky.

In 2012, Romney would have carried Central California by about 14,000 votes. With a number of both Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning counties, Central California would be a Congressional battleground with a good chance of sending a bipartisan delegation to Washington DC every two years.

4. Silicon Valley (Democratic state)

Home to San Jose and San Francisco, Silicon Valley would be the only of the six Californias not to include a single county that Romney won in 2012. In fact, it was the counties contained in Silicon Valley where Obama ran up the score -- registering nearly 3 times as many votes (1.3 million) as Romney (460,000).

And, unlike some of the other left-leaning states that would be created by the Six Californias plan, Silicon Valley would not include a single true Republican stronghold. This state would be blue. Dark blue. Both of these senators would likely be Democrats, and it's tough to imagine Republicans fielding many successful House campaigns.

5. West California (Democratic state)

There's  no doubt about it -- West California would put its statehouse in Los Angeles. While not geographically huge, West California is by far the most populous of the six Californias and, with 11.5 million people, would be one of the 10 largest states in the union (battling with Ohio for the #7 spot).

This state would be home to LA, Hollywood, Long Beach and nearly all of the freeway congestion that's up for grabs. (What a claim to fame!) West California would be a Democratic powerhouse where Obama would have defeated Romney by more than a million votes -- margins similar to those in Massachusetts. It's very hard to imagine any Republican senators hailing from West California, and the House delegation would also be Democratic-dominated.

6. South California (Swing state)

Comprised of the five southern-most California counties, South California would contain San Diego, Santa Ana, and all of Orange County. A military-rich and relatively affluent state, South California would be another political battleground. When 2012 vote totals for the counties that  make up South California are tallied, Obama narrowly defeats Romney.

Parts of this state would be home to people working in nearby Los Angeles (the likely capital of West California), but this state would be a powerhouse in its own right. Boasting 10.8 million people, South California would be the 9th largest state in the union -- bigger than Georgia, Michigan, and North Carolina.

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.

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