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Poli 103A California Politics Race as a Political Issue: Demographics and Initiatives.

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Presentation on theme: "Poli 103A California Politics Race as a Political Issue: Demographics and Initiatives."— Presentation transcript:

1 Poli 103A California Politics Race as a Political Issue: Demographics and Initiatives

2 Race as a Political Issue Wedge Issues Definition Examples of famous initiatives Short-Term Gain, Long-Term Loss? Effects of Prop. 187 on Latino participation Effects of Prop. 187 on Republican Party fortunes

3 The End of the Rainbow: Wedge Issues and Their Backlash A wedge issue is “used by candidates of one party to attract voters who usually support the other party – in effect, driving a wedge between the opposition and its normal supporters.” A wedge can split the other party, a minority group, or a group coalition.

4 What Makes a Wedge Work? Successful Wedges Present voters with a salient issue, big enough to motivate their candidate choice Give voters a clear choice between candidates who take different sides on the wedge issue Unsuccessful Wedges Voters might have opinions on the issue, but not a strong enough opinion to choose a candidate All candidates are on one side, effectively taking the wedge off the table

5 The End of the Rainbow: Wedge Issues and Their Backlash Passed by a 59-41% margin in 1994, Prop. 187 would have prevented state and local governments from providing social services, education, and non- emergency medical care to illegal immigrants. It fueled Pete Wilson’s dramatic comeback, with 36% of Democrats supporting it and 19% of Dems supporting Wilson over Kathleen Brown. Opposition to 187 was highest among Latinos (77%), Jews (55%), and blacks and Asians (53%).

6 The End of the Rainbow: Wedge Issues and Their Backlash Passed by a 55%-45% margin in 1996, Prop. 209 ended gender and race preferences by state and local governments, in fields such as public universities, public employment, and government contracts. Favored 51-36% by whites, opposed 57-27% by Latinos, opposed 66-18% by blacks, and opposed 53%-31% by Asians. It failed to help Bob Dole as a wedge issue, because Democratic voters did not care about it enough to switch from Bill Clinton to Bob Dole.

7 The New Rainbow Politics: Gay Rights As A Wedge Issue In November 2008, Proposition 8, “The California Marriage Protection Act,” placed a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution by a 52%-48% margin. A national exit poll reported: 49% support by white voters 70% support by African-American voters 53% support by Latinos 49% support by Asian-Americans

8 Political Geography of Prop. 8

9 The New Rainbow Politics: Gay Rights As A Wedge Issue Partisan Wedge? Barack Obama straddled the issue, personally supporting only civil unions but opposing divisive campaigns to constitutionalize the debate 36% of Democrats supported Prop. 8 82% of Republicans (and McCain) supported Generational Split: 36% of those aged supported Prop. 8 61% of those aged 65 or over supported it

10 The End of the Rainbow: Wedge Issues and Their Backlash Since the Prop. 187 campaign, Latino voters have been energized Democrats. The number of new citizens in the state jumped from 178,000 in to 515,000 in In 1996, 67% of newly registered Latinos voted, up from 43% in Latinos voted 73-21% Democratic in 1996, after voting 52%-40% Dem in 1992.

11 Long-Term Impact of Prop. 187: From Purple to Blue? California Senators: 1944–1992 (48 years x 2 senators = 96 senator years) Republicans: 54 years Democrats: 42 years California Senators: 1992–2008 (16 years x 2 senators = 32 senator years) Republicans: 0 Democrats: 32

12 Fiorina and Abrams: “Latino Electoral Importance is Growing”

13 Fiorina and Abrams: “But Not As Much As Often Assumed”

14 Discussion Questions Was Pete Wilson framed, as Fiorina and Abrams argue, or did Prop. 187 really doom future Republican prospects in the state? Are generational demographics destiny for same-sex marriage issues, meaning that support will inevitably rise as your generation gets older, or not?


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