The Great California Divide

Soon after the 2018 elections, Californians may find themselves split into three separate states: Northern California, Southern California and California. Entrepreneur Timothy Draper proposed the three-way divide, expressing concerns that the state’s current massive size is detrimental to its economy. Draper presented a similar plan in 2013 for a six-state split, but the proposal failed to make the 2016 ballot due to its lack of signatures. This year, the California secretary of state announced that Draper’s measure garnered 600,000 votes, earning it a spot in the November election.

So what is the appeal in having three separate Californias? Draper’s initiative measure states that the “political representation of California’s diverse population and economies has rendered the state nearly ungovernable,” and, in an article by The New York Times, cited California’s schools and livability would greatly benefit from a state division.

Some Californians have expressed opposition to the idea, however, providing factors that could negatively affect a three-state divide. The states would have fewer votes in the electoral college, thus lowering California’s power in elections. According to analysts from the University of Virginia, two of the new states would stay relatively blue, while the third would be a possible swing state, a likely upset to liberal citizens who want their state to remain in the hands of Democrats. The measure would also bring hardships upon younger Californians who are planning to attend college in another part of the state. If students from San Diego wanted to go to college in Los Angeles, they would have to pay out-of-state fees to attend that school.

This is not the first time Californians have wanted to split up the state; in 1859, the majority of its citizens voted to bisect California, but it was not pursued by the government due to the impending Civil War. In 1941, a similar expression occurred among the “Yreka Rebellion,” a secessionist group in Northern California that wanted to form a new state along the California-Oregon border.

If the proposition is approved this time, it would need to go through the California Legislature and then the United States Congress before reaching fruition. The new arrangement, if enacted, would perplex the United States as a whole: Northern California would consist of major cities such as Sacramento and San Francisco, Southern California would reach as low as San Diego and as high as Fresno and California would cover counties such as Orange, Monterey and Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of ABC7 News

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