The following comes from a November 7 CalWatchdog article by Matt Fleming:
Democrats on Election Day have a very real chance at winning a two-thirds “supermajority” in the California Legislature. While that would be a major disaster for Republicans politically — if it were to happen — it would likely have little effect on the legislative process if recent history is any guide.
In fact, most of the larger defeats over the last year or so have been due to intraparty fighting. It was mostly moderate Democrats who last year weakened landmark environmental legislation, SB350. This year, they struck again when they initially killed a measure expanding overtime protections for farmworkers.
In those instances, the moderates formed a majority with Republicans, which means both share the blame (or praise). But while Republicans often get blamed, the truth is that there aren’t enough Republicans to block most votes. It was Democrats solely who twice sank a Democratic bill expanding parental leave — once by a Democratic majority on a policy committee (possibly due to a grudge) and then a revived version was vetoed by the Democratic governor, Jerry Brown.
Democrats need to flip two seats in the Assembly and one in the Senate to get a supermajority — and it’s possible. With a supermajority, Democrats would have the power to increase taxes, override gubernatorial vetoes (which rarely happens) and change legislative rules without Republican votes.
If Republicans do get relegated to superminority status, their reduced role could have greater implications for the fate of Democracy.
“It’s not good for the health of a two-party system, since it marginalizes Republican members of the respective chambers,” said Mark Petracca, chair of the Department of Political Science at UC Irvine. “This marginalization means less buy-in to the policy making process and can result in even greater political polarization.”
No matter how many Republicans are left in the Legislature after Tuesday (after all, they may hold or pick up seats as well), there’s an opportunity to regain some influence over policy making. They can work with the moderate Democrats on issues like education reform and economic development and improvement, as the strength of the moderates is proportionate to the size of the Republican caucus. They need each other, at least on certain issues, according to Madrid.
“But they’re going to have to get out of their ideological box and come up with new and better ideas that address a changing California,” Madrid said of Republicans.