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Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties are notoriously swing counties with slight Democratic Party registration advantages, but which regularly elect conservative Republicans to Congress and to state legislative offices. Santa Barbara has 20,000 more Democrats than Republicans, and Ventura, which is twice the population size, has 12,000 more Democrats. Yet prior to the 2012 General Election six of the nine state and federal legislative representatives are Republican and have signed a pledge to never raise taxes no matter what the circumstances.
Some of this imbalance is due to gerrymandered districts, a distortion, which will likely be corrected by new maps drawn by a bi-partisan state redistricting commission. It’s also clear that Democrats vote less regularly, opening a pathway for conservative politicians to be elected to federal, state and local offices. Finally, according to the Secretary of State, there are more than 82,000 Santa Barbara residents who are eligible to vote but not registered, and more than 108,000 Ventura residents who could be registered, but aren’t. Newly registered voters choose the Democratic Party by a margin of 2-1 in either county. It’s clear that there is an immediate potential for a strong progressive majority in the region. The consequences of not realizing that potential are severe.
The anti-tax pledge, and the unintended consequences and fundamental unfairness of Proposition 13 (passed in 1978), are what has led California to year after year of budget deficits and the slow, but decisive destruction of our school system and social infrastructure. If Santa Barbara and Ventura voters were able to elect at least 2 representatives in both state houses with a more rational approach to taxation and revenue, the coalition that supports fully funding schools and social needs would have a super-majority in the Legislature that could overcome the veto power that the forces of anti-tax zealotry currently have.
CAUSE is working with coalition partners to create a progressive majority in our region. We intend to bring 25,000 new and “occasional” voters to the polls in 2012 between the two counties. Organizations can help with this effort by encouraging their members, clients and supporters to vote, and volunteer with CAUSE to help increase turnout. FIND OUT HOW. If you want to volunteer in your community to help build a progressive majority in our region, SIGN UP HERE!