November 23, 2006


Schwarzenegger gains among Latinos: His election strategy pays off in best GOP showing since 1990 (Aurelio Rojas, 11/21/06, Sacramento Bee)

One day last summer, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was about to step into a meeting with the editorial board of a Spanish-language newspaper, he received a briefing from a campaign aide.

They discussed issues that could come up, potential land mines in the governor's efforts to woo Latino voters, such as the Minutemen and Proposition 187.

After conferring with other aides, the governor went into the meeting and for the first time disavowed his previous support for the civilian border patrol brigade President Bush has branded as "vigilantes" -- and reaffirmed that he was wrong to vote for the 1994 measure to ban public services to illegal immigrants.

More vocal opponents of illegal immigration criticized Schwarzenegger for his statements to the editorial board of La Opinion. But the governor's change in tone marked the beginning of his turnaround with Latino voters.

At the time, a Field Poll showed only 22 percent of them supported Schwarzenegger. In cruising to a 17-point re-election victory this month over Democrat Phil Angelides, the governor received 39 percent of their vote, according to exit polling done for The Bee.

That threshold has not been reached by a GOP gubernatorial candidate in California since 1990. And it was reached as Republicans with more strident views on illegal immigration were being punished by voters around the country. [...]

Perhaps troubling for the future of the GOP in California was how poorly two conservative Republicans running for constitutional offices fared with the fastest-growing share of the state's electorate.

State Sens. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, and Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, tallied only 23 percent and 20 percent of the Latino vote, respectively, in their losing bids for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The lone bright spot for the Republican Party in down-ballot races was Steve Poizner, the Silicon Valley billionaire who easily beat Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to become the state's insurance commissioner.

Running against the state's high-ranking Latino officeholder, Poizner -- a social moderate who spent more than $13 million of his fortune on his campaign -- received 35 percent of the Latino vote, according to GOP pollster Steve Kinney.

For the GOP to hold on to the Governor's Office in 2010, after the centrist Schwarzenegger moves on, Republicans may have to turn to a candidate who is more like Poizner and less like McClintock and Poochigian.

No GOP candidate for governor since the 1970s has won in California without getting at least one-third of the Latino vote.

The Party paid a high price for not following W, as Arnold did.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 23, 2006 6:35 PM

So, Arnold's a "centrist," and Evita's a "moderate."

Posted by: Sandy P at November 23, 2006 11:29 PM

The GOP "lost" because of a general backlash against evangelicals, everything else was a side issue including Iraq, illegals, and the economy.

Posted by: Perry at November 24, 2006 10:44 AM

It was just the war, which got even evangelicals to vote for Democrats.

Posted by: oj at November 24, 2006 11:16 AM