Local Organizing Turns California’s Demographic Shift into a Political Shift

Weeks of knocking on doors and calling up new and occasional voters paid off when election results showed 80% of the supporters identified by California Calls voted, nine percentage points higher than the state’s overall turnout of 71%. These new and occasional voters created the winning margin for the Prop 30, according to our data.

California Calls November supporters made up 3.36% of the yes on Prop 30 vote. Voters California Calls has been engaged with from the past three years made up 6.18% of the yes vote.

Governor Jerry Brown’s recent budget proposal, which sets aside significantly more funding for education this year, is a direct result of Californian’s calling for a more visionary budget that begins to fund our state’s future. By voting “yes” on Prop 30, California voters signaled their willingness to put a stop to the cuts and to require the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes.

The results are not accidental. In fact, they demonstrate that grassroots organizing works! Our strategic efforts to change the California electorate helped pass Prop 30.The expanding electorate – growing numbers of young voters, people of color, and low-income voters – was critical to Prop 30’s passage.

The GOTV campaign by our California Calls Action Fund was concentrated in the last six weeks leading up to Election Day. We identified 293,583 voters who committed to vote “yes” on Prop 30. Out of those supporters, election data show that 80% of them turned out to vote, making up 3.36% of the total vote for Prop 30. In addition, California Calls has been educating infrequent voters for three years about tax and fiscal reform — and even though we couldn’t reach everyone in the last six weeks — the data show that 433,000 of these infrequent voter supporters actually voted — making up 6.18% of the “yes” on Prop 30 vote. The initiative passed by a 5.37% margin — meaning our supporters made the difference!

The percentage of California Calls cumulative supporters (from the past three years) who made up the total Prop 30 yes vote by county.

Just as remarkably, key groups of historically under-represented constituencies voted at even higher margins: State turnout for African Americans was 67% but from California Calls’ supporter base, 85% of African Americans voted. Sixty-three percent of Latinos voted statewide but from California Calls’ supporter base that number rises to 77%. Among young voters age 25 to 34, 72% of California Calls’ supporters voted, compared to 57% state turnout. Overall, California Calls’ organizing efforts increased voter turnout by 8-15 percent above the statewide average.

People of color made up 45% of the electorate in 2012, compared to 37% of the electorate in 2008. California Calls’ organizing effort this fall yielded an 11 to 18 point increase in people of color turnout.

Last year, California Calls Action Fund took the lead in working with Reclaim California’s Future, a coalition made up of nine statewide networks and unions, to build a get-out-the-vote program of unprecedented scale. The overall “Yes on 30”campaign, which included all of the aforementioned groups, contacted one million voters and identified more than 800,000 yes on Prop 30 voters.