The Revolution Against Affirmative Action in California: Politics, Economics, and Proposition 209
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209, which banned the use of affirmative action in state hiring, contracting, and public university admissions. We know that white voters favored Proposition 209 more than nonwhite voters--the question is, why? Did they feel that the racial preferences given to growing numbers of members of racial and ethnic groups threatened them economically, or were they just motivated by old-fashioned racism? We test these two possible explanations--economic anxiety and racial division--for the appeal of Proposition 209 to California voters using exit poll data. We find little support for the economic anxiety explanation. Instead, racial division seems to be the best way to understand white voting on Proposition 209.