Does the California election prove that Republicans can now win the Hispanic vote? That’s what some pundits are claiming because of the comparatively low support won by professional Hispanic candidate Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (54 percent) and the supposedly high support captured by winner Arnold Schwarzenegger (30 percent).
As usual, of course, the pundits are full of fly specks.
First of all, Senor Bustamante’s relatively low Hispanic support doesn’t mean his Republican opponents did unusually well. The headline of a post-election article in the Los Angeles Times last week crowed that “GOP makes gains among Latinos,“[By Rich Connell and Daniel Hernandez, October 11, 2003] though the body of the story is a bit more subdued.
It turns out that the “gains” won by the two Republican candidates, Mr. Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock, were mainly among upper-income (indeed, high income) Hispanics.
“Half of Latino voters in homes earning $60,000 to $100,000,”the Times story reports, supported one of the two Republicans, while “in Latino households with earnings above $100,000, 57% supported the recall and 60% voted for Schwarzenegger or McClintock. The pattern followed that of voters overall.” So why is that surprising?
As I noted in a recent column, 25 to 30 percent of Hispanic voters in California have always voted Republican, and 37 percent voted for Proposition 187 in 1994, a measure widely regarded as anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant because it cut off public benefits to illegal aliens. Probably most of the Hispanics who do vote Republican are upper-income, and the portion of the Hispanic vote won by the two Republicans (39 percent) is hardly unusual or new.
But, as for the GOP now having a good chance to win more Hispanic votes in the future, don’t bet your annual income on it. As the Timesalso notes , “Statewide, low-income Latinos opposed the recall and supported Bustamante by the widest margins: In each case more than three out of five voters in households earning less than $40,000, according to the poll.”
And the point is that in California, thanks to the mass immigration imported by the Open Borders lobby, lower income Hispanics dominate in the Hispanic electorate.
The real reason Mr. Schwarzenegger won, as both I and UPI political analyst Steve Sailer have pointed out, is that he won the white vote, which remains critical for any Republican victory. He took the white vote by 51 percent, and the two Republicans together took 65-67 percent of it. Mr. Schwarzenegger’s share was not so impressive but better than earlier Republican gubernatorial candidates in the state’s last two elections, who won well less than 50 percent.
Taken together, the two Republicans’ share in this election means simply this: Whites have largely deserted the Democrats, and that’s the real reason they lost.
Moreover, it’s why the Republican won, though you might find it hard to persuade him of that. A new poll sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) shows that Democratic Gov. Gray Davis’ support for letting illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses was a decisive factor. The poll shows that “30 percent of voters said Davis’ approval of the bill influenced their decision to support the recall,” CNS News reported this week. Since Mr. Schwarzenegger was opposed to the bill, it makes sense the voters who agreed with him on that issue were attracted to him.
Since he also had supported Prop 187 itself and had its chief backer, former Gov. Pete Wilson in his campaign, Mr. Schwarzenegger really didn’t have to say much about immigration at all. Voters assumed he would be tough on it. They assumed wrong.
Presumably voters who opposed driver’s licenses for illegals are also opposed to amnesty, yet the fact is that Mr. Schwarzenegger endorsed amnesty during the campaign. He avoided the word, but in his first press conference after the election he made his position perfectly clear.
“I want to make all undocumented immigrants documented and legal in this country,” he said.
That’s why Mr. Schwarzenegger doesn’t seem to grasp why he won or the latent racial dynamics of the election. Whites supported him (and Mr. McClintock, who took much the same position on drivers’ licenses but a somewhat tougher one on illegal immigration) because of those positions. They supported the recall and deserted the Democrats for the same reason.
What they need to worry about is whether they can keep the white vote—especially after Mr. Schwarzenegger essentially betrayed his own white voters by endorsing the amnesty they thought he opposed.