California has earned a reputation for reckless liberal policies, including the highest income tax rate in the nation, one of the most arduous regulatory environments, an inability to combat skyrocketing crime and alleviate poverty, and a Marxist K-12 education system that indoctrinates young people with anti-American propaganda.
The increasingly hostile environment in California appears to be triggering a shift in public sentiment toward more rational, orderly, and business-friendly leadership, particularly among minorities.
Of the 13 House seats the GOP flipped on November 3rd, four are in California. The victors in those four races ran hard-hitting campaigns pushing back aggressively against exploitative taxes, a runaway budget, and a broken immigration system.
Californians statewide also beat back two big-government measures, an attempt to force app-based companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to classify independent contractors as employees, and an attempt to force through legal discrimination based on race in the form of affirmative action.
The four House victors were a diverse group – two South Korean women, and two second generation immigrants with parents from Mexico and Portugal. In Orange County, South Korean Republican women Michelle Steel and Young Kim defeated Democrat incumbents Harley Rouda and Gil Cisneros. In the Central Valley Republican David Valadao, a second generation American with a Portuguese father, defeated Democrat T.J. Cox. In the 25th District spanning Los Angeles and Ventura counties, Hispanic Republican Mike Garcia beat Democrat Christy Smith.
California has been in need of new leadership for a while. From out-of-control housing costs to squaller-ridden tent cities, rolling blackouts, runaway wildfires, skyrocketing waves of crime, and an exodus of hundreds of thousands, the Golden State is a harrowing example of mismanagement.
A number of prominent high-income individuals have publicly left the state this year, including podcaster Joe Rogan, real estate developer Graham Stephan, and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Thousands more California ‘refugees’ continue to stream out of the state every year to greener pastures in Texas, Arizona, and Nevada, with an estimated 1 million Californians fleeing between 2007 and 2016.
In cultural and economic terms, California tends to be a trendsetter – exporting far-left ideologies to less liberal parts of the country and normalizing inefficiency, mismanagement, and totalitarian social justice policies.
However, California still boasts a significant number of conservatives who haven’t given up on fixing their state. First and Second Generation immigrants are playing a key role in reviving the Republican Party and returning California to rational governance. Immigrants are advocating for sensible tax and immigration policies, equal treatment under the law, and solutions to crime and homelessness.
These changes are prominent in the highly diverse state of California, but First Generation Americans represent an opportunity for conservatives nationwide. Market Research Foundation’s 2018 First Generation survey found opportunities for conservatives among immigrants from East and Southeast Asia, as well as Central America and the Middle East. Our research found between 25% and 34% of First Generation Americans lean conservative on economic issues, and between 25% and 41% lean conservative on moral issues, with 41% of Southeast Asians leaning conservative on moral issues.
Although California as a whole remains clutched predominantly in the hands of the left, the four decisive House victories could be an early indicator of a transfer of power to a more responsive, rational, and business-friendly governing body.
Portuguese Republican defeats Democrat in CA-21
In California’s 21st District in the Central Valley which includes parts of Fresno and Kings counties, Republican David Valadao defeated Democrat T.J. Cox. Valadao, a son of Portuguese immigrants, ran a campaign focused on helping farmers remain competitive, securing a clean water supply, fixing immigration and balancing the budget. The 21st District is highly agricultural, and predominantly Latino. The district is 71% Hispanic, 19% White, 4. 7% Black, and 3.6% Asian.
Hispanic Republican secures victory in CA-25
In California’s 25th District with parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, Republican Mike Garcia narrowly beat Democrat Christy Smith. Garcia, a second generation American with a Mexican father, ended up beating Smith by just 333 votes in the 25th District, which is 38% Hispanic, 8% Asian, and 7.7% Black. Garcia beat Smith in the special election this spring and then again in the general election.
South Korean Republican woman wins back CA-39
In California’s 39th Congressional District which includes parts of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties, South Korean immigrant Young Kim beat incumbent Democrat Gil Cisneros. The 39th District is one of the most diverse in the state, with almost 33% Hispanic and 28.5% Asian. Kim ran largely on reducing taxes and regulation for California taxpayers and businessowners, and immigration reform, including increasing border security.
South Korean Republican woman ousts incumbent in CA-48
In California’s 48th District, which spans most of the Orange County coast, South Korean immigrant Michelle Steel, ousted Democratic incumbent Harley Rouda. The Cook Political Report and several other political predictors rated the CA-48 as ‘Lean Democratic’ in the months leading up to the election. The 48th District is a fairly diverse one, with a heavy Asian population at almost 18%, and is just over 20% Hispanic.
Steel, a former member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders under George W. Bush, focused her campaign on lower taxes for all Californians, ending sanctuary cities, securing the border, and solutions to the state’s homelessness problems.
Californians reject anti-business Uber and Lyft legislation
Californians also beat back overreaching legislation targeting app-based companies that would have forced the businesses to abandon an independent-contractor-based model, jeopardizing the jobs of millions of gig workers.
AB5 would have forced app-based companies like Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, Instacart and others, to classify independent contractors as employees. However, Californians widely supported Proposition 22, the ballot measure to allow gig economy companies to continue classifying servicers as independent contractors.
Californians beat back state sanctioned discrimination
Californians also rejected the state’s attempt to foist affirmative action legislation, beaten back four years ago in large part due to an active coalition of Asian parents, back onto residents.
Californians voted down a measure to dismantle the state’s 1996 ban on discrimination based on race, sex, or ethnicity in university admissions and public employment. The measure would have repealed Proposition 209, passed almost a quarter-century ago to ensure equal consideration for all in college admissions, public employment and contracting.
These victories are a far cry from returning California to conservative control, but they do indicate an appetite for pro-business, pro-American policies in the state. They also highlight the increasing role First and Second Generation Americans play in diverse states like California, and how these demographics may shift to favor conservative pro-business policies in the future.