Perhaps the most troubling thing about the Cal 3 States initiative qualifying for the November election is that it will take the spotlight away from important policy measures that will appear along side it on the ballot. Potentially, there could be a slew of measures that would have substantial impact on California policy and governance: repealing the gas tax; setting privacy rights standards; allowing more rent control; extending property tax protections; authorizing a large water bond; altering the kidney dialysis clinic business; strengthening vote requirements for taxes and more.

All these measures heading for the November ballot are complicated and the voters need to learn the pros and cons. But media attention (both mainstream and social) will be overly focused on the 3 States plan, which is more easily understood, at least superficially. You can see the attention 3 States generates in the many stories all ready appearing on the measure. You can bet late night television comedians won’t be commenting on property taxes and water bonds, but breaking California into three states will be fodder for a national audience.

Let’s not dismiss the idea that the initiative can be used as a form of protest on the direction of the state. A voter reading that Congress probably would not go along might feel safe in logging a protest vote on the direction the state is heading by marking yes on the carve-up California idea. Or a voter who opposes California’s resistance stand to the federal administration might be tempted to vote yes. Or Central or Southern California voters who believe state politics is dominated by Northern California politicians and sensibilities might think a break-up is a good idea. Same for Northern Californians who want to keep water in the north.

While most pundits and commentators think breaking up California into three states is a bad idea and even “goofy,” the plan is intriguing enough to the general pubic to keep the conversation going over the next four-plus months.

However, the measure’s chance of passing seems more than remote.  A May 2018 USC Dornsife/LA Times poll found more than half the respondents saying the state was going in the right direction. That is not a good place to start for initiative proponents.

Even the sports book website BetDSI has set odds that California will avoid a break up. The site expects the percentage vote total supporting the Cal 3 States measure not to exceed 30%.

But expect voters to spend more time talking and thinking about this one break-up measure than many of the other initiatives that could change California policy and the affect the lives of the state’s residents for years to come.