Ex Uno Plus

Every once in a while somebody proposes splitting one state or another into two or more states but it’s nearly always a fantasy—it will never go anywhere. A smarty-pants Silicon Valley venture capitalist has come up with a plan to split California into six states, pictured above, and there’s actually an outside chance it could happen:

Draper’s plan is controversial, but he’s got permission from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to start collecting petition signatures to qualify for a ballot. A total of 807, 615 registered voters need to sign Draper’s Six Californias plan in 150 days before it can be put on the next state election.

Article IV Section 3 of the U. S. Constitution prohibits states being carved out of other states other than under limited conditions:

New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.

California’s initiative system (they call them referendums but they’re initiatives) is quite robust and I strongly suspect that a well-written initiative could pass and would force the state’s legislature to approve the division. Whether the Congress would approve such an act is anybody’s guess.

However, let’s ignore whether it will happen for a second and consider the implications of its happening for a bit.

I think that dividing the state along the lines shown above would be good for “Jefferson”, “North California”, “Silicon Valley”, and, possibly, “West California” and a disaster for “Central California” and “South California”. The new state of “Silicon Valley” would have the highest per capita income of any state; “Central California” would have the lowest. “South California” would be starved for water. The bulk of its water comes from three sources: the Colorado River via the Colorado River Aqueduct, the State Water Project, and the Owens Valley. “South California” would have control of none of these.

Politically, by my reckoning the division would probably increase the Democrats’ margin in the Senate by two—”Jefferson” and “Central California” would probably elect Republicans, while the other four new states would elect Democrats. I don’t know what effect the new map would have on the House—it might well result in no change at all.

If the constitutions of the new states followed California’s, I’m skeptical that the new division would be stable. Once it had been shown to be possible I think the temptation to further divide the new states would be irresistible.

19 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    Does the line btw/ South California and West California divide Los Angeles from Orange County? I’m not sure splitting metropolitan areas has ever worked out well, but wouldn’t a district with Orange County, San Diego, and Palm Springs have a Republican lean? The more interesting question to me is whether such a division would change the character of the Republican party. There are a lot of Republicans in California, probably more than in several Deep South states combined, but the national party doesn’t reflect that. (Not sure how it would change the Democratic Party)

  • See here. “West California” would include Los Angeles. Orange County would be in “South California”.

  • Michael Reynolds Link

    The guy’s an idiot. I’m going to use my psychic powers and guess that he’s a libertarian. Also an idiot, if that’s not redundant.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Thanks, the link also answered a related question about whether San Francisco and Oakland were separated (no).

    There is apparently a process in the referendum by which a county may (by mutual agreement) be transferred to a different “state,” but its not apparent that this would make a lot of difference. Stockton may want to be in Silicon Valley, but Silicon Valley is unlikely to want Stockton.

    What is striking is the population disparity (or as my initial question put it, “Why Jefferson?”)

    West California: 11,593,717
    South California: 10,809,997
    Silicon Valley: 6,828,617
    Central California: 4,232,419
    North California: 3,820, 438
    Jefferson: 949,409

  • PD Shaw Link

    Why Jefferson?

    Because the West Coast wants its own Delaware.
    Because Oregon wouldn’t take them.
    Because no Californian has ever ventured North of Sacramento, and all the maps say is “Beyond here there be Sasquatch”

  • jan Link

    Splitting CA up into 6 states is a head-scratchier, IMO.

    I first heard about Tim Draper’s brainstorm last year, when driving up the I 5 listening to a central valley radio station. The moderator seemed intrigued with the idea. But, I think that’s mainly due to the agricultural region being fed up with coastal liberal politics running the entire state. When you actually look at a map defining politics locally, it shows most of the land mass to be dominated by a more conservative constituency, with the dense coastal rim housing deep blue voters whose ideology prevails in most of the recent elections. In fact CA now has a super majority of democrats in it’s legislature, as of last year making republican representation non-existent.

    Having fairer local representation indeed seems to be one of Draper’s reasons behind this plan. However, it just seems too complicated, having too many divisions, to make it pragmatic, let alone workable.

    Also, I found PD’s population breakdowns for each of these 6 regions to be interesting. What a difference in head counts between let’s say Jefferson and West or South CA!

  • ... Link

    PD, I’ve been to Sasquatch country – truly beautiful. And that explains the ‘why’ too – Sasquatch want their own set of Senators. It’s all about diversity!

    But think of the clusterfuck of just splitting up the various state university systems.

    Finally, Congress sure as Hell can carve up a state if it likes. Just ask any West ‘by Gawd’ Virginian.

  • PD Shaw Link

    More thoughts (too many!!!) after looking at the links of the Wikipedia links:

    1. Politics. UC-Davis law prof thinks the division creates two consistent D states; two consistent R states; and two competitive states, but that the Republicans would have a good opportunity to gain significant national advantages in the Senate, the House and the Electoral College. This has too much Republican upside to be approved nationally.

    2. Income disparities. I think it needs to be established that California does a lot of redistribution of income between its various regions before assuming that the poorer states suffer. The federal government does this, and in some federal formulas it pays better to be a poor region in a poor state than a poor region in a rich state. To me the question for Central California then would be whether the federal benefits outweigh state losses.

    3. Prisons. A lot of prisons in Central California. Is it even possible for a state to house its prisoners in another state? Perhaps I’ve identified intrastate income transfers.

    4. Water. It seems to me that a lot of California water is from other states under a series of complicated state and federal arrangements. I think a division would simply require identification of the status quo de facto arrangements that existed prior to the division, since these would be presumptively fair. Bad timing for water anxiety though.

  • ... Link

    Prisons. A lot of prisons in Central California. Is it even possible for a state to house its prisoners in another state? Perhaps I’ve identified intrastate income transfers.

    Ooooo, that’s a good one!

    Now I want them to do this just to see how big a clusterfuck it ends up being….

  • Andy Link

    I don’t particularly like his plan, but I think breaking up the large states is a good idea. Politically and Constitutionally, I think that’s much easier than so-called Senate “reforms” favored by some to correct the (intentionally) unrepresentative nature of the Senate.

  • jan Link

    For as long as I can remember northern and southern CA have been at odds with each other, especially concerning water allocation. So, if such a plan were to simply cut the state in half I could see it being a more realistic and acceptable one. However, slicing it into a half dozen regions, has too many obstacles — prisons was a good one.

  • I’m not sure about admitting another state with less than a million people, and I might want a nip and tuck here or there, but on the whole I would be supportive of it if Californians are.

    Regard PD Shaw’s #2… that’s actually a lot less clear cut than a lot of people think. Some poor and less populated states get a lot of federal money, but some don’t. Utah gets near the bottom in per-capita spending, and Idaho gets about what California does. My gut tells me that Central California would probably have that fate instead of the fate of Montana and the Dakotas.

    Also, having spent some time in the Moscow-Pullman area, it’s pretty clear that Pullman benefits from being in the same state as Seattle while Moscow doesn’t get the “small state benefit.” Of course, Idaho is a bad example for the above-mentioned reasoned, but when you cross from Idaho to Montana, Montana has really nice Interstates but a lot of the money it gets is directed towards specific purposes (military, reservations) that don’t necessarily translate for the average resident. In other words, they’d be better off with Colorado most likely, if Wyoming weren’t in the way. (As for Wyoming, it gets a lot of NMLA money, but otherwise its federal receipts look a lot like Idaho’s.)

    In any case, having spent some time in some beneficiary states, the advantage is overrated. I think Dave is right that it would probably work out very badly for Central California.

  • michael reynolds Link

    The purpose of this plan is to cut this one rich asshole’s taxes. He wants Silicon Valley, which is to say, him, separated from the poor brown folk. Everything else is window dressing intended to disguise his purpose.

    Anyone who knows the state knows how stupid this is. Marin goes with Sonoma and Napa? No. Marin is a bedroom community of SF. SF is not interested in being a colony of techie creeps. Orange County belongs with LA. There is not the slightest reason to group San Diego with the desert.

    This is bullshit from some self-centered Silicon Valley twat looking to cut his taxes.

  • ... Link

    Speaking of California and Silicon Valley, one thinks of immigration and H1-B visas. Here’s a bit on how companies come to need such visas. I expect the indictment to disappear if it looks like there’s any chance of conviction. But maybe not. It’s not like there will be much attention from the media about the rich democratic assholes in Silicon Valley perpetrating immigration fraud in an effort to make this a poor brown country with a permanent Democratic majority. A quick Bing search shows zero coverage from anything that might remotely qualify as big media.

  • TastyBits Link


    The Democrats keep telling us what an almost great economy we have, and the Republicans keep telling us that we have a country full of lazy layabouts.

    What is an honest businessman in a free-market system to do?

  • What is an honest businessman in a free-market system to do?

    I can only tell you what I’m doing. I’m doing everything I can to look around for new business. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal to be found. Of course, Chicago is pretty much unrecovered. And likely to stay that way, I’m afraid.

  • steve Link

    A more rational approach would be to divide along the fault lines. We would have a functioning state(s) left after the BIG ONE where a chunk of CA slides into the ocean.


  • I think there’s even more to this story than Michael’s take which I will admit was my first reaction. I haven’t found the actual text of the initiative yet but there’s a lot more to it than just chopping California into pieces. There are county home rule provisions which if the initiative were to pass in California even if it were to fail in the U. S. Congress would probably continue to be the law in California.

    The guy who’s sponsoring the bill has the resources and apparently the will to get it passed. Crazier things than this have been passed via the initiative process in California and tax avoidance is an evergreen.

  • ... Link

    What is an honest businessman in a free-market system to do?

    Go broke or learn how to cheat.

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