Los Angeles Times Poll Finds Californians Still Favor Proposition 187

Proposition 187, which appeared on the California ballot in 1994, was the first voter referendum aimed at curbing illegal immigration anywhere in the nation. The initiative was approved overwhelmingly, winning support from 59 percent of California voters, including about one-third of Latino voters. Unfortunately, in spite of winning in a landslide, Prop. 187 never took effect because a single federal judge overturned it, while the political leadership in California – both Democrats and Republicans – refused to appeal the decision on behalf of the voters.

A new poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California finds that if Prop. 187 were on the ballot today, it would still likely win approval by voters (although one would never guess that from the headline in the LA Times). According to the poll, an initiative like Prop. 187 would have the support of 46 percent of voters, while 44 percent say they would oppose it.

However, it is worth recalling just how far off the polls were in 1994 in predicting the outcome of the vote on Prop. 187. An article published on Election Day eighteen years ago reported “a virtual dead heat after a barrage of criticism from high-profile conservatives and newspaper editorials.” With the possible exception of “Dewey Defeats Truman!” it is hard to think of a wider disparity between the polls and the actual vote. Numerous explanations have been offered for the inaccuracy of the polling on Prop. 187, but the most likely is that, given the massive campaign mounted by opponents insinuating that the measure was somehow racist, many people were reluctant to admit to pollsters that they favored the initiative.

Things have changed in California since 1994, of course. Many illegal aliens who received amnesty as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 have gained citizenship and have registered to vote. Many native born residents, who supported the measure in overwhelming numbers, have left the state, while many of the older voters have died. What has also changed is the enormity of the cost associated with illegal immigration – more than $20 billion annually – and the gravity of California’s fiscal crisis. Under the circumstances, it is not unreasonable to assume that a referendum similar to Prop. 187 would be favored by a larger margin than 46 percent to 44 percent found in the LA Times/USC poll.

Even if the poll is close to accurate – with voters more or less evenly split – the findings demonstrate the incredible disconnect between California’s political establishment and the people of California. For the most part, state and local officials who continue to offer new benefits, services, privileges, and protections to illegal aliens act as though the plurality (perhaps even the majority) of voters in California do not exist.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    A federal judge overturned prop 187′ but when it came time for the appeal from gov. Grey Davis, he refused to defend 187. And for his efforts, or rather his lack of effort, he was recalled.

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  4. avatar

    P.S. By the way, please understand something folks, even though the Los Angeles Times “found out this truth”, they are TOTALLY FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND AGAINST THE CITIZENS OF CALIFORNIA. HANDS DOWN!!

  5. avatar

    Do you know why Californians still favor this proposition? It’s because their rights as Americans were usurped by a leftist judge that dared to interfere with the will of the citizens of California, who voted to relieve themselves of paying the enormous burden that should be Mexico’s responsibility. In the meantime, corrupt politicians, like Senators Boxer, and Feinstein, the majority of democrats in Sacramento, and even the President of the U.S., seem to be just fine with this burden on California’s citizens. They have no problem at all, Governor Jerry the Moonbeam Brown, included, with further taxing Californians that are struggling, many seniors on fixed incomes, and young people that cannot get buy today because illegal aliens, have taken even part time jobs college youths used to do, and ruined blue collar jobs immensly. But, Mexico and the corrupt Democrat AND Republican Parties must be served, RIGHT!?

  6. avatar

    California is lost, and it has been for years. Who is kidding who? The self-inflicted wounds by California liberals has left a state completely taken over and occupied by Mexico. All the way back in the mid 1990s, Johnny Carson quipped on his late night show: “I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that due to illegal immigration, there is a huge housing shortage in southern Califonia. The good news, there is an abundance of apartment rentals in Mexico.” The only concern non-Mexifornia Americans should have is fighting to the death – any Federal bail out of California. Will this issue arise over the next four years regardless of who is in the White House? Wait for it.

  7. avatar
    softwarengineer on

    Yes Ira

    I call supporting amnesty overpopulation increases during California’s stagnant Total Labor Force [or is it decreasing?] bon fire, like putting gasoline overpopulation amnesty on it, to help put it out.