News and Commentary

California’s Affirmative Action Proposition Failed Thanks To Latinos And Asians
Supporters of Proposition 16 rally at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles to urge the community to vote yes on the proposition on Saturday, October 24, 2020, during early voting in California.
Allison Zaucha for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Democrats vastly overestimated voters’ desire to pit the races against each other through affirmative action policies, even in a state as liberal as California.

Voters in the Golden State overwhelmingly rejected a proposition that would return affirmative action to education, employment, and contracting after the practice was banned for 24 years. As The New York Times reported, California’s “governor, a senator, members of Congress, university presidents and civil rights leaders called it a righting of old wrongs.” The Los Angeles Times editorial board endorsed it.

“Yet on Election Day, the proposition failed by a wide margin, 57 percent to 43 percent, and Latino and Asian-American voters played a key role in defeating it. The outcome captured the gap between the vision laid out by the liberal establishment in California, which has long imagined the creation of a multiracial, multiethnic coalition that would embrace progressive causes, and the sentiments of many Black, Latino, Asian and Arab voters,” the Times reported.

Asian-Americans appeared to see affirmative action as a way to keep merit out of education and hiring decisions, something that has hurt them in other parts of the country. Harvard is still dealing with legal ramifications from admitting fewer Asian-American students even though their grades and SAT scores more than qualified them.

“There’s more texture to California blue politics than you might think,” Lanhee Chen, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University and policy director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, told the Times. “Identity politics only go so far. There is a sense on affirmative action that people resent being categorized by progressives.”

Those in power at Latino nonprofit and civil rights organizations all endorsed the proposition, but actual Latino voters rejected it in all 14 majority-Latino counties in California, the Times reported.

“Latinos make up more than half of San Bernardino County’s population, although significantly fewer turn out to vote. More residents there voted on the affirmative action proposition than for president, rejecting it by a margin of 28 percentage points. In rural Imperial County, in the southeastern corner of the state, 85 percent of the population is Latino. The voters there who gave Joseph R. Biden Jr. a nearly 27-point margin of victory went against the affirmative action measure by 16 percentage points,” the outlet reported. “The results suggest that Democrats may need to adjust their strategy as the complexities of class, generation and experience, and the competing desires of these demographic groups become clear. Since the dawn of the 21st century, it has become commonplace for party leaders to talk of a rising demographic tide that is destined to lift the Democrats to dominance. That liberal coalition is seen as resting on a bedrock of upper-middle-class white voters, alongside working- and middle-class Black, Latino and Asian voters.”

As The Daily Wire previously reported, Democrats have been blaming the party’s focus on socialism as part of their election losses earlier this month, decrying the party’s attitude toward Latino voters in particular. Democrats assumed Latinos, Asians, and African Americans would reliably vote Democrat and ignored the issues important to those groups, particularly an aversion to socialism.

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