As the dust has settled since a political earthquake struck California with the crushing reminder of Chesa Boudin, San Francisco District Attorney, a distinct voting pattern has emerged.
Precinct-by-precinct voting maps show minority voters supporting recall in far greater numbers than affluent, college-educated white progressives, with very few exceptions. It’s not hard to see why, say California political analysts from all walks of life. RealClearPolicies. Minority communities suffer more when crime rates soar than wealthier isolated neighborhoods with more protections and money for security.
“While there are fewer of us [than in the city’s past]we’ve seen more African Americans resist the narrative that you have to reject this callback, it’s racist, it’s not progressive, it’s about conservatism, and they’re trying to fool you,” Andrea Shorter, spokesperson for Safer SF Sans Boudin, Boudin’s largest recall group, told RCP. “We look around, and a lot of the bodies that are piling up, whether it’s from fentanyl or violent attacks from people who shouldn’t have been on our streets…are people of color.”
Under different circumstances, Shorter and Boudin would have been aligned in their quest for criminal justice reform. Shorter spent 25 years in San Francisco as a community organizer and political strategist specializing in criminal and juvenile justice reform, gender equity, and LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace. But the city’s intertwined problems of homelessness, high crime, and rampant drug trafficking had brought Shorter to a breaking point with liberal orthodoxy.
“There’s this romantic notion of what it means to be progressive versus the reality of policies that don’t positively impact our lives,” she said. “When there are open-air drug markets in the Tenderloin – well, who suffers? We are all hurt, but it is mostly people of color who are hurt. »
San Francisco is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. its inhabitants speak more than 100 languages. Asians make up about a third of the city’s population, with a large percentage of its Chinatown-based business owners voting 68% in favor of the recall.
Several high-level Asian community leaders helped lead the recall, including Mary Jungformer president of San Francisco Democratic Partyand Leanna Louiea small business owner and veteran who was one of 60 Asian Americans assaulted on the streets of San Francisco in 2021 – a more than six-fold increase from 2020.
Louie began volunteering with a community-run task force to patrol the Chinatown neighborhood when store owners began experiencing a major increase in burglaries and vandalism.
“There are two types of people in San Francisco. Those who have been victimized and those who are about to be victimized, if Chesa is not called back,” Louie said. Newsweek days before the reminder. “Most people who come to us have had their car smashed in several times, their house broken into or their [businesses] have been vandalized. »
Shorter and others point to an alarming statistic: Fentanyl overdoses in San Francisco have killed more people than COVID in the past year. While the growing fentanyl crisis killed nearly 500 people last year, Boudin’s office reportedly won’t get a single conviction for selling the deadly opioid for cases filed in 2021.
Boudin’s office recorded just three total convictions for “possession with intent to sell” drugs in 2021 – two for methamphetamine and one for an affair involving heroin and cocaine. On the other hand, Boudin’s predecessor, George Gasconwho is now the DA in Los Angeles (and faces his own recall election in November), oversaw more than 90 drug trafficking convictions in 2018.
While Boudin, a former public defender, blamed billionaire conservatives for funding efforts to impeach him, voting habits tell a different story. Boudin lost almost all of the city’s heavily minority neighborhoods except mission districtwhich has always been the center of the Hispanic community, but has become gentrified with the dot-com boom and the arrival of young urban professionals in the area.
South Garry, a longtime California Democratic political consultant, said people are tired of brazen attacks in the streets at all hours of the day and night. South, who laid out his thoughts in a Friday op-ed in CalMatters, does not foresee a widespread movement of minority voters toward the Republican Party. He says voters are simply expressing a desire for a basic level of public safety.
“There’s an old political adage that conservatives are liberals who have been mugged,” South said. “I think it’s too simplistic when it comes to California. These minority voters will vote Democrat again in the fall. They’re just fed up.
“There’s a reason we call on DA prosecutors — that’s their primary job — to prosecute people who commit crimes,” South continued. “It’s not about acting as public defenders. We already have them. The role of the DA is not to be a welfare agency that makes excuses for criminals.
South warns against linking Boudin’s lopsided San Francisco recall to billionaire businessman Rick Carusois the surprise of Rep. Democrat Karen Bass three percentage points in the race for mayor of Los Angeles. Caruso, a Republican who changed his registration to a Democrat before announcing his candidacy for mayor, and Bass will meet in a runoff in November in a race that has mostly focused on crime and homelessness.
Caruso pledged to hire 1,500 new police officers in his first term and build 30,000 shelter beds in his first 300 days. Bass’ plan to reduce crime has focused primarily on criminal justice reform and tackling the “conditions that lead to crime”, although she has pledged to be “smart on crime” if she was elected.
Down south, Bass simply couldn’t match Caruso’s ability to support itself. The real estate developer has spent nearly $41 million so far in the race, of which at least $10 million has been spent on ads disparaging Bass about everything from rising crime to missed House votes in passing through a dust on the largesse of the University of Southern California. (Bass received a USC scholarship worth $95,000 while serving in Congress.)
“It’s a terrible return on investment – he spent $41 million and got 41% of the vote, and she spent $4 [million] and got 38%,” South said. “He spent it 10 to one. Come November, when there will be a much bigger turnout and a younger turnout, I don’t think he’ll be successful.
But there are signs that Bass also has issues with minority voters despite her history as a community activist and president of the Congressional Black Caucus. A survey conducted by political polling group BSP Research between April 20 and May 3 suggested Caruso was more popular than Bass among registered Latino voters, a crucial demographic in Los Angeles. Caruso also had a favorable rating of 47% to Bass’s 44%. A more recent UC-Berkeley Institute poll, taken in late May, found about half of black men planned to vote for Caruso in Tuesday’s primary.
In mid-May, the legendary Long Beach rapper Snoop Dogg contacted Caruso and offered his endorsement, saying he was doing so because of Caruso’s work with “Sweet Alice” Harris, a beloved Watts community organizer who also endorsed Caruso. A few days later, Prior Clarencea music industry mogul who featured then-Senator Barack Obama to Southern California political and entertainment circles, Caruso also endorsed. A Los Angeles Times op-ed suggesting Bass had issues with black men noted that Avant’s wife, Jacqueline, was murdered last year during an invasion of their Beverly Hills home.
For Republicans, it’s a no-brainer: California residents of all political stripes and ethnicities are fed up with rampant crime and homelessness.
“I think you can conclude that the neighborhoods most affected by crime and homelessness are going to vote on these issues,” Rob Stutzmanwho was deputy chief of staff of former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, said RCP. “The neighborhoods that take it the most – they’re going to vote to bring order back to their communities, and of course the urban Democrats in those big cities have to beware of that.”
Stutzman called Boudin “a dead coyote that ranchers pull and throw over the fence with the other coyotes to watch as a warning.”
Caruso, he predicted, will be able to compete for support from the Latino, Asian and Black communities because Los Angeles has become so dysfunctional in recent years, especially when it comes to the city’s homelessness issue. While crime has skyrocketed in many parts of the country in recent years, homelessness is particularly vexing for California with its crime-filled “drug dens”.
“It’s just a snowball effect here, and you don’t feel like you’re in the United States in a lot of these places. Every major city in California is dealing with it – Fresno, Sacramento, cities all over eastern Los Angeles County. These questions transcend partisanship, as they are fundamentally about how you feel when you walk through your door, drive down your street and through your neighborhood? »
Voters should listen carefully to the substance and not just the talking points on crime and homelessness issues, Stutzman warned. Boudin’s recall will likely spur a seismic shift in the rhetoric of Democrats across the state and country, but fundamental policy changes must be made to change the status quo.
If Bass and other Democrats don’t move from a “priority of housing first to shelter first, and if counties can’t provide basic services” to help people with drug and mental health to rehabilitate and get off the streets, it’s just more of the same, he says.
“The rhetoric is what people have been hearing in this state for year after year after year, including from the governor, and the problem just keeps getting worse,” he said. “So if people feel like their vote matters like in San Francisco, yes, they’re going to vote it.”
Susan Crabtree is National/White House Political Correspondent for RealClearPolitics. This piece originally aired on RealClearPolitics.