White Voters: California’s Soon to be Second Largest Ethnic Group may Hold Key to the Future

Mike Madrid
Partner at GrassrootsLab, and a nationally recognized expert on Latino voting trends. In 2001, named one of America's "Most Influential Hispanics" by Hispanic Business Magazine.

On January 17th the Leadership California Institute held a viewing of the PBS Election Special “Race 2012” that examined the role of race in the presidential campaign. While it’s now common knowledge that race played a critical role in determining President Obama’s re-election and Mitt Romney’s defeat, the bigger question is, what does a racially polarized America mean for the future of the country?

As always, California may hold the key to understanding America’s future. While the rest of the country struggles to understand what this new racial landscape looks like, California long turned that corner politically. Demographically, California will see Latinos surpass whites as the largest ethnic group sometime this summer. Asians are now the fastest growing ethnic group in the state. Soon, the concept of a majority-minority district will be rendered all but meaningless.

But just when we thought we had racial politics all figured out here in California, a closer examination reveals that over the next decade the critical ethnic voting block may be….drum roll please…the white vote.

That’s right — the white vote.

You see, despite all the chatter among political professionals and ethnic leaders that the “Latino,” “Asian” and “African-American” votes are not monolithic, the truth is that, as voters, they are. Each ethnic group in California votes as a bloc — with one exception: white voters.

This explains why Texas is so red and California is so blue and why both states are very likely to stay that way for a long time. Despite having very similar demographics, the states couldn’t be more different politically. And while much has been made about Latino voters in Texas and their greater willingness to vote Republican, that idea changed in 2012 when Texas Latinos voted in an eerily similar fashion as their Latino counterparts in California and other states (75-25) — effectively creating a national Latino voting bloc.

So why isn’t Texas bluer? The answer is simple – whites in Texas are overwhelmingly conservative, if not Republican, voters.  In California white voters are not…well, monolithic.

Some quick notes on white voters and Assembly seats help illustrate the point:

  • Of the top three Assembly seats with the greatest number of white voters, two are represented by Democrats (Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro and Assembly Member Marc Levine – Assembly Member Brian Dahle has the district with the greatest number of white voters). Dahle’s district is 94% white, Chesbro’s is 90% and Levine’s is 87%.
  • Of the top 10 Assembly seats with the greatest number of white voters, half are Democrats and half are Republicans.

Other interesting facts on white voters:

  • The Assembly Member who represents the least number of white voters is Speaker John Perez, who also happens to represent the fewest number of registered voters in the Assembly. AD 53 is 30% white with 44,755 registered white voters.
  • As a percentage, Assembly Member Ed Chau represents the fewest white voters at 26% (54,229) and represents what is the first Asian-American districted seat in the country.
  • Assembly Member Curt Hagman represents the most diverse district of any Republican. His district has 53% white voters, and there are only 19 districts with fewer white voters. The Asian and Latino registered voters in this district are exactly the same at 21%.
  • Assembly Member Tim Donnelly’s district has fewer white voters (74%) and more Latino voters (23%) than Rocky Chavez’s district (80% white and 14% Latino).
  • Of the 15 Assembly districts with the smallest percentage of white voters, 13 are represented by a Latino legislator (Assembly Member Tom Daly and Assembly Member Ed Chau are the exceptions. Daly benefitted from a multi-Latino Democrat primary, and Chau represents the states only Asian seat).

I’ve included a spreadsheet below of Assembly districts rank-ordered by the number of white voters. The data was provided by PDI.

The inescapable trend here is that white voters in California are voting more ideologically and partisan based on class than any other group. Wealthier whites and poor Latinos are voting for the same party and as long as that continues, Republican fortunes are not promising.

Republicans may have a bigger class problem than a race problem. Ironically, the chances of a GOP resurgence grows slimmer as California’s middle class grows smaller — or until the coalition of working class Latino moderates and wealthier white progressives in the Democrat party becomes untenable.

You can reach Mike Madrid at twitter handle (@madrid_mike) and email address (madrid@grassrootslab.com).

 

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Assembly District Ranked by Number of White Voters

 TOTAL  WHITE ASIAN LATINO
PARTY REP DISTRICT  18,414,624  12,070,548 66%  1,694,057 9%  4,054,431 22%
R Brian Dahle 1ST AD  269,158  251,947 94%  2,970 1%  11,680 4%
D Wes Chesbro 2ND AD  263,011  235,402 90%  4,450 2%  20,040 8%
D Marc Levine 10TH AD  268,275  233,931 87%  9,102 3%  19,426 7%
R Beth Gaines 6TH AD  276,381  240,314 87%  10,950 4%  18,632 7%
R Frank Bigelow 5TH AD  240,576  208,857 87%  2,933 1%  25,987 11%
R Dan Logue 3RD AD  230,441  193,207 84%  5,128 2%  24,859 11%
R Brian Jones 71ST AD  239,925  199,631 83%  5,769 2%  30,614 13%
D Ken Cooley 8TH AD  245,982  204,595 83%  12,660 5%  22,740 9%
D Richard Bloom 50TH AD  317,700  262,004 82%  17,599 6%  23,019 7%
D Toni Atkins 78TH AD  274,744  224,954 82%  13,716 5%  28,695 10%
R Diane Harkey 73RD AD  303,677  246,629 81%  17,838 6%  28,046 9%
R Rocky Chavez 76TH AD  231,447  185,668 80%  9,645 4%  31,461 14%
D Joan Buchanan 16TH AD  287,211  229,479 80%  26,848 9%  18,314 6%
D Mariko Yamada 4TH AD  241,148  192,004 80%  9,165 4%  35,476 15%
R Brian Nestande 42ND AD  218,759  174,095 80%  5,111 2%  36,225 17%
R Katcho Achadijian 35TH AD  232,524  184,503 79%  6,598 3%  38,163 16%
D Mark Stone 29TH AD  277,460  219,342 79%  17,077 6%  33,610 12%
R Allan Mansoor 74TH AD  312,167  241,418 77%  31,929 10%  26,256 8%
R Marie Waldron 75TH AD  223,453  171,191 77%  10,614 5%  37,406 17%
R Brian Maienschein 77TH AD  262,397  199,462 76%  32,365 12%  21,849 8%
R Shannon Grove 34TH AD  224,451  170,504 76%  5,822 3%  43,499 19%
D Jim Frazier 11TH AD  227,172  170,678 75%  15,327 7%  35,903 16%
D Nancy Skinner 15TH AD  277,039  207,504 75%  30,292 11%  28,823 10%
D Susan Bonilla 14TH AD  243,362  181,238 74%  24,149 10%  31,608 13%
D Roger Dickinson 7TH AD  215,347  159,439 74%  14,794 7%  34,256 16%
R Tim Donnelly 33RD AD  198,808  146,700 74%  4,254 2%  44,943 23%
D Das Williams 37TH AD  265,086  195,331 74%  9,274 3%  55,785 21%
R Melissa Melendez 67TH AD  213,972  157,413 74%  8,860 4%  43,915 21%
R Kristin Olsen 12TH AD  219,389  159,834 73%  6,349 3%  46,419 21%
R Scott Wilk 38TH AD  264,079  192,107 73%  20,595 8%  39,122 15%
D Holly Mitchell 54TH AD  279,876  202,684 72%  19,907 7%  44,202 16%
D Rich Gordon 24TH AD  230,722  165,968 72%  32,913 14%  20,135 9%
D Steve Fox 36TH AD  211,744  148,601 70%  6,787 3%  51,886 25%
D Paul Fong 28TH AD  249,211  172,225 69%  39,185 16%  23,318 9%
D Kevin Mullin 22ND AD  247,861  171,274 69%  35,753 14%  30,941 12%
D Bonnie Lowenthal 70TH AD  260,384  179,181 69%  20,468 8%  55,345 21%
R Jim Patterson 23RD AD  252,050  173,415 69%  13,668 5%  53,924 21%
D Chris Holden 41ST AD  282,116  194,069 69%  22,646 8%  53,243 19%
D Tom Ammiano 17TH AD  293,425  201,536 69%  51,217 17%  31,889 11%
D Rob Bonta 18TH AD  242,943  166,798 69%  38,213 16%  30,874 13%
R Jeff Gorrell 44TH AD  230,965  157,884 68%  14,227 6%  53,038 23%
D Bob Blumenfield 45TH AD  256,340  174,872 68%  19,381 8%  44,294 17%
D Steven Bradford 62ND AD  245,801  167,557 68%  11,198 5%  58,907 24%
R Don Wagner 68TH AD  269,208  182,525 68%  35,168 13%  40,057 15%
D Al Muratsuchi 66TH AD  279,961  188,523 67%  44,877 16%  36,619 13%
D Richard Pan 9TH AD  219,980  147,646 67%  29,480 13%  33,846 15%
R Mike Morrell 40TH AD  215,416  140,491 65%  11,828 5%  58,214 27%
R Connie Conway 26TH AD  161,629  102,797 64%  3,049 2%  53,712 33%
D Shirley Weber 79TH AD  231,153  145,871 63%  25,592 11%  54,373 24%
D Adrin Nazarian 46TH AD  217,444  136,765 63%  14,811 7%  51,528 24%
D Susan Talamantes Eggman 13TH AD  189,006  112,742 60%  19,425 10%  50,158 27%
D Jose Medina 61ST AD  211,816  124,560 59%  9,388 4%  73,430 35%
D Adam Gray 21ST AD  182,711  106,878 58%  5,399 3%  65,761 36%
R Eric Linder 60TH AD  187,435  108,097 58%  10,489 6%  64,201 34%
D Phil Ting 19TH AD  265,897  149,972 56%  79,294 30%  27,507 10%
R Travis Allen 72ND AD  272,107  153,220 56%  76,578 28%  37,149 14%
D Isadore Hall 64TH AD  213,767  119,518 56%  13,083 6%  77,633 36%
D Mike Gatto 43RD AD  257,061  142,843 56%  27,890 11%  41,057 16%
D Bill Quirk 20TH AD  219,143  120,223 55%  42,764 20%  40,841 19%
D Sharon Quirk-Silva 65TH AD  234,488  128,076 55%  43,595 19%  54,991 23%
R Curt Hagman 55TH AD  260,839  139,470 53%  56,063 21%  55,531 21%
D Luis Alejo 30TH AD  174,999  85,834 49%  8,883 5%  77,678 44%
D Reginal Jones-Sawyer 59TH AD  163,697  79,915 49%  2,578 2%  77,896 48%
D Bob Wieckowski 25TH AD  199,590  91,636 46%  63,531 32%  29,400 15%
D Cheryl Brown 47TH AD  175,877  77,867 44%  6,278 4%  88,367 50%
D Rudy Salas 32ND AD  132,011  57,351 43%  4,203 3%  68,864 52%
D Manuel Perez 56TH AD  159,007  68,640 43%  2,787 2%  85,062 53%
D Henry Perea 31ST AD  165,901  70,112 42%  8,598 5%  82,386 50%
D Norma Torres 52ND AD  176,387  73,715 42%  11,088 6%  88,243 50%
D Roger Hernandez 48TH AD  215,311  81,602 38%  22,656 11%  106,723 50%
D Ben Hueso 80TH AD  177,194  65,909 37%  13,173 7%  94,316 53%
D Anthony Rendon 63RD AD  187,362  67,516 36%  9,737 5%  107,218 57%
D Raul Bocanegra 39TH AD  195,803  70,311 36%  12,173 6%  101,427 52%
D Nora Campos 27TH AD  181,967  65,128 36%  53,604 29%  55,072 30%
D Ian Calderon 57TH AD  232,722  77,054 33%  23,112 10%  127,879 55%
D Tom Daly 69TH AD  166,092  53,214 32%  19,965 12%  90,273 54%
D John Perez 53RD AD  147,477  44,755 30%  25,155 17%  73,584 50%
D Christina Garcia 58TH AD  222,090  65,669 30%  26,535 12%  122,487 55%
D Jimmy Gomez 51ST AD  196,429  54,406 28%  23,935 12%  114,473 58%
D Ed Chau 49TH AD  207,024  54,229 26%  89,546 43%  57,688 28%

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