USA demographic changes and political shifts: Asians, Latinos and Orange County

Good question regarding whether or not Asian Americans will be influenced by the Trump administration’s anti-immigration rhetoric and actions:

The same sort of panic that hit California’s Latinos after the 1994 passage of the anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 is now hitting many of this state’s almost 6 million ethnic-Asian residents.

Latino fears in the wake of Prop. 187, which sought to keep the undocumented immigrant out of public schools, hospital emergency rooms and seemingly any place its authors could imagine, led to citizenship applications and then voter registration by more than 2.5 million Hispanics over the next three years.

They caused a political revolution in California, which morphed from a swing state equally likely to elect Republicans or Democrats into one of the most staunchly Democratic states in the Union. Only one Republican has been elected to statewide office in the last 20 years, the almost non-partisan former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who won out in the 2003 recall of ex-Gov. Gray Davis.

Now Asian immigrants are feeling fearful because of President Trump’s ban on entry to this country by residents of several Muslim-majority countries and his attempts to restrict the number of political and humanitarian refugees allowed in, plus a drive to deport Vietnamese refugees with any kind of crime on their record, no matter how old or minor.

Asians also remember the Japanese internment during World War II, in which 120,000 Japanese-Americans were held in remote camps for several years.

“You hope things like that can’t happen again, but they really can,” said one green card holder from Thailand. “So I will become a citizen.”

Like her, thousands of Asians in California, from countries as diverse as China, the Philippines and India, see citizenship as the best protection from a potential future expulsion.

If they become citizens in anything like the proportions of Latinos who felt similarly in California after passage of Prop. 187, they could spur vast political changes well beyond this state’s borders. In fact, if both they and citizenship-eligible Latino immigrants ever register in large numbers, they could turn several once-solid Republican states into battlegrounds or cause them to lean Democratic.

And Asians here are applying, although there are impediments Latinos did not face in the late 1990s. Example: Of the 220,000 immigrants in Orange County now eligible for naturalization, nearly 30 percent are Asian. Of them, about 4,500 applied for naturalization through the first three quarters of 2017. If that trend continues statewide for the remainder of Trump’s current term, more than 150,000 Asians will be added to California’s voting rolls.

Because they’re registering largely for the same reasons as Latinos once did, they probably won’t change this state’s political composition. But what about other states? Taking Texas as an example, more than 680,000 Asians are now eligible for citizenship but have not applied. That could make for big change in a state that in November almost gave a Democrats their first statewide victory in more than 20 years.

Yes, the $725 naturalization application fee is a roadblock for many. So is the required blizzard of paperwork. But Texas saw more than 20,000 citizenship applications from Asians last year. If Latinos, many even more apprehensive about Trump’s policies than Asians, register in Texas in similar percentages – and they have not yet – they could combine with Asians to turn Texas Democratic. For that state contains more than 3 million Hispanics who have not sought naturalization despite being eligible.

For sure, the numbers indicate fear among both Latinos and Asians has not reached the same levels it did among California Hispanics after Prop. 187.

But what happens when and if Trump begins serious work on his long-advertised border wall? And what if he attempts mass deportations of illegal immigrants, as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions advocated during his days in the Senate?

For sure, hate crimes against immigrants of all kinds increased during Trump’s presidential campaign and his first year in office. If that trend accelerates, it may spur the kind of fears that pushed Latinos to get naturalized here.

Isaac Newton’s third law of motion tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Just as former President Obama’s policies produced the backlash that elected Trump, so Trump’s policies may already have begun producing an even stronger national backlash against him and his party.

Source: Thomas D. Elias: Will Asians spur big new political changes?

And this analysis of the shift from solidly Republican to leaning Democratic in Orange Country is revealing:

To appreciate the vast cultural and political upheaval across Orange County over the last 40 years, look no further than Bolsa Avenue. The auto body shop, the tax preparer, a church, a food market, countless restaurants — all are marked by signs written in Vietnamese.

Or head seven miles west to Santa Ana, where Vietnamese makes way for Spanish along Calle Cuatro, a bustling enclave of stores and sidewalk stands serving an overwhelming Latino clientele.

The Democratic capture of four Republican-held congressional seats in Orange County in November — more than half the seven congressional seats Democrats won from Republicans in California — toppled what had long been a fortress of conservative Republicanism. The sweep stunned party leaders, among them Paul D. Ryan, the outgoing House speaker. Even Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor-elect of California, won the county where Richard M. Nixon was born.

But the results reflected what has been a nearly 40-year rise in the number of immigrants, nonwhite residents and college graduates that has transformed this iconic American suburb into a Democratic outpost, highlighted in a Times analysis of demographic data going back to 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected president.

The ideological shift signaled by the most recent election results, on the heels of Hillary Clinton beating Donald J. Trump here in 2016, is viewed by leaders in both parties as a warning sign for national Republicans, as suburban communities like this one loom as central battle grounds in the 2020 elections and beyond.

Those new swing suburban counties were one of the central factors behind the 40-seat Democratic gain in the House in November. Many of them have been changed by an increase in educated and affluent voters who have been pushed toward the Democratic column by some of Mr. Trump’s policies. That partly accounts for what is happening here in Orange County, but the political shifts can also be explained by the rapidly changing cultural, political and economic face of the region and are on display in places like Bolsa Avenue, which is known as Little Saigon.

“There are so many of us here and that is what is contributing to these changes,” said Tracy La, 23, who is Vietnamese. Ms. La helped organize a rally in Westminster in mid-December to protest an attempt by the Trump administration to deport thousands of Vietnam War refugees. It drew hundreds of people to the Asian Garden Mall, one of the largest and oldest Vietnamese-operated malls in the nation.

“This is where the future is heading,” said Mark Baldassare, the president of the Public Policy Institute of California. “I don’t see anything that took place in these elections or the demographic trends that are ongoing, to make me think this is a one-time incident.”

That said, the critical question for Democrats — and for Republicans eager to get back in the game — is how much of the November outcome, and the large turnout of younger Latino and Asian-American voters, was because of Mr. Trump.

Kyle Layman, who ran the Southern California congressional campaigns for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said this election had apparently begun to cement long-term changes in voter behavior — an assessment that is not disputed by California Republican leaders.

“I think what we have done is built a foundation that is going to be sustainable,” he said. “These seats are going to be swing seats moving forward. They are going to be very, very tight. But this is part of a long-term trend.”

Indeed, even if the dramatic shift on display in 2018 was in reaction to Mr. Trump — and particularly the immigration policies he has embraced — analysts said that he had only accelerated political movements that were well underway.

“Because it’s becoming more diverse it’s becoming more Democratic, because the Democratic Party is more inclusive,” said Gil Cisneros, a Democrat from Yorba Linda who captured a House seat held by Representative Ed Royce, a Republican. “This is no fluke at all. It’s been this way for a long time and it’s going to continue to trend this way for a long time.”

There was a steady decrease in white voters in the seven congressional districts that are in and around Orange County between 1980 and 2017, according to census data. In 1980, whites made up 75 percent of the population in the district where Mr. Cisneros won. By 2017, that number dropped to 30 percent.

The county’s immigrant population grew five times as fast as the general population between 1980 and 2000, and while the pace of immigration has slowed, the Latino and Asian populations continues to increase, driven by the children of immigrant families born in the United States.

“The Republican Party in Orange County has been traditionally all white,” said Carlos Perea, 25, who moved to Santa Ana from Mexico to join his parents 11 years ago. “The party has pushed for policies that are very harmful to those communities: 2018 was a referendum on that old Orange County.”

Source: In Orange County, a Republican Fortress Turns Democratic

In contrast, Republican support among Latinos, although low at about one-third of voters, is holding steady:

The 55-year-old Colombian immigrant is a pastor at an evangelical church in suburban Denver. Initially repelled by Trump in 2016, he’s been heartened by the president’s steps to protect religious groups and appoint judges who oppose abortion rights. More important, Gonzalez sees Trump’s presidency as part of a divine plan.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Gonzalez said of the president. “He was put there.”

Though Latino voters are a key part of the Democratic coalition, there is a larger bloc of reliable Republican Latinos than many think. And the GOP’s position among Latinos has not weakened during the Trump administration, despite the president’s rhetoric against immigrants and the party’s shift to the right on immigration.

In November’s elections, 32 percent of Latinos voted for Republicans, according to AP VoteCast data. The survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters — including 7,738 Latino voters — was conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Other surveys also found roughly one-third of Latinos supporting the GOP. Data from the Pew Research Center and from exit polls suggests that a comparable share of about 3 in 10 Latino voters supported Trump in 2016. That tracks the share of Latinos supporting Republicans for the last decade.

The stability of Republicans’ share of the Latino vote frustrates Democrats, who say actions like Trump’s family separation policy and his demonization of an immigrant caravan should drive Latinos out of the GOP.

“The question is not are Democrats winning the Hispanic vote — it’s why aren’t Democrats winning the Hispanic vote 80-20 or 90-10 the way black voters are?” said Fernand Amandi, a Miami-based Democratic pollster. He argues Democrats must invest more in winning Latino voters.

The VoteCast data shows that, like white voters, Latinos are split by gender — 61 percent of men voted Democratic in November, while 69 percent of women did. And while Republican-leaning Latinos can be found everywhere in the country, two groups stand out as especially likely to back the GOP — evangelicals and veterans.

Evangelicals comprised about one-quarter of Latino voters, and veterans were 13 percent. Both groups were about evenly split between the two parties. Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist in California, said those groups have reliably provided the GOP with many Latino votes for years.

“They stick and they do not go away,” Madrid said. Much as with Trump’s own core white voters, attacks on the president and other Republicans for being anti-immigrant “just make them dig in even more,” he added.

Sacramento-based Rev. Sam Rodriguez, one of Trump’s spiritual advisers, said evangelical Latinos have a clear reason to vote Republican. “Why do 30 percent of Latinos still support Trump? Because of the Democratic Party’s obsession with abortion,” Rodriguez said. “It’s life and religious liberty and everything else follows.”

Some conservative Latinos say their political leanings make them feel more like a minority than their ethnicity does. Irina Vilariño, 43, a Miami restauranteur and Cuban immigrant, said she had presidential bumper stickers for Sen. John McCain, Mitt Romney and Trump scratched off her car. She said she never suffered from discrimination growing up in a predominantly white south Florida community, “but I remember during the McCain campaign being discriminated against because I supported him.”

The 2018 election was good to Democrats, but Florida disappointed them. They couldn’t convince enough of the state’s often right-leaning Cuban-American voters to support Sen. Bill Nelson, who was ousted by the GOP’s Spanish-speaking Gov. Rick Scott, or rally behind Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who lost to Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Still, in the rest of the country, there were signs that pleased Democrats. Latinos voted at high rates in an election that saw record-setting turnout among all demographic groups. Latinos normally have among the worst midterm turnout rates, and while official data won’t be available for months, a number of formerly-Republican congressional districts in California and New Mexico flipped Democratic.

That’s why Republicans shouldn’t take solace from being able to consistently win about one-third of Latinos, said Madrid. They’re still losing two-thirds of an electorate that’s being goaded into the voting booth by Trump.

“That is contributing to the death spiral of the Republican Party — even if it holds at 30 percent,” Madrid said. “That’s a route to death, it’s just a slower one.”

Gonzalez, the pastor, sees the trend in Colorado. He distributed literature across Spanish-speaking congregations supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, who was crushed by Democratic Rep. Jared Polis as the GOP lost every race for statewide office.

Gonzalez understands the anger among some Latinos at the GOP and Trump for what he says is a false impression of a solely hardline immigration stance. “In the community that is not informed, that is following the rhetoric of the media, there’s a view that Donald Trump is a bad guy,” Gonzalez said. Evangelicals “understand that he’s there to defend values.”

Gonzalez’s church is Iglesia Embajada del Reino, or Church of the Kingdom’s Embassy. On a recent Saturday night, an eight-piece band played Spanish-language Christian rock before Gonzalez walked to the podium. Wearing a blue corduroy blazer, blue shirt and grey slacks, Gonzalez, a onetime member of a Marxist group in Colombia, told his congregants that they were ambassadors of a higher power — the kingdom of God.

“It’s important that your political opinions, your social opinions,” not enter into it, Gonzalez said. “We need to represent the position of ‘The Kingdom.’ ”

Gonzalez did not mention Trump in his sermon, though he spoke about the Bible as a book of governance.

Afterward the congregation gathered for bowls of posole, a traditional Mexican soup. When politics came up, church-goers struggled to balance their enthusiasm for some of Trump’s judicial appointments with their distaste at his rhetoric and actions.

“I think the president has good, Christian principles,” said Jose Larios, a parks worker. “But we feel as Latinos that he doesn’t embrace our community, and our community is good and hard-working.”

Oscar Murillo, a 37-year-old horse trainer, is not a fan of Trump’s. But he tries to stay open-minded about Republicans. He voted for the GOP candidate for state attorney general, who visited the congregation before the election. “He’s in the same party as Trump, but he seems different,” Murillo said.

Source: Latino support for GOP steady despite Trump immigration talk

 

 

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: