Yup. I think the CA bar is basically the same thing substantively as in a lot of other states, possibly even easier (e.g. 25% of the possible points are in the performance exams, which literally requires nothing but the ability to write like a competent lawyer). I think the reason so many people fail is that they require you to get 72% of more of the possible points (I believe it's 1440 out of 2000 required to pass), which is ridiculous because most other states it's somewhere around 62%. If the bar examiners weren't dickheads and lowered the minimum passing grade to something more reasonable for a minimum competency exam, a lot larger of a percentage of the exam takers would pass.
Two things here.
1) The PTs do not "literally" require only "the ability to write like a competent lawyer." How can you even say that? There are several different types of prompts, and those sitting for the bar should be familiar with the type of work product that is required. Additionally, you have to be able to read through a lot of material and select the right material to use for your answer. If your statement were correct, you could merely make up whatever you want and still pass. At the very least, you need to put in headings showing that you have identified the relevant factors being used in the analysis. Additionally, my guess is there is at least some evaluation of whether you have used at least some of the relevant sources. I'm not arguing this is difficult, but I am saying that it is not simply a test of one's ability to write.
2) The statement about needing to get 72% of the possible points is misleading. In California, your raw scores are run through a formula that generates your overall scaled score. Just because that score amounts to 72% of the "possible points" does not make the test more difficult than states which require a test-taker to get 62% of the "possible points." The bar committee of California could easily change the formula so that you needed only 62% of the "possible points" and still have the exact same number of passers.
The more generally accepted reason for why more people fail in California is that more people take the test from unaccredited schools. This does not account for all of the difficulty, though, as passage rates from top schools are lower in CA than in most other jurisdictions. Presumably the test is objectively harder than in other states, though not for the precise 72%-62% comparison you make.