...When [Pete]Wilson announced his presidential campaign[in 1990], California was a Republican-leaning state. Between the end of World War II and the end of the Cold War, it had gone to the Republican presidential candidate nine out of 11 times and elected a Republican governor seven out of 11 times. Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion, the state assembly, and a majority of statewide elected offices.
And while the state’s growing Latino population posed a challenge to GOP dominance, Latinos had shown themselves willing to vote Republican in substantial numbers. According to exit polls, Ronald Reagan won 44 percent of California Latinos in 1984. Republican Governor George Deukmejian won 46 percent in 1986. Pete Wilson himself won 47 percent in 1990. During the Reagan and George H. W. Bush years, according to a study by the political scientists Shaun Bowler, Stephen P. Nicholson, and Gary M. Segura, “Latinos in California had been drifting toward the GOP.”
But all of that changed after the GOP began targeting Latino immigrants. Feeling themselves under assault, California Latinos registered to vote in epic numbers. From 1994 to 2004, according to Latino America, by Segura and Matt A. Barreto, the voter-registration rate among California Latinos grew 69 percent—more than twice as fast as the state’s Latino population.
Latino voters also swung sharply against the GOP. Republicans, who had lost the Latino vote by six points in the 1990 gubernatorial race, lost it by 46 points in 1994, then by 61 points in 1998. Before the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994, California Latinos were four points more likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans. After Proposition 227 passed in 1998, the margin reached 51 points. The GOP’s anti-immigrant efforts appear to have alienated young white voters, too...
Almost two decades later, the California Republican Party still has not recovered. Latinos—who now constitute almost 40 percent of California’s population and more than a quarter of its eligible voters—have voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1996 by at least 40 points. Democrats today control every statewide elected office, and make up close to two-thirds of the state Senate and assembly, along with almost three-quarters of California’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.
What’s more, state policy has turned in a radically pro-immigrant direction. Over the past 15 years, California has repealed those elements of Proposition 187 that hadn’t already been ruled unconstitutional, allowed undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, and granted them in-state tuition at public colleges. It has also begun enrolling undocumented children in the state’s version of Medicaid...
Beinart points out that the rest of the country is beginning to look like California.
Labels: California, Hillary, Trump