Thomas Hiltachk, who specializes in ballot referenda that try to fool people in the titles and fine print, is sponsoring a ballot initiative for the June 3, 2008, California primary (which now falls four months after the state's presidential primary). The Presidential Election Reform Act would award the state's electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district. Had this idea been in effect in 2004, Bush would have won 22 electoral votes from California, about the same number awarded the winners of states like Illinois or Pennsylvania.This is obviously something to be concerned about, since reliably-blue California would normally award all 55 of its electoral votes to the Democratic candidate. Under the Hiltachk plan the Democrat would probably get only 30-35 or so.
But I wouldn't panic over this yet. If the powers-that-be decide to fund the signature gathering, they can probably get this thing on the ballot. But Californians have a pretty serious case of initiative fatigue these days, and not many initiatives pass. What's worse (for Republicans, that is), it's nearly impossible to pass a blatantly partisan initiative. It's hard to think of the last one that succeeded.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has spent the last couple of years carefully honing a moderate image and he seems unlikely to endorse this effort. None of the good government groups will go along. The Democratic Party and its allies will spend boatloads of money to defeat it. The odds of success are very, very slim.
On the downside, it will force the Democratic Party and its allies to spend boatloads of money to defeat it. That may be the whole point, in fact. It often is with these things.