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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

LOS ANGELES — Jim Brulte, California’s Republican chairman, has sobering but useful words for his party’s leaders and 2016 candidates: If they don’t learn from what happened to the GOP here, they may doom themselves to repeating its decidedly unpleasant experience.

“California is the leading edge of the country’s demographic changes,” Brulte said in an interview. “Frankly, Republicans in California did not react quickly enough to them, and we have paid a horrible price.”

One measure of the cost: In the three presidential elections of the 1980s, California voted twice for Ronald Reagan and once for George H. W. Bush. The state has not gone Republican since, and it won’t get any easier in 2016.

The hole is deep enough that Brulte has concentrated his own energies on rebuilding the party from the bottom up. He has enjoyed some real successes at the local and county levels, and the GOP eliminated the Democrats’ veto-proof majorities in the state legislature in the 2014 midterms.

But the Republicans are still vastly outnumbered in both houses — 25-14 in the state Senate, 52-28 in the Assembly — and the Democrats picked up a seat in 2014 in the U.S. House of Representatives. They have won all of California’s statewide offices in three of the last four elections. The last time that happened: 1882.

The principal cause of the GOP’s troubles is its alienation of Latinos, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans in a state whose population is now a majority non-white. Republicans can win in 2016 without carrying California, but the party’s struggles here highlight the extent to which the GOP is making its life in presidential years very difficult with its increasingly hard line on immigration, its image as a bastion for older, white conservatives, and its solicitude for Americans with very high incomes. When House Republicans in Washington voted to repeal the estate tax last week, it was helping all of 5,400 of the wealthiest households in America, not exactly a move with mass appeal.

As has often been the case in American history, California is simply the harbinger of changes — in this case demographic — that are happening more slowly elsewhere. “The one thing no one can stop,” says Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat who was elected to Congress here in 2014, “is that every month, the rest of America looks more like California.”

The Republicans’ problem with Latino voters is especially pronounced here. The passage of Proposition 187 in 1994 with the strong support of Republican Gov. Pete Wilson — the ballot measure barred illegal immigrants from a variety of state services — simultaneously alienated Hispanic voters from the GOP and mobilized many of them into the political process.

The same thing is now happening nationally. The growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the GOP has cut the Republicans’ Latino share of the vote from the 40-percent range for George W. Bush to 27 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012. The party’s strenuous opposition to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration will only make this problem more acute.

But even more remarkably, Republicans have also suffered severe declines among Asian-Americans. According to the exit polls, a majority of Asian-Americans voted for George H.W. Bush in 1988. But in 2012, Romney won only 26 percent of their ballots.

Rep. Xavier Becerra, a Democrat whose district here includes Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and Historic Filipinotown, notes that when he was first elected to Congress in 1992, a large share of Asian-Americans leaned Republican. That’s no longer true, and both Becerra and Lieu pinpointed the immigration issue as the primary cause for the shift.

Republican opposition to the DREAM Act, designed to give relief to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as minors, especially rankled Asian-Americans, Lieu said: “Republicans were saying, ‘Come support us, we like you, but we want to deport your children.'”

Brulte thus takes particular pride in his outreach efforts to Asian-Americans. His party’s victorious legislative candidates last year included state Sen. Janet Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American, and Young Kim, the first Korean-American Republican woman to serve in the California Legislature.

But this was only a start, and as 2016 approaches, every GOP candidate should tack this reminder from Brulte on a headquarters wall: “In 2012, Mitt Romney carried 59 percent of the white vote and he carried independents. In 2004, this would have elected him president. In 2000, it would have given him an Electoral College landslide. In 2012, it gave him second place.”

E.J. Dionne’s email address is [email protected] Twitter: @EJDionne. 

Photo: Ed Uthman via Flickr

  • Dominick Vila

    Please understand one thing, those who fear deportation are not eligible to vote, and do not vote. They are too busy working in the fields and doing menial jobs, and hiding from the “migra” to walk to a polling place, without the proper documentation, to fill out a form they don’t understand, to exercise our subliminal right to vote.
    The reason LEGAL Latinos, and many Hispanics, including white Hispanics, do not identify themselves with Republican “values” and their position on immigration law reform, is because of the continuous expressions of hatred and intolerance that characterize Republican discourse on this issue. They understand, better than many “Anglos” that the ethnic and cultural hatred expressed by a powerful segment of the GOP goes well beyond illegal immigration, and that if they could get away with it, they would happily embrace David Duke’s dream of sending all African Americans to Africa, and all Latinos to Mexico, regardless of how long they, and their ancestors, lived in what we now know as the USA.
    The overwhelming majority of LEGAL Latinos and Hispanics (with the exception of Cuban-Americans) identify themselves as Democrats, not necessarily because they support the entire Democratic agenda, but often because they see Democrats as more tolerant and diverse.

    • spazaru

      Even young Cubans are starting to vote Democrat in larger numbers.

      • Dominick Vila

        I know. They also split the vote in the 2012 election, after decades of an almost exclusive Republican voting record.

        • dpaano

          Fortunately, they are starting to see the light, especially with the governor they have in Florida and the other Republicans running that state……

  • ProudACLU

    Learning means either accepting the knowledge you have is wrong or you didn’t know something and the GOP is incapable of accepting either.

  • bobnstuff

    The Fox News Party can’t change. They have to much invested in the old white male and the hatred of truth. The party of I’m no scientist is blind to facts and even when one of their own points out their problem they chose to stay blind. If it wasn’t for gerrymandering they would have an even bigger problem. Their only tool is disenfranchising as many non republican voters as they can and mislead as many others as will let them. They say they love the middle class but only give presents to their rich friends. A once great party taken over by thieves and fools.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Republicans had the chance to pass comprehensive immigration. They could have owned this issue and paved the way for welcoming more Latinos into their party. But President Obama would have had to sign this law,and they perceived a victory for him, and they were/are dedicated to allowing him as few victories as possible, the country be damned.
    So they constantly bring up the excuse of “securing the border.” Put a fence up for 2000 miles? And how would this help, when another person just scaled the 8 foot fence at the White House, which has Secret Service at all times?
    How about fining businesses who hire illegals so they can pay low wages? One of the ways to solve the problem is to have e-verify. Their way of solving the problem is to limit the vote. So many of our politicians are such small minded, mean spirited people.

    • charleo1

      What has been true about the ‘secure the border firsters,’ which is the GOP line on immigration. Is no one ever quantifies exactly what that means. Is it like the war on drugs, war on terrorism? At what point is this nonspecific goal, to be considered accomplished? So then, the Party will agree to move on, and take up other measures? Such as requiring all employers to verify the eligibility of an applicant to work, before they may be employed. And then, concentrating the enforcement efforts on the employers in a few key industries, where the immigration scofflaws have been most prevalent, would guarantee near 100% compliance in a very short time. So stopping the influx of economic refugees by ending their illegal employment practices, is not a head scratcher. Unless you’re being at once, deceitful, duplicitous, and intentionally mean spirited for political objective. And this is not lost on Latinos of course. Or, at this point by the majority of all Americans. Who are frankly embarrassed at their openly racial and disrespectful jokes. As well as offended by the discriminatory ‘papers please laws.’ Passed by only those legislatures in States like AZ. or GA. with large Republican majorities. Catering to the same crowd that enjoys the jokes, or believes President Obama, who continues to oversee the securest border in modern times, and deports record numbers of undocumented, is an open border advocate. And all the while, the pie in the sky conditions set by the border firsters, are in effect protecting the status quo for powerful lobby interests, like big agri, and the tourist industry. Who illegal hire by the hundreds of thousands each year with impunity thru labor contractor loopholes.

      • plc97477

        The gotp are not going to go after the companies that hire illegals because the companies have the gotp in their pockets. The gotp are no going to want to upset their money men that way. Not that the dems don’t have some of the same problems.

        • charleo1

          The Dems for sure have a lot of the same problems. At this point, degrees do matter. Personally, I’m ecstatic with a half a loaf anymore, so bad is the buy out of gov. at all levels. To their credit, so far the Dems have chosen to try to do the right things on immigration. While being mindful, these are vulnerable people any proposed fixing of the system would impact. And I think most Americans, including most Conservatives, respect that. And feel that but for the grace of God, it could them, and their children, just as easily. At least when I talk to people, they usually are in a much better place, morally speaking, that most of the rhetoric and laws of the GOP surrounding immigration, would suggest. For example, polls consistently show, a majority of Conservatives support a reasonable path to citizenship for most of the settled, otherwise law abiding immigrants. So that leaves the Party itself trapped between two comparatively small, diametrically opposed minorities. Namely their base, and those big businesses that use a ton of undocumented labor, and donate generously to them. So, what’s a lying shill to do when caught in such a quandary? Well, it’s ugly, and they’re doing it!

          • plc97477

            The big difference as far as I can tell is that the dems don’t kiss the behinds of their money men whereas the repugs do and don’t seem even disturbed that they are seen doing so.

        • It’s really a game with them.. A smoke screen to evade what would really balance this country and that’s do their job, compromise with industry to lessen taxation if they come back and help America grow again and if not place such a tariff on imports that it wouldn’t profit industry to sell it’s wares here then create new industries that will abide by the new rules. They don’t want to do this because THEY are the industry or at least have a large interest in those companies so they go through the motions that give us a false security that they’re doing their job while watching our infastructure collapse and our people take sides and verbally war with each other. Our politicians are a special breed that only correlates with apathy and selfishness. Both sides are of the same coin as their greatest interest is in keeping their phony baloney, high paying jobs. I love this nation if for any reason but to be able to say these things without repercussion (except from trolls and critics).

          • dpaano

            I don’t agree with some of what you say, but I defend your right to say it!!! Didn’t someone else say that??? Well, it works here too!

          • I thank you for giving me this right (no sarcasm intended) but I don’t quite understand what you don’t agree with.. Are you saying that it’s okay for our politicians to play such games where they do nothing other than vote themselves raises?That it’s alright for corporations to abandon the American dream, go to other countries and exploit their people with low wages and terrible working conditions (because the U.S. won’t allow such things) all for more personal profit? You don’t think we deserve new industry as it would put a burdon on the entrepreneur? It’s okay that neighbors draw lines in the sand, degrade one another and threaten civil war because it’s the American way? I just don’t understand what you disagree with. When things go awry and simple citizens can come up with real solutions (like putting welfare recipients to work in g’ment jobs 4 hours a day in order to create twice as many workers with menial jobs such as cleaning office buildings, work in soup kitchens and food banks parks and recreations, even highway litter that g’ment employees do for top pay, using closed buildings as day care centers with one or two professionalls over seeing that the recipients care for these kids in a correct manner and instead of selling public vehicles for a song, put them in the hands of other recipients to transport the welfare workers to and from their jobs or just use simple public transportation.. anything to take the excuse not to work from them, the disabled and elderly could be given computers and internet access in their homes for simple data entry while only a few officials monitor their progress over the net thus making all recipients a contributor to society while taking the term ‘moocher’ from the equation) The g’ment pays them anyway, why not require them to work for this pay?
            And because of the low pay, many would seek escape at the first
            opportunity rather than continue to work for the little pay they
            receive. And that’s just one faction that could be used positively for the progression of this nation.. yet all the politicians do is argue to eliminate and starve these people OR keep them in positions where they do indeed seem to be moochers to the average taxpayer.. Their job is to tend, lead and take care of all Americans, not just the 5%. The last 6+ years politiicians have been busy arguing what the oposition shouldn’t be doing instead of hunkering down and doing what THEY should be doing to better this nation. To me it’s in the same light as someone continually goofing-off going around watching and reporting others of goofing off. In any case, thanks for your input.

          • dpaano

            Jim: I agree with everything you said above….I guess I just don’t quite agree that ALL of the so-called “both” sides are the same. There ARE some Democrats who have morals….maybe even some Republicans (few and far between). I just see the GOP as being the party that is doing the most to hurt this country and some Democrats just sitting back and letting them do it and not supporting OUR president……this is why so many of the candidates in 2012 didn’t win the elections. If the Democrats would just get their boat on the river and start talking about the good things that have happened under President Obama instead of remaining quiet……I think the election would have gone a whole different way. I can only hope that 2016 won’t be the same……we have to let the American public KNOW that the GOP uses lies and scare tactics to keep their base in line….but that it IS all lies and scare tactics and not the truth. Hang in there….I hope things will look up soon. All we can do is hope and try to make sure the right people are voted in that have OUR interests at heart and not the interests of corporations, etc.

          • Thanks dpaano and your absolutely correct but it seems the yellers and butt sniffers takes away from the cooperators (much like one bad cop gives the public the assumption that their all bad) so we (I) tend to speak of those types rather than the advocates (more on one side than the other for sure). The reason that I see that most dem advocates aren’t making any leeway is because their forced to continually defend the party (and the president) from the lies and inuendos of the opposition.. If this was eliminated (that is, the parties concentrate on their own successes and failures) instead of pointing out the failures that they see (real or imagined) the other side makes then both could run on their own merits instead of setting up the old call line ‘lesser of two evils’ we do not need to vote under that circumstance but because one party does this at every turn forcing the other party to defend those assumptions is why the dems seem to be just ‘sitting it out’.. They defend lies and the liars continue to lie about their lies because someone once told them if you tell the same lie often enough then it will become a truth (I think the author was saint Raygun if I’m not mistaken).. I know there are good leaders on both sides but the extremes have taken over and forced anyone not agreeing with their platform into small sound proof rooms. If we as voters would simply stop listening to these talking heads and stop this continual offensive/defensive idiocy that they seem to revel in, maybe the sleepers would wake up and realize what they are voting for also affects them and OUR voters would actually get out and vote instead of believing it’s a losing cause because the empty suits even affect them to a degree with their exaggerations and ball face lies. Of course this has been controlled to an extent in that the powers that be have made it virtually impossible to find the time to do such things when most of the voters waking hours are used to earn enough to support them and their family and any leisure time at all is precious and not to be wasted on even more toil but it must be sacrificed in order to understand the true workings of the political system. So, how can we make sure we’re voting in the right people when the wrong people control the microphone? Simple in my scenario, stop tuning in and seek past accomplishments (and failures) of the candidates.. Don’t simply allow them to tell us of these former accomplishments as they seem to believe anything can be said so long as their not in a court of law with their hand on the bible (and even that has it’s ‘gray’ areas). So, we can’t depend on the promises that they WILL do a good job, we must compare those potential accomplishments to their past record, THEIR past accomplishments (and failures) and THEY must furnish the information on paper for all to see, anything less and we only focus on the carrot that they bobble in front of us.

      • oldtack

        Good Article Charlie.

      • ericlipps

        To hear some conservatives talk, “securing the border” means erecting a 2,000-mile-long version of the Berlin Wall, complete with barbed wire, guards and machine-gun nests.

        If it comes to that, it’ll be time for decent Americans to get out–while they still can, before the U.S. is walled off from Canada too and the harbors and airports are run by the military and Homeland Security.

        • charleo1

          Absolutely! Walls, after all, may serve a duel purpose. By it’s nature, a wall always seeks to prohibit someone’s freedom. Control someone’s movement from point a to point b. This is irrespective of their Rights. But determinate on the authority responsible for it’s placement. In a Country that walls off, or
          incarcerates more of it’s citizens than any totalitarian state in the World. We should all be very cautious of walls built on the premise of protecting, “us.” Wasn’t that the stated premise of the Berlin Wall?

          • ralphkr

            Of course, charleo, the purpose of the Berlin Wall was not to protect “us” but to keep “us” in just as the militarized borders had the minefield on the “us” side instead of on the West side.

          • charleo1

            Well sure! That’s what they told the East Berliners. The minefields were just in case the greedy Capitalist breeched the wall, in order to pillage the Utopia created by the Communists.

        • ralphkr

          And don’t forget the mine fields, erclipps, and now we can deploy autonomous search & destroy guns and drones to have a truly secure border.

  • Paul Bass

    The California republican chairman has his work cut out for him. The republicans are facing a giant demographic problem, that they are only making worse.
    The average republicans hatred towards blacks, latinos, women and the poor is only making their problem much worse. Unless they start to open up their party to these minorities, they will suffer this “californiazation” throughout the county.

  • Alvin Harrison

    The GOP is on a sinking ship…. and their answer is to make more holes “to let the water out”…..

    • charleo1

      Exactly! While swearing their ‘more holes philosophy’ will eventually float the boat better than new. If all life jackets are jettisoned immediately!

  • The GOP refuses to learn anything from anyone except the GOP and the way it’s been going the last six+ years, the GOP continues to learn the same old rhetoric. They continue to believe that if they keep preaching the same BS eventually it will magically turn into a truth and be embraced by their loving followers and the fringes of both parties. Well, they don’t have to worry about their followers, it’s the fringes and the other 47% that they need to brainwash and their Obamacare test project (for the 54th-57th time?) has been a complete failure.. they just can not conjure up a concise lie that EVERYBODY will believe. That doesn’t mean they won’t keep trying as we will soon witness with the new Clinton ticket. Already I’ve read they have found something much more devastating than even Benghazi that will destroy her presidential chances thus automatically put one of their puppets in the white house. Trying desperately to live the dream, that’s all they’ve got left.. That’s all they deserve.

    • johninPCFL

      That IS Goebbels’ principles in action: the big lie told often and loudly becomes the truth. The GOP has mastered the “often and loudly” part.

      • And have in small ways convinced many sleepers it’s truth. Now their chore is to disassemble their opposition to the point of unworthiness so the sleepers can spread the word. It happens many times on liberal forums and all the time on right-wing forums. I’ve checked those extreme forums and have found many, many posts but at all times only a hand full of posters.. From a distance it looks as if half the nation is for the cons and that’s exactly the way they want to be seen so that stragglers might join in on what seems like a large and popular forum and once they grow they will expand into the forums we use, one troll at a time. Just to let you know.

  • wjca

    There are a few straws in the wind which might (might!) indicate that the California GOP is starting to make some progress. Granted, there is still a long way to go; and granted that they may be anomalies, rather than the start of something.

    For example, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin managed to make the general election ballot for State Controller last year. And if her bid fell short, the fact that she made it that far, and made the election close, is a sign of progress — that if the Republicans put up someone who has a track record for actual accomplishment, and is not a fanatic for policies unrelated to the office in question, they can make things competitive.

  • howa4x

    There are other issues that alienate the republicans from different populations. Take women for example. The GOP has historically been hostile to women’s reproductive issues and its backing of laws restricting access to contraception, which drives young women from the party. The GOP is also anti union which alienates a large part of the middleclass, as well as anti environmental, which does the same to more educated people concerned for the future. The main hostility to the GOP is its protection of big business against the people’s interest, fighting every regulation that would keep children and everyone else safe, including any restriction on gun ownership, even for the mentally ill. The reality is the GOP really now represents less and less of the population.