By Dan Walters
November 27, 2016 – 12:01 AM
Demography, it’s been said, is destiny – and the outcome of California’s election this month proves it again.
California’s political evolution over the last four decades, from a mostly red state to a purple state and finally to a very blue state, corresponds to its powerful demographic trends, driven largely by equally powerful economic forces.
During that period – spanning Jerry Brown’s two governorships and four others in between – the state’s economy moved from industrialism to a post-industrial mélange of technology, trade and services.
Those changes, plus California’s location on the Pacific Rim and adjacent to Mexico, spurred a massive influx of immigrants from other nations and a new baby boom that increased its population by more than 75 percent. Once overwhelmingly white, California became overwhelmingly nonwhite, with Latinos now the largest single ethnic group.
But there’s more to California’s demographic evolution than simple ethnicity. Its reputation for social tolerance and upward mobility also made the state a magnet – or a haven – for those of all ethnicities, genders and cultural inclinations seeking new beginnings.
Meanwhile, the decline of its industrial economy – exemplified by the collapse of Southern California’s aerospace industry – plus high living expenses hollowed out its middle class. The state now loses more people to other states, Texas particularly, than it gains from domestic migration.
The changes are visible almost everywhere in California, but most dramatically in Los Angeles County, home to more than a quarter of the state’s population.
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