And yet, its not polling well.
Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean of U.C. Riversides School of Public Policy and director of A.A.P.I. Data, told me that many voters may not know whats at stake, since for more than two decades, its been verboten in California to consider race, ethnicity or gender in order to boost access to education and work for groups that have been excluded by biased systems.
Many of these new voters have no idea what affirmative action is, he said.
[Read more about how the incoming chancellor of the Cal State system sees Proposition 16.]
Also, voters who have been active in Black Lives Matter protests might not be making that connection more generally to systems of racial inequality, Mr. Ramakrishnan said. Voters seem to more closely associate criminal justice reform with combating racism.
But there are also misconceptions about who is likely to support or oppose Proposition 16, he said.
Opponents of Proposition 16 including Ward Connerly, the Black businessman who led support for Proposition 209, the 1996 measure that enacted the ban say that giving preferential treatment to any group is discrimination. Admission to competitive universities, or access to jobs, they say, is a zero-sum game that will force some groups to lose out, although explicit race-based quotas were effectively barred by the Supreme Court more than 40 years ago.
Because Asian-American applicants have become the faces of high-profile legal battles with Ivy League universities over their use of race-conscious admissions, many may assume that opposition to Proposition 16 would be widespread among Asian-American voters in California.
The reality, as Mr. Ramakrishnan and his colleague Jennifer Lee wrote in a recent post on the A.A.P.I. Data site, is much more complicated.