Draper launches second effort to split California, this time into three states

by Steve Blum • , , ,

What do you do when the public isn’t buying your product? You slap a 50% discount on it, of course. That’s what Tim Draper has done with his Six Californias campaign. In his latest filing with the California attorney general, Draper describes California as “nearly ungovernable” and outlines his new vision for breaking the state up into three parts (h/t to Fred Pilot at the Eldo Telecom blog for the pointer).

His plan splits off a strip of coastal counties, running from Los Angeles County north through Monterey and San Benito counties, and naming it – wait for it – California. The remainder will be divided into two new states – Northern and Southern California – along a line that runs along the northern borders of Mono, Madera and Fresno counties.

So far, all he’s done is file the paperwork to begin collecting the 600,000 valid signatures he needs to get it on next year’s general election ballot. It describes what he proposes to do, but not why he wants to do it this particular way. Just from eyeballing it, the three states would have roughly comparable population counts, but I’m hoping there’s more to it.

When Draper formulated his Six Californias plan, he based the boundaries of the new states on a tall stack of demographic research. That alone made the effort worthwhile. He identified distinct economic and social characteristics, and generated a pattern of sharp regional divisions that keeps repeating itself in all kinds of unrelated data sets, including broadband availability. If his second round of number crunching produces similar insights, the effort won’t be wasted.

His chances of getting it on the ballot are pretty good. He came close last time and the reason for failure – poor quality control by paid signature gatherers – is fixable. But even if voters approve, the odds of it going any further are very poor. A new federal law would have to be passed by the U.S. congress and signed by the president, whoever that might be at the time. Increasing California’s representation from two U.S. senators to six, with at least four guaranteed to be democrats, won’t appeal to republicans, and the disruption of political power bases and the spectre of rule by popular vote won’t appeal to professional politicians of either major party.