November 5 2003
When Arnold Schwarzenegger captured half the vote in the 135-person
California recall, pundits said he had found the lost key to Republican
victory in a state the party has been losing for a decade. For Arnold
had carried three in 10 Latino votes!© 2003 Creators
A hard second look by UPI analyst Steve Sailer, however, shows this to
be an urban myth. "Republicans performed strongly in the California
recall," he writes, "because they did what Republicans must always do:
earn lots of votes from that enormous but apparently unmentionable bloc
It was not Arnold's showing among Hispanics that won him the
governorship, but his astonishing strength among whites. Equally
important, Democratic pandering appears to have sunk Davis, and Lt. Gov.
Cruz Bustamante, in a landslide.
A bit of political history. From 1992 through 2003, there were 12 major
races in California, for the U.S. Senate, governor, president. Of those
12, Republicans have won only two – Arnold's victory and Gov. Pete
Wilson's remarkable comeback in 1994.
The conventional wisdom is that Wilson, with his all-out backing of
Proposition 187 denying welfare benefits to illegal aliens, awakened the
sleeping giant of California politics, the Hispanic vote, and filled it
with a terrible resolve to punish the GOP for racism. After 1994,
pundits note, never again did the GOP win the state. Wilson had killed
the party by alienating Hispanics. Republican moderates accepted this
verdict, and sought repeatedly to do penance and pander – and failed
But, as Sailer notes, Wilson's 1994 campaign does not explain why the
GOP went 0-3 two years before, in 1992. Bush I lost California to
Clinton that year, and GOP candidates were defeated by Diane Feinstein
and Barbara Boxer. In all three contests, the GOP lost the white vote.
But in 1994, Wilson won 61 percent of the white vote. In 2003, the two
GOP candidates, Arnold and state Sen. Tom McClintock, won 67 percent of
the white vote. Arnold alone got 53 percent. This, not Arnold's 31
percent of the Hispanic vote, produced the Schwarzenegger earthquake.
Analyzing the 12 elections, Sailer finds that the Republican vote among
Hispanics is always 22 to 28 points lower than the GOP vote among
whites. 2003 was no different. The Republicans got 67 percent of the
white vote and 41 percent of the Hispanic vote, a "perfectly normal 26
Conclusion: The swing vote, the decisive vote, the "gettable" vote for
the GOP is not Hispanic. It is "non-Hispanic white." This is the vote
President Bush must win to carry the state. If whites stay home, or Bush
fails to rally a majority, he will lose California again.
On what issue has the GOP been able to win the white vote?
Again, Wilson, whom the press says alienated Hispanics, was, before
Arnold, the only Republican in 10 years to carry California. He won on
the coattails of Proposition 187, which attracted two-thirds of the
white vote and 37 percent of Hispanics. Not only did Arnold support 187,
Wilson played a visible role in his campaign.
The media contend that a tripling of the car tax, which auto owners
discovered in the mail a week before the recall, was the prime factor in
Davis' defeat. But a survey by the Federation for American Immigration
Control found another factor – "30 percent of voters said Davis'
approval of the bill (giving drivers' licenses to illegal aliens)
influenced their decision to support the recall."
Davis pandered to Hispanics by reversing himself and signing that
drivers' license bill. Bustamante endorsed Davis' pandering. And the
pair were slaughtered and buried by white voters.
Thus that hard second look at the California returns reveals this: The
GOP share of the Hispanic vote in California has held steady for a dozen
years at about 25 points below its white vote. The key to Republican
victory is a high turnout among whites, and the party winning that vote
And the key to winning the white vote is opposition to illegal
immigration, to taxpayer-subsidized benefits for illegal aliens and to
any form of amnesty, including giving illegals drivers' licenses. The
lesson of the recall? Ethnic pandering is political suicide in
Yet, President Bush refuses to oppose amnesty for illegals. Gov.-elect
Schwarzenegger has endorsed a form of amnesty. And the GOP Congress is
toying with various versions of amnesty.
If the party continues on this course, it will forfeit any chance of
carrying California and open itself up to a Third Party challenge, on
the immigration issue, which could cost it the presidency. What are they
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