A Tale of Two Campaigns: Losing Prop 16 Campaign Outspent Opponents by 16-to-1

For Immediate Release
November 16, 2020

SAN DIEGO, CA – November 16, 2020 –The campaign to bring racial preferences back to California outspent its opposition by 16-to 1, and still lost by more than 2.3 million votes, a landslide 57%-to-43%. The nationally watched Proposition 16 campaign shows the limitations of Big Money, according to Frank Xu, Statewide Finance Chair of Californians for Equal Rights/ NO on 16, who released a memorandum comparing the two campaigns.

“What matters is that we — eight thousand small donors of modest means — defeated Proposition 16, a dangerous and toxic measure, a giant step backward to allow the government to use race to discriminate or grant preferences,” Frank Xu, “The political establishment lined up, confident of victory for Prop 16, but voters saw through the biased ballot language of Attorney General Xavier Becerra.”

Proposition 16 was a constitutional amendment to strike from the State Constitution the following words: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group, on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity’s or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

The State Legislature’s supermajority put Prop 16 on the ballot at the last minute. Proposition 16’s confident proponents relied on extensive survey research and focus groups to guide what Xu called their “’gold-plated campaign’ that, we worried, would overwhelm our grassroots effort.”

“Becerra tried to mask the reality of Prop 16 by describing it as a measure about diversity,” Xu continued. “Yet, so many of my fellow Americans of Chinese descent had faith in our campaign that united people of all races, Democrats, Republicans, independents, liberals and conservatives. I was privileged to volunteer my time as finance chair and remain grateful for the opportunity to have worked with so many average people who contributed small amounts.”

Xu noted the Yes on 16 campaign spent $3.90 per vote, while the victorious No on 16 campaign spent only 18 cents per vote.

Please see Xu’s memo here: https://californiansforequalrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Frank-Xu-Memo-1116.pdf.

Wenyuan Wu
[email protected]
(760) 705-8262