White Republicans: Political Decline in California?

The Republican Party in California is in real trouble with only 30.9 percent of registered voters currently registered as Republican. According to a new article by Garry South in the Huffington Post the combination of demographic shifts in the state, which is now 60 percent minority, the lack of Asian, Latino, and Black Republicans, and the anti-immigrant rhetoric by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, all portend trouble for Republicans in California.

One element missing from the discussion is redistricting. In 2008 California voters approved Proposition 11, which allows for a citizen commission to draw district lines, after the public became furious when both parties drew an outrageous district scheme to protect their seats in 2000. If Prop. 11 works to effectively reduce gerrymandering then the Democrats could not only be in the majority but they could soon be a supermajority in the legislature allowing them to make budget and taxation decisions without having to consult with the Republicans.

The demographic environment in California, with minorities leaning towards the Democrats, plus the changes in the redistricting laws could change the outcome of California politics on many fronts.

Another point is that business interests, which are typically represented most strongly in the Republican party, aren’t going away. So, where will they go? It seems to me if the Republican party continues on its anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-people of color bent, then big business will follow the money, or in this case follow the voters, which are increasingly going to be Democrats of color. Will Democrats become the party of “minority friendly” big business, while Republicans become the party of “White Americans R US”?

On the other hand, Dr. Melissa R. Michelson, professor of political science, at Menlo College points out, “The Democratic Party is also not so popular with Californians these days.” In addition, Michelson adds that as the no-taxes/cuts-only budget realities hit the voters, and they see so many programs cut that serve communities of color, such as the cuts to education, who will be blamed?”

When Republican Assemblyman Donnelly invites the sponsor of Arizona’s anti-Latino legislation for a public event it sends a clear message to California’s minority communities, and they have responded by abandoning the Republican party. When Democrats are in power and vital programs for communities of color are cut this too will send a message to minority communities. Who will these communities—which are disproportionately affected by state cuts—blame? And how will they respond?

When are Republicans going to quit being so fearful about the changes in the country and realize that racism and xenophobia will end up being their demise?

Will the old cliché the way California goes, so goes the nation be appropriate here?


  1. drj

    A great set of questions are raised here.

    I think big business, as usual, will hedge their bets and play both sides. They will donate to Dems and Reps to maintain a friend in office, regardless of which party wins the election. It is really a matter of degree — the degree to which their support is made public or used as some sort of strategy in terms of voters/consumer support.

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