Magazine April 19, 2021, Issue

Winning California’s Latino Vote

Mariachi musicians encourage people in Los Angeles County to vote on Election Day, 2012. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images)
The GOP should return to its modern roots in Reagan

We have all heard that Latinos turned California blue. According to the familiar story, Governor Pete Wilson and California Republicans played nativist politics in the 1990s by supporting Proposition 187 and other Latino-bashing ballot initiatives. The strategy was a short-term success but a long-term disaster. While Republicans made gains in the 1994 elections, the hunter became the hunted: Latinos mobilized in reaction, overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party, and realigned California politics. As Latino and immigrant populations continue to grow, Republicans fall further behind every year.

If this story is true, then the California GOP has no realistic path to power. At

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This article appears as “Winning the Latino Vote” in the April 19, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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David L. Leal — Mr. Leal is a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

In This Issue

I. What Made California Great

II. California's Self-Destruction

III. Can California Be Saved?

Books, Arts & Manners


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