Around The Capitol

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  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Paul Mitchell on the Redistricting Commission (2020-07-06)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Los Angeles County supe Hilda Solis (2020-07-09)
  • Gimme Shelter (LAT's Liam Dillon and CalMatters's Matt Levin): Why California’s housing market isn’t tanking (2020-07-06)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): Newsom, Trump, Roberts: Politics and Policy (2020-07-02)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Assembly member Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) on the budget and the governor's response to COVID-19 (2020-07-02)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): WHO would Gavin Newsom pick for California’s open Senate seat if Kamala Harris does become Vice President? - Half a dozen political players from across the state, including Garry South, former state senator Fran Pavley, Roger Salazar, Adama Iwu, Karen Skelton and Joel Fox (2020-07-01)

The Nooner for Thursday, July 16, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • COVID-19
  • School daze - the great divide
  • Census and reapportionment
  • cakeday and classifieds


Hello? Hello? Hello? Is there anybody in there? I feel like we have become uncomfortably numb.

I joked over three months ago to wake me up when September ends. Granted, I didn't specify which year.


COVID deaths by day

I focus on deaths and hospitalizations rather than cases because we know that many positive cases are among asymptomatic individuals or those with minimal flu-like symptoms. Of course, case numbers are still an important measure to determine community spread on a path to herd immunity. In theory, until we have a vaccine, more cases is good if the case:morbidity/mortality ratio was low. That's simply not what's happening and may not. 

When reporting the highest number of hospitalizations yet, Los Angeles County reported yesterday "Data shows younger people between the ages of 18 and 40 years old are being hospitalized at a higher rate than seen before."

  • The great divide: A team at the Times reports on the differing opinions about the tightening of restrictions on indoor activities and mandatory masking and how Californians are no longer just focusing their anger on political leaders and are now turning on each other. They report:
    Over the course of the four-month pandemic, Californians have focused their anger at the governor and other politicians, county health officials and the current resident of the White House. But now, in the early days of yet another shutdown, they are turning on each other like never before. 
  • School daze: 

    BREAKING: Governor Newsom plans to announce statewide guidance on school reopenings tomorrow at noon.

    All Sacramento County public K-12 school districts announced that they would start the school year online, as did San Francisco and several other districts. This reminds me about the higher education closing list that I published back in March, before the Governor Newsom's March 19 stay-at-home order. They started with a trickle (I think Stanford was first), and eventually the list was futile to keep up as it was clear most institutions in the Bay Area were closing on-campus activities. Now, keeping track of K-12 decisions of in-person vs. distance vs. hybrid is similarly futile.

    That said, there is a story here that the political science geek in me is thinking about. More on that in an item below.
  • Churches: In the Bee, Sam Stanton reports that three churches have sued Governor Newsom over his order prohibiting singing or chanting at indoor church gatherings (non-state watch list counties). Stanton writes:
    The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sacramento on behalf of Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel of Fort Bragg and River of Life Church in Oroville, seeks an injunction against the state health department’s July 1 order that places of worship “must therefore discontinue singing and chanting” as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

    The suit, filed by Southern California attorneys who have filed other lawsuits challenging Newsom’s previous restrictions on in-person church services, says the governor banned singing and chanting inside churches but not in any other locations, and notes that at the same time he “has been unwavering in his support of massive protests” against police brutality.
    Of course, we talked in this space about Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905) on August 6, 2019 as to the claimed First Amendment right for an exemption from childhood vaccinations and again earlier this year when similar claims about prohibited gatherings were claimed. 

    Jacobson was on point with mandatory vaccinations, finding that constitutional rights are not absolute and states and local governments could enact necessary regulations for public health and safety. From the SCOTUS syllabus of the case:
    The police power of a State embraces such reasonable regulations relating to matters completely within its territory, and not affecting the people of other States, established directly by legislative enactment, as will protect the public health and safety.
    The ruling regarding vaccinations was in normal times. There is further jurisprudence under a state of emergency. Motion to dismiss granted.
  • Unemployment: 1.3 million new initial claims for unemployment were reported this morning by the U.S. Department of Labor, a decrease of a revised 10,000 from the previous week. For California, last week's number was 287,732, an increase of 22,941 from the previous numbers. The current number of Californians who received unemployment last week was 2,974,562, an increase of 216,088 from the previous week. Of course, these numbers are from before the new state restrictions statewide and even tighter in state watch list counties.

    It is sounding increasing likely that there will be a deal on extending a supplemental payment to unemployment benefits before the $600/week existing COVID-19 supplement expires July 31.

Some rural counties are beginning to see trends of the first wave like their urban counterparts. And while estimates vary on the precise number of infections, the general trend clearly is upward.

  • Wilted roses: The 2021 Rose Parade in Pasadena is canceled. I'm guessing the Rose Bowl may be soon as well. And the VirusBowl in the new Raiders stadium in Sin City...?

SCHOOL DAZE - THE GREAT DIVIDE: We've all been reading about sometimes bitter arguments before local school boards about whether or not to return to in-person classroom instruction this fall (as in during the next month). We had President Trump slam Los Angeles Unified for continuing with distance learning this fall and the Orange County Board of Education (OCBOE) calling for a return to in-person instruction without mandatory masks or social distancing -- all within 24 hours.

Following the OCBOE action, the independent districts within the county took different stances. Santa Ana Unified stayed with distance, Tustin Unified went hybrid, and I can't even figure out what Newport-Mesa has decided.

Obviously, there has been a big sort and indeed it falls on political lines as have most things about closing/reopening during the entirety of this pandemic -- or does partisanship really explain it?

We got new polling data yesterday from the Quinnipiac University, one of the most respected polls in the nation. Before I talk about the data, this Q does appear to skew up to +5 for Democrat-leaning voters based on others released this week, but that wouldn't change any conclusions below.

Regardless of the current restrictions in your state, do you think it will be safe or unsafe to send students to - elementary, middle, and high schools in the fall?





Kids public school

No kids public school






















Quinnipiac University, n=1,273 self-identified registered voters; July 9-13; random-digit landline/cell live interviews; MOE ±2.8%

Looking at other factors, those with a 4-year college degree are 11% more likely for it to be unsafe (62%) and 18-34 year olds are most likely to believe it is unsafe (79%).

While 36% of whites believe it to be safe, only 10% of Black and 29% of Hispanics answered that they believed it would be safe. Of course, Black and Hispanic/Latino residents are disproportionately affected in cases, morbidity, and mortality of COVID-19 but they are less likely to believe it is safe for kids to return as data also show that there are disparities in student learning affecting those communities.

On the gender split, 39% of men believe it's safe for kids to return to school, while only 25% of women do.

Only 21% of those living in cities believed it to be safe to return, while 35% of those in suburbs and 44% in rural communities believed it to be safe.

While there is not a California breakdown, in the West, 32% thought it was safe and 62% was unsafe — statistically the same as the national results.

Quinnipiac shared the trend data as well. In the poll released May 20, 40% of respondents answered that they believed it would be safe for students to go back to K-12 schools in the fall, with 52% has answered it would be unsafe. Thus, there’s been a marked increase in those doubtful of the safety as the school year approaches, as the hopefulness of a drop in the virus has faded.

There are several results here to parse out. It doesn't matter if someone has kids in K-12 school. Sure parents are concerned with the level of learning and social growth of their kids through distance learning and their ability to assist students in that learning or telework while kids are at home. They are more concerned about the health of their kids, the teachers and staff, and what their kids might bring home.

Of all the crosstabs other than party breakdown -- age, race, gender, education, kids at home, geography, city/suburb/rural, all respondents that believe it is safe for kids to return to school are below 50%. Even the Republican party number of 60% that believe it is safe is not one that I would want to be campaigning on, except perhaps in some very rural, conservative districts. Independent voters mirror the national result. If you are in a swing district (which includes the presidency), independent voters will be decisive. I would be following them.

This indeed comes down to the partisan make-up. The Republican Party has increasingly become whiter, more male, older, and more rural -- particularly under President Trump. His widely covered criticism of Los Angeles Unified and call for all schools to reopen and Secretary Devos' similar message on the Sunday shows last weekend plays well to the base. He's going to win 80-90% of GOP voters (although as Quinnipiac notes, "There is also some movement among Republicans as they back Trump 84 – 9 percent, compared to 92 – 7 percent in June.").

While I focused today on returning to schools, that is just because that's the biggest story of the week in California. That said, Quinnipiac finds similar results on mandatory masks in public (71% say yes), patronizing bars (78% say no), dining indoors at restaurants (62% say no), going to mass gatherings (84% say no), and whether colleges are safe to return to (54% say no). In each of these cases, a similar partisan divide can be found. On those question that were asked in both May and July, respondents were more concerned about returning to normal now.

This is not a national political newsletter and intentionally so. My focus is California. However, in the same way that President Trump shouldn't be focusing on the base right now by campaigning on schools and criticizing state and local governments that enact restrictions, incumbents and challengers in swing or marginal districts need to heed the same caution. In California, No Party Preference voters will decide those races and they do not crave red meat and are deeply concerned about COVID-19 and the economy.

CENSUS AND REAPPORTIONMENT: For CalMatters, Dan Walters writes that three crises in The Golden State has spawned a fourth -- Census 2020. He cites the COVID-19 pandemic, the associated recession, and the civil unrest over how people of color are treated.

Even before the triumvirate of crises erupted, California officials were worried about the census. They knew that California’s very slow population growth put it on the bubble for losing one of its 53 congressional districts. They were also concerned that conducting the census mostly via the Internet could lead to an undercount because of the state’s large immigrant community, its high level of poverty and its many languages.


For the second time, a 14-member independent commission formed by the state auditor’s office from a pool of applicants will draw new maps. When the first eight members were drawn by lot from the pool, there wasn’t a single Latino, and that ignited a storm of criticism since it occurred amidst political and civic angst over how people of color fare in California.

California is likely to lose a seat, and it's setting up a fight between races before the Redistricting Commission next year that was present in 2011, was largely behind the scenes. Next year could be far more public.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Andrew Anzalone, Shane Goldmacher, and Stephen Simon!


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Offices available for sublease: Meridian Plaza

Between 1-3 offices are available for sublease in the Meridian Plaza office building, 1415 L Street, two blocks from the Capitol. The offices are approximately 150 SF each. Internet, gym, partially furnished (desk, chair, bookcases) are included. 24/7/365 key card access; floor-ceiling windows facing Sierras; professional offices. One year lease preferred. $1,500 per office. Contact Jane at or (415) 577-9734 with questions.

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