Posts

On the Complex Dynamics of the Latino Vote

The Boston Globe highlighted findings from a UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute (LPPI) report that identified the complex dynamics of the Latino vote in the 2020 elections, with lessons for campaign strategists in this fall’s midterm elections. Latino voters are the new swing voters, but the Democratic Party seems to be in denial about this insight, the Globe columnist wrote. Researchers found that Latino voters split their ballot at a significant rate in 2020. “They are convincible, you can go out and reach out to them, and they’ll think about their vote carefully,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, LPPI’s director of research. “They will eventually make a decision based on what resonates the most with them, but also on who engages them the most.” Dominguez-Villegas said some Democratic campaigns still use an outdated, one-size-fits-all approach to Latino engagement without recognizing inherent differences between, say, voters of Venezuelan descent and second-generation Mexican-Americans.


 

Manville on Urban Design Impact of Caruso Properties

A Los Angeles Times article on the origins of developer Rick Caruso’s real estate empire included comments by Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning. Caruso, who is running to become Los Angeles’ next mayor, has deployed his political instincts, force of personality and sizable resources to sway constituencies to support high-end shopping centers and residences, the article noted. Manville spoke about malls such as the Grove and Americana at Brand, manicured outdoor centers where visitors are enticed to hang out. From the inside,“this is a very nice urban environment, but from the outside, it’s not,” he said. “They’re often surrounded by vast quantities of parking, and that is bad urban planning in many ways.” Manville asked, “What would a Mayor Rick Caruso bring to the public realm? Would he bring what he has tried to do within his properties, or would he bring what his properties suggest to the city from the outside?”

Yaroslavsky on Inflation’s Fallout on Local Elections

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to KPCC’s “AirTalk” about the impact of Southern California’s widening economic gap on upcoming elections. Yaroslavsky cited results of the 2022 UCLA Quality of Life Index, which found a steep drop in residents’ satisfaction with life in L.A. County, largely due to concerns over inflation and public safety. “What stands out is that people are unhappy, they’re anxious, they’re angry, they’re concerned,” Yaroslavsky said. Lower-income households, hard hit by lost wages and rising inflation, have been slower to rebound from the financial shock of the COVID-19 era, the survey showed. “We are the ground zero in this country of the economic divide,” Yaroslavsky said. The Quality of Life Index also showed a decline in approval ratings of many local government officials. “Inflation, I think, is the most pernicious thing economically that we have in our society,” Yaroslavsky said. “That will have a political bite like nothing else.”

Yaroslavsky on Shifts in the L.A. Mayor’s Race

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to CBSLA News about a new poll showing Rick Caruso and Karen Bass leading the pack in the contest to become Los Angeles’ next mayor. After an early media blitz, Caruso’s poll numbers have tripled, with 24% of respondents expressing their support, just ahead of Bass’ 23%. Yaroslavsky said the trajectory of the race will shift as other candidates step up their marketing campaigns. “Karen Bass hasn’t been on television at all. Kevin de León can’t be discounted, hasn’t been on television at all. … So, it will change, I’m sure, in the weeks ahead,” he said. The race also stands to tighten as undecided voters make their choices as the June 7 primary nears, he said. “Most people don’t know all that they want to know about the candidates. Forty percent don’t know enough to make a decision at this point or they are withholding their judgment until they hear more.” 

Gilens on Efforts to Undercut American Democracy

Public Policy Chair Martin Gilens joined a Scholars’ Circle panel weighing threats to American democracy and prescriptions for reinvigorating democratic norms. Recent efforts to overturn elections and restrict voting rights are rooted in a long-standing lack of government responsiveness to the needs of ordinary citizens, said Gilens, noting that the nation’s elite is responsible for the latest attacks on democratic practices. “It doesn’t take a majority of the public to abandon democracy, for our institutions to be eroded or our electoral processes to be undermined,” he said. “It only takes a willingness of people to look the other way.” Gilens likened the current political atmosphere to the Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th Century, a period of gaping economic inequality and dysfunctional government. Political and economic reforms were enacted, but only after decades of effort at the local, state and national levels. “The change did come, but it didn’t come quickly or easily,” he said.


 

Tackling Voter Dilution in California UCLA Voting Rights Project fights to ensure equitable representation in Orange and Yolo counties

By Jose Garcia

As counties across California finalize new electoral boundaries in a once-in-a-decade process known as redistricting, the UCLA Voting Rights Project (VRP) is successfully providing guidance to decision-makers to ensure full compliance with federal and state laws.

California has experienced rapid demographic changes, such as Latinos becoming the largest ethnic majority in the state, and county boards get one shot to draw fair and equitable district maps for the next decade. In the past, California has seen patterns of voter dilution that many wish to see corrected.

The Voting Rights Project, the flagship project of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI), is placing direct pressure on decision-makers through high-level analysis of district maps and leveraging of local media, with the goal of ensuring that equitably drawn maps are implemented.

In Orange County, a region that is 34% Latino, the county Board of Supervisors has not seen Latino representation in over 15 years. This is largely attributed to the way district boundaries have been drawn in the past.

In response, the Voting Rights Project published a report analyzing proposed maps for the county’s supervisorial districts and detailed the steps needed to ensure full compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.

“Several of the proposed maps, while appearing to be compliant, did not actually meet requirements to give areas with a high percentage of people of color a chance of electing a representative from their community,” said Sonni Waknin, voting rights counsel for the VRP.

Some of the proposed maps ensured that Latinos were less able to elect candidates of their choice by “cracking,” or splitting, adjacent cities with ethnic majorities, such as Santa Ana and Anaheim, according to Sonja Diaz, founding director of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative.

The Voting Rights Project urged the Orange County Board of Supervisors to implement specific boundary changes that would create the county’s first majority-Latino supervisorial district — which the board subsequently adopted in a historic vote.

“We are incredibly proud to have ensured that Orange County recognized the need for Latinos to elect candidates of their choice, as required by the federal Voting Rights Act,” Waknin said.

Her team harnessed the success in Orange County and began deploying similar strategies across the state throughout the fall of 2021.

Yolo County, a region at high risk of voter dilution under proposed district boundaries, was a priority. While voters had been able to elect a Latino candidate under existing maps, the margin of victory was narrow, considering that Latinos accounted for 69% of the county’s total population growth over the last 10 years.

As it did in Orange County, Waknin’s team analyzed proposed maps and demographics in Yolo County and found that several plans under consideration would crack the Latino population of existing districts and lower the Latino voting-age population below thresholds required by the Voting Rights Act.

A VRP memo sent to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors argued that three of the four originally proposed maps would absolutely dilute the power of Latino voters. Following the memo and a coordinated media strategy, the supervisors unanimously voted to adopt district borders closely resembling the VRP’s recommendations.

“Latino communities have driven the growth of California for the past decade,” Waknin said. “Their political voice must be heard at every level, including local governments.”

At the local level, cities and counties use new census data to redraw district lines to reflect changes in their populations. California’s congressional districts are redrawn every decade by an independent commission of citizens from across the state.

Currently, over half of the U.S. has finished the redistricting process, and many of the approved maps will ultimately undercut communities of color, according to Waknin. Her team is continuing its involvement in places facing potential voter dilution outside of California, including in key states such as Texas and Washington.

“Through this work, the UCLA Voting Rights Project is playing a critical role in protecting the integrity of the state’s and nation’s democracy,” Diaz said. “The project is fundamentally influencing how political boundaries are redrawn to create an equitable electoral system for all.”

Now or Never for Immigration Reform? Congressman from Texas opens LPPI webinar by expressing optimism that progress can be achieved with Democrats in power in Washington — if they act quickly

By Kassandra Hernandez and Les Dunseith

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas sees Democrats in power in Washington, D.C., and thinks the time may finally have arrived for comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policy.

“It’s not very often that Democrats have control of the presidency and both chambers of the Congress,” Castro said during a May 4 webinar hosted by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. “There’s a real opportunity here to pass comprehensive immigration reform and put 11 million undocumented folks — many of whom are ‘Dreamers’ or others, like their parents, who have been here for generations — on a path to citizenship.”

Castro, who introduced one of four immigration-related bills currently making their way through the political process in Washington, knows it won’t be easy, given the narrow Democratic majorities in both houses and longstanding GOP opposition to immigration reform that includes citizenship. Still, waiting too long could doom the effort.

As the 2022 midterm elections draw closer, elected officials will become “very cautious about the votes that they take,” Castro noted. “So, there’s got to be a lot of momentum and a big push to get immigration reform done this year.”

Castro’s comments came during a 10-minute live interview with webinar moderator Russell Contreras, a justice and race reporter at Axios, that set the tone for a panel discussion with scholars and political experts focusing on the challenges and opportunities for U.S. immigration reform.

During the interview, Castro spoke about why immigration policy reform is so important to him. He represents a district in the San Antonio area that is home to many Mexican Americans like himself.

“In our community, there’s an incredible sense of fairness, there’s obviously an incredible sense of family,” said Castro, whose mother is a renowned community activist and whose twin brother is former presidential candidate Julian Castro.

“There is a permanent class of conservative politicians … who want to use the immigration issue as a way to scare Americans and make them think that there is a lot of brown people who are going to come into the country and harm them,” Castro said. “But you see Mexican American communities being very favorable toward giving immigrants a path to citizenship because they understand that experience. To them, [an immigrant] was their parent or their grandparent. So, when they hear all of the fear-mongering, most of the time, they don’t buy into that.”

Castro said he hopes an umbrella bill that includes comprehensive immigration reform can be passed during this session of Congress, although it has not yet come to a vote. He noted that two other immigration bills have already made it through the House, however, and he urged the U.S. Senate to move forward with that legislation.

Cecilia Menjívar, a professor of sociology at UCLA who is an expert on immigration issues, argued that such piecemeal reform probably has a greater chance of success. Although the current social and political environment is unlike any in recent history, she said systemic barriers are likely to continue to impede sweeping immigration reform efforts.

Joining Menjívar on the virtual panel were Angélica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. All the speakers agreed that the national stance must recognize the complexities of the issue beyond border security and militarization.

Immigration reform is deeply interconnected with labor rights, access to education, health care and violence in other countries, they noted.

“You can legalize the people in the U.S., but if you don’t deal with the system that keeps us out and kicks us out, then you are not doing service to our community,” Salas said.

The so-called border crisis is actually a regional international policy problem, Selee said. “If you have lots of people coming in an irregular fashion, we need to rethink how we facilitate a legal path to immigration.”

Salas called for an urgent change in enforcement. “The detention system is a for-profit system,” she said. “Too many corporations [make] money off of the detention of our people.”

U.S. immigration policy also needs to account for the economic contributions made by the millions of undocumented workers throughout the country, Selee said.

Menjívar cautioned that immigrants should be recognized in a manner that avoids “reducing them to a dollar sign,” noting the many “social and cultural contributions [immigrants] have made to this country over decades.”

Selee pointed out that almost half of immigrants today have college degrees, representing potential talent that can help catalyze economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

“Unlock that potential, [and] it would fit in really well in a moment where we are trying to recover economically,” he said.

View a recording of the webinar

 

Gilens Publishes Research on Campaign Finance Regulations

Public Policy Chair Martin Gilens‘ research into the impact of campaign finance regulations was published in American Political Science Review. Many scholars have expressed concern about the dominance of moneyed interests in American politics, and studies have shown that lobbying group interests and federal policies primarily reflect the desires of well-off citizens and well-funded interest groups, not ordinary citizens. While previous reports have faced difficulties drawing causal inferences from observational data, Gilens and his co-authors were able to analyze the effects of an exogenous change in state campaign finance law. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision held that corporations and unions have the same speech rights as individuals, and that corporate spending to influence elections does not give rise to corruption, as long as it is not coordinated with a political campaign. Gilens and his co-authors analyzed the impact of the ruling, which affected 23 states that had bans on independent expenditures by unions or corporations. After the bans were lifted under Citizens United, the states adopted more “corporate-friendly” policies on issues with broad effects on corporations’ welfare, they found. The authors concluded that “even relatively narrow changes in campaign finance regulations can have a substantively meaningful influence on government policy making.” The article, “Campaign Finance Regulations and Public Policy,” was written by Gilens, a professor of public policy, political science and social welfare; Professor Shawn Patterson Jr. of Southern Oregon University; and Professor Pavielle Haines of Rollins College. — Zoe Day


 

Yaroslavsky on Fallout From Assault on U.S. Capitol

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to KCAL9 News after a mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. “What happened today did not happen by accident,” said Yaroslavsky, noting that Trump had for weeks called on his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, the day Congress was scheduled to certify  President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Yaroslavsky said invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power could have a calming effect on the nation. “It’s been four years of this tension, of this instability, of this constant drone of craziness,” he said. “In the next 14 days, if you have an unstable president, there’s a lot of damage he can do.” Yaroslavsky, who has served as an overseas election observer for three decades, lamented the damage done to the United States’ reputation as a beacon of democracy. “Imagine people all over the world watching the spectacle that we were all watching.” 

Events

Meet the Mayoral Candidates Series: Mike Feuer

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is a promotional partner with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and Town Hall for a series of events relating to the upcoming election of a new mayor for Los Angeles.

The series will continue at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 15, with a session featuring candidate Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney.

This event and other sessions in the series will feature the major candidates live, in front of a public audience, to discuss why they are qualified to be Los Angeles’ next leader.

Feuer has been L.A.’s chief lawyer and prosecutor since July 2013. According to his bio on the city attorney’s website, he has brought an innovative, problem-solving focus that combines fair and effective prosecution with initiatives to improve public safety and the quality of life throughout the city. Feuer’s office also has been at the forefront of key national issues ranging from gun violence prevention and consumer protection to justice system reform and successful challenges to Trump Administration policies relating to public safety, and the fair allocation of federal funding and political representation.

Each session in the series features a live audience Q&A moderated by series host Dan Schnur, a professor of political science and former political consultant.

Sessions are free of charge with registration; proof of vaccination for COVID-19 is also required.

Free of charge with REGISTRATION


CORONAVIRUS SAFETY PROTOCOLS: The Ebell of Los Angeles has a visitor policy in accordance with the City of Los Angeles vaccination ordinance. In order to attend this event, all visitors ages 12 and up are required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination along with a valid ID.

PARKING: There is free parking for guests of The Ebell of Los Angeles at the lot located on Lucerne Boulevard, directly across from the venue. ADA parking is available in The Ebell of Los Angeles lot located on Fremont Place.


CO-SPONSORS FOR THE SERIES

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Meet the Mayoral Candidates Series: Karen Bass

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is a promotional partner with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and Town Hall for a series of events relating to the upcoming election of a new mayor for Los Angeles.

The series will continue at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 24, with a session featuring candidate U.S. Rep. Karen Bass.

This event and other sessions in the series feature the major candidates live, in front of a public audience, to discuss why they are qualified to be Los Angeles’ next leader.

The six-term congresswoman from Los Angeles represents the 37th Congressional District, serving on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is the chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights. She also serves on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, where she is active in working to craft sound criminal justice reform policies. She was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019 and 2020. Her political career also includes experience in Sacramento as a member of the California State Assembly. Bass made history in 2008 by becoming the first African-American woman in U.S. history to serve as speaker of any state legislature. Prior to elected office, she founded Community Coalition, a community-based social justice organization that empowers the African-American and Latino community across generations to address substance abuse, poverty and crime in South Los Angeles

Each session in the series features a live audience Q&A moderated by series host Dan Schnur, a professor of political science and former political consultant.

Sessions are free with registration; proof of vaccination for COVID-19 is also required.

Free of charge with REGISTRATION


CORONAVIRUS SAFETY PROTOCOLS: The Ebell of Los Angeles has a visitor policy in accordance with the City of Los Angeles vaccination ordinance. In order to attend this event, all visitors ages 12 and up are required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination along with a valid ID.

PARKING: There is free parking for guests of The Ebell of Los Angeles at the lot located on Lucerne Boulevard, directly across from the venue. ADA parking is available in The Ebell of Los Angeles lot located on Fremont Place.


CO-SPONSORS FOR THE SERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet the Mayoral Candidates Series: Joe Buscaino

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is a promotional partner with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and Town Hall for a series of events relating to the upcoming election of a new mayor for Los Angeles.

The series will kick off at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 15, with a session featuring candidate Joe Buscaino, a member of the Los Angeles City Council.

This event and future sessions in the series will feature the major candidates live, in front of a public audience, to discuss why they are qualified to be Los Angeles’ next leader.

Councilman Buscaino represents the 15th District, which includes the communities of Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, San Pedro, Watts and Wilmington, as well as the Port of Los Angeles. He has served as the chair of the City’s Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee since 2017. The committee oversees the Port of Los Angeles — the busiest container port in the United States— as well as LAX, the second-busiest airport in the United States, plus the L.A. Tourism and Convention Board.

Each session will feature a live audience Q&A, moderated by series host Dan Schnur, a professor of political science and former political consultant.

Sessions are free of charge with registration; proof of vaccination for COVID-19 is also required.

Free of charge with REGISTRATION


CORONAVIRUS SAFETY PROTOCOLS: The Ebell of Los Angeles has a visitor policy in accordance with the City of Los Angeles vaccination ordinance. In order to attend this event, all visitors ages 12 and up are required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination along with a valid ID.

PARKING: There is free parking for guests of The Ebell of Los Angeles at the lot located on Lucerne Boulevard, directly across from the venue. ADA parking is available in The Ebell of Los Angeles lot located on Fremont Place.


CO-SPONSORS FOR THE SERIES

Register Now

Crafting a 21st Century Voting Rights Act

Join voting rights practitioners, expert witnesses and legal scholars from around the country for sessions and workshops on procedural pathways to protecting the right to vote during the 21st century.

Keynote speakers include:

  • California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who has strengthened voting rights by increasing voter registration and overseeing the transition from the traditional voting model to vote centers through the Voter’s Choice Act.
  • Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who has worked to pass automatic voter registration; during her tenure, there has been a 64% increase in general election turnout among voters 18 to 20.
  • Texas Congressman Marc Veasey, who has represented his state’s 33rd district since 2012 and founded the first Congressional Voting Rights Caucus.

VIEW FULL AGENDA HERE

December 8 sign up link: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/

December 9 sign up link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/

This event is hosted by the UCLA Voting Rights Project, UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. 

Analyzing the Latino Vote in the 2020 Elections

America’s largest and diverse non-white voting bloc has made it clear that they are important actors in American politics, from Pennsylvania to Arizona.

Effectively mobilizing the Latino electorate is critical to the success of any campaign, from the White House to down-ballot. As we continue to confront our nation’s intersecting crises on our path to economic recovery, understanding the electoral preferences of Latino voters is essential to highlighting the nation’s policy priorities in a new decade. This conversation will highlight how record levels of Latino turnout impacted the outcome of key races, including in this cycle’s marquee battleground states, and what it means for the coming year.

Join us virtually for a powerful conversation moderated by María Elena Salinas, award winning-journalist.

Panelists:

Matt Barreto, professor, Political Science & Chicana/o Studies, UCLA

Tom Perez, chairman, Democratic National Committee

Mercedes Schlapp, senior advisor, Trump-Pence 2020 Campaign

Rudy Soto, former Democratic nominee for Congress

RSVP today.

Presented by the Aspen Institute’s Latinos and Society Program and the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative based at UCLA Luskin.