Monday, June 01, 2009

Whither California's political winds?

The aforementioned Bruce Ross has linked to a blog post by a UC Davis historian that lays out some of California's recent political history. The gist, in Bruce's words:

Pete Wilson took office in 1990 just as the economy collapsed, and the severe budget cuts and tax increases that he pushed to balance the budget left him deeply unpopular when he was trying to get re-elected four years later. Hunting for an issue, he hopped on the Prop. 187 wagon and rode it to victory, but the backlash -- in the form of legal immigrants gaining citizenship, registering to vote, and casting ballots against Republicans -- has left the California GOP the faded minority that it is today.
Actually, Gov. Wilson rode a Republican wave in 1994, the year that the GOP swept into control of Congress, took many statehouses and gained the majority in the California Assembly for the first time since 1970, so I'm not sure how much of a role Prop. 187 actually played. And as UPI noted in 2002, Prop. 187 was positioned "more as a cry for help from Washington to cut back on illegal immigration than as a practical long-term state policy." But I digress.

Bruce concludes:

That's not news to anyone who's been around to watch the events, but it's got me thinking: Crises tend to bring on profound political shifts, and the state is certainly suffering a crisis --- so what shift is California likely to see? Who are the political constituencies up for grabs? And who is ripe for a fall?
Well, considering that California is already among the bluest of blue states, with blues controlling virtually every vestige of government, to have another round of blues winning statewide elections would hardly be considered a shift. So if there is to be a shift, it would seem the only direction to go would be rightward.

As for Hispanics, I'll be interested to see how that particular voting bloc responds to seeing thousands of their fellow/former countrymen being put out of work by a tiny fish. I wonder if they'll take out their frustrations on the party under whose authority the water got shut off.


Bruce Ross said...


Try as the Democrats do to blame Republican holdouts and the two-thirds vote for all of the state problems, the folks who haven't been running the state into a ditch certainly seem to have the most to gain this time around.

But you know, Oliver Wanger was appointed by a Republican.

Tim Hearden said...

Good point, although I don't know if many people will realize that.

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