“How the Republicans Lost California”

I’m attaching below an op-ed of mine which appeared a few days ago in the Wall Street Journal, presenting my views on how the Republicans lost California, and therefore their so-called “lock” on the White House.

This provides a good opportunity for me to clarify a previous note, in which I discussed how the disastrous and racially-charged 1996 Republican Party campaign for Prop. 209 (anti-affirmative action) in California served to further alienate California’s non-white voters.

Several of you felt my words implied that I had opposed Prop. 209, and were surprised by this. I sincerely apologize for any such confusion. As most of you know, I am a very long-standing critic of ethnic affirmative action policies, and was an early and strong supporter of Prop. 209. Furthermore, the record is clear that the Prop. 209 leadership ran a sophisticated campaign intended to avoid racial controversy, and generally succeeded in this. My reference was to the Republican Party, which spent millions on racially-charged California ads in a poorly-considered attempt to take political advantage of Prop. 209, thereby inflicting huge damage on both the initiative campaign and on the party itself.

The leadership of the Prop. 209 campaign shared my view on this disastrous Republican mistake both at the time and subsequently.

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