This failed California ballot prop spent 50 times more for each yes vote than the abortion measure

Prop 27 spent nearly $100 per vote; Prop 1 spent less than $3

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Voting is free, but your vote can be really expensive.

If you are among the 17% of voters who said “yes” to Proposition 27, about online gambling, your vote on that measure might have been one of the most hard-bought in California history. When all the votes are counted, the online gambling industry will have spent in the neighborhood of $100 for each yes vote on a measure that could go down as one of California’s most-spectacular election fails.

Combined, the committees supporting and opposing the seven propositions on the ballot this year spent over $630 million in total. But if you break that cash down per vote, the differences are gargantuan.

On the winning side, Proposition 1, which cemented abortion rights in the state constitution, spent under $3 for each yes vote. And this year’s other winners – propositions about school arts funding and tobacco – spent well under $10 per supporting vote. In the case of Proposition 31’s flavored tobacco ban, almost all of that was bankrolled by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

With hundreds of thousands of late mail-in ballots still being tabulated, as of late Friday afternoon yes votes on Proposition 27 were still north of $150 a piece. That amount will decline over the next week as the final votes are tallied. But the margin will only get larger when comparing Proposition 27’s dollar-per-yes vote with that of successful but less-expensive measures. Tribal casinos backed a dueling sports gambling measure, Proposition 26, but spent most of their money – about $40 a vote – in a successful fight against Proposition 27.

“Even though we knew it was coming, it was just stunning how much money poured into Props. 26 and 27,” said Thad Kousser, professor of political science at UC San Diego, and co-director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research.

Several factors pumped up the totals this year, according to Brandon Castillo, a partner at a consulting firm that ran several ballot measures in the elections: inflation, an increasingly complex media landscape and a longer voting period.

The new vote-by-mail system in California has expanded the timeline of when people are voting, meaning advertising has to come earlier to be effective – even though blasting the airwaves in early summer wasn’t a winning strategy for Proposition 27. “It’s been a massive change,” said Castillo. “You don’t have election day, you have election month.”

Castillo thinks the “dollar per vote” analysis highlights the massive cost of these statewide elections but misses some important factors. It doesn’t take into account the baseline voter knowledge or support of an issue, which can make or break a campaign.

Abortion, for instance, is something most voters have a strong position on already so money doesn’t make much impact. Castillo thinks even $500 million could not have defeated Proposition 1. But a repeat effort to toughen regulations on dialysis clinics? Voters have to be educated by each side, and that takes money. “They don’t wake up knowing how they feel about kidney dialysis,” Castillo said.

“The ones that spend lots of money are the ones that have a really narrow base of support,” Kousser said. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money on Prop. 1. What you need to spend money on are things that only help your mobile gambling company, or your rideshare company,” he said, referring to Proposition 27 and Proposition 22 – a 2020 measure to exempt Uber, Lyft and DoorDash from a state law that classifies their drivers as employees.

California gaming tribes, online gaming companies and cardrooms spent over $420 million combined on Propositions 26 and 27, with money going for support and opposition to the two competing sports-betting propositions. Both measures came up short at the ballot box, but Propostion 27 – the subject of the most spending – lost by a larger margin.

DraftKings, FanDuel and several other online gaming companies poured $159 million into the campaign committee that sponsored Proposition 27.

The opposition to Proposition 27 spent even more than supporters of the measure, but they also got nearly five no votes for every yes vote. The “Yes on 26, No on 27” campaign, run by Castillo’s firm, spent $114 million, almost entirely on opposing Proposition 27, after early polling showed both propositions were fighting uphill battles. The other “No on 27” committee spent an additional $106 million.

Castillo was also the campaign manager for the “No on 29” committee, funded by dialysis providers, which successfully defeated the health care worker union’s challenge, on the ballot for the third time. Their firm has handled over 50 ballot measures over the past several decades, and the most expensive ballot measure campaigns in the country for the last three cycles.

Last election cycle’s biggest spenders – Uber, Lyft and DoorDash – won with Proposition 22, spending about $25 for each yes vote. But this year, the most expensive measures lost.

Will they be back again next election? It’s unclear. The dialysis measure has lost by a larger margin each year, but losing hasn’t stopped the health care worker’s union from challenging dialysis providers at the ballot box so far.

Click here to read the full article at the Mercury News




  2. We also need to eliminate OUT-OF-STATE funding. If you live in California then you can donate. These billionaires from other states are ruining our state (even moreso than the morally corrupt, communist fascist racist democrats)

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