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The Sweep That Won't Include California?

Change is coming. People are angry. The Republicans are energized. They will rise up Tuesday and gain power. Or so we're told.

But not in California.

Or so we're told.

California Flag
Photo by: scazon
California Flag

As the nation's largest economy struggles with high unemployment and a bankrupt government, outsiders might think this would be the year California really shakes things up.

It doesn't look that way.

If public opinion polls are to be believed--and they're sometimes wrong—Californians are set to make very few changes. One big change: they look ready to replace the Republican governor with a Democrat.

The Field Poll has Jerry Brown leading Meg Whitman 49 percent to 39 percent. But Brown's had the job before. His victory won't be groundbreaking. It's a vote for experience, for the known quantity.

Barbara Boxer appears poised to keep her Senate seat for a fourth term. Maybe. The San Jose Mercury News says RealClearPolitics has Boxer leading Fiorina, on average, by more than six points. Another vote for the familiar rather than the new.

Then there's the revolutionary initiative to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational purposes. Prop 19 was winning. Now it's losing, according to the Field Poll: 42 percent of likely voters support it, versus 49 percent against. The same poll shows Prop 23, the initiative which would suspend greenhouse gas cuts until unemployment drops significantly, is losing by an even wider margin, 15 points. Change won't be coming here.

Your Money Your Vote - A CNBC Special Report
Your Money Your Vote - A CNBC Special Report

One change voters appear ready to embrace is Prop 25, which would lower the threshold needed to pass a budget from a two-thirds vote to a simple majority. Californians have grown tired of the annual standoff between the Democratic majority in the state legislature and the Republican minority which, though smaller, can still muster enough votes to stall the budget. The Field Poll says 48 percent of likely voters support lowering the threshold, with 31 percent opposed. The rest, 21 percent, are undecided. Unless nearly all of those undecideds vote "no", passing a budget is about to get easier.

There's a good chance California will have a Democrat for Governor, send a veteran Democrat back to the Senate, and re-elect a Democrat-controlled legislature which will only need a majority vote to pass a budget.

Come to think of it, that will certainly bring change, just not the sort of change going on in the rest of the country.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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