Individuals and organizations are spending millions in the 2012 statewide election to get various California statewide propositions passed or defeated. Anyone who’s watched even a smidgen of TV in the last two months can attest to the saturation of proposition-related commercials out there. Often times, the names, affiliations, and locations (they’re often out-of-state) of the funders are intentionally vague – organizations like Americans for Responsible Leadership (who, by the way, has donated $11 million to Prop 32), making it nearly impossible to tell what a funder’s political affiliation or specific agenda might be. So, a little sleuthing can go a long way to find out who’s behind which measure. Bottom line: you always have to follow the money! And the Voter’s Edge project at MapLight – a nonpartisan, nonprofit research firm – makes it pretty easy to track the cash flow. Check out their app:
Gerrymandering: it ain’t nothing new in California politics.
For much of the state’s history, the legislature has firmly controlled the once-a-decade redistricting process. New district lines are typically redrawn in a way that directly favors whichever party is in control.
Demographic techniques like splitting apart cities, carving up ethnic enclaves, and leaping across vast geographic swaths to bundle like-minded voters are common gerrymandering tools long used by pols to solidify power. Continue reading
The year was 1996, and a political novice named Barack Obama was running for Illinois State Senate – his first bid for public office. Responding to a questionnaire from Outlines, a gay newspaper in Chicago, Obama wrote: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”
It took him till now to return to that position.
Just two years later, Obama was deeply steeped in the world of politics. In his re-election bid for state senate, the same newspaper asked the same question. Obama’s position had already shifted, though. In response, he said he was now “undecided.”
Since then, Obama has held fast in his support for civil unions and equal rights for gays and lesbians, but until this week, he never firmly tied the knot in support of same-sex marriage. Scroll through the timeline, and view the clips, to see Obama long “evolving” feelings on this issue.
Interactive timeline produced by KQED online producer Lisa Pickoff-White
Scroll through the visualization below to get a sense of just how much the prison and parole populations has changed in the last 35 years.
Produced by Luke Whyte; Voices of Justice