THE BLOG

Breaking up California: The Political Impact

12/20/2013 02:24 pm ET | Updated Feb 19, 2014

Technology investor Tim Draper has proposed a plan to split California into 6 different states. I'll leave it to residents of California to weigh the merits of the plan, but I thought I might look into the political impact of such a division.

Draper's plan envisions 6 states consisting of the following counties:

Central California (Alpine, Calaveras, Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Tuolumne)

Jefferson (Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity)

North California (Amador, El Dorado, Marin, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba)

Silicon Valley (Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz)

South California (Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego)

West California (Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura)

Based on the 2010 population for each county, I divided up California's current 53 congressional districts among the 6 new states in this way:

Central California 6
Jefferson 2
North California 5
Silicon Valley 9
South California 15
West California 16

With 2 Senators for each state, the 6 new states would have the following number of Electoral College votes:

Central California 8
Jefferson 4
North California 7
Silicon Valley 11
South California 17
West California 18

Using the 2012 presidential vote by county, here is the winner in each state and their share of the two-party vote:

Central California: Romney 51.4
Jefferson: Romney 51.7
North California: Obama 59.7
Silicon Valley: Obama 75.8
South California: Obama 51.2
West California: Obama 68.7

With these results, Romney would have won an additional 12 electoral votes by winning Central California and Jefferson. Obama would have won 53 electoral votes by winning the other 4 states. That would have been gain of 12 electoral votes for Romney and a loss of 2 electoral votes for Obama, since he won all 55 of California's electoral votes in 2012.

Of course, the results in Central California, Jefferson, and South California were relatively close and there's no way to determine what would happen if the candidates were to actively compete for votes in these new states, something that doesn't happen now since California's overwhelming Democratic tilt means that neither party will expend resources there. Still, it's safe to say that Draper's plan represents a slight advantage for Republicans over the current system.