In the 2004 election, California, the state with the highest proportion of immigrants, ranked behind only Texas and Hawaii in having the lowest fraction of its population vote. A mere 35 percent of the residents of California cast ballots, in contrast to over 55 percent in Maine and Minnesota.
Just 12.4 million Californians voted in 2004, while about 15 million adult residents didn't go to the polls. About four-fifths of those nonvoters aren't registered, either because they are not citizens or because they just didn't get around to it.
So what will happen as the current nonvoters—who are mostly immigrants or their kin—slowly filter into the California electorate?
Last week, the Public Policy Institute of California published a study by pollster Mark Baldassare, entitled California's Exclusive Electorate. It details just what those millions of the unregistered intend to vote for when they, or their children, eventually do vote.
And they should terrify the capitalists of Silicon Valley—especially when they consider how California's free-wheeling initiative system empowers anybody with a plausible-sounding idea to put it in front of the state's already-undiscerning voters.
(Although initiatives were once a way for citizens to rebuke politicians, as in the heroic days of Propositions 13, 187, 209, and 227, interest groups have since learned how to game the system for their own advantage.)
According to the PPIC's report, California's unregistered would like to use the ballot box to, in effect, take money from the highly-productive and give it to themselves.
This is exactly the essential danger of democracy that Aristotle pointed out: that the poor, who are many, will vote to despoil the rich, who are few.
What's striking is not that the unregistered, being mostly lower income, would use the vote to line their own pockets, but that so many of them are so disorganized or distractible or disconnected that they haven't gotten around to doing it yet.
"Although the state has become increasingly diverse, the adults who frequently vote are predominantly white, age 45 and older, and relatively affluent. In contrast, nonvoters (those who are not registered to vote) are mostly nonwhite, younger, and less affluent than frequent (or 'likely') voters."
According to the study, among current likely voters in California, 72 percent are white and 14 percent are Hispanic.
In contrast, among residents who aren't registered to vote, just 24 percent are white and 63 percent are Hispanic.
Baldassare (email him) thinks this is an injustice. But really the unregistered Hispanics lack of interest in voting should be seen as a bit of balancing justice—considering that most of them either came here illegally, or are the descendants of lawbreakers and are citizens only because of the current eccentric interpretation of the 14th Amendment granting birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens.
"Likely voters and nonvoters have very different political views. Likely voters are deeply divided about the role of government, satisfied with initiatives that limit government [such as the tax-limiting Proposition 13], relatively positive about the state's elected leaders, and ambivalent and divided along party lines on ballot measures that would spend more on the poor. In contrast, the state's nonvoters want a more active government, are less satisfied with initiatives that limit government, are less positive about elected officials, and favor ballot measures that would spend more on programs to help the poor."
Today's California voters, in the wake of the driving-out (political cleansing?) of so many conservative Californians over the last 15 years, are marginally pro big-government: 49 percent say they would prefer to pay higher taxes and have more government services, while 44 percent want lower taxes and fewer services.
In sharp contrast, two-thirds of the unregistered prefer higher taxes and barely over a quarter want lower taxes.
Likewise, in May just under half of current voters approve of Proposition 1C on California's November ballot, a $3 billion bond for "affordable housing" (i.e., big handouts for certain politically favored or just plain lucky homebuyers), while 80 percent of the unregistered are for it. So, if all residents in California voted, this giveaway would be ahead 60-37.
And, while 50 percent of voters want to see more spent on health and human services, 70 percent of nonvoters do so.
Similarly, likely voters (77 percent of whom are homeowners) approve of the overall effect of Proposition 13, the famous 1977 property tax-cutting initiative, by a 56 percent to 33 percent margin. Meanwhile, the unregistered (only 34 percent of whom own their own homes) disapprove of it 47 percent to 29 percent.
Obviously, a lot of the unregistered, not having been in America 29 years ago, aren't exactly sure what Proposition 13 is. A key provision of Proposition 13 was the fixed tax burden for existing homeowners. It keeps the elderly from being evicted from their homes during housing bubbles when they can't pay rising property taxes.
When this is explained to nonvoters, who are mostly renters, they oppose Proposition 13 even more—68 percent to 20 percent.
Although Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has swung sharply to the left over the last year, his Republican label still leaves him intensely unpopular with the unregistered. Only 21 percent approve of his job performance, which is half of his popularity among probable voters.
So why is George W. Bush trying to put illegal aliens "on the path to citizenship" when they will vote for Ted Kennedy's policies?
As you will recall, back in early 2004 Bush defended his amnesty plan by denying that it was amnesty. He concocted the wholly novel definition of "amnesty" as being utterly restricted to providing citizenship to illegal aliens, which he said he was against.
Yet, as I pointed out on February 1, 2004, Bush's call for helotry was politically untenable:
"But Bush's new Machiavellianism automatically cedes the rhetorical high ground to the Democrats, who are already pushing for ' earned legalization' (i.e., giving illegals the vote). Bush is left contradictorily sputtering about how wonderful immigrants are and how we don't want them to become our fellow citizens."
The Democrats duly offered to put them on the path to citizenship…and, thus, to becoming good little Democratic voters.
Last May, Mr. Bush comically defined "amnesty" down even farther:
"They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it." [Emphasis mine.]
Inevitably, President Bush has now endorsed the Senate bill originally sponsored by Senator Kennedy, who has been pushing immigration in order to import new Kennedy voters since 1965. Not surprisingly, the bill the Senate passed in May would give most illegal aliens the vote.
The President and his consigliere Karl Rove have justified this long series of self-inflicted political disasters with the rationale that the Hispanic electoral tidal wave will be here Real Soon Now. So the only possible response for Republican politicians, they suggest, is to preemptively surrender to Hispanics by letting in even more of their relatives before they start voting against us in truly huge numbers.
Where we have heard this logic before?
Oh, yes, in the 1994 "Deep Space Homer" episode of The Simpsons. Airhead newscaster Kent Brockman, mistakenly convinced that Earth is about to be conquered by "a master race of giant space ants," famously announces:
"[Grimly] One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. [Suddenly ingratiating] And I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves."
"But an Associated Press review of voter registration figures from Chicago, Denver, Houston, Atlanta and other major urban areas that saw large rallies shows no sign of a historic new voter boom that could sway elections."
In the long run, of course, California is in for ever more trouble as its huge reserve of leftist nonvoters trickles into the electorate.
And as the recently unveiled mini-Census of 2005 reveals, California has been raked over so hard by illegal immigration that the illegals themselves are now fleeing for greener pastures in the other 49 states—bringing California-style problems with them.
Still, for now this is the good news implicit in the PPIC report: contra the Brockman-Bush Theory of welcoming our new overlords in the hopes that betraying your own fellow citizens will incline the incoming master race to be merciful to you (sorry about everybody else), Hispanic voting is still so weak that it's not yet too late politically to shut off the influx from abroad…if we act now.