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High Hopes
June 13, 2018

California's secretary of state's office said Tuesday that a ballot measure to split the Golden State into three — California, Northern California, and Southern California — had gotten more than enough valid signatures to make it onto the November ballot. The initiative was spearheaded by Silicon Valley venture capitalist and cryptocurrency enthusiast Tim Draper, whose previous efforts to split California into six states failed due to insufficient valid signatures. If successful, the plan would potentially create the first division of a state since West Virginia was hewn off of Virginia in 1863.

Northern California would stretch from just north of Monterey across to Nevada and up to Oregon, encompassing the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and Napa Valley wine country. New California would be a coastal stretch from Monterey down through Los Angeles, while Southern California would encompass the rest of Southern California, including Death Valley, San Diego, and Orange County.

California, the most populous U.S. state, is no stranger to attempts at geopolitical reinvention — in its 168 years as a state, more than 200 attempts have been made to split it apart, change its boundaries, or withdraw it from the U.S., the Los Angeles Times reports, with the most recent three-state split shot down in the state legislature in 1993.

But even if Draper's plan passes — a poll in April pegged it at 17 percent support, 72 percent opposition — it would face legal challenges, and California's legislature would almost certainly have to approve it, as would Congress. Both approvals are seen as unlikely. The plan would create four new U.S. senators and dilute California's Electoral College power. "Initial analyses suggest that Northern California and California would remain reliably Democratic, while Southern California would be a swing state," The Mercury News reports. Peter Weber

August 12, 2016

Republican insiders are much more pessimistic about Donald Trump's chances than plugged-in Democrats, at least according to the coterie of political activists, strategists, and operatives in 11 swing states that Politico calls The Politico Caucus. Almost half — 49 percent — of GOP insiders tell Politico that Trump's path to the White House is already a dead end, a sentiment shared by only 28 percent of the Democratic insiders. Politico also asked the insiders about Trump's trying to negotiate the terms of the three presidential debates; 47 percent of GOP insiders said Trump is right to threaten a boycott, while 53 percent said he should commit without preconditions right now.

As interesting as the numbers are, the quotes from the insiders, who responded anonymously, are the highlight of Politico's writeup. "While Trump's chances are incredibly slim, it's not over yet," one Colorado Democrat said. "Hillary's negatives are still high, and we have several more WikiLeaks data dumps coming up, and the potential for turbulence around the debates. It's possible the bar for Trump is so low that he can be declared the winner in the debates by simply not saying anything batshit crazy."

An Iowa Republican said that while candidates in the past have come back from greater poll deficits, "it won't happen in 2016.... Trump is underperforming so comprehensively across states and demographics it would take video evidence of a smiling Hillary drowning a litter of puppies while terrorists surrounded her with chants of 'Death to America!' But in 2016, stranger things have happened." You can read more colorful quotes, and the roster of the Politico Caucus participants, at Politico. Peter Weber

June 1, 2015

Joel McHale and Conan O'Brien have more in common than their freakishly tall stature, they discovered on Monday night's Conan. His show, Community, was "canceled by NBC," McHale noted, adding, "I don't know if you have any experience with that." After a round of boos from the audience, Conan deadpanned: "Nothing but smooth sailing with that gang." But both shows got second lives, Conan on TBS and Community on Yahoo.

After a great season on Yahoo, McHale said, he didn't know what the future held for Community. Yahoo said it is interested in more, though "I don't think we are, unless they pay me a lot of money." But fear not Community community. "I think we will do a movie, if Dan [Harmon, Community's creator,] will write the script," McHale added. You can watch the tease below. Peter Weber

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