California's ailing Republicans: A dying breed?
'Republicans are relishing the coming of a new day on Capitol Hill. But across the country in California, the party of Nixon and Reagan is drifting toward obscurity. The latest sign of imperiled health: In a year Republicans notched big victories in Congress, governor's offices and statehouses around the nation, California Democrats made a clean sweep of eight statewide contests on Nov. 2. Democrats padded their majority in the Legislature, where the party controls both chambers and no congressional seats changed parties. California counted more registered Republicans in 1988 than it does today, even though the state population has since grown by about 10 million.''It's been said the future happens first in California, and the state hit a little-noticed milestone this month that will have implications in voting booths for years to come. For the first time, Hispanics account for more than half the students in the state's public schools. They will be tomorrow's voters.''Latino backlash against Republicans drove the debacle
, as illegal immigration occupied a central place in the gubernatorial campaign -- first in the GOP primary when Steve Poizner pushed Meg Whitman to the right by accusing her of being insufficiently hard line. Even Gov. Pete Wilson, the face of the unpopular 1994 ballot measure Prop. 187, made an appearance in a Whitman ad, saying she would be "tough as nails" on illegal immigrants.'
'Latinos, who made up 22 percent of the midterm turnout in California, increasingly see the Republican brand as toxic. More than one-third of Latinos said they would never consider voting Republican, while another 31 percent said Republicans should move closer to the center and nominate less conservative candidates.
At the same time, 50 percent of registered Republicans said candidates should stick to core Republican principles and nominate "true" conservatives, while 36 percent of Republicans prefer less conservative nominees.'
'"One of the challenges facing Republicans is that California is more moderate than the rest of the country," Spillane said. "We need to establish an identity that's different than the national identity."
It will take more than image makeovers to be taken seriously in a state that may be becoming intractably Democratic, said Manuel Pastor, an American Studies professor at the University of Southern California.
"Republicans think they have an image problem with the Latino community," he said, "but it looks like they have a policy problem."'
But is there a glimmer of hope for the Republicans in California? Perhaps. 'A poll published last week held a glimmer of hope for the California GOP: Asian voters, unlike other minorities, are willing to consider Republican candidates.'
'Dan Ichinose, director of the Demographic Research Project at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, which helped formulate and finance USC's participation in the survey of Asian voters, said the views of California's Asian minorities may change over time.
"Many folks do carry attitudes from their countries of origin and cultures in those countries," he said. "As more are born in this country and become more comfortable in living here, those attitudes fall."
For now, the attitudes are giving Republicans a chance; whether they make the most of it depends on how avidly the parties pursue the new voters.
"They're sort of a classic swing group," said Junn, born in Georgia to parents who emigrated from Korea. "Whoever makes the move to get these immigrants will get them for generations."'