Creating a Racially Polarized Electorate: The Political Fallout of Immigration Politics in Arizona and California
Forthcoming in Politics, Groups, and Identities
35 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2012 Last revised: 26 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 25, 2015
We explore the potential political impact of Arizona’s controversial immigration statute, SB 1070, by examining a similar event: the 1994 passage of Proposition 187 in California. Both statutes were efforts to respond to the flow of undocumented immigrants (largely) entering through each state’s border with Mexico, and thus are seen as especially noxious to Latinos. We reexamine and extend the academic literature on the political impact of Proposition 187 and apply the effect estimates to Arizona by simulating the two-party presidential vote from 2012 thru 2032 under a variety of scenarios. Our results show sizable movement toward the Democratic candidate in Arizona — if Latinos and non-Latinos there react to SB 1070 as Californians reacted to Prop. 187. Coupled with population trends, we project the Democratic presidential candidate to become immediately competitive in the 2016 election and to carry the state as early as 2020. However, we also demonstrate that if whites in Arizona become decidedly more Republican in response to SB 1070 then no amount of Latino mobilization will be enough to allow Democrats to carry the state.
Keywords: Latino Voting Behavior, Parties and Elections, Immigration, California, Arizona
JEL Classification: D70, C15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation