October 14, 2003


GOP Makes Gains Among Latinos: Votes for Republicans in recall show Democrats' challenge in halting defections, Times poll shows. (Rich Connell and Daniel Hernandez, October 11, 2003, LA Times)

The contours of the Latino vote add fresh evidence that California's largest and fastest-growing ethnic group may not be as predictable — or loyal — as Democrats once hoped, especially as increasing numbers of Latinos climb the economic ladder.

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.

By comparison, half of Latino voters in homes earning $60,000 to $100,000 voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), slightly more than voted for Bustamante (46%). Those voters were also about evenly split on recalling Davis.

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.

In all, 45% of Latinos backed the recall and 41% voted for Schwarzenegger or McClintock.

There were also geographic differences among Latinos that paralleled overall voting trends. In Los Angeles County, which rejected the recall, 56% of Latinos opposed Davis' ouster. But in the fast-growing, more suburbanized counties stretching from San Bernardino to San Diego, Latinos supported the recall by a slim margin.

To head off future defections, Democrats must work at giving middle-class Latinos more reason to stick with them, said Art Torres, the state party chairman.

"When they assimilate, they embrace all the other American values because they earn more money and want to keep more money," Torres said.

This is devastating news for the Democrats as Latinos would appear to be eschewing the Jewish/Black model of remaining beholden to the Democrats in perpetuity and following instead the model of other immigrant groups, like the Italians and Irish, where successive generations trend Republican as their affluence increases. One is tempted to conclude that the social conservatizing force of their Catholicism is playing a key role too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 14, 2003 6:10 PM

The strong influence of Catholicism within the Latino community of California is also a factor.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese has had its share of problems as of late relating to the same things that sank Cardinal Law in Boston, but the Democratic Party in California still has too many people who seem to want to grind Catholic beliefs into dust rather than see the reformation of the church's problems.

Posted by: John at October 14, 2003 8:50 PM

Combined, the two GOP candidates, Schwarzenegger and McClintock, (both attractive candidates in different ways) did 26 points better among whites than among Latinos. Last year's losing candidate, Bill Simon, did 22 points better among whites than among Latinos. 2000's loser in California, George W. Bush, did about 20 points better among whites than Hispanics. 1998's loser, Dan Lungren, did 26 points better among whites.

Election after election, the Hispanic voted is simply shifted significantly to the left of the white vote. When Republicans run an excellent candidate (or candidates, in this case), their share of the Latino vote goes up. When they run weak candidates it goes down. But, the crucial point is that it always stays about the same distance to the left of the white electorate. Just about the one and only time it move right of this point was on the anti-gay marriage referendum. Otherwise, in elections with living candidates, moral issues don't mean that much to Hispanic voters. Polls show that Hispanics hold very similar moral views on things like abortion to African-Americans, which has never translated into Republican votes.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at October 14, 2003 9:07 PM

If the GOP got 40% of the black vote the Democratic Party would nearly cease to exist.

Posted by: oj at October 14, 2003 9:17 PM

I'm not counting on a Latino swing right, either, not on grounds of the recall.

Posted by: Twn at October 14, 2003 9:28 PM

It says everything that Dems neglect to translate the abortion parts of the websites into Spanish.

Posted by: kevin whited at October 20, 2003 2:24 PM