Final Initiative Editorial Scorecard

Joe Rodota and Matt Klink
Joe Rodota is CEO of Forward Observer and Matt Klink is a Partner at California Strategies

During the past eight weeks, Forward Observer and Klink Campaigns tracked editorial endorsements (pro and con) from the top 20 California newspapers by circulation. These newspapers issued a total of 193 editorials for or against the 11 initiatives on the November 2018 ballot.

Overall, the recommendations of California’s leading newspapers generally aligned with the wishes of California voters. Voters agreed with the recommendations of a majority of leading newspapers on 8 of the 11 measures on the November 2018 ballot.

Editorial support continues to be a leading indicator of success at the ballot box. Each of the four measures on the 2018 ballot endorsed by a majority of leading newspapers was approved by the voters.

Of the seven initiatives opposed by a majority of leading newspapers, only two (Propositions 7 and 12), were approved by California voters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Consensus of the papers that gave a recommendation for that measure. Some papers did not take a position on every measure.

Which Newspaper Editorial Boards Most Closely Matched the California Voter?

Of the eight papers that published endorsements for all 11 ballot measures, the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News and the East Bay Times were the most in-line with California voters. Ten of their 11 endorsements (91 percent) matched the final statewide vote.

The eight newspapers in the Southern California News Group had the fewest endorsements match the ballot outcome, and were in alignment with the California voter on only 4 of 10 initiatives (Note: The Southern California News Group took no position on Proposition 7).

The Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee were the only newspapers among the top 20 to endorse Proposition 10, the initiative to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act which sets guidance for local rent control ordinances. Proposition 10 was decisively defeated statewide (61.7% to 38.3%). Interestingly, the Times and the Bee endorsements did not align with the will of the voters in either Los Angeles County (which voted against Prop 10 by 52.8% to 47.2%) or Sacramento County (62.7% to 37.3%).

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