Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Latino Voters on Super Tuesday

Robert Lovato offers great analysis of Latino/Latina voters during yesterday's pseudo national primary election.

In what appears to be the development of a Latino voter regionalism, the vote varied depending on what part of the country (and in some cases what part of a state) the vote was cast. For example, while Clinton secured 74% of the Latino vote in her home state of New York, available data also indicates that Obama won 59% of the 30-44 year olds, the largest age bloc, in his home state of Illinois’ Latino electorate.

Obama won important Latino votes - and delegates- in Colorado, Arizona and other states where Clinton was expected to overwhelm him. With the support of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and other members of the Latino political machine nurtured by her husband, the former President, Clinton won more than 60% of the Latino electorate in states like New Jersey and New York. And regardless of the final tallies in California, the Latino electorate has already proven to be a powerful, new and greatly misunderstood segment of the no longer solely black and white electorate of the United States.

Other aspects of his post that make it more credible than the idiotic spin offered by some of the corporate-owned networks is the fact that he recognizes very clearly that Latino/Latina voters are not ideologically lock-stepped with one another. He also offers this insightful quote by the head of Voto Latino, which I heard her say on MSNBC last night.
“Candidates are spending tens of millions of dollars trying to capture the attention of Latino voters, mostly in the Spanish language media” said Maria Teresa Petersen, the Executive Director of Voto Latino, a nonpartisan voter registration organization that also uses technology and pop culture to promote the political participation of new Latino voters. “But what the campaigns haven’t figured out is that 79% of the 18 million eligible Latino voters consume media in English” said Petersen adding, “So, it’s terrific that they’re targeting 21% of the voters with Latino messages, but when will they learn to target us with Latino ads in English?”
Unfortunately, a major injection of maturity will need to unfold in this country before something like that occurs. I heard Howard Fineman, for example, make the ridiculous claim that while Obama was doing well among English-speaking Latinos, he trailed among "recent immigrants" - you know, those that speak spanish and watch spanish-language television. As I wrote at another site when I heard that: "Memo to Fineman - not everyone who speaks spanish is a new immigrant."

Every state, every region, likes to pretend that it is a Paragon of American™ Identity; but the truth is that this vast expanse of tierra has a history that doesn't square with the spin offered by history books and - often - the political class. The West gets treated like it's still Wild, Native Americans (which include a large chunk of Mexicanos) are either ignored or pandered to with music and food, and it's clear that the white punditocracy would rather instigate a fight among minority communities than actually reach out to journalists/analysts that have the pulse of our neighborhoods to find out what motivates our family and friends to engage civically - or disengage, as the case may be when we're pigeonholed.

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