Campaign Cash Pours into California Ballot Measure Campaigns

Bergen Smith and Laura Curlin | October 22, 2020

As Californians prepare to vote on 12 statewide ballot measures to decide a wide range of issues including major changes to commercial property taxes, employment classifications for app-based transit and delivery drivers, affirmative action in college admissions, rent control expansions, and voting rights for people on parole as well as some 17 year-olds, campaigns supporting and opposing the measures have already raised about $700 million.

Already, the amount raised by November 2020 California ballot measure campaigns is the most on record for any election since online data is available, far surpassing the $448 million raised for the 2016 general election.

The Battle Over Prop 22

The most expensive measure of the cycle (and the most expensive measure in California since online data is available) is Prop 22, which asks voters whether or not to define app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.  Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Instacart and Postmates have poured roughly $190 into a campaign supporting the measure, outraising the opposition campaign by more than 11 times.

Fast Facts About 2020 Ballot Measure Funding 

  • The top 14 donors, contributing more than $10 million each, have provided two-thirds of all the money raised by all the ballot measure campaigns.
  • Mark Zuckerberg is the largest individual donor to California ballot measures in 2020. The Facebook Co-Founder and CEO has given more than $11 million in support of Proposition 15, which would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price.
  • Including Zuckerberg, eleven individuals and couples contributed more than $1 million each towards California ballot measures. Altogether these donors contributed more than $48 million -- 7% of all money raised by the ballot measure campaigns.
  • Nearly one quarter (23%) of all itemized contributions to California ballot measures came from outside of California, with more than $74 million coming from Washington, D.C.

For more information on campaign fundraising for California ballot measures and candidates, visit Voter's Edge California. 


MapLight analysis of contributions to committees supporting or opposing measures on the ballot in November in California using data available from the California Secretary of State as of Oct. 21, 2020.