Tuesday, April 30, 2013

California Dreaming

(Editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich and published 4/26/13 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Click on image to enlarge and then return for an explanation.)

Yes, yes, I know.  I used this same cartoon for yesterday's post.  But I do so for a reason.  It's to bring one possible specific application from yesterday's post to today's California.

I spotted an interesting op-ed piece over the weekend from Garry South, a longtime Democratic strategist and commentator who ran Gov. Gray Davis' campaigns in 1998 and 2002.  Clearly Mr. South has a political bias, but he does raise some interesting issues.

First, a history lesson. In three of the last four non-presidential elections, Republicans actually nominated Latinos for statewide office: Ruben Barrales for controller in 1998, Gary Mendoza for insurance commissioner in 2002 and Maldonado for lieutenant governor in 2010. All three were attractive, articulate candidates with compelling personal stories.

But all three went down in flames, receiving an average of only 37.9% of the vote. And there is no indication in postelection analyses that they received any meaningfully higher share of the Latino vote than a white male GOP candidate would have gotten. ...

Now for some data. Part of the GOP problem with Latinos is generational. Latinos are, on average, the youngest-skewing voters of all, and Republicans are in deep trouble with young voters of all ethnicities. Data indicate that more than 70% of all Latino voters in the Golden State have registered since 1994, when the divisive, anti-immigrant Proposition 187 campaign was spearheaded by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. Proposition 187 was a watershed event in California political history, as it turned an entire generation of Latinos into reliable Democratic voters.

How reliable? Some voter blocs in California tend to be swing voters; not Latinos. A huge majority of California Latinos vote generically Democratic, whether the Democratic candidate is strong or weak, pretty or ugly, wins or loses. ...

In further bad news for the California GOP, Latinos also are the fastest-growing segment of the electorate. Whites have been declining in terms of the composition of the turnout for years. In 1994, with Wilson seeking a second term and Proposition 187 on the ballot, whites constituted 82% of the state's voters, Latinos only 8%. In the 2012 general election, whites were just 55%, while Latinos were 22%, a historic high. And since 1994, GOP nominees for president and governor in the state have received only, on average, 25.5% of the Latino vote. As Bill Clinton would say, do the math.

Latino voters, by any analysis — historical or statistical — are just not available for Republican candidates in California at this time, whether Latino-surnamed or not.    [Emphasis added] 

Like I said, South has a bias, but I have no reason to doubt his statistics and for one particular reason.  The state was smart enough to pass a proposition which took redistricting out of the hands of the state legislature (prone to gerrymandering) and into the hands of a non-partisan citizen's commission.  Districts were fairly and sensibly drawn.  The result was to make California reliably blue in most districts.

Also, his comments on the effect of Prop 187 is and will continue to be a thorn in the side of Republicans.  The party didn't want Latinos then and presumably still doesn't, unless they promise to vote for Republicans.  Young people just aren't willing to take the risk of depending on the Goofy Old Paranoids, not matter what their ethnicity.  Young people, who have grandparents here without papers surely won't.

And that's one of the reasons I'm glad I live in California.

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