Swearengin’s campaign decided not to spend the $7,000 for a ballot statement. Her campaign manager told the Fresno Bee “We don’t believe that it gets read or has any impact. In the grand scheme of what matters and what doesn’t, we decided to let that one go.” This conclusion is simply not true. Experienced ballot measure campaigns can see a shift in public opinion when the ballot pamphlet begins arriving. The small percentage of Californians that actually votes want to be well informed, and they read the pamphlet fairly closely.
The proof of course is in the pudding. In 2010, Gavin Newsom paid for a ballot statement for Lieutenant Governor; he won. Bill Lockyer paid for a statement for Treasurer; he won. John Chiang paid for a statement for Controller; he won. Debra Bowen paid for a statement for Secretary of State; she won. Dave Jones paid for a statement for Insurance Commissioner; he won. Tom Torlakson paid for a statement Superintendent of Public Instruction; he won. These victorious candidates certainly would not agree that the ballot statement has “no impact.” The only winning candidate who did not buy a ballot statement was Kamala Harris, and she ran way behind the rest of the Democratic ticket and nearly lost to Republican Steve Cooley who did buy a statement.
And the 2014 primary made that point even more forcefully. [Betty] Yee paid for a statement; Perez did not, and she beat him by 481 votes although he outspent her three to one. David Evans, another Republican candidate for Controller, raised no money at all and only had a one line ballot pamphlet statement. He got 850,000 votes and nearly made the runoff.