By Peter Brimelow and Edwin S. Rubenstein
But the conventional wisdom is wrong. While Hispanic voters are an 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:
- GOP candidates in California lost three statewide elections badly in 1992—two years before Proposition 187.
- Endorsing Proposition 187 helped Wilson to come from 20 points behind during a recession to win by 15 points.
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]
- Arnold Schwarzenegger won the 2003 gubernatorial election following the recall of Gray Davis with 52% of the white vote. (Another Republican got over 10 percent of the white vote).
Schwarzenegger would have beaten his Hispanic opponent without getting any minority votes at all.
- Schwarzenegger was re-elected in 2006 with 63% of the white vote (56% of the total vote cast).
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:
- In 2008, GOP Presidential candidate John McCain received a disgraceful 46% of California’s white vote, en route to a 61% to 37% loss to Barack Obama.
- In 2010, GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman received just 50% of the white vote, en route to a defeat in which she received 41% of the total vote.
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.
- Also in 2010, GOP senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina received only 52% of the white vote, en route to a 52% to 42% loss to Barbara Boxer.
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.
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:
- State and local government workers.
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.
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:
- 1994: Proposition 187 barring welfare use by illegals carried 59-41, with 65% of the white vote.
- 1996:Ward Connerly’s Proposition 209, the initiative that officially banned racial preferences in California, carried 55-45, with 62% of the white vote.
- 1998:Ron Unz’s Proposition 227, the anti-Bilingual Ed Initiative that mandated “English For the Children” carried 61-39%, with 67% of the white vote.
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)