California’s transformation goes back to 1994, when Governor Pete Wilson, a Republican running behind in his re-election campaign, began to promote a ballot measure, Proposition 187, which would have denied all public services—including even the right to attend public schools—to undocumented immigrants and their undocumented children.
...One week before the 1994 election, the spontaneous anti-187 demonstrations of Latino youngsters came together in a massive planned march in downtown Los Angeles, which a number of not-quite-so-young Latino labor leaders coordinated. ... By 1998, they had flipped the long-Republican congressional and legislative districts of suburban Los Angeles into the Democratic column. The efforts of both the AFL-CIO and SEIU have continued to this day, turning a once-purple state steadily bluer.
Throughout this period, the response of the Republican Party to this great transformation was even more remarkable: ignore the very fact of its existence, save to continue the nativist, anti-immigrant stance pioneered by Wilson. The state had its own talk-show versions of Rush Limbaugh—most notably, Los Angeles’s Ken and Bob Show—which regularly reviled immigrants and encouraged listeners to make sure their Republican legislators favored deporting immigrants. ... For years, Republican primary voters ensured that their statewide candidates adhered to proto-Tea Party politics, ensuring that all of them lost. (The election of the relatively moderate Arnold Schwarzenegger to the governor’s office was only possible because he ran in the recall election of Gray Davis, a process in which there was no partisan primary.)
...The GOP’s estrangement of the new electorate wasn’t just confined to its position on immigrants. As the number of Latino and Asian voters continued to rise, Republicans in the legislature refused to approve any new taxes to help the state’s overburdened schools, even as polling showed that Latinos and Asians supported increasing taxes to fund schools at rates as high if not higher than African Americans. As the state’s electorate also grew younger—the share of voters age 18 through 29 went from 20 percent to 27 percent between 2008 and 2012—the GOP refused to consider tax increases on the wealthy that could have forestalled tuition increases at the University of California and the state and community colleges. Republicans also remained staunchly opposed to gay marriage even as polls showed Californians, particularly younger Californians, moving to support it.
...During the past month, Brown campaigned across the state’s dozens of public colleges and universities to turn out the vote supporting his tax-hike measure. His get-out-the-vote efforts were more than matched by the state’s unions. This week marked the third time since 1998 that they were confronted with a ballot measure that would make it more difficult for them to spend their resources on election campaigns. ... But this year, the right’s plan—if this was its plan—backfired. The unions’ voter-mobilization campaign was surely partly responsible for the Democrats’ successes in congressional and legislative races, much as the unions’ successful 1958 campaign to defeat a right-to-work initiative helped sweep Democrat Pat Brown into the governor’s office and gave the Democrats control of the legislature for the first time in decades.
The unions were particularly effective in mobilizing Latino voters, in part through SEIU’s Mi Familia Vota program, chaired by Medina, which employed hundreds of fulltime organizers that got Latinos to the polls. ... Indeed, this week’s election reveals that the labor-Latino alliance, which dominates politics in Greater Los Angeles, now is extending its reach to San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Ventura, and San Diego counties as well. That is, deep into historically Republican terrain.
The success of the labor/Latino/Democratic operation and the abysmal failure of the Republicans to gain any significant support among minority and younger Californians is clear from the exit polling. Obama carried the 18-through-29 vote by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent; he carried the Latino vote by 72 percent to 27 percent; he carried the Asian vote by an astonishing gap of 79 percent to 21 percent. Indeed, Obama won 73 percent of the Asian vote nationally—two points higher than his support among Latinos. With the Asian share of the national electorate at 3 percent, that’s easy for the national press to miss, but in California, where it’s now at 11 percent, that’s a decisive margin in any election. It also demonstrates that the Republicans’ problem runs deeper than mere opposition to immigration, since the number of undocumented Asian immigrants is small. It suggests that for Asians, no less than for Latinos and blacks, the Republicans are viewed as a white man’s party. It also suggests that Republican opposition to education spending, increasing Pell grants and the like, may not be the best way to win a growing voting bloc that places such a high premium on education.
...In theory, Republicans around the nation, brooding over their defeats, could learn some things from their California brethren’s descent into oblivion. Whether the lesson they take to heart is how to avoid the Golden State’s GOP’s fate or how to replicate it remains to be seen.
Monday, November 12, 2012
The California Model
It just gets better: