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I just read an interesting column over in the L.A. Times that makes the case that President Elect Barack Obama should send former California Governor Pete Wilson a thank you card. Here are a few excerpts from that column:
So what happened? Two things: immigration and organized labor. Beginning in 1994, when then-California Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, made support for Proposition 187 — which denied health, education and other benefits to undocumented immigrants — a centerpiece of his reelection campaign, Latinos across the country have been moving as far from Republican candidates as their legs will carry them.
To see just how far, The Times asked Loyola’s Guerra and his associate, Jennifer Magnabosco, to break out the votes of Protestant — mainly evangelical — and immigrant Latinos who voted in Los Angeles on Nov. 4. The notion was that these two groups would make up the most socially conservative members of their ethnic community.
The Loyola exit poll found that only 18% of L.A. Latinos voted for John McCain; just half of them were Protestants. That was true even though 47% of Latino Protestants favored a ballot measure that required that parents of teenagers seeking abortion be notified, and an overwhelming 61% favored the ban on same-sex marriage.
Loyola’s findings also tend to support research done by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center that shows Latino social conservatism is at its apogee in the immigrant generation — about four of 10 Latinos in the U.S. are foreign born — and declines until it becomes indistinguishable from the attitudes of white Americans in the third generation. Although 56% of L.A.’s Latino voters favored parental notification, only 40% of the native born did. Similarly, 60% of naturalized voters endorsed the ban on same-sex marriage, and 51% of the native born opposed it.
If you’re a Republican strategist, you need to weigh all this against two facts: By 2050, according to the Census Bureau, one in four Americans will be a Latino. One of the other significant trends in this election was the surge in young voters; one third of the voters under 29 were members of minority groups, mainly Latinos.