November 5, 2008
Latinos' Political Clout
From America's Voice:
Latinos Flex Political Muscle
Mobilized by Immigration Issue, Latinos Break Turnout Records, Tip Elections and Trend Democratic in 2008
Washington, DC – The power of the Latino vote is one of the key storylines to emerge from the 2008 elections. Latino and immigrant voters played a decisive role yesterday by delivering four key battleground states to Senator Barack Obama, lifting many members of the House and Senate to victory, and defeating anti-immigrant legislators.
While Latinos care about many of the major issues facing our country today, the issue of immigration both drove them to the polls and helped push this voting bloc to support Democratic candidates The relatively low level of support for John McCain among Latinos, closer to Bob Dole in 1996 than George W. Bush in 2004, is largely attributable to the fact that the Republican brand image is tarnished among Latinos – even for a past leader on immigration issues such as Senator McCain.
Below are some key data-points about the Latino vote in the 2008 election:
• The Latino Vote Surged in Size: The Latino vote comprised at least 8% of the overall electorate, according to exit polling. This works out to approximately 10.5 million voters, given the expected 130 million votes cast. This figure represents a jump of 3 million voters since 2004, when 7.6 million Latinos cast ballots, and is almost double the Latino turnout of 2000.
• The Latino Vote Broke Democratic: In 2004, Democratic candidate John Kerry won the Latino vote 56-44% against George W. Bush. Yesterday, Barack Obama won the Latino vote by a 66-32% margin against John McCain, and even won a majority of Latino support in Florida, a former Latino stronghold for the GOP. Given the increased size of the Latino electorate, this means that 2.9 million more Latino votes went to the Democratic candidate compared to 2004.
• Barack Obama Swept the “Latino Battleground” States: Both the Obama and McCain campaigns focused their Spanish-speaking advertising and outreach on four key battleground states – CO, FL, NM, and NV. Within these states, the Latino vote’s rapid growth and break towards Democratic candidates played an important role in Democratic victories.
o CO: The Latino vote in CO grew from 8% of the state’s electorate in 2004 to 17% in 2008. Obama gained support of 73% of CO Latinos – key to his 53-46% victory in the state, as well as the Udall Senate victory.
o FL: The Latino vote’s shift towards the Democrats was essential in Obama’s win. FL Latinos broke 56-44% for Bush in 2004 and 57-42% for Obama in 2008.
o NM: Latinos comprised 41% of the NM 2008 electorate – a jump from their 32% in 2004. Latinos in NM supported Obama 69-30% -- a big jump from 56-44% support for Kerry. NM Latinos’ trend towards Democrats played a huge role in the Presidential race and in handing the open Senate seat and two Congressional races (NM-1 and NM-2) to the Democrats.
o NV: Latinos in NV supported Kerry 60-39% in 2004 and Obama 78-20% in 2008. Latinos in NV also increased from 10% of electorate in ’04 to 16% in 2008, and played a key role in handing the NV-3 Congressional seat to the Democrats.
• John McCain’s Support Among Latinos Was More Dole than Bush: John McCain’s received just 32% of Latinos’ support nationwide – closer to the Republicans’ low-water mark of 21% support received by Bob Dole in 1996 than the high-water mark of 44% received by George W. Bush in 2004.
• Voters Broadly Rejected Anti-Immigrant Candidates and Politics: Voters defeated leading anti-immigrant crusaders such as Marilyn Musgrave (CO-4), Thelma Drake (VA-02), Lou Barletta (running for Rep. Kanjorski’s seat in PA-11), and possibly Virgil Goode (VA-5) (race too close to call at press time), and supported candidates with practical and common sense approaches for fixing our nation’s broken immigration system like Dina Titus (taking Rep. Porter’s seat in NV-3), Bill Foster (IL-14), Jim Himes (taking Rep. Shays’ seat in CT-4), Rep. Giffords (AZ-8), and many others. In the Senate, new pro-reform senators include Mark Warner in VA, Jeanne Shaheen in NH, Mark Udall in CO, Kay Hagan in NC, and Tom Udall in NM.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “These results lead us to the following conclusions: 1) Republican hostility towards Latinos in general and Latino immigrants in particular is driving this fast growing group of new voters in the country into the hands of Democrats; 2) Candidates who define themselves as in favor of common sense immigration reform win their races; 3) If Republicans expect to emerge from the political wilderness, they will have to separate themselves from the anti-immigrant extremists that have hijacked most of the party; and 4) If Democrats expect to consolidate the support of these voters, they will have to deliver urgently needed policy changes – from economic opportunity to immigration reform – or risk having a growing group of voters swing back towards Republicans or become disillusioned with the Democratic Party. And these factors combined strongly suggest that neither party will want to go into the next presidential race with immigration reform unresolved.”
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, and Paco Fabián, Communications Director, are both available to provide on the record comment regarding election results. To schedule an interview, please contact Paco Fabián at (202) 412-9969.
November 5, 2008 | Permalink
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I did not see comprehensive immigration reform on Speaker Pelosi's list of legislative priorities. Votes yes. Clout no.
Posted by: Samson Izaguirre | Nov 5, 2008 3:50:46 PM
While I don't know Julie Myers personally, nor could I say that I am familiar with the inner workings of her bureaucratic lever pulling at the department, I can't help but comment that it puzzles me how anyone could view ICE as emblematic of a "21st Century" law enforcement operation. Of course it's axiomatic that the 21st Century serves as an adjective to the subject because after all this is the year 2008, and the department under which ICE is organized was not formed until the beginning of our present century. I will infer that what Mr. Chertoff means to say when he uses the term 21st century is that ICE is a state of the art, or cutting edge, or forward thinking kind of bureaucracy. It is none of these. It is a bloated gestapo.
Not only are its tactics brutal and inhuman strikes that result in the separation of innocent families, and the dehumanization of our immigrant neighbors, it is also an enormously expensive, wasteful welfare program for the military and security lobby. It combines the worst elements of cruelty and indifference of despotic tyrants together with the wasteful stupidity-cronyism of the most corrupted oligarchies.
Its statistics are meaningless. It is pointless to count the number of fugitive arrests and felony prosecutions. Everybody knows that they are arresting and locking up Guatemalan peasants on trumped up federal charges solely for the purpose of making the figures of criminal "alien" captures appear significant. Those are not aliens. Only fools think that aliens walk among us. There is not one shred of evidence that aliens have ever touched our soil, and the government that perpetuates the funding and expansion of quasi-military operations in our towns and cities to deal with imaginary beings is a danger to the liberty of every man, woman and child among us.
Many will argue that the aliens do exist, that it is legal term of art, of course, and that "we have to do something about them otherwise..." and then on, and on, and on into an infinite regression of mindless imperatives and stupid policies. There are a very large number of people who live here currently who did not have the U.S. Government's permission before they decided to join us. All of them are here for a reason. All of them have reason - that human ability to make calculated choices with the assistance of abstract conceptions. We are not objects.
The lack of legal permission is a burden to be sure, but those who have not lived as we have lived would be surprised to see how welcoming this Nation is and the opportunities that are still available despite the obstacles. We are a tenacious multitude, and even with the U.S. economy losing jobs and money, we are still finding our way here and clinging to the foothold we have gained. There is no self-deportation movement out here. ICE may as well ask us to get back on our spaceships. It's not that the places we came from are all so bad, but rather that we know how to make it here better. Even better than many who enjoy the privileges of citizenship. Our reasons for joining ourselves to America are compelling. We will not pack up and go peacefully with our heads hung in shame, or tremble at the site of agents in sunglasses and mustaches pinning our neighbors on their lawn while their children cry. There is humiliation, and there is discouragement, and poverty, and ansia to hear our own voices, but these do not push us to the shores and across the border. They impel us forward to continue the crossing. We have left other shores and hometowns to make the journey here. We would not have done it if we expected failure, and we will not concede to failure because some say we must. Far more want us here, want us to succeed, want us to glory in pride for this country and to enjoy the fruits of what together have sown and reaped in these fields.
If you believe that ICE can accomplish its stated task of removing people who came here illegally, then you may as well believe in aliens and lift your eyes into space. Please do, Mr. Secretary, so that your delusions won't cost the rest of us any money, or our beloved freedoms. To praise the woman who has headed up this hopelessly misguided venture into fascism we have endured these last several years is funny. It's like praising Don Quixote for his courage. I don't care if she is a good person, or really knows how to manage efficiently, or how clean her financial audit opinions are at the department level. What terrific drivel. She is goose-stepping, and so are all of those who find anything at all to admire about ICE. Its mandate is conceived in a vein of thought that is both stupidly utopian and anti-American. I pray that its demise comes quickly and that Mr. Chertoff is put out to stargaze all day. I pray that all those who have labored on behalf of ICE will one day feel the conviction of shame, repent of their wrongs and join the rest of us as friends and neighbors.
Posted by: Marsguero | Nov 5, 2008 8:53:26 PM
'The lack of legal permission is a burden to be sure'
You sound like you don't think anyone needs permission, Marsguero. With its schizophrenic policies and lack of deterrence, the U.S. government engenders such an attitude of immigration law just being an inconvenience and something to ignore, not abide by. We have, in effect, an honor system which is arguably worse than no system at all because it results in degradation to rule of law. Officially, we say we control immigration but it's largely left to people like you to decide and you certainly convey that attitude of power--to the point of defiance.
'We will not pack up and go peacefully'
Some people might interpret that as a threat of violence. If true, it reinforces my policy thrust that it's infinitely better to deter an activity than depend on police action and force after it has occurred.
'Far more want us here'
Are you implying that a vast majority of Americans favor unfettered illegal immigration? That is not the case. However, maybe from your experience you mean that the majority of people you encounter seem tolerant and welcoming to you as an individual despite your status. The two are not inconsistent. Many people strongly favor limited immigration and order while still viewing illegal aliens compassionately. But they'd prefer that if they are not supposed to be here, they not have come in the first place and that the government take steps so that doesn't happen half a million times or more each year. That's not being 'anti-immigrant' despite the demagoguery of those who shamelessly make that accusation against decent people.
Posted by: Jack | Nov 6, 2008 4:24:51 PM
'Within these states [CO, FL, NM, and NV], the Latino vote’s rapid growth and break towards Democratic candidates played an important role in Democratic victories.'
Just in New Mexico as far as Obama is concerned. Based on Chuck Todd's breakdown, Obama still wins CO, FL, and NV even if there were no Latino voters at all. The youth vote similarly made little difference as far as turning states.
Posted by: Jack | Nov 7, 2008 4:46:48 AM