The Latino Vote and the Midterm Elections

November 7th, 2010 · 8 Comments

It’s been nearly a week since the midterm elections, and if one thing became obvious in this past election cycle, it was that the Latino vote can make a key difference in tight races, especially in the Southwest, and that our community’s electoral impact has been underestimated by the traditional models.

On Thursday, I participated in a press conference call where leaders in the immigrant and broader Latino community discussed how Latinos delivered the West to the Democratic candidates and what this might mean in terms of laying the groundwork for 2012.

Some of the key themes were:

  • With the Campaign for Community Change, there were 4 million reported contacts with voters. In the states of Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona, there were over 20 million targeted online impressions with GOTV (get out the vote) messages for the Latino community.
  • There was a basic theme that our community will support those who have supported us, which was evident in the Harry Reid/Sharron Angle race in Nevada, where 90% of the Latino vote when for Senator Reid. In California in the Senate race between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina, Senator Boxer earned 86% of the Latino vote. And in Colorado, 81% of the Latino vote went to Michael Bennett vs. 19% for Ken Buck, which helped Bennett edge out the Tea Party candidate.
  • In the Silver State alone, the Hispanic Institute’s Nevada 2010 project registered 10,000 new voters in Clark County alone and knocked on over 200,000 doors over the course of the year to encourage the community to come out and vote.
  • In California, the Democrats won because they did not run away from the immigration issue and the GOP candidates underestimated the sophistication of Latino voters, who did not fall for messaging in Spanish that might have been different from the message in English.
  • Because Senator Reid won in Nevada, there is an expectation that he will move forward with the DREAM Act during the lame duck session.

I do want to note the big exception to where Latinos deliver for the Democrats in tight races is in Florida, where the Cuban-American population leans GOP. In my view, this has to do with immigration being a non-issue. For instance, when a group can legalize themselves through “wet foot/dry foot,” immigration ceases to be as salient of an issue because they have access to a process to regularize their status. Senator-elect Rubio will be in an interesting position though, where he will have to start moderating his views on immigration because he will have to represent the whole state. And we have already seen Rubio attempt to do this by saying he now prefers the term “undocumented” instead of “illegal immigrants.”

Tags: community organizing and activism · Democratic Party · GOP · Immigration · voting trends

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mike // Nov 7, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Here in Colorado the Latino vote might have also been mobilized by the fact that Tom “I’m not a racist” Tancredo was on the ticket running for Governor… I’d like to think that motived more people to get off the couch just to vote against him.
    Hallelujah the Mile High State stayed Blue!

  • 2 Anna // Nov 7, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Why does Rubio have to moderate his positons because he’s representing the whole state? He was elected statewide by taking a far right position. Rubio will moderate his language–not his positions–because the GOP perceives him as a future candidate for VP. They think he will bring in the Hispanic vote outside of Florida. LOL

    Notice that CA is the bluest state and the state with the highest Latino turnout, but a state with no Latinos in statewide office. All we do is empower everybody else.

    As for Harry Reid is bringing up the Dream Act during the lame duck session, is that all he has to do to keep getting people’s vote? Bring up legislation that has no chance of passing?

    I am tired of all of our issues being reduced to immigration. I’m sick of it. There is no discussion of jobs, education, etc.

  • 3 kyledeb // Nov 8, 2010 at 3:58 am

    Rubio presents one of the most difficult challenges to the pro-migrant community, but he is certainly going to have to moderate his views if he wants to get re-elected without the benefit of a three-way race in 2016.

  • 4 The Latino Vote and the Midterm Elections | Latino News // Nov 8, 2010 at 8:44 am

    […] From: Latino Politics Blog […]

  • 5 Chicano future tense // Nov 8, 2010 at 10:19 am


    got a news flash for you..
    Both the GOP and the Democratic party love the Immigration issue.Unlike you,they don’t want it to go away.

    Immigration is a political football being kicked around first by one side then by the other.The GOP/Tea Baggers have made huge gains in numbers and support bringing on board their bandwagon hoardes of “anti-illegal alien” racists and xenophobes.In most areas of the USA much of this mid-term electoral slaughter was due to the Immigration issue.

    The Democratic party loves the Immigration issue for a different reason because it allows them by using different rhetoric,deception and straight out lies ..(no real substance).. to manipulate,control and dupe Latino voters.

    Like it or not Latinos are already on the Democratic party plantation to be continually lied to,fooled,manipulated by being fed a daily dose of Democratic party/DNC/obama kool-aid.

    Harry Reid or Marco Rubio-or any other politician will “moderate” their views and for that matter will just straight-out “lie” to Latinos in order to get their votes.Obama did it,the DMC did it,The Democratic poarty did it.So why should it be expected that they will all give up a good thing they know works very well?

    Don’t rule out Marco Rubio… the GOP and the Democrats are well aware of the nature of the Latino voter: ignorant, backwards totally unsophisticated..easy to fool by using “kool-aid” type rhetoric,by eating tacos,wearing big sombreros and singing off key Mexican folk songs.

    Hate to say it,Latinos are the Rodney Dangerfields of american politics..”I never get any respect”.

    In great part we can thank those near worthless,unintelligent ,mediocre ,gutless wonders we call the Hispanic Caucus with their legions of hanger-on Latino political procurers and greedy little Marketing pimps who are everywhere out there using their ethnicity to peddle Latinos mostly worthless,frivolus, deleterious junk …they laugh all the way to the bank.

    As to this mid-term election- you are right Latinos actually lost 3 members of the CHC,the Mexican American legislative caucus in Texas lost 11 members.No Latino was elected to important state office in California or for that matter in most other states.

    Latinos are never going to see any real change by just voting either GOP or Democratic party.

    They are trapped.

    Latino voters at present are like innocent little sheep surrounded by wolf packs.The sheep don’t want to listen to those sheepdogs who are barking loudly ,because they’ve been told by nice Latino wolves in spanish that those shepherd dogs who are warning them are just commie,socialist evil dogs who want to harm them.

    The Latino sheep, well they love their kool-aid.They prefer to listen to the howl of the wolves who at night “moderate” their menacing howls by using softer gentler tones..
    ….”just words,just speeches”…

  • 6 RAMON // Nov 8, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I agree with Anna. Latinos should not be a one-issue group. Immigration reform concerns us but it is not nor should it be the only issue. Who is addressing our concerns regarding jobs, health care and educational equity? Also, we should see beyond the symbolism of Spanish language campaign ads.

  • 7 Anna // Nov 8, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Chicano FT: I agree with most of what you say, but I’m not sure that immigration was the primary reason Dems lost in the rust belt. I think unemployment and the unpopular health care bill played bigger roles.

    Clinton was able to take complicated issues and explain them in simple language that everybody could understand. James Carville is especially good at this. I don’t see anything comparable with Obama.

    You’re right about those “marketing pimps.” I saw one on C-Span that I used to know in college. Her attitude was that Latinos are up for grabs, and that whoever learns how to “speak” to this “population” will win. She wasn’t concerned about issues, or any purpose larger than crafting a message that would herd people to vote a certain way. This woman has a doctorate, but she might as well be selling used cars. What a waste.

    We’re the ones who should be telling the parties what we want, not letting them define our issues for us. They should work for our votes by addressing education, jobs, civil liberties, etc.
    They and the media have pretty much defined our sole concern as immigration, an issue that has no chance of passing anytime soon, if ever. In other words, they don’t have to do anything for us.


  • 8 Jose Arevalo // Nov 8, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Here in Nevada, Latinos are the fastest growing minority in the state and even though you need papers to work in casino, there’s still a vast majority of undocumented workers in the construction and service field. Many have left the state because there’s no construction but restaurants keep on hiring cooks and dishwashers.
    There is group of workers that noone seems to care about -TPS recipients – mostly Central Americans who have a legal right to work but dwell in a limbo of uncertainty because their status is not of legal residency but of work permit renewals that depend of Congress bi annual extensions.

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