Saturday, June 22, 2024

Despite Money Advantage and Outreach Efforts, Republicans Have Pushed Away CA Latinos Voters

In a year when Democratic candidates have been struggling in the usually reliable “blue state” of California, a new poll shows that despite attempts Latino voters may decide some of the closes races in the Democrats’ favor.

A new LA Times/ University of Southern California poll found that despite efforts to court Latino voters, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is trailing Democratic rival Jerry Brown by 19 points.  In a general voter match-up, Whitman and Brown continue to remain neck and neck.

Latino voters comprise 21% of the electorate and over 30% of the state’s population.  While their numbers continue to grow, the percentage of white voters has repeatedly shrunk over the past three decades.  This makes the Latino voting bloc critical to any candidate seeking statewide election.

During the Republican primary, Whitman and opponent Steve Poizner battled for the support of the right wing of the party by using immigration as an issue. Whitman campaign chairman and former CA Governor Pete Wilson, described her as “being tough as nails” on the issue.

However, following her primary election victory, Whitman attempted to shed this stance as she immediately began courting Latino voters.  Her first TV ads were in Spanish, and she came out in opposition to Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law, SB 1070.  She even expressed her opposition to California’s 1994 Prop 187, authored by Wilson, which would have withheld benefits to all undocumented immigrants.

During the summer’s state Republican Party convention, some party activists accused Whitman of trying to bloc their attempts to put support for the Arizona measure on the state platform opening a window on the disunity that exists within the Republican organization on the controversial issue of immigration. She left the convention before the official vote was taken.

Yet, despite her significant spending advantage and overtures, according to the poll, only 26 percent of Latinos said they would support Whitman.  Brown has the support of 44 percent with seven percent saying that they “leaned” towards Brown, and 6 percent “leaning” towards Whitman. Fifteen percent of Latino voters said they were still undecided.

In the race for US Senate, Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer has been struggling to move ahead of her Republican challenger, former Hewlett Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina. The poll shows Latino voters giving Boxer a whopping 38 point advantage.

While the economy and a number of other issues weigh in as factors for Latino voters’ decisions, clearly each political party’s stance on immigration continues to have a large influence on whom these voters choose.

“The Latino voters are being motivated by multiple issues, but immigration is certainly one,” said Manuel Pastor, professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC.

Frum Forum

LA Times