Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

CA GOP Face Political Obscurity

Posted by Roobs on March 28, 2011

California Republican’s Latino Problem


Every election from 2006 to 2010 has shown Latino voters increasingly moving towards the Democratic Party.  In the recent general election in November, 60% of Latinos voted Democrat.  This is especially true in California and in no small amount helping the Democratic Party sweep all major state offices in last year’s general election.  As the Republican Party faces proof of life questions in the Golden State, is it even possible that the GOP can come back and win support from one of the largest and most loyal Democratic voting blocs?

Probably the last time the GOP probably had any chance of gaining support from the Latino voting bloc was with Ronald Reagan.  The former California Governor proved decently popular with Latino voters, granting more than 3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States amnesty in 1986.  But with an increasingly hardline rhetoric from the national GOP, Latinos have been leaving the Republican Party en mass; turned off by their anti-immigrant stance on subjects like Immigration Reform and their defeat of the DREAM Act in the Senate back in December.

But as suggested, this shouldn’t have always been the case.  Latinos were a group that would seem to have had a natural inclination to sympathize with the Republican Party during Ronald Regan’s era.  Not only was Ronald Regan offering an olive branch to the Latino community, the social conservatives within the GOP would make natural allies to the culturally conservative nature of many Latinos – they are hard workers, are traditionally against abortion and same-sex marriage, have strong family values, and line up with many other conservative points.  In the months leading up to the 2008 election, California Latinos were supporting Prop 4 – a parental notification for abortions – by wide margins of 62-31%

Democrats, on the other hand, appeal to many Latinos because of their inclination to be fiscally liberal.  Many Latinos like that Democrats support social programs, many to the benefit to Latino communities across California.  But where Democrats often win is with the fact that the Democratic rhetoric is often in favor of many of the top issues for Latinos, such as immigration.  Conservative and moderate Democrats often are able to appeal to Latino voters by offering them the liberal fiscal policies for social programs but also a more moderate and conservative cultural agenda.  California offers this perhaps more than most other states because of its, sometimes frustrating, split between the conservative and moderate Democrats in the Central Valley and the liberal democrats of the coastal districts, such as San Francisco, Alameda and Los Angeles counties.

But this explains why Latinos have traditionally supported Democrats over Republicans by wide margins.  And to many Californians, this is nothing neither new nor groundbreaking.  The real question is whether or not the state GOP can ever make headways into the Latino bloc.  And if not, can they ever truly be considered a real political player in California in the future? My answer to this question is no.

Latinos have traditionally fallen into a group that was ripe for moderate and conservative Democrats from the Central Valley.  Previous Republican attempts to infiltrate this Democratic base have played to the group’s cultural conservative tendencies.  But the fact of the matter is that Latinos are starting to show an increasing tolerance for culturally liberal views as well as increase in pure numbers, much to the detriment of the state Republican Party.

Nationally, Latinos voted for Barack Obama over John McCain 67% to 31%.  While Prop 8 passed in California banning same-sex marriage in 2008, 57% of Latinos age 45-64 and 60% of 30-44 voted Yes on 8 while 59% of Latinos aged 18-29 voted No on 8.  What this shows is that the generation that has reached voting age and those coming after are beginning to identify with a more liberal ideology when it comes to social issues.  As more age cohorts come into voting age, the Latino voting bloc in California will become increasingly un-receptive to GOP persuasion.

Further, new reports are now showing the majority of Catholics supporting LGBT rights, including a workplace non-discrimination bill and same-sex marriage (vast majority of Latinos are Catholic).  Also, the 2010 Census reveals huge increases in the Latino population across the country, as well as in California.  1 in 6 Americans is now of Latino origin.  As the Washington Post describes, these factors will plague national GOP politics in near and future elections.

In short, as older, more conservative Latinos pass on and are replaced by more liberal generations, the one aspect of the Latino voting behavior that would sympathize with the Republican Party will die with them.  The current Republican strategy of appealing to their hardline base of voters will continue to turn off many Latino voters.  Short of the Republican Party changing its stance on many of its base social and fiscal issues, Latinos will unlikely be swayed to join the Republican Party, nearly cementing their path to political obscurity in the Golden State.

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