September 25, 2003

2003 Multilingual Survey Of California Voters

The California electorate is sharply split along racial and ethnic lines with Latino, African American, Asian American and white voters expressing distinctly different views of the recall, of Gov. Gray Davis’ performance in office, of the candidates seeking to replace him and of the racial classification initiative (Proposition 54).

• The California electorate is sharply split along racial and ethnic lines over both the gubernatorial recall and Proposition 54. Latino, African American, Asian American and white voters express distinctly different views of the recall, of Gov. Gray Davis’ performance in office, of the candidates seeking to replace him and of the racial classification initiative.

• Hispanics and Asian Americans are closely split on whether Davis should be removed from office, while blacks oppose the recall by a wide margin and a majority of whites favor removing the governor from office. In the contest to replace Davis, should the recall succeed, nearly 60% of Latino voters favor Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, while less than a fifth of black voters support him. Support for Arnold Schwarzenegger varies widely. Asian Americans and whites say Schwarzenegger will get their votes in about equal measures – at about the same level as Bustamante – while support among Latinos and blacks is significantly lower.

• Although substantial numbers of voters are either still undecided or say they are not aware of Proposition 54, Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans are expressing more support than whites for the initiative, which would amend the California Constitution to prohibit the collection and use of various kinds of information about racial or ethnic identity by the state, local governments and schools.

• Views of race relations also reveal substantial divisions, with Latinos and Asian Americans seeing improvement, but whites and blacks expressing more pessimism. A majority of Latinos and Asian Americans also see prospects for economic improvement, while African Americans are notably less optimistic. Asked whether they need government protection against discrimination, substantial majorities of blacks, Latinos and Asian Americans say they do, though a smaller share of Asian Americans holds this view than Latinos and blacks.

• Significant percentages of Latino (30%) and Asian American voters (39%) say they prefer receiving their news in a language other than English. At least two-thirds of all respondents say they depend on some form of television for news that shapes their voting decisions, with about 15% of Latinos, African Americans and whites and only 8% of Asian Americans saying they rely on newspapers. More than half rate media coverage of the recall and issues important to them good or excellent.