In August 2009, I wrote a column for Fox & Hounds entitled “Reach out, Republicans, or lose!”
In that article, I wrote that California Republicans can yell and scream all they want on the issues of taxes, socialize medicine, and corporate bailouts. But unless the California Republican Party is able to persuade significant numbers of Latinos, Asians and other people of color to register in their party and/or vote for their candidates, it will not elect a governor or any statewide official in 2010 and could very well lose additional seats in congress and the state legislature.
Well, that wasn’t Chicken Little talking and that is exactly what happened.
If Republican leaders and elected officials – the few that are left – don’t quickly wake up, 2012 could very well see the sky again fall on the California Republican Party.
We all know the facts.
The 2010 U.S. Census shows that 37 percent of California’s population in Latino, 13 percent Asian and 7% Black … totaling 57%. Half of the state’s population under the age of 18 is Latino.
And lots of attention was given to a recent poll taken here in California by GOP consultant Marty Wilson and GOP pollster Bob Moore. It found that Latino voters hold a “widely negative” view of the Republican Party.
But to address the problem one must first have an understanding of the problem.
Throughout the 2010 election cycle, I kept hearing from many of my fellow Republican consultants that yes, the Latino vote is a problem for Republicans but don’t worry, our voters are highly motivated and the Latino voters are not They kept telling me that the Latinos will stay home.
Well, Maria Elena Durazo, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, heard this noise too and had the Federation conduct six focus groups composed of registered Latino voters who had cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election but did not always vote in gubernatorial election years.
To her surprise, the number one issue on the minds of the overwhelming majority of those Latino voters was the Arizona anti-immigration bill. In fact, more focus-group participants knew the number of the Arizona bill – SB1070 – than the names of California’s two major candidates for governor.
And the issue was NOT illegal immigration, which is what most non-Latino observers believe, but racial profiling. The fear that Latinos as a group will be “singled out” by law enforcement, schools, stores and employers because of their skin color.
In other words, the fear of racism. And the political party Latinos most identified with support of the Arizona law is the Republican Party. And this fear could lead to some serious losses for Republicans in 2012.
In 2000, the state legislature passed a bi-partisan gerrymandered bill to create safe seats for incumbents of both parties.
What the map drawers on the Republican side did was to eliminate as many predominantly Latino precincts as possible in Republican-held district while maximizing the number of predominantly white voting precincts.
This year, the new Citizens Redistricting Commission will draw the district lines and many current Republican elected officials will find themselves running for reelection in a district with a significant increased Latino voting population.
What are they going to say to them to get their vote?