One of the largest demographics in favor of recalling Governor Gavin Newsom this year has come as something of a surprise: Latinos.
According to polls conducted earlier this month, Latino voters are far and away supportive of the recall, with 54% saying yes and only 41% saying no. They have garnered an even greater percentage than white voters, who remain largely split on the question.
For many, the turn around of Latino voters returning to the Republican party has been surprising. For much of Californian history, Latinos were generally on the side of the GOP. For 0ver 100 years after statehood, only Republican Latinos were elected to higher office, with the first California Latino members of Congress (Romualdo Pacheco, Frank Coombs), and the only Latino Governor in state history (Pacheco) coming out during this time. However, a growing immigrant population and the civil rights-era state voter swing of the 1960’s began to change that, with Latinos generally considered to be a left leaning voter bloc by the time of the citizenship screening, illegal immigrant benefit reducing Proposition 187 in 1994. Latinos in California were largely passionate against the prop, with the vote now generally seen as the beginning of the decline of the Republican Party in California.
“A lot of Mexican immigrants and others who came up here saw it as something as a betrayal,” explained Jamie Rodriguez, a second-generation California Latino lawyer whose father, Jose, helped organize several farmworkers against the measure in 1994, to the Globe. “Not all Latinos voted against it, as there are many here who have been in California since it became a state, and many who liked the measure, but generally speaking, Latinos were overwhelmingly against it, and in our eyes, that was the breaking point.”
However, after several decades of large amounts of Latino support for Democrats, support has begun to shift back to Republicans.
Latinos shifting back to the GOP
“The big question is often why this has been happening,” noted Jessica Ochoa, a Los Angeles business owner who assists many Spanish-only speakers in starting businesses of their own, to the Globe on Thursday. “But it shouldn’t be too surprising. Many Latinos, especially recent migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and other Central American countries, are very religious, very Catholic. They are also very family oriented. So these beliefs largely align with the GOP.
“The GOPs anti-migrant and immigration stances during the last few decades have caused many to stick with the Democrats, but we are now seeing many who have now gotten citizenship, many who are now second generation, and many who came in young who now have families of their own. The issue of being undocumented is no longer the main one because things have gotten more complex. In turns many Republican whites and Asians have cooled down on the rhetoric in recent years too, even during the Trump administration, and that has brought a lot of goodwill if you will. Newer generations are also having an increase of multi-ethnic households, so identity is less of an issue.”
“But that’s really what has happened. Many have become middle class and care more about issues that Republicans hold dear. Many Latinos also get into business. I’ve helped dozens. The GOP has also made serious inroads in recent years in attracting more to the party. People like Trump had more Latinos in California vote for him in 2020 compared to 2016. And since last year, with the lockdown, many have had to close. A lot of Latinos lost their businesses or had their business severely hurt. And for Latino workers it has been bad too since many are in more menial positions that quickly evaporated during the lockdown. I know many who worked in kitchens who are still out of work.”
“The COVID response, particularly that to the Latino communities, also really hurt us. Even with the migrant border crisis and many high up Republicans still saying some not so nice things about “illegal immigrants”, everything else overrides that. It just became too much, and many now want to get rid of [Governor] Gavin Newsom. Many now favor Republican candidates. And that is really making the difference now.”
Other issues are also reflecting the turn around.
“A lot of farm workers are Latino, and they are now being tossed to the wayside,” added Rodriguez. “The drought has closed down a bunch of farms, and it has left a lot of Latino farm workers, farmers, and businesses in trouble.
“You know what I aw the other day? The thing that convinced me that Latinos are returning to the GOP? There is a Cesar Chavez monument in the town where my mother lives. When I was driving out last week, a ‘Recall Newsom’ sign was stuck on there. I told my mother that that sign would be gone within an hour, and she said it had been up for about a week. This in a town where County sheriffs had to be called in in 1994 over Prop 187 protests. That tells a lot now doesn’t it?”
“Latino Republicans had been growing in recent years anyway. But Newsom’s COVID response really turned a corner for most.”
The recall election is to be held on September 14th.