Naturalized Citizens Are Reshaping California Politics

In the past year, 300,000 new citizens in California were sworn in - double the number of the previous year. The L.A. Times takes a look at how the ne

In the past year, 300,000 new citizens in California were sworn in - double the number of the previous year. The L.A. Times takes a look at how the new citizens are changing the face of California politics:

Mexicans, who have traditionally registered low rates of naturalization, represented the largest group, with nearly one-fourth of the total. They were followed by Indians, Filipinos, Chinese, Cubans and Vietnamese.

The new citizens are reshaping California's electorate and are likely to reorder the state's policy priorities, some political analysts predict. Several polls show that Latinos and Asians are more supportive than whites of public investments and broad services, even if they require higher taxes.

Most Latinos, for instance, support all five budget propositions on the May ballot while most whites oppose them, according to recent polls by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Although viewed as largely conservative, most Asian Americans supported a 2004 measure requiring large businesses to provide health insurance to employees, even as it failed at the ballot box, according to an analysis by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles.

Nationally, nonwhite voters overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, while most whites voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a recent study by the Pew Research Center showed. And there were more nonwhite voters last year -- Latino registered voters increased by 3 million compared with 2004, said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Southwest Voting Registration Education Project in Los Angeles.

[...] "As we have more Asian American and Latino voters, our electorate will begin to look more like the face of the public at large," said Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute. "From the standpoint of representative democracy, few things could be more important than this."

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