A look at the six national ZIP codes that contributed the most to the presidential campaign fund of President Biden through the summer and fall shows four were in California.
Similarly, three California ZIP codes were among the top 10 in contributions to the 2020 reelection drive of President Trump.
Contrast this to the total amount of time these candidates spent in the state that was most golden to them during the last two months of their hotly contested contest: three hours. That was how long Trump spent from the moment Air Force 1 — acting as a campaign plane for him — landed in Orange County for a fund-raiser where patrons paid $150,000 apiece.
Biden never set foot here during that time. Both men totally ignored Californians without money to contribute.
Of course, the sums Trump harvested at the Newport Beach home of a tech mogul didn’t go directly to his campaign, but rather to the national Republican Party, which quickly laundered almost all the cash and relayed it to Trump’s poverty-stricken operation, which had canceled several advertising buys in swing states like Iowa and Pennsylvania during the preceding week.
So California continued as the ultimate campaign cash cow both in 2020 and through last fall. Californians also kicked in more money to U.S. Senate candidates in Arizona, Maine, Georgia and North Carolina than anyone but residents of those states themselves.
Californians also did plenty of national volunteer work, not only for presidential candidates but also in races for the Senate and House. One common tactic: California volunteers bought and hand-wrote hundreds of postcards addressed to individual voters in states with key races. The parties then shipped those cards to the states involved, where they would be tossed in mailboxes and delivered, looking like personal appeals from neighbors or near-neighbors.
No candidate who benefited from those infusions of Californians’ money and time ever said much to those who contributed.
It’s a role the nation’s largest state became accustomed to after the anti-illegal immigrant 1994 Proposition 187 passed and spurred 2.5 million Latino immigrants to become citizens and register to vote.
Almost all signed up as Democrats, and this onetime swing state quickly turned predictably blue.
California has been so heavily Democratic since that Hispanic voter registration flood that in 2016, it provided the entire 3 million-plus-vote margin by which Trump lost the national popular vote.
That has also produced a political climate in Sacramento where the few elected Republican legislators have zero influence.
They can’t stop tax increases that require two-thirds majorities in both the Assembly and state Senate.
And their situation figures to grow worse after this fall.
This means the only real disputes among lawmakers are over how far to go with liberal policies like easing prison terms and trying to densify housing everywhere in California. It’s almost as if there are three parties in the Legislature, so-called progressive Democrats and moderate Democrats, with Republicans a distant third.
It has also meant that California’s 40 million people are ignored by presidential candidates except in the spring primary, when this state’s votes are substantially diluted by the proportional representation rules imposed by national Democrats, which usually preclude clear primary winners.
Presidential candidates make promises in Iowa on subjects like ethanol and farm subsidies, trying to win that state’s paltry six electoral votes. They promise continued fracking and coal mining in Pennsylvania, hoping to grab 20 electoral votes.
But they need make no promises to get California’s 54 electoral votes because everyone knows those are going Democratic. Essentially, 100 million Americans are disenfranchised by the current system of voting by state, followed by the Electoral College. Smaller states don’t care about that. They correctly say they’d be ignored under a national popular vote system.
But California, Illinois, New York and Massachusetts are ignored because they are considered Democratic property by both parties, while Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, Missouri and most Southern states are similarly neglected as immovably Republican.
This system makes some Americans more American than others and it must be changed, or someday, somehow, someone or some state or group of states will rebel or secede.
Email Thomas Elias at [email protected].