By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
When it came to voting on issues, moreover, California Latinos showed themselves again to be by far the leftmost group in the state. The Times exit poll covered just two statewide initiatives, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful Proposition 49, which set aside state funds for expanding after-school programs, and the unsuccessful Proposition 52, which would have legalized election-day voter registration had it passed. Latinos supported both by margins higher than any group in the state: 78 percent for after-school programs, 65 percent for election-day registration.
None of this suggests that a Republican running on anything resembling a Republican platform could win California in the foreseeable future. If Schwarzenegger becomes a candidate for governor four years hence, he will have to run on a platform that calls for increases in spending on schools and affordable housing, that‘s pro-choice, pro-environment, and even somewhat pro-union. In short, to win, he’ll have to run as a left-coast version of George Pataki, the Republican governor who just swept to re-election in New York with considerable union and Latino backing because he took precisely those kinds of stances. Whether Republican voters will cut Arnold that much slack in the primary -- they cut Richard Riordan off at the knees for even the mildest form of moderation -- remains to be seen, though their desperate desire for victory may by then have conquered their qualms. If Karl Rove has anything to say about it, of course, Arnold will have no primary opposition.
Unfortunately, while the Times poll was the only functioning exit poll in the land last week, it wasn‘t a very curious exit poll. More precisely, it showed a curious lack of interest in funding the over-polling of Los Angeles that would have been necessary to produce an exit poll on Valley secession. To understand just how secession went down, we are left with such imperfect measures as looking at the vote by council district. Imperfect though these measures be, they paint a pretty clear picture of who wanted in and who wanted out in last week’s vote.
Citywide, the measure lost by a resounding 68 percent to 32 percent margin. In the Valley, it eked out a bare 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent majority -- losing in the three increasingly Latino districts of the East Valley, and carrying only in the two heavily white districts of the West Valley, which were the only two of the city‘s 15 council districts where it carried at all. It carried Denny Zine’s 3rd District, in the southwest Valley, with 57 percent support, and Hal Bernson‘s 12th District in the northwest Valley -- long the city’s most conservative -- with 61 percent support. By contrast, secession only polled 40 percent in Council president Alex Padilla‘s overwhelmingly Latino 7th District in the northeast Valley. And -- I’m including this for those who predicted that Mayor Hahn‘s sacking of Bernie Parks would drive black L.A. into the secessionists’ arms -- in Mark Ridley-Thomas‘ 8th District in South-Central, which boasts the highest percentage of black voters, Valley secession won a whopping 10 percent of the vote.
From which numbers, two conclusions: First, that only the disproportionately light turnout of Latino Democrats saved the secessionists from going down in the Valley, too. And second, that it’s impossible to look at these numbers and not conclude that secession had majority support only among white Valley conservatives, whose estrangement from their city was likely rooted in political impulses more sinister than a desire for better services.
From the Valley to Staten Island to that dustup in the middle of the 19th century, secession in America is almost always about white separatism.