By Peter Brimelow and Edwin S. Rubenstein
The conventional wisdom is that California is now out of reach for the GOP—or, more accurately, what VDARE.com calls GAP, a Generic American Party—because of the post-1965 influx of Hispanics.
But the conventional wisdom is wrong. While Hispanic voters are increasing in number, their presence is not nearly as great as widely assumed. The Hispanic share of the California electorate is still fairly modest: 22% in 2010. The white electorate is nearly three times larger (61%). For comparison, whites account for merely 63% of the Texas electorate and 65% in Alabama. But both are GOP strongholds.
Of course, from 1992 to 2010, Republicans have lost 15 of the 18 Senatorial, gubernatorial and Presidential races in California. This dismal record is regularly attributed to Governor Pete Wilson’s endorsing Proposition 187 in 1994, which allegedly awoke the sleeping Hispanic giant.
But this theory ignores several inconvenient facts:
The LA Times reported dutifully that Wilson lost some Latino votes but was forced to add that “Latinos voted in such small numbers that he was not hurt by the erosion.”[Crime, Immigration Issues Helped Wilson, Poll Finds | Election: Proposition 187 wins among whites, but loses among all other ethnic groups, exit survey shows, by Daniel M. Weintraub, LA Times, November 09, 1994]
Schwarzenegger would have beaten his Hispanic opponent without getting any minority votes at all.
Once again, Schwarzenegger would have won without any minority votes all.
In contrast to Schwarzenegger, subsequent statewide GOP campaigns lost or only barely carried the California’s white vote—without, of course, doing any better among minorities despite their pandering:
Holding non-white vote shares constant, and assuming no change in turnout, simple arithmetic indicates that Whitman would have won if 63% of whites had voted for her—as they did for Schwarzenegger four years earlier. In a race with minor party candidates, in which the Democrat and Republican gubernatorial candidates divided 95% of the total vote as in 2010, Whitman would have needed only 60% of the white vote to achieve plurality.
In a 2+ person race where Democrat and Republican candidates divided 94% of the vote, Fiorina could have won with 59% of the white vote.
In short, California’s Blue state status is due to weak GOP performance among whites, not anything going on with minorities. Yet the Republican Establishment appears to have been persuaded to give up on the state.
To gauge how weird this is, let’s look at Texas in more detail.
In 2005 the Lone Star state followed California and Hawaii into white-minority status.
Texas voter demographics closely mirror California’s. Exit polls reveal that Hispanics accounted for 20% of Lone Star voters in the 2008 election versus 18% in California. Blacks also are a larger voter bloc in Texas—13% versus 10% in California. As we have seen above, whites cast just over three-fifths of the vote in both states.
So those who see California as Texas’s demographic future are wrong: Texas is California now.
But, unlike California, minority demographic trends have not meant political success for left wing candidates. Simply put, Texas whites have voted their perceived self-interest in a big way. They gave McCain 73% of their votes—actually outdoing the 63% Hispanic vote for Obama. Consequently, McCain carried Texas 55% to 44%.
And Texas was by no means the peak of white bloc voting. In 2008 88% of Mississippi whites voted for John McCain.
Of course, persuading California whites to unite may be more difficult than rallying Texans. Three obvious problems:
California’s public sector workers are heavily unionized under Leftist leadership, and it has been argued that they constitute one component of a liberal “Iron Triangle”. (Although union members don’t always follow their leaders at the ballot box—remember that Pat Buchanan’s running mate in 2000 was a California public school teacher!).
But government workers of all races and ethnicities account for less than 10% of total employment in the state of California. Amazingly, the comparable figure for Texas is higher: 12%.
California is home to a particularly large Jewish community—and Jews overall have given essentially no sign whatever of converting to Republicanism.
Still, Jews are only about 3.3% of the California’s population, perhaps 6% of its white population.
Organized gays seem about as adamantly anti-Republican as Jews, although this may not be true for the rank and file. But again, gays (of all races) are only about 3% of California’s population.
Back out government workers, Jews, and gays from the white electorate and, not adjusting for double and triple counting, you still have 75% of California’s white electorate up for grabs.
The strength of the defeatist conventional wisdom about California is particularly amazing because in the last eighteen years not one, but three, citizen initiatives have passed in the teeth of overwhelming liberal and establishment opposition, all clearly illustrating the continuing power of California’s whites—and of National Question issues:
But California’s Republican Party was too cowardly to take up these issues. It has allowed its opponents to achieve complete moral hegemony. It might as well declare bankruptcy now.
Unfortunately, the national GOP may not be too far behind.
Peter Brimelow (email him) is editor of VDARE.COM and author of the much-denounced Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster, (Random House - 1995) and The Worm in the Apple (HarperCollins - 2003)
Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.