This has put California on the front lines of many political battles. The affirmative action measure on the ballot that year, for example, dated 1996. That year, 55 percent of the state’s voters voted to ban the use of race, ethnicity, ethnicity, nationality. national origin or gender in public recruitments, contracts and university admissions.
The proposal that California voted this time would have repealed the ban and was backed by a who’s who in the state’s Democratic Party, including Kamala Harris, the senator and running mate. But he was defeated with almost the same margin he had originally succeeded with.
Analysts saw the vote as a reflection of the state’s demographic complexity.
“It is always difficult to campaign for proposals in a state of 40 million people,” said Anthony Rendon, Democrat and Speaker of the California Assembly. “But our racial and ethnic groups are more complicated and divided than they were before in many ways.”
As of 2014, no racial or ethnic group has made up the majority of California’s population. Thirty-nine percent of California residents are Latin American, 37 percent are white, 15 percent are Asian-American, 6 percent are black and less than 1 percent are Native American or Pacific Islander, according to the 2018 American Community Survey.
In this context, said Mr. Rendon, affirmative action is difficult to define, with different meanings across generations, ethnic groups and income brackets. In most working-class interior counties, Californians voted to keep it banned. Only the wealthiest and left-wing urban areas, such as Los Angeles and the Bay Area, have supported the return of racial and ethnic preferences to the public sector.
And in state-wide polls, Latino voters have expressed their ambivalence – a survey conducted shortly before the election showed that only 40% of Latinos in the state supported the proposal. Many white Californians and Asian-Americans have opposed the measure, fearing that higher admissions for under-represented minorities will mean less room for their own children in the University of California system. Some young voters didn’t even understand the concept, Mr. Rendon said.