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Wed July 3, 2013
For Texas Republicans, A Cautionary Timeline From Calif.
Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 5:48 pm
All this week, NPR is taking a look at the demographic changes that could reshape the political landscape in Texas over the next decade — and what that could mean for the rest of the country.
Over the past two decades, California has come to be known as something of a case study in how not to handle immigration politics.
The once vibrant state Republican Party, which regularly produced GOP presidential candidates and governors for decades, is a shell of its former self, in no small part due to the party's inability to adapt to the state's changing demographics.
Democrats now hold a sizable voter registration advantage in California, huge majorities in the Legislature and every statewide elected office. In January, the incoming state GOP chairman said the rebuilding of the state party would take "a minimum of six years."
California's transition from politically competitive state to Democratic stronghold represents a cautionary tale for states like Texas that are also experiencing rapid growth and a diversifying electorate.
Here's a timeline highlighting some key moments in California's political evolution:
1988—George H.W. Bush carries California with 51 percent of the state's presidential vote, marking the last time a Republican nominee would carry the state.
1994—California voters pass Proposition 187, a ballot initiative designed to set up citizenship screening, with the broader goal of preventing undocumented immigrants from using public education, health care and other social services.
1994—Republican Gov. Pete Wilson wins a second term after embracing Proposition 187 and running a controversial anti-illegal immigration ad, which shows raw video of scores of border crossers, accompanied by a voice-over explaining the negative effects of these immigrants on the state's economy.
1996—Gov. Wilson runs unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination. In November, President Bill Clinton wins 51 percent of the state vote, to Republican nominee Bob Dole's 38 percent.
1997—Because 1994's Proposition 187 was rendered useless shortly after passage, then declared unconstitutional by a federal court in 1997, the law's prevention of illegal immigrants from using social services never took effect. Gov. Wilson took advantage of the previous year's nationwide welfare overhaul to pass a statewide version. The measure explicitly stated that "illegal immigrant parents are excluded, but their children, if citizens, are provided with aid."
1998—Promising to end Wilson's "divisive politics," Lt. Gov. Gray Davis becomes the first Democrat in 20 years to capture the California governorship, crushing Republican Dan Lungren by a 20-percentage point margin.
2000—From 1990 to 2000, the white, non-Hispanic portion of California's population decreases from 57 to 47 percent, while the Hispanic population increases from a quarter to a third of the population, rising by an average of about 327,000 people per year.
2008—Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama wins California's 55 electoral votes in a 61 percent to 37 percent blowout over Republican John McCain. Exit polls show Obama carries 74 percent of the fast-growing Latino vote and 64 percent of the Asian vote.
2010—The Latino population in California surges by 28 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the Census Bureau.
2012—In an October report, Pew Research points to a steady growth in Hispanic voters in California: With 5.9 million eligible Hispanic voters, the state has the largest block of potential Latino voters in the nation.
2012—In November, President Obama wins a landslide victory in the state as GOP voter registration falls below 30 percent for the first time since California began tracking party affiliation. Exit polls report Obama captures 72 percent of the Hispanic vote and 79 percent of the Asian vote, which together amounts to roughly a third of the California vote.