Once you’ve lived through a few presidential elections, you know how it goes. The Republican candidate seems to be holding his own. Then California crashes in, a deep blue tsunami of electoral votes that changes the tides in favor of the Democrats.
But how would things look if California, the U.S.’s most populous state, was split into six separate entities, each with its own electoral votes? This is actually a proposed ballot measure known as Six Californias, being pushed by California venture capitalist Tim Draper. And now data viz guru Tim Nelson has done the hypothetical math, creating a "what if" six-state California voting map, based upon 2012 election voting histories.
Nelson, who assures us he created the visual to "satisfy a curiosity, not to instruct," admits that he could only guesstimate how California’s 55 electoral votes would be split amongst the sub-states based upon population, but the picture he paints is still fascinating. Rather than offering Democratic presidential candidates 55 sure votes, California’s six states would generate something more like 37 blue votes and 28 red votes. Two states would be blue, two states would be red, and two states would be considered battleground states—changing the political strategies in wooing California votes dramatically.
"I wonder if there are people who don’t bother voting now, either feeling disenfranchised by an assured loss or apathetic by an assured win?" Nelson theorizes. "The new states that find themselves as battleground players might have a sense of viability and an increased imperative to participate. On the other hand, some of the new states are exceptionally partisan—which could reduce participation for the same reasons."
Whatever the case, and whatever your politics, six states of electoral votes certainly appear to more closely mirror the existing California popular vote. But would a six-state California be enough to change the course of recent history?
"Obama would still have won the 2012 election," Nelson assures liberals everywhere, "even with the hypothetical re-allocated electoral votes of the Six Californias."