Two Bay Area political science professors recently wrote a joint opinion piece in the San Jose Mercury News in support of Proposition 11. They take a pragmatic perspective that the initiative will not be a panacea for uncompetitive elections, but that it should at least create more competitive elections than there are currently.
We don’t want to exaggerate the prospects for competitive races, however. Whoever draws the lines, most districts will have substantial partisan majorities, since in California, Democrats tend to live among other Democrats and Republicans live among other Republicans. Given the criteria in this measure, there’s no way the new commission could draw a district in San Francisco or Central Los Angeles or San Jose’s East Side so it could be other than Democratic. The same thing applies to the Republican strongholds in the suburbs around Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento.
But there will be a few districts â€” experts estimate perhaps four in the Assembly and seven in the Senate â€” that will be competitive. That means both Republicans and Democrats will have fewer safe seats, but it also means both parties will have a chance to pick up a few seats. Democrats seem to fear this change most, but given their continued dominance in party registration and the drift of independents to their side, Democrats might well have the most to gain from the change.