This would be an earthquake. Huffington Post has the story:
A Republican-backed ballot proposal could split left-leaning California between the Democratic and GOP nominees, tilting the 2008 presidential election in favor of the Republicans.
California awards its cache of 55 electoral votes to the statewide winner in presidential elections _ the largest single prize in the nation. But a prominent Republican lawyer wants to put a proposal on the ballot that would award the statewide winner only two electoral votes.
Simply put, this would transfer 20 electors to the GOP candidate. (19 GOP congressmen, but Bush won 22 districts in 2004) What a clever idea. This is a brilliant rebuttal to the strategy that the Dems are using in North Carolina. MyDD gives a rundown of the political consequences:
The difference here is that the California proposal is not going through the legislature as the North Carolina measure did, rather it has been filed for one of CA’s 2008 ballots (if it gets enough signatures) for approval by voters. Democrats control both houses of the legislature in California, so, as with so many issues, Republicans have no choice but to bypass the legislative process and go directly to the voters via a ballot measure system that is deeply flawed. The good news is that in recent years the public’s default position on ballot measures has been "No;" the bad news is that if the measure does make the ballot, Democrats would be forced to spend millions of dollars to defeat it.
MyDD asserts that this is a Republican operation to "rig" the election, quoting from HuffPo:
Democratic consultant Chris Lehane called the plan "an effort to rig the system in order to fix the election."
"If this change is made, it will virtually guarantee that a Republican wins the White House in 2008," Lehane said in an e-mail.
Rules are rules. There is a reason that the state legislature is the most loathed institution in California.
Note that, depending on when it qualifies, this would be on either a Feburary or a June ballot, both closed primaries. If this qualifies, it might create a counter-incentive for the GOP to open up the primary, something that is opposed by the activist conservative base of the party, but strongly supported by its moderate donor base..