Hispanic vote calls shots in San Diego

Gary Jacobson
  • Gary Jacobson

If demographics is destiny, the local corporate welfare boosters — Lincoln Club, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Centre City Development Corporation, San Diego County Taxpayers Association, ad nauseam — face future bellyaches. And the mendicants’ despair will be nirvana for most county residents.

Look at the election results. A Democrat was elected mayor — not surprisingly, because there are about 13 percent more registered Democrats than Republicans in the city. Even in the county, Democratic registrants are in a slight majority. The San Diego City Council now has a Democratic majority. Barack Obama carried the county two elections in a row — he and Franklin D. Roosevelt have been the only presidents to do that.

Steve Erie

Steve Erie

Pete Wilson

Pete Wilson

On the other hand, San Diego County clung to its antipathy to taxes and labor unions: 54.16 percent of voters thumbed down Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, which will raise taxes to support education, and 51.4 percent voted for Proposition 32, which would have eliminated unions’ ability to deduct political contributions from members’ paychecks. Statewide, Proposition 30 won and Proposition 32 was defeated, greatly because of organized labor’s indefatigable opposition.

All told, Democrats are euphoric, and demographics tell much of the tale. According to the most recent U.S. Census data, non-Hispanic white persons make up 48 percent of the county’s population; whites lost their longstanding dominance with the 2010 census. Latinos are 32.5 percent, Asians 11.4, African Americans 5.6, American Indian and native Alaskans 1.4, and Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders 0.6 percent of the local populace. Nationally this year, Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans went decisively for Obama, as did women, particularly young women. Youth voted heavily for Democrats. The county will become half Hispanic in just a few decades, points out Steve Erie, professor of political science at the University of California San Diego.

One former San Diego Republican gets much of the blame (or credit) for the Democrats’ ascendance in the county, says Erie. He is Pete Wilson, former San Diego mayor, California governor, and United States senator. Back in 1994, Hispanics did not participate much in political activity. Pete Wilson was running for reelection as governor and was trailing in opinion polls by more than 20 percent. To boost his prospects, he backed Proposition 187, which through a screening system would have prohibited illegal aliens from using public education, health care, and other social services. The proposition won, and so did Wilson. But, says Erie, the proposition was ultimately declared unconstitutional, and irate Hispanics got involved in the American political process — eventually deeply.

Mel Shapiro

Mel Shapiro

Richard Rider

Richard Rider

San Diego’s downtown overlords “have been dealt a double whammy” in the November election, says Erie. Filner has pledged to steer money to the neighborhoods and away from downtown and “won’t put the same old 20 faces on the committees and task forces,” says Erie. Minorities, women, and neighborhood activists will be named to these groups. U-T San Diego “will shield the old guard, but most people realize that our local ‘Papa Doc’ [as in former Haitian dictator Duvalier] and his Lynch mob at the U-T have no credibility.”

Erik Bruvold

Erik Bruvold

Gary Jacobson, also a political science professor at the University of California San Diego, notes that demographic changes are gradual, but they are now moving politics in a predictable direction. San Diego “is clearly a Democratic city. The downtown establishment should be worried; demographics won’t help them as more and more Latinos get registered.” Young voters are not likely to change their liberal views on social issues even as they age, says Jacobson.

Bruce Henderson

Bruce Henderson

In California, Democrats hold the major statewide offices and are expected to have supermajorities in both houses of the legislature. It is less likely that politicians will restore redevelopment by some other name. Tax increment financing, which is used for subsidized redevelopment, isn’t coming back, says activist Mel Shapiro. In court, Shapiro is arguing that the financing of the convention center expansion should go to the ballot. “Backers of downtown redevelopment can’t be as optimistic,” he says. He thinks the downtown football stadium won’t be built.

I talked to three Republicans, and they believe their party is in trouble and the Chargers stadium probably is dead. “Unfortunately, a few rabid anti-immigrant folks in the [Republican] party blame everything on illegal immigrants,” says Richard Rider, a former Libertarian who switched to Republican. “The perception is that [Republicans] are antiminority, not just anti-illegal immigrants. Republican leaders have to tell these idiots to shut up.” Rider believes that the football stadium will have to go to the ballot and that it will fail for lack of funding. He thinks Republicans should push school-choice issues such as vouchers and tax credits that appeal to minorities.

Republican Erik Bruvold of the National University System Institute for Policy Research worries that the urban move toward Democrats “is a permanent trend.” However, in San Diego, if Democrats become dovish and antimilitary, they will lose votes. He agrees that Republican anti-immigrant rhetoric hurts the party but feels that labor unions will resist immigration reform, and that could hurt Democrats. He once believed the downtown stadium would be built; he no longer thinks so.

Former councilmember Bruce Henderson, a Republican, says the social issues present “an extremely difficult problem” for Republicans. The party just can’t cast out members who feel strongly about these issues. He feels that in San Diego, many Republicans couldn’t vote for a gay mayoral candidate or for a Mormon for president, no matter what they told pollsters. He is not sure the Republicans will ever win the Hispanics, because in their countries of origin they are accustomed to big government.

He thinks it’s too late to stop the convention center expansion although “it’s a terrible misdirection of public resources,” but he thinks “the football stadium is in trouble” for absence of financing.

With both liberals and conservatives thinking the stadium’s chances are much dimmer, San Diego may be going through a great awakening. ■

Contact Don Bauder at 619-546-8529

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I think the GOP screwed up with it's handling of illegal immigration. One side of the GOP (business leaders relying on cheap labor) made sure that immigration laws haven't been enforced for the last 30 years - thus letting a lot of illegal immigrants into the U.S.. . Eventually many of those illegal immigrants got amnesty (86) and are now legal citizens; more recent illegal immigrants have had children who are now legal citizens. The other side of the GOP made a lot of noise and statements that offended recent immigrants (including legal children of illegal immigrants and prior illegal immigrants now legal due to amnesty) and helped push them away from GOP.

ImJustABill: You have described the Republicans' dilemma very well. The party has extremists who are filled with anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-poor, anti-everything anger. Any candidate needs to court this vote to get nominated, then switch to appeal to the middle. Romney played to the hate groups in the Republican nomination process then switched to the center in the middle of the campaign -- in fact, during the first debate. It worked for awhile, but enough voters wondered what he really believed that in the end he did himself in. This Republican dilemma will get worse in future elections, as demographics change. The Democrats, however, have problems, too. Best, Don Bauder

1/2 hispanic in 20 years? 1/2 of the usa?

San Diego could be half Hispanic by 2050 or before, perhaps well before. I don't know about the USA. Best, Don Bauder

Ay caramba, I knew there was a reason to take Spanish at UCSD back in the '70's!

Seriously, folks, let's face the fact that while Mittens was talking about Latinos "self-deporting," Obama operative Janet Napolitano (of Arizona) deported thousands and thousands of undocumented workers. Obama floated the "Dream Act" as one of those election year "gifts," but it really is pretty shallow short-term help.

As Don Bauder says, both parties have negatives to account for with the burgeoning Latino citizenry and neither has a particularly stellar record.

monaghan: Think about all those students, particularly those majoring in some scientific discipline, who took Russian in the 1950s. Mastery of that language is probably not as important as the students believed then. Back in those days, who would have taken a Chinese language or Japanese? Best, Don Bauder

The republicans proved one thing above all others during the last two years, they no longer want a Democracy.

They indentured themselves to Emperor Grover and the superPAC oligarchs and no longer tolerate compromise.

The San Diego U-T has been publishing deranged rantitorials using Rush Limbaugh as their role model ever since Oligarch Manchester bought it for that purpose hoping that he could fool all the people all the time by insulting every thinking voter in San Diego with his full page anti-Obama and anti-Filner aditorials that failed competely as the results prove. Manchester proved that San Diegans are smarter than he ever imagined.

It's time for Manchester to sell out the paper he trashed to the READER so truth and integrity can be implemented in the San Diego press so younger generations will get the information they need to protect their quality of life from the ideology of hate against minorities, women, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness practiced 24/7/365 by Manchester and the GOP.

Anon: I can't speak for the Reader, obviously, because I am not in the management. But I will say this: who wants a metropolitan daily newspaper? What's the life expectancy of the print editions of metro dailies? A generation? Less? Until metro dailies show they can make money in the electronic platforms, investors will consider them dead money. Best, Don Bauder

Don, as Winston Churchill exhorted during the Battle of Britain "Never, Never, Never Give Up!"

The READER, especially including your column, proves that print media is still important to the youngest generations.

Obama's reelection proved that the youngest generations can win in spite of GOP politics of fear and hate.

We still need print journalism as a most important part of our social media to provide the best educational information to inform, inspire and motivate us to protect our long-term future.

Anon: Yes, we NEED the print media, including metro dailies. But society needs lots of things that evanesce. Best, Don Bauder

Sadly, Obama's success using younger generations and newest media technologies for campaigning proved that the metro daily editorial style of hate and fear is failing to influence increasing numbers of thinking voters.

The best news was that the Manchester's Der Stürmer editorial policy failed with his attempts to demonize Obama and Filner, and that the number of voters who believe what republicans say with their rhetoric of hate and fear are becoming extinct.

Now let's see if the younger generations can restore and protect American Democracy in Washington instead of allowing congressional republicans to follow in the goosesteps of the 3rd Reich in the 30s.

However, we must all turn our attention to preventing the threats of ongoing climate changes ASAP, or else.

Anon: It seems to me that the U-T's choices in the latest election almost uniformly failed, except for offices that are never really a contest. Best, Don Bauder

Dear Mr. Pot:

I think that complaining about a "rhetoric of hate and fear" in one paragraph and then comparing Republicans to Nazis in the next paragraph is more than a bit hypocritical.

Love, Mr. Kettle

You might try reading history books like the "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."

The full page "2016: Obama's America" aditorials that Manchester published against Obama used of the Dur Sturmer manual of style.

The Jews have always been right to warn "it can happen again" and the 2012 fear and hate campaign against Obama is as close as we have gotten to date.

Anon, you are spinning, Mr Kettle, aka I'm Just A Bill, is correct, that kind of rhetoric is over the top.

Anyone that tries to lay the blame of our now failed city,state and country on one party is delusional.

The 2012 republican campaign against hispanics, blacks, women, The 47% and voting rights is now historical fact no matter how much you deny it.

But I also realize from 24/7 news coverage, including the U-T, that republicans are still using the same 2012 rhetoric of fear and hate as if you haven't lost or learned anything from the electorate that is increasingly voting against your culture.

SP: There was a lot of hatred in the presidential contest, as well as the San Diego mayoral race. Best, Don Bauder

Your argument above seems to be a guilt by association argument, e.g. if Hitler's favorite color was red then anyone who likes red is a Nazi.

Comparisons to Nazis really aren't going to work to try to diffuse disagreements.

Take your point about global climate change. So most of the GOP wants to deny evidence of GCC. Would it be better to label them as evil people who want to destroy the world? Or better to keep repeating facts that show levels of CO2 are changing, ice-caps are melting, etc. Name-calling just makes people mad. Facts, eventually, will win out.

ImJustABill: Through the years -- Richard "Soft on Communism" Nixon, Joe McCarthy, etc. -- the Republicans have done much more red-baiting than the Democrats have done Nazi-baiting. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: Of course, the rightwingers kept calling Obama a socialist. Best, Don Bauder

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