California Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on much of anything. Except online sports betting, apparently.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties in California are against Prop 27, according to statements from party officials. Prop 27 would legalize online sports betting in a state that has the world’s fifth-largest economy. The Republicans also oppose Prop 26, which would allow sports betting at California’s tribal casinos and horse racetracks. Democrats are neutral on Prop 26.
The state parties’ unified opposition to Prop 27 is a strong force against the private sportsbooks’ attempt to get as much share of the California sports betting market as possible, despite Prop 27 providing permanent funding for homelessness programs.
But how unusual is it for Democrats and Republicans in California to agree on a political issue? Has this happened before?
WORST-CASE SCENARIO: If Prop 26 and Prop 27 Both Fail, What’s Next for California Sports Betting?
How Often Do CA Democrats and Republicans Agree on a Prop?
We used Google advanced search to locate any evidence that the Dems and GOP were in unison on ballot initiatives in California since 2006. We set the search time as Jan. 1, 2006 to Nov. 1, 2021.
We found only two instances of the two parties in California agreeing on a ballot proposal in the past 15-plus years.
In 2010, Prop 14 would have created a new primary election process in the state of California, something that prompted both the Democrats and Republicans to, as the Los Angeles Times wrote, “vehemently oppose the open-primary measure.” Prop 14 passed.
Also in 2010, most Republicans and all Democrats were opposed to Prop 20, which would have stripped lawmakers of their power to draw congressional districts. Prop 20 passed.
Making it harder to find instances of common ground between the two parties is the way the Democrats have dominated the GOP like the Harlem Globetrotters owned the Washington Generals. In 2016, and again in 2018, not one Republican held statewide office in California. As Jim Newton of UCLA’s Blue Print wrote, “There are no more furiously argued questions in California politics that matter.”
So, we found only two instances of Democrats and Republicans teaming up against a prop in the past 15-plus years. And, in both cases, that joint support didn’t work. That should be encouraging to Prop 27 supporters.
Even when the two parties agree on issues, they usually disagree on how to fix the problem. Sometimes that leads to competing proposals on the California ballot — each addressing a policy in a different way. But this time, both parties are officially against Prop 27. With one very notable exception.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom Remains Neutral on Prop 27
Sure, the California Democratic party is formally against Prop 27, but Gov. Newsom has not come down on either side of the issue.
Earlier in August, at an event in Los Angeles, Newsom was non-committal on Prop 26 vs. Prop 27.
“I know initiatives and folks will say anything,” Newsom said. “Perhaps that initiative will provide a few dollars. I’m not supporting or opposing it. I haven’t given it a lot of thought. But it is not a homeless initiative. I know Angelenos can read between the lines and they know better.”
Newsom’s indifference (if it’s legitimate) only signals that, like an iceberg, more may lie beneath the surface of this issue for some politicians in both parties.