March 30, 2006

Most of the attention that is placed on the immigration issue concerns Latinos, but another interesting trend (and one that may be particularly lethal for Republicans nationally) is the increasing political influence of Asian-American voters. While the stereotype many people have of the "illegal immigrant" is the prospective farm worker from Mexico, sneaking past the Border Patrol in the Arizona desert, in California it is increasingly the family from Ho Chi Minh City or Seoul, visiting America on a temporary visa to stay with loved ones, then "overstaying", all the while building a family-run business in Huntington Beach or Alhambra.

And they are starting to vote, too, in large numbers, and quite heavily for the Democratic Party. In 1994, the year Prop. 187 passed, Asian-American voters only made up four percent of the electorate, and essentially divided their support between Democrats and Republicans. In 2004, they made up 9%, and voted for John Kerry and Barbara Boxer as overwhelmingly as Latinos did.

The California electorate was 81% white in 1994; in 2004, it was down to 65%. All told, the increased participation of Latino and Asian-American voters, coming at the expense of white voting, has shifted the outcome of statewide elections by between 3 and 4 percent, enough to make what was a dependable Red State for most of its history into a solid Blue State in a single decade. Again, the critical event was the passage of Prop. 187; both Latino and Asian-American voting in California doubled in just one election, with the Democratic Party gaining almost all of the new vote, and those numbers have stayed there ever since.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


As an Alhambran, the overwhelming majority of our local Asian population (though I could be wrong on this) tend to vote Republican. At least that's what comes up in the State's campaign contributions pages.

By the way, I stumbled onto your site somehow and was very impressed. I'll keep dropping in on occasion.