Democrats under Siege in the Sunbelt Megastates: California, Florida, and Texas

By Albert J. Nelson | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 2
CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS

California is the largest, most diverse state in the Union, where presidents are apt to go on vacation when concerned with their re-election. Among the large Sunbelt states, California has significantly changed from a weak party system as when Earl Warren (future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) was elected governor of California by both parties in 1946. Now, California is in the throes of competitive party conflict.

A short review of party tendencies among voters finds a good deal of variation. African-Americans overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates, but they are outnumbered by Latinos and Asian-Americans. Asian-Americans cannot be stereotyped as a single group, any more than can European-Americans. Koreans and Hmong, for reasons similar to the Cuban-Americans in Florida, tend to support Republican candidates because that party is identified with a strong anti-communist sentiment. Filipinos and Japanese tend to support Democratic candidates. Latinos generally support the Democratic Party ( Syer and Culver, 1992). The reapportionment after the 1990 decennial census has created a number of minority single-party districts. As in the Southern states, these have enhanced minority and Republican representation.

Californian ethnic and racial diversity, coupled with a strong participant culture ( Elazar, 1972) associated with initiative and referendum mechanisms empowering voters, presents a wide range of experiences and fads likely to be copied by many states. One in particular is Proposition 13, which cut property taxes by 50 percent in the 1970s.

-13-

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