Wednesday, November 14, 2012
From THE HUFFINGTON POST
If the future happens first in California, the Republican Party has a problem.
The nation's most populous state – home to 1 in 8 Americans – has entered a period of Democratic political control so far-reaching that the dwindling number of Republicans in the Legislature are in danger of becoming mere spectators at the statehouse.
Democrats hold the governorship and every other statewide office. They gained even more ground in Tuesday's elections, picking up at least three congressional seats while votes continue to be counted in two other tight races – in one upset, Democrat Raul Ruiz, a Harvard-educated physician who mobilized a district's growing swath of Hispanic voters, pushed out longtime Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack.
The party also secured a supermajority in one, and possibly both, chambers in the Legislature.
"Republican leaders should look at California and shudder," says Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain's 2008 campaign and anchored former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election team in 2006. "The two-party system has collapsed."
Republican voter registration has dipped so low – less than 30 percent – that the party's future state candidates will be hobbled from the start.
Republicans searching for a new direction after Mitt Romney's defeat will inevitably examine why President Barack Obama rolled up more than 70 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote, and 9 of 10 votes among blacks, essential ingredients in his victory. Women also supported Obama over Romney nationally and in California, where they broke for the president by 27 percentage points.
There is no better place to witness how demographic shifts have shaped elections than in California, the home turf of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan that just a generation ago was a reliably Republican state in presidential contests.
A surge in immigrants transformed the state, and its voting patterns. The number of Hispanics, blacks and Asians combined has outnumbered whites since 1998 in California, and by 2020 the Hispanic population alone is expected to top that of whites. With Latinos, for example, voter surveys show they've overwhelmingly favored Democratic presidential candidates for decades. Similar shifts are taking place across the nation.