Tag: Latino voters

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Introducing La Ruta del Voto Latino – Road to the Latino Vote

Today Feet in Two Worlds introduces a new feature, La Ruta del Voto Latino – Road to the Latino Vote, which will tell the story of Latinos in the 2008 election. Independent journalist Diego Graglia is taking a two-week road trip from New York City to Mexico City, stopping in urban, suburban and rural communities along the way for an in-depth and intimate look at Hispanic voters in an election year when the Latino vote is expected to be crucial in many states and many regions of the country. You can follow Diego here on the Feet in Two Worlds blog and on his bilingual blog www.newyorktomexico.com. In addition to regular blog posts, Diego will be producing audio and video podcasts and radio stories about his trip. I invite you to check back frequently to see what Diego discovers during his travels. You can leave comments for him here or contact him directly at nydf@diegograglia.net. As Diego and his girlfriend Amy leave New York we wish them buen viaje.

John Rudolph – Executive Producer, Feet in Two Worlds

Monday morning, as you wake up and make coffee, I’ll probably be driving under the Hudson River, having my morning mate and exiting New York once more. After five and a half years there, I moved to Mexico City, el D.F., at the beginning of this year. Now, I’m uniting the two cities in a roadtrip that will take me through the nation’s capital and the Mid-Atlantic region, the Deep South, Texas and the desert of northern Mexico.

While this trip was born as a private adventure, my journalistic genes could not let such a big opportunity to tell good stories pass without doing something about it. Of course, the biggest story in the land right now is the presidential election, with two candidates whose life stories could not be more compelling, and several issues –the war, the economy, immigration, the environment- triggering the most passionate opinions.

The Latino population in the U.S. has been growing for decades, and Latinos recently became the biggest minority in the country. Of course, this categorization is a little weird, since Latinos can be black, white, Native American, and a lot of other things – sometimes belonging to more than one minority at a time. (I, for one, am quite Caucasian, bear an Italian last name and speak English with a pree-ttee strong Latino accent.) Nevertheless, the existence of Latinos as a group does count, big-time, in terms of the ballots that will be added up on November 4.

By now, American politicians know that badmouthing Fidel Castro –who’s pretty much retired, anyway– is not going to cut it in terms of winning over Latinos. A visit to the Basílica of Guadalupe in Mexico City may help (right, Senator McCain?), since Mexicans are a majority of the people of Latin American descent in this country. But it has become quite clear that the Latino electorate is too diverse to be put into one big grab bag, una bolsa de gatos. (Yep, that is “a bag of cats.”)

As soon as our gallant 1992 Subaru Legacy station wagon, El Rayo Blanco (uh-huh, that’s The White Lightning) exits the Jersey City side of the Holland Tunnel, I will start bringing you the faces, voices, ideas and feelings of that diverse Latino population. The Dominicans who live in the neighborhoods above 137th Street in Manhattan, the Mexicans who work in poultry factories in rural North Carolina, the few Hispanics that remained in a Florida Panhandle town after an immigration raid, the Texan families who’ve been Americans for several generations, Hispanic last names and all.

I will visit Prince William County in Virginia, where the debate over undocumented immigrants has been intense, and where local authorities are enforcing federal immigration law. I will talk to a Mexican activist in Greenville, N.C., who’s been advocating for the rights of rural workers in the area for 20-plus years. I will watch party activists working hard everywhere at registering Latino voters, trying to woo them to one side or the other.

Amy -driver- and Diego -reporter-.

El Rayo Blanco and its crew: Amy -driver- and Diego -reporter-.

The site where all this will go up, www.newyorktomexico.com, has many interactive features, so I hope to hear from readers from all over the country – and from abroad, too. We want to know what people – Latino and non-Latino – think about the election, what issues they care about, and their opinions of the two candidates. By the time we finish the American leg of this trip, entering Mexico from Laredo, Texas, we should have some clearer – and distinctly grass-roots answers to those questions.

Oh… if you’re along our route, please don’t forget to recommend the best Latin American eatery in your town – this is going to be hard work and we will need to replenish our energy often.

* Diego Graglia is an Argentinean journalist with a strong interest in the relationship between the U.S. and Latin America, and Latino culture and society in the United States. He can be contacted by email at nydf@diegograglia.net, on Twitter at @nydf, and through Live Chat and comments on www.newyorktomexico.com.

Immigration News

Obama To Deploy Army of 500 to Turn Out Latino Voters: Top Latino Strategist Says Florida May Not Be Winnable

Polls may look tight right now in the presidential race, but Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Figueroa, a man who’s had several key positions in the Obama campaign –he was national field director and is now head of Latino outreach- talks confidently about, “paths to victory,” and, “expanding the universe,” of voters.

“We don’t want to go to bed on election night hoping Ohio or Florida are gonna come our way, like the last two election cycles,” says Figueroa, while he dips his fork into a seared tuna salad at a restaurant in San Diego on a recent afternoon. “We want to create different paths to victory and if we don’t win Ohio, or Florida, there’s other ways.”

Figueroa says that that the path to victory will mean, “focusing like a laser beam on four states that have a lot of Latino voters, and that were won by Bush in the last election: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida.”

His comments reflect the oft-repeated claim by the campaign that they can change the electoral map in 2008. The path to victory though, doesn’t necessarily mean expanding the map. Figueroa doesn’t believe that Obama can win Florida but he does think they can win 2 or 3 Western states if they drive up turnout.

(more…)

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The Inside Scoop on La Raza and Latino Outreach by the Presidential Candidates

Despite appearances and poll numbers, neither presidential candidate has a lock on the Latino vote. The National Council of La Raza convention in San Diego, which just ended yesterday (7/15/08), showed that both candidates have to overcome a strong measure of doubt among Latinos – Obama because of his race and the bitter primary battle, and McCain because of his backtracking on immigration reform.

Obama appeared first, on Sunday, and McCain the next day. They were both well received but not with the same fervor: Obama got a bigger crowd, strongest applause, and two times more press.

By the time McCain came around on Monday, the press corps was diminished greatly, many activists didn’t show up for lunch –the overflow room that was full on Sunday was virtually empty on Monday- and the excitement level had noticeably dropped.

It’s completely anecdotal evidence, of course, but it shows that the Latino groups and activist crowd that usually attend the NCLR conferences support what the polls are saying. The latest Gallup Poll of Latinos shows a 30 point difference in support between Obama and McCain. Obama is getting close to 60 percent and McCain has about 29 percent. (more…)

Immigration News

McCain Attacks First and in Spanish

The battle for the Latino vote has returned to American soil after Sen. John McCain’s three day trip to Colombia and Mexico.

The campaigns engaged in their own Independence Day back and forth on who would best represent Latinos. Nothing that would resemble fireworks, but remarkable because the first attack ad the McCain campaign has launched was aimed at a Hispanic audience. (more…)

Immigration News

UNITY: The Election's New Buzz Word?

Unity was the political headline coming out of Friday’s news cycle, after Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared side by side, in color-coordinated outfits, to put aside their 16-month internecine battle for the Democratic party’s nomination and show (dare we say) a united front at a 3,000 person rally in the aptly named town of Unity, New Hampshire

Press reports gushed over how Obama’s tie matched Clinton’s pantsuit, pondered their lack of a full hug, and pounced on the chance to show discord through a group of Clinton supporters, one of whom stuffed tissues in her ears as Obama spoke.

But the attempts to show solidarity went far past Clinton’s and Obama’s carefully choreographed display in the Granite State.

Preceding the Unity rally on Friday, Clinton spoke to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Washington, DC on Thursday and asked some of her most enthusiastic supporters to back Obama in the general election. She told the crowd that if Sen. John McCain won the presidency little would be done to advance the Latino agenda on immigration reform and the country would see, “four more years of the same.”

Clinton was greeted with a standing ovation. NALEO’s president Adolfo Carrión, the Bronx Borough President, referred to her as “nuestra hermana” – our sister. Hispanic supporters of Clinton say that her backing of Obama will be instrumental in winning the group’s support in November. During the primaries, Latinos backed Clinton 2 to 1 over Obama.

Obama also tried to show that unity was a natural next step for Latinos who had supported Clinton. In his speech at the NALEO convention on Saturday, he stressed that Blacks and Latinos have a shared history in the struggle for equal rights. “We marched together in the streets of Chicago to fix our broken immigration system,” he said to the applauding crowd.  “And it’s because of that 20-year record of partnership with your communities that you can trust me when I say that I’ll be your partner in the White House and I will be your champion in the White House. And that’s what you need now more than ever,” Obama continued. “Because for eight long years, Washington hasn’t been working for ordinary Americans. And few have been hit harder than Latinos and African Americans.”

Democrats aren’t the only ones trying to build bridges after messy political battles. Sen. John McCain spoke to the NALEO convention on Saturday, promising to pursue comprehensive immigration reform within his first 100 days in office and to reach out to a community that became alienated from the Republican party after Congress’ failed attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform last year.

McCain was on of the chief authors of the failed bill. He now must fend off attacks from Obama, that attempt to stoke doubts that McCain and the Republican Party cannot be trusted to follow through on the immigration issue.

Obama, who took the stage after McCain at Saturday’s convention told the crowd: “[McCain] deserves great credit as a champion of comprehensive reform. I admire him for it, I know that he talked about that when he just spoke before you, but what he didn’t mention is that when he was running for his party’s nomination, he walked away from that commitment.  He said that he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote.  If we are going to solve the challenges we face, we can’t vacillate, we can’t shift depending on our politics. You need a president who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out in a consistent way, and that is my commitment to you.”

The attacks come at a time when Latino support for McCain is sagging. A recent AP-Yahoo poll showed that Obama’s lead among Latinos was 47 to 22 over McCain, with 26 percent undecided.

McCain’s attempts to regain ground on the immigration issue and rebuild ties with the Hispanic community has not gone unnoticed A headline in the Los Angeles Spanish-language daily La Opinion from early last week put it this way “McCain regresa al centro en inmigración.” – McCain returns to the center on immigration.

Saturday’s speech was just the beginning of an intensified effort by McCain to regain ground with Latino voters.. From July 1st to the 3rd, McCain will visit Colombia and Mexico to stress the ties the United States has with Latin America and focus on the shared security and economic concerns.

Unity – or unidad- it seems, might just rival ‘Change’ as a theme in this year’s election.

 

Immigration News

Latinos Expected to Vote in Record Numbers this November: Could Help Turn Red States Blue

At least 9.2 million Latinos are expected to vote in November’s presidential election according to a report released Thursday by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. If the estimate is correct, it would represent an increase of more than one million Latino voters compared to the 2004 election.

The number is considered “merely a floor” rather than a ceiling by NALEO, which issued the 64-page report on the potential impact of Latinos in this election cycle. If Latino voter turnout in this year’s primaries is an indicator, the report says the Latino vote could spike even higher in the general election and represent a record percentage of the overall vote in key battleground states. “Changing demographics and rising political participation in the Latino community are redefining the American political landscape,” Senators Ken Salazar and Robert Menendez wrote in the report. “More than any time in the history of our great country, Latino voices and Latino voters will be at the center of the 2008 election, helping to determine the direction our country takes at this critical juncture.”

Primaries Demonstrated Power of Latino Vote
Latinos have already proved they are a formidable voting block, providing the margin of victory for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Texas and Ohio Democratic primaries and for Sen. John McCain in his decisive win in the Florida GOP primary, according to the NALEO report. The modified primary calendar provided ethnic minorities with more of a say in the presidential nominating process. Seventy-nine percent of the nation’s Latinos live in states that held primaries or caucuses on or before March 4th.

Democrats appeared to benefit the most from the turnout. “Latino Democratic turnout in some major states with large Latino populations doubled, tripled and even quintupled between 2004 and 2008,” the NALEO report found. Latino turnout may be a key to victory for Democrats in the general election, since at least five of the fourteen swing states that the Party hopes to turn blue have sizeable Latino populations.

Florida Remains the State to Watch
Not surprisingly, NALEO points to Florida as the state to watch in the 2008 election. Though Florida’s Latino population has historically trended Republican, an influx of Latinos from South and Central America, as well as Puerto Ricans in Central Florida, have created a sizeable electorate that could vote Democratic. Latinos who are registered Democratic in the state outnumber Latino registered Republicans by 35.3 percent to 33.5 percent. A third of registered of Latinos are unaffiliated and may be up for grabs by both parties. NALEO projects that more than one million Latino voters in Florida will cast their ballot in November’s presidential election.

Latino Turnout Could Be Even Higher
Nationwide more than 17 million Latinos are eligible to vote. One factor that could push the number higher is the swelling ranks of Latinos naturalized as US citizens. The overall number of naturalization applications doubled from 2006 to 2007 to 1.4 million applicants according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Due to a backlog in processing applications, however, the government agency estimates that will finish processing only 80 percent of the applications filed in 2007 in time for the election. Historically, turnout by naturalized Latinos is higher than those who are native born, according to the Census Bureau.

The immigration debate has also galvanized the Latino electorate, according to the NALEO report. “The last two years have seen the mass mobilization of Latinos in reaction to our nation’s widely publicized immigration debate,” the report says. “The intense current debate has already affected Latino naturalizations, and many Latino applicants for citizenship are motivated in part by the desire to make their voices heard.” However, the report concluded that it is unclear how much of the political reaction to the debate would translate into Latino turnout in the election.