Polling shows that Americans who watched the first 2016 presidential debate on Monday thought, by landslide margins, that Hillary Clinton bested Donald Trump. Trump couldn’t have chosen a less opportune time to choke – the debate was watched by more Americans than any previous presidential debate. So the question isn’t so much whether the debate will help Clinton’s campaign, it’s really how much it will help.
The best gauge of the short-term impact of discrete events like the debate is the “now-cast” measure of election outcome probabilities on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com. A day’s now-cast gives the percentage chance that each candidate would have to win the election if the election were held on that day – it is not a prediction how the vote will go on Election Day.
The now-cast is much more sophisticated than indexes like the much-noted polling average maintained by RealClearPolitics.com – first, because the now-cast is based on computer modeling and statistical analysis much more sophisticated than RCP’s simple averaging, and second, because the now-cast is based on state-by-state analysis, not just national polling.
The period after the two national conventions was a disaster for Trump. On July 28, the last day of the Democratic convention, the now-cast said that Trump’s chances of winning the election were 52.9 percent. But after the conventions, Clinton took off, peaking on August 6, when 538 rated her 96.4 percent likely to win the election if it were held that day. Clinton more than doubled her odds of winning in nine days, from less than 50-50 to the next thing to a dead certainty. From the August 6 peak, Clinton went into a steady decline, falling to a 52.1 percent chance to win on September 26, the day of the debate.
Then Clinton whomped Trump in the debate.
In the three days since the debate, as of this writing (538 updates its election prediction indexes as polls come in, often several times a day), Clinton’s now-cast chances of winning the election have risen to 71.9 percent.
Even more important is the now-cast’s state-by-state breakdown. This is important because while Silver’s record for predicting election outcomes is perfect at the national level, it is very nearly perfect in predicting how each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia will vote – not just in presidential elections but also in senatorial elections.
As of now, the now-cast gives one candidate or the other more than 70 percent odds of winning all states except six: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio. But here’s the thing: counting only states where one candidate has more than a 70 percent chance to win, Clinton would have 272 electoral votes if the election were held today – two more than needed to win. (I’m counting one of Maine’s electoral votes as up for grabs, because Maine awards electoral votes by congressional district, and I’ve seen reporting that Trump is viable in one district.)
In other words, even if Trump won all six states that are in play he would still lose the election. And there is no reason to believe he will win all six – the now-cast awards Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina to Clinton.
The bounce is especially timely because early voting, which tends to favor Democrats, opened in two more states today, including the swing state of Iowa. With each passing day, the extent to which the election has already happened increases, and the number of votes remaining to be cast decreases.
The commentariat has largely accepted the faulty premise that Donald Trump’s success reflects economic anxiety in the white working class, and the noxious corollary that Trump’s candidacy represents change while Hillary Clinton’s represents the status quo.
In fact, the American economy under Barack Obama has stacked up a steady sequence of superlatives. Last week’s news included the report that low and middle household incomes showed record growth in 2015 – the highest percentage growth since the Census Bureau began tracking in 1968.
Meanwhile, gun sales have nearly doubled during the Obama administration. Although the percentage of American households with guns continues its long-term decline, from a peak of 51 percent in 1977 to 31 percent today, gun ownership is increasingly concentrated among conservative white Americans. And the average number of guns owned per gun-owning household has soared.
Gun buying by conservative white Americans is not a manifestation of economic anxiety; it’s a manifestation of racial anxiety. If an African-American is in charge of our government, we need to arm ourselves for protection against that government.
Donald Trump began his 2016 presidential campaign in the early years of the Obama presidency, with his whole-hearted embrace of the “birther” cause, and his pretense that his alleged investigators were uncovering evidence of the truth of that cause. Critical to Trump’s appeal is a desire to negate the Obama presidency, as if to deny that it every existed.
But negating the first African-American presidency is only one instance of Trump’s embodiment of much broader hostility to marginalized Americans. The centerpiece of Trump’s campaign platform has been hostility to immigrants – first Mexicans, then Muslims. To be clear: Trump does not condemn immigration from, say, Norway or New Zealand. His condemnations are appeals to fear of the “other,” and to the anxiety that many white Americans feel about losing their position of social and political predominance in this country.
Since winning the Republican nomination, Trump has added “law and order” to his campaign. Although the American homicide rate is at historic lows and dropping – lower than at any time since the 1950s – Trump has created a fantasy world in which our cities are burning and people can’t walk to the corner store without getting shot.
Widespread and occasionally violent protests of questionable police killings of African-American men, mostly unarmed, create the visceral basis for the fantasy. In this fantasy world, police represent the power structure of white male authority and protests against police actions represent usurpation of that authority.
The subtext of Trump’s “law and order” rhetoric is unarguably racial. Trump’s clear intention is to appeal to white racial anxieties. (One of the more laughable “tells” is Trump’s use of the racially coded term “inner cities.” By itself, the word “cities” could mean Billings, or Boise. “Inner cities” refers specifically to the places where brown people live.)
Trump does propose policies: cutting corporate taxes, increasing military spending, leaving NAFTA and the Paris climate control agreement, canceling the nuclear agreement with Iran, building a Mexican border wall, banning Muslim immigrants. Trump also states policy goals without specifying means – he will create 25 million jobs, for instance.
But Trump’s campaign is not primarily about policy, it’s about identity. His fundamental appeal is to a white, male identity that is threatened by cultural pluralism. Trump’s campaign is about re-marginalizing America’s racial and religious minorities, women, people with disabilities, and re-empowering white Christian men. Trump’s campaign is about shifting the burden of accommodation back onto the marginalized groups.
Trump fans like his disinterest in “political correctness,” by which they certainly mean the obligation of white men to behave respectfully, to filter their thoughts before speaking, and to consider other perspectives than their own. Trump would place that obligation elsewhere; he would restore whiteness and maleness to their traditional American position as normative – the objective, neutral perspectives from which non-normative identities, beliefs and cultures are variant, even deviant.
In Trump-world, as in the America of times past, being white or being male did not explain one’s beliefs or behavior, but being black or being female – like being gay, or Muslim, or Mexican, or disabled – explained not just a person’s beliefs, but almost everything else about a person. In Trump-world, a white male believes and behaves as he does because he has taken in information and come to a neutral, objective conclusion, but others believe and behave as they do because they are biased by their race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality. The views of white men are to be taken seriously on their merits, and the views of others are to be trivialized as mere manifestations of their identities.
I saw an MSNBC interview with a white thirty-something working class guy in Youngstown, Ohio, who explained his support for Trump simply: “He’s just like me.” The surprised interviewer responded, “But he’s a billionaire!” Youngstown guy answered, “He’s a billionaire, but he’s just like me.”
The interviewer didn’t ask how Youngstown guy thought that Trump was just like him, but I’m betting the answer had to do with race – Youngstown guy is probably concerned about white men’s increasingly precarious hold on predominance in America.
Cultural pluralism is hard. At a minimum, it requires a willingness to attribute good faith to people who believe different than oneself. It requires an ability to believe that people of other groups are as reasonable and capable as oneself.
White American men are not accustomed to cultural pluralism; we are accustomed to a country where deference to other points of view is work to be done by others, not by us. Trump’s central appeal is to those who are uncomfortable with cultural pluralism and are struggling against the new burdens that cultural pluralism imposes.
If Trump’s core appeal isn’t based on economic anxiety, then economic growth won’t diminish that appeal – even record income growth in middle and lower income households. Job growth won’t diminish Trump’s appeal, and neither will near-record low mortgage interest rates, nor near-record high 401(k) share values.
Obama’s presidency has been pervasively and unavoidably about change. Even had Obama’s policies been seamlessly continuous from those of George W. Bush, the mere fact of his being the first African-American president of a country founded upon African slavery and plagued by the persistent pervasiveness of racial prejudice makes the Obama presidency radical. In that respect alone, it will be a generation until we can even begin to measure the scope of change Obama’s presidency will have made.
A Hillary Clinton presidency would look a lot like a continuation of the Obama Administration, and not just in the substance of policy: our first female president would challenge gender stereotypes as fundamentally as Obama’s presidency challenged racial stereotypes. Simply by being our first female president, Clinton would continue the pluralization of America.
It is odd to characterize the continuation of change as the status quo. And therefore it is baffling that the commentariat accepts the notion that Clinton is a candidate of the status quo. It is even odder to characterize opposition to change as change. And therefore it is baffling that the commentariat accepts the notion that Trump is a candidate of change.
I reject Trump for his policies. But even if I didn’t, I would reject Trump for his appeal to identity. Trump stands for denial of cultural pluralism and reversion to a white predominance that verges on white supremacy. By contrast, Clinton stands for acceptance of our multi-cultural heritage and embrace of our demographic future.
As a political science major in the 1970s, I saw a string of presidencies that lasted less than two full terms and worried that the American electorate might have become impossible to satisfy, and that we could no longer be governed in the relative stability of two-term presidencies. During the 20-year span beginning with John Kennedy’s inauguration, we had five presidents.
Lyndon Johnson did not run for re-election in 1968 due to the unpopularity of his prosecution of the Vietnam War; Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 due to the unpopularity of his prosecution of the Watergate cover-up; and Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter lost elections to their successors.
This was by no means our longest period of presidential instability. We had no two-term presidents for 32 years in between Andrew Jackson and Ulysses Grant, the ten presidents during that time averaging not even four years in office. We had nine presidencies in the 36 years from 1877 to 1913. Grant was the only president to serve two full, consecutive terms during the 96-year stretch from 1837 to 1933; during that time 24 presidents (counting Grover Cleveland twice) averaged exactly four years each.
In fact, of 44 presidencies, only 13 presidents served two full, consecutive terms. So looking at American history as a whole, two-termers are the exception, not the rule – less than one-third of our presidents. In 228 years, our 44 presidencies have averaged just over five years each.
In any event, my Kennedy-to-Carter concern turned out to be unfounded. Since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, we have enjoyed, or endured, a period of unsurpassed presidential stability in our history. In four months, three consecutive presidents will have served two full, consecutive terms – something that hasn’t happened since Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. And we will have had only five presidents in 36 years – something that hasn’t happened since our first five presidents, from 1789 to 1825.
So now I’m worried about a problem that may be similar but is much more insidious: I wonder if, despite our recent willingness to re-elect our presidents, we’re no longer willing to regard them as worthy of the office. I wonder if we’ve come to regard our own presidents as illegitimate.
Republicans derided Bill Clinton because he never won more than half of the popular vote: although third-party candidate Ross Perot won not a single electoral vote, he took 18.9 percent of the popular vote in 1992 and 8.4 percent in 1996. Then of course Republicans impeached Clinton, only the second presidential impeachment in American history. Legislatively, the Clinton presidency saw the beginnings of today’s partisan gridlock: Newt Gingrich ran the House of Representatives based on his “Contract for America,” producing two federal government shut-downs – unprecedented in scope and length, but also in that the shut-downs were part of a deliberate strategy.
Democrats derided George Bush because he lost the popular vote in 2000, and was able to take office only after a Supreme Court decision more notable for its partisanship than for its legal scholarship. Bush largely recovered his popular legitimacy after the 9/11 attacks, and again after undisputedly winning re-election.
Worst of all has been the treatment of Barack Obama, derided as supposedly foreign born and therefore ineligible for the job, deeply undermined based on his race, denied the smallest modicum of opposition cooperation, much less deference, for the entirety of his two-term presidency.
Is this the new normal?
Donald Trump will diminish any person or institution in his pursuit of the presidency, but he has devoted special effort to undermining the legitimacy of an electoral loss. The system is rigged, Trump asserts, while calling for poll watchers in “certain areas” to suppress minority voting. It is a hallmark of Trump’s rhetoric that he conjures a threat of something as a means to inspire the very thing he conjures – in this instance, Trump conjured a phony threat of a rigged election as an appeal for help in rigging the election.
If Hillary Clinton wins the election, she will take office with a majority of the electorate believing she is dishonest, and a large minority believing she is corrupt and criminal. Trump voters believe that Clinton used the Clinton Foundation to rake in money while she was secretary of state, a belief on a factual par with the belief that Obama is not a native-born American. Trump voters believe that Clinton tossed top security e-mails around like schoolyard gossip, a belief on a factual par with the belief that Obama founded ISIS.
If Republican voters believe that a President Clinton is a criminal, how can Republicans in Congress justify working with her, negotiating with her, compromising with her? I hate to say this, but I’m afraid that a Clinton presidency will be so contentious that Democrats will look back on the Obama presidency as the good old days of bipartisanship.
Turkey invaded Syria today, sending geopolitical shivers through Western governments. On the one hand, the military initiative is a major step up of Turkey’s sort-of commitment to fighting ISIS. On the other hand, Turkey’s invasion was expressly conditioned on the United States demanding that Syrian Kurds, the most successful anti-ISIS ground force in the region, pull back to the east of the Euphrates River.
A major earthquake struck central Italy today, centered on Amatrice, a medieval town with pre-historic and Roman roots. More than a hundred deaths have been confirmed, a toll that will grow considerably as rubble is cleared. Buildings in the town’s historic center date from the 1200s; according to early reports, the historic center has been “destroyed.”
Louisianans are beginning what will be a long recovery from flooding of historic proportions, caused by rainfall three times as heavy as the rain from Hurricane Katrina. Only 13 people died, but more than 100,000 homes were damaged, 30 percent of the state’s school age population are out of school, and economic losses will be in the billions.
In other words, there was a lot of news – real news, about observable facts – to be reported today. But instead, television news today gave its closest attention to Donald Trump’s fact-free accusations of corruption involving the Clinton Foundation. According to Trump, Hillary and Bill Clinton set up the Clinton Foundation as a “business to profit from public office. They sold access and specific actions by and really for I guess the making of large amounts of money.”
Television news anchors have not bothered to check any of Trump’s claims for factual basis. Instead, they have gone straight to hauling in Clinton surrogates for accusatory interviews.
If we can’t talk about real news, like the Turkish invasion of Syria, the destruction of a medieval Italian town, or the flood in Louisiana, if we absolutely must talk about the Clinton Foundation, can we at least base our discussion on some facts?
For starters, what is the Clinton Foundation? Bill Clinton set up what was originally the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2001, after he left the White House. Chelsea Clinton joined the board of directors in 2011, as did Hillary Clinton in 2013, after her tenure as secretary of state. From 2013 to 2015, the foundation was renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. When Clinton opened her campaign for president in 2015, she left the board of directors and the foundation became the Clinton Foundation.
The stated mission of the Clinton Foundation is to “convene businesses, governments, NGOs [non-governmental organizations], and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change.”
Note that the mission statement has two components, one about process and one about substance. The substantive component lists the goals the foundation pursues: health, opportunity for girls and women, economic growth, climate change, and so on. The process component is about how the foundation will pursue those goals: by bringing together private and public entities and individuals in collaboration.
The Clinton Foundation web site provides a fair amount of detail about its initiatives that support each of its goals. For instance, the home page for the “global health” goal talks about enhancing access for people living in “resource-poor settings” to diagnostics and treatment of treatable diseases like AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. The theme of the health programs is to transform health care systems in low-income countries “into self-sustaining methods of providing low-cost, high-quality care.”
My own view is that any objective observer would have to conclude that the Clinton Foundation has done tremendous good in its 15-year existence. I once characterized Jimmy Carter as “our greatest ex-president,” partly for the quality of his post-presidential work, and partly for his longevity in doing that work. At this point, I would say that Bill Clinton is gunning hard for second place.
But I’m not going to detail the range of work and successes of the Clinton Foundation, because for purposes of this post it makes no real difference if the Clinton Foundation is the most effective NGO in the history of the world or the most inept. (Still, I can’t resist mentioning that the charity watchdog organizations Charity Watch and GuideStar both gave the Clinton Foundation their highest ratings.)
Trump says that the Clinton Foundation was set up to make the Clintons money – to enable them “to profit from public office.” But in fact, none of the Clintons are salaried or otherwise compensated by the Clinton Foundation. So the core of Trump’s allegation is false – not arguable, not partly false, not probably false, not subject to interpretation, but flat-out, flat-earth, two-plus-two-is-five false.
Trump’s next claim is that Hillary Clinton used the foundation to sell “access and specific actions.” The notion about access is that people donated to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for getting meetings with Secretary of State Clinton. So, for instance, the media treated it as a great scandal that Secretary of State Clinton met with the Crown Prince of Bahrain after he pledged $32 million to Clinton Foundation programs.
Wait, what? A sitting secretary of state met with the Crown Prince of Bahrain? OMG, what is the world coming to? The evidence so far indicates that when Secretary Clinton’s aides thought a meeting was unwise, they said so and nobody overruled them.
Ultimately, though, even assuming the worst possible factual scenario on Trump’s “access” accusation, nothing illegal happened. The worst possible factual scenario would presumably be that donors said to Secretary Clinton’s aides, I’ll be glad to contribute to the Clinton Foundation if that will get me face time with the secretary. And guess what, folks – that’s not illegal.
Some surely wish that was illegal, including those who wanted former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to go to jail. Remember that Governor McDonnell was convicted of taking gifts worth $175,000 – gifts to him personally, including Rolex watches and catering for his daughter’s wedding, not gifts to any charitable McDonnell Foundation – in exchange for setting up meetings and making phone calls to help the gift givers sell their products and services.
But the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the conviction on the ground that setting up meetings and making phone calls were not “official acts” under the applicable federal law. That case makes clear that Hillary Clinton did not violate federal law even if she “accepted” gifts to what was at that time her husband’s foundation in exchange for taking meetings.
In other words, even if Hillary Clinton was, as Trump charges, “selling access,” there is no violation of law.
Last is Trump’s most outrageously fact-free accusation: that Clinton took “specific actions,” presumably beyond taking meetings, in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation. If any such action can be proved, then Trump would be right, Clinton would be in violation of federal law, and she should not be president. But no one, despite unprecedented effort and attention, has come up with any evidence whatsoever of such an “action.”
When the accusatory interviews of Clinton surrogates on TV today get to that point, the television news anchors fall back on this: But isn’t there an appearance of impropriety?
George H. W. Bush set up the Thousand Points of Light Foundation in 1990, while he was president, and no one claimed any appearance of impropriety. Elizabeth Dole was the salaried president of the Red Cross while Bob Dole ran for president, and no one claimed any appearance of impropriety.
Presidents, and secretaries of state, meet with all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. The possibility that Secretary Clinton met, or President Clinton might meet, with someone who gave big to the Clinton Foundation seems to me to be at the very bottom of our ladder of political, social, economic and international concerns.
Donald Trump has once again proved that he is very good at creating a whirlwind of allegations and convincing the medial that his whirlwind is actually smoke, at the source of which there must be fire, or at least the appearance of fire.
By the way, can someone please ask Donald Trump: what have you done to fight treatable diseases, advance global growth and opportunity, roll back global warming, and equalize opportunities for girls?
I’ve said from the beginning that Donald Trump isn’t running a political campaign; he’s running a business campaign. The only thing I couldn’t figure out was his exit strategy.
Fair enough: I didn’t expect Trump to win the Republican nomination. I forgot what I learned during the 2012 campaign, which is that the Republican Party is “intellectually and politically bankrupt.” The GOP lacked the resources to stop Trump’s hostile takeover.
But I remain convinced that the last thing Trump wants is to live under the constraints of the presidency. When Trump picked running mate Mike Pence, I thought his exit strategy might be to get elected, issue a bunch of executive orders for a few weeks, and resign.
But this week’s events suggest a different exit strategy. Trump may be an idiot, but he isn’t stupid. He knows his polls have tanked, and he knows it’s because of his bomb-throwing provocations. Yet he shakes up his campaign in a way that says out loud that he wants to continue with the provocations.
Trump’s new campaign chairman is Steve Bannon, bomb-thrower extraordinaire. Bannon excels at destructive, anti-establishment, fact-free rhetoric, shows a special fondness for conspiracy theories, hates the Republican Party establishment, and adores Donald Trump. One thing we can be pretty sure he has no aptitude for is running a successful national political campaign.
Trump’s new debate prep adviser is Roger Ailes, disgraced exile from Fox News. As the founding CEO at Fox, Ailes built the most popular cable news network and a hugely profitable enterprise. Ailes made Fox News one of the most, if not the most, politically influential media organization in American history. Although Ailes worked as a political consultant before going to Fox, there is no particular reason to believe that he is especially skilled at advising presidential candidates in debate tactics.
Trump has already laid the foundation for his post-defeat career with his claim that the election will be “rigged,” and his bizarre assertion that “the only way” he could lose the vote in Pennsylvania is if “they cheat.”
As a birther, Trump spent a lot of time and energy attacking the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency. As a rigged election “truther,” Trump will spend even more time and energy attacking the legitimacy of Hillary Clinton’s presidency. Although the media eagerly gave Trump’s birther rantings plenty of play, the bottomless pit of need for attention that is Trump’s narcissism would be better fulfilled if Trump had his own platform, rather than having to rely on media outlets he doesn’t control.
For varying reasons, Trump, Bannon and Ailes would no doubt love to launch a competitor to Fox News. For Trump, controlling his own media platform would serve his insatiable need for validation, both in the form of attention to him personally and in the form of business success.
Although Trump claims to be worth $10 billion, based on his supposed business genius, the hallmarks of his business career are not profit-making successes, but clever bankruptcies, stubborn litigation, and quixotic failures like Trump University. Fortune magazine, among others, calculates that Trump would have done better by taking his inheritance and investing it in S&P index fund.
Politically, Trump has a relatively small but intensely loyal following. You can’t win a presidential election with a few million loyal voters, but you can build one heck of a media network with a few million loyal readers, listeners and viewers. Fox makes billions; Trump pretends he’s made billions, but would no doubt prefer the real thing.
Controlling a media outlet would give Trump the platform he needs to continue his white nationalist movement and the freedom he wants to continue his bomb-throwing. Ailes is not known for his concern for objectivity, and Bannon is not known for his concern for facts. Trump cares about neither. Trump will spend the next four years tearing at the Clinton Administration and the Republican Party.
In other words, Trump’s defeat on November 8 isn’t the end of the nightmare.
Republican Senator and former San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson won election to become California’s governor in 1990. Consistent with previous Republican statewide candidacies, Wilson took 47 percent of the Hispanic vote.
In 1990, the Latino population of California was booming – from 12 percent of Californians in 1970 to 26 percent in 1990. The non-Hispanic white population shrank even more than Hispanics grew – from 78 percent in 1970 to 57 percent in 1990.
Governor Wilson did not have an easy first term. He went into his re-election campaign with record low approval ratings, polling 20 points behind Democratic nominee Kathleen Brown (sister of once and future Governor Jerry Brown). During the summer of 1994, a ballot proposition got enough signatures to go before the voters in November – Proposition 187 would bar publicly funded health care, public education, and social services to illegal immigrants, and would require public servants to report people they suspected might be illegal immigrants.
Prop 187 was immediately popular, and Governor Wilson ran hard on it, promising vigorous enforcement. Kathleen Brown disagreed, contending that the measure was counterproductive and unconstitutional.
Prop 187 passed with an 18 percent margin, and Wilson won re-election by 15 percent. But the campaign prompted two very important and closely related long-term changes in California politics. First, Prop 187 impelled legal Hispanic residents of California to become citizens and register to vote in unprecedented numbers. Second, Prop 187 all but eliminated political diversity among California’s Latinos. After Prop 187, Hispanic Californians largely abandoned any interest in the Republican Party, committing themselves to the Democrats.
In other words, the shrinking non-Hispanic white population chose to alienate and unify the fastest-growing demographic in the state.
Almost certainly not coincidentally, 1994 is a line that divides time in California politics. Republicans did well in California until 1994, and have done badly ever since. Before Prop 187, Californians voted Republican in four of five presidential elections; after Prop 187, they have voted Democratic five times in a row. Before Prop 187, Republicans won three of five gubernatorial elections, four of five lieutenant gubernatorial elections, three of five attorney general elections. After, Democrats won four out of six races for governor (Arnold Schwarzenegger being the only exception, twice), all five races for lieutenant governor, all five races for attorney general. Before, Republicans won three of eight Senate races; after, Democrats won all six.
Totaling these up, before 1994 Republicans won 17 of 28 of these state-wide races; since 1994, Democrats have won 25 of 27, Schwarzenegger’s two elections being the sole Republican victories among them.
Proposition 187 itself was found to be unconstitutional, an intrusion by California into exclusive federal authority over immigration, and ultimately the law was repealed – a symbolic act in light of the fact that the law was unenforceable. The Hispanic share of the population of California has grown to 38 percent. In 2014, Hispanic Californians outnumbered non-Hispanic whites for the first time, and California became the third “majority minority” state in the U.S.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials estimates that 9.7 million Latinos voted in 2008 and 11.2 million in 2012, and projects that 13.1 million will vote in 2016. Donald Trump’s Prop 187 is his Mexican border wall and his stigmatization of Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.
As did Prop 187, Trump is further reducing political diversity among Hispanic Americans. Even Florida’s Cuban-American community, traditionally the most Republican of Latinos, overwhelmingly rejects Trump’s candidacy. And as did Prop 187, Trump is pushing Hispanics to become citizens and register to vote. There is plenty of room for growth in the Hispanic electorate – although 11.2 million Hispanics voted in 2012, NALEO estimates that 13.7 million were registered to vote, and 23.3 million were citizens of voting age.
Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and Puerto Ricans living in the 50 states are eligible to vote for president. Just by the way, Puerto Rico’s financial crisis being what it is, many Puerto Ricans have been moving – an estimated 1,000 per week to Florida alone. Many of them are registering to vote, and a sentiment voiced by one Puerto Rican resident of Florida is almost certainly common: “He [Trump] wants to go after Mexicans now, but we’ll be next.” Lots of non-Mexican Latinos see it the same way: “He’s calling all of us Hispanics rapists,” a Cuban-American in Florida said.
Hispanics in the United States are much younger than the population at large: almost 45 percent of Hispanics are under 25 years old, compared to 30 percent of non-Hispanics. And younger Hispanics are more likely to be native-born than their elders: 94 percent of Hispanics 18 or under were born in this country, and therefore citizens eligible to vote as they come of age.
Donald Trump is the Republican Party’s only new idea for 2016. Twenty years from now, we will look back and see that 2016 is a year that divides time in American politics.