National Data | Ending Birthright Citizenship Would Halve GOP Drift To Demographic Disaster in California. What Are We Waiting For?
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"Demography is destiny in American politics." That was the takeaway line of Electing a New People, the cover story Peter Brimelow and I wrote for the pre-purge National Review [June 16, 1997]. We pointed out that while voting patterns of the various races move glacially, the county's demographic profile is shifting rapidly—because of immigration policy. In effect, the federal government is electing a new, less Republican people. (For a 2001 update, see here).

Subsequent events have confirmed our thesis. The foreign-born population has increased by nearly 50%—from 27.2 million in 1997 to 40 million today. Illegal aliens became the fastest growing segment of the foreign-born population. [The Changing Legal Status Distribution of Immigrants: A Caution, By Douglas S. Massey and Katherine Bartley, International Migration Review, June 2005]. Hispanics displaced blacks as the largest U.S. minority.

Meanwhile, Black and Hispanic voters remain overwhelmingly Democratic.

Demographic shift is more acute in the immigration-impacted states. Thus the Hispanic share of California's population, already a massive 37.1% in 2010, is projected to grow by more than in the rest of the country:

Hispanic Population Share: California v. Rest Of U.S.



U.S. ex-California



















% pt. change, 2010-50:

15.0% pts.

13.8% pts.

Data sources: California Department of Finance (2000-2050);

US Census Bureau. (2000: PDF

2010-2050: PDF (Table 1). 

To some, this trend may seem surprising. New immigrants are increasingly steering clear of the traditional gateways in favour of the heartland. California's immigrant population, while still several times larger than any other state's, has grown at less than half the national rate since 2000. In the recession year 2008 California's foreign-born population actually declined.

But California's Hispanic population share is rising for two reasons:

Net migration of whites—those arriving compared with those leaving—was positive in 2000, with a modest gain of about 91,000 that year.

White flight from California began modestly in 2001, when some 21,000 more left than entered the state. But it accelerated every succeeding year through 2006, when it reached about 121,000. It dropped somewhat in 2007 and 2008—the latest year of data—but was still substantial, with some 202,000 more whites leaving than entering over those two years in total.

Many of the white émigrés are essentially refugees. They may have lost jobs, been priced out of real estate, or fled the overcrowding and social change brought on by decades of mass immigration.

  • The second, and more important, explanation: "natural increase"—the excess of births over deaths for Hispanics living in the state.

Here are the details for 2008:

While only 37% of California residents in 2008 were Hispanic, more than half (52%) of babies born in California that year were the children of Hispanic mothers.

And, thanks to their relative youth, Hispanics comprised a mere 16% of state residents who died that year.

Bottom line: Hispanics accounted for 81% of the natural increase of California's population in 2008—more than twice their population share.

Clearly the baby-making propensity of Hispanic immigrants already in the state will influence future population growth more than future immigrants. 

Which brings me to a critical political question: how would ending birthright citizenship today impact the California electorate in the future?

Our prognostication (quick and dirty, but who else is doing it?) starts with several key percentages, all of which we assume will remain unchanged for the duration of the 21st Century:

  • 18% of California Hispanics are illegal aliens. This percentage is based on an illegal alien population estimated at 2.6 million and a Hispanic population of 14.5 million in 2010. While not all California illegals are Hispanic, most of them are: nationally, no less than 81% of illegal aliens are from Mexico or other nations in Latin America.

  • Annual anchor births in California are equivalent to about 6% of the estimated illegal alien population, or 1% of the state's total Hispanic population. This is based on a CIS study which found that 117,000 anchor babies were born to illegal alien mothers in California in 2002.

  • Half of anchor babies are females, and they have children at the same rate as Mexicans living in the U.S.—3.54 children per woman over her reproductive years.

  • The Hispanic pro-Democratic margin is 33 percentage points. In 2010 Jerry Brown received 64% of the Latino vote, and Meg Whitman 31%.

Using the above, we project that 9.2 million anchor babies will be born to illegal alien mothers in California between 2010 and 2050. Somewhere less than half—4.2 million—will be of voting age in 2050. They could increase the Democratic vote that year by 1.4 million (33% of 4.2 million.).

Fast forward to 2100. By then 32.5 million post-2010 anchor babies will have been born. Some 22 million will be of voting age. If they all vote, the Democratic vote victory margin in California will increase by 7.3 million.

By 2050 some 2.9 million anchor grandchildren will have been born to female anchors. Only 99,000 will be of voting age that year, but by 2100 the grandkid contingent swells to 20.8 million—of which 11.9 million will be of voting age.

If they vote like California Hispanics did in 2010, the Democratic victory margin will increase by another 3.9 million.

Summing it up, anchor babies born after 2010 (and their children) will increase the Democratic victory margin by about 1.2 million in 2050 and by a whopping 11.2 million in 2100.

We haven't said anything about male anchor babies. Our implicit assumption is that they are the fathers of children born to female anchor babies. If, however, they have children with females outside the anchor baby community—and their offspring vote as California Hispanics did in 2010—another 3.9 million would be added to the Democratic victory margin in 2100.

Bottom line: failure to replace Birthright Citizenship could swell California's Democratic Party victory margin by as much as 15.1 million (out of a state [population of some 100 million cast) in 2100. That is roughly 15 times Jerry Brown's vote margin over Whitman in 2010.

For perspective, consider the last successful statewide GOP candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He defeated Democrat Phil Angelides by a thumping 17% margin in 2006 (56% to 39%). But had the Hispanic share of the electorate been at levels currently projected for 2100, Gov. Schwarzenegger would have lost by about 2%. By contrast, however, had the Hispanic share been at the projected 2100 level but birthright "citizens" been excluded from voting booths, Schwarzenegger would still have triumphed—by a 6% margin.

GOP prospects in California are problematic enough, because of immigration policy. But my calculations show that, all by itself, Birthright Citizenship reform would roughly halve (actually reduce by 42%) the pace of the GOP drift to demographic disaster.

(Of course, the GOP could also rally its white a.k.a. American base in California much better than the pathetic Whitman-Fiorina campaigns did in 2010—Whitman got just 50% of California's white vote. Schwarzenegger got 63%

(And, of course, these and many other problems nation-wide could be solved by an immigration moratorium.)

So—what is the GOP, a.k.a. America, waiting for?

Does it want to lose?

Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.

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