Cuba

Monday Buzz: Pragmatic Pessimism, Polarizing 'Pubs, Public-Private Partnerships?, More

Despite the President's more optimistic tone of late, many people remain gravely worried about the state of the U.S. and global economies. Rob was quoted in an exellent Huffington Post piece by Sam Stein criticizing Treasury Secretary Geithner's bank plan. From the article:

...But for many economists, the invitation for risk inherent in Geithner's plan is simply too great. Indeed a second critique being forcefully raised by economists is that the system Treasury is putting in place can easily be gamed.

In his Monday column, Sachs outlined this very prospect: Citibank, theoretically, has a toxic asset on its books with a face value of $1 million but no probability of payout. The bank sets up a Public-Private Investment Fund (PPIF) to bid the full $1 million for that worthless asset. That PPIF borrows $850,000 from the FDIC, gets an additional $75,000 from Treasury, and puts up $75,000 of is own money to make up the bid. In the end, Citi gets a profit of $925,000 (the $1 million it receives of the bid minus the $75k its related entity had to put up).

Such a scenario is indicative of the flaws in the Geithner plan, argued former senior Clinton commerce official Rob Shapiro. There is, in fact, a guarantee.

"The Feds guarantee the 5/6 leverage used to buy the assets," he said, "so if the assets tank and the buyer defaults on the loan (no $ to pay it back, since the assets really were worthless), the feds (taxpayers) make it up to the lender."

Rob also had his own essay, "Time to Face the Facts: The Economy Probably Won't Get Better For Quite a While," published in the Huffington Post last week.

Next, NDN fellows Morley Winograd and Mike Hais had a post on MyDD, which then made its way into the "Best of the Blogs" section of Real Clear Politics. Here's a quote from their piece:

...The polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the Pew survey has much less to do with President Obama's personal and political style, as they are suggesting, than it does with the inability of his own Republican Party to adapt to this new era. From the earliest Pew survey conducted in 1989, the first year of George H.W. Bush's administration, through 2005, there was near parity in the distribution of party identifiers within the electorate; no more than three or four percentage points ever separated the Democrats from the Republicans. By contrast, since 2006 the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats has risen significantly while the number saying they are Republican has fallen. In the most recent Pew study, conducted early this month, the Democrats held a clear 52% to 35% lead over the Republicans in party ID, a 13-percentage point shift toward the Democratic Party since 2004. And, only 21-percent of American voters are "pure" Republicans, a group that consists only of those willing to call themselves Republicans and does not include independents that say they lean toward the GOP. This is the smallest number of "pure" partisans for either party in any survey ever conducted by Pew.

Our good friend and NDN Fellow Joe Garcia was quoted in The Hill about Obama's plan to lift some restrictions on Cuba. From the Hill piece:

...If the younger Cuban-American voters are looking for a different approach to U.S. policy toward Cuba, as the Obama administration and Democrats think, lifting some of the travel restrictions could help Obama grow his popularity with this community.

Joe Garcia, a fellow at the NDN think tank, said Obama made it clear he would lift these restrictions and change U.S. policy with Cuba during the presidential campaign. Restricting travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans makes little sense in terms of policy or politics, said Garcia, a Democrat who last fall unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), one of Congress’s staunchest supporters of the embargo.

Simon was quoted in a New York Times Syndicate piece by Marcela Sanchez about perceptions of President Obama in Latin America:

...Recent polls show Obama is more highly regarded in Latin America than in the United States. With an event such as the town hall meeting in Strasbourg, France, or the roundtable discussion with students in Istanbul, Turkey, Obama could chip away at the less than casual anti-American sentiment that festers in the region.

"We haven't had a global leader with Obama's appeal in a very long time," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the center-left Washington think tank NDN, who added that the president's power to reach out is aided not only by today's communications but also by his desire to speak straight and openly to people everywhere. "The politics of the bottom up we saw in the election is going global," Rosenberg said.

Finally, Simon was featured extensively in an ABC News story about immigration and how it actually affects the job security of U.S. citizens:

Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of NDN, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive think-tank and advocacy group that is pushing for change in immigration law, also agreed. He said that letting illegal immigrants move down the path to legal work and citizenship will help all workers.

"If anything, it will help low-end workers across the country because it would remove the trapdoor under the minimum wage," he said. Right now, these workers are "driving down wages for you. They are creating unfair competition."

Rosenberg said immigration reform is not going to cause an influx of new immigrants into the country.

"You against an illegal worker, you lose that fight every time," he said. "The worst possible thing for American workers is to have a vast pool of undocumented immigrants in the United States."

There are some business owners who say immigration changes would only increase the cost of doing business and drive up prices for all.

Rosenberg says to them: "I think the idea that we are accepting illegal exploitation of workers to prop up businesses, there's a question as to whether those businesses should be in business in the first place.

Ultimately, Rosenberg believes that change in immigration law reform would be good for the country, economically and socially.

"It will take the air out of the balloon of some of the most virulent racism that we've seen in America in generations," he said. "There is publicly sanctioned racism against Hispanic-Americans in this country today in a way that is very unhealthy and morally unacceptable in the age of a bi-racial president."

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December 11: NDN to Host Forum on The Economic Crisis and its Impact on Latin America

As the global implications of the current economic crisis become increasingly evident, NDN would like to remind you of the upcoming discussion on "The Current Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Latin America."

This discussion with some of the most recognized economic minds in Latin America is an important addition to NDN's Latin America Policy Forums. It is also an important occasion as we welcome back to D.C. our good friend and collaborator,Joe Garcia, who recently concluded a spirited campaign in Southern Florida. Joe, formerly NDN Vice President for Hispanic Programs, will moderate a panel that includes the Honorable Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank and former Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, as well as regional policy experts.

Speakers:
Hon. Luis Alberto Moreno - Prior to joining the IDB, Ambassador Moreno served as Colombia's Ambassador to the United States for seven years. Previous to his post as Ambassador, Moreno served a distinguished career in both the public and private sectors in Colombia. He has held a range of leadership positions, such as representative of the Andean Region of WestSphere Capital, Senior Advisor to the Luis Sarmiento Organization, President of Colombia's Industrial Finance Corporation, and Minister of Economic Development.

Dr. Nora Lustig - Dr. Lustig is a native of Argentina who currently resides in Mexico and works with the Colegio de Mexico. She is currently a J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Visiting Professor at the George Washington Elliot School for International Affairs. Prior to this, she served as President of the Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP)in Mexico. Before her post as President of the UDLAP Dr. Lustig was Chief of the Poverty and Inequality Unit at the Inter-American Development Bank. Dr. Lustig has also been a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Professor of Economics at El Colegio de México.

Mr. Paulo Sotero- Mr. Sotero is currently the Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Brazil Institute. For the last 17 years, Mr. Sotero was the Washington Correspondent for Estado de S. Paulo, a leading Brazilian daily newspaper. He has also been a regular commentator and analyst for the BBC radio Portuguese language service, Radio France Internationale, and Radio Eldorado, in Brazil. Since 2003 he has been an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University both in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and in the Center for Latin American Studies of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Mr. Carlos de Abreu - Mr. de Abreu is currently the Brazilian Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs. A Brazilian career diplomat, Minister Counselor de Abreu has also served as Head to the Market Access Division at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, as an advisor to the Minister of Finance, and as an advisor to the Under Secretary for Policy Planning at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. His diplomatic postings also include the Brazilian Embassy in Bolivia, Argentina, and the Consulate General in San Francisco.

This briefing will take place on Thursday, December 11, at 3 p.m.  Please click here for the full event details.  Please RSVP as soon as possible, the event is open, but space is limited.  Refreshments will be served.

To learn more about NDN or to view past  events with the Ambassadors of Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and the Vice President of Panama, please visit our website at www.ndn.org.

Weekly Update on Immigration

This election had important results for immigration issues, not just because of the individuals elected, but because of the ballot measures passed or rejected:

1) Proposition 202 in Arizona, which would have risked extreme penalties for businesses by linking employee immigration status to their business license, failed: 59.2% No, to 40.8% Yes. It was called, "a racist proposition that should not be enacted because the U.S. can't get a responsible solution to the broken immigration system." UPDATE: In response to my reader's comment, first - please be assured that NDN will never comment on policy without having full understanding of an issue. Second, Prop 202 would have made individuals involved in the hiring process accountable for hiring undocumented immigrants, which many businesses supported because it would liberate them from the responsibility of checking work authorization and pass it on to their HR employees (or employee). It has been called a racist proposition because as with the current flawed electronic employer verification system, there is a potential for misuse, "screening" prospective employees even before they're hired, which would only be more likely to happen if an individual bears the full responsibility of checking status and faces fines or criminal charges for potential violations. The bottom line is that at NDN we agree that propositions like these are not a solution, the U.S. needs a responsible solution to the broken immigraton system at the federal level, since states have no authority to change federal immigration law.

2) In Missouri, a proposition making English the official language in all government activities passed, 85.8% Yes, to 14.2% No. Clearly, people don't understand the consequences of making English an "official language," does this mean that state hospitals won't provide for translation if necessary when they get a patient that is less than proficient in English? Or that Court's in their daily business won't need to provide a translator to the accused so that he/she understands the charges against them? Yes, and yes. Clearly we still have more to do when it comes to "social progress..."

3) In Nebraska, a ballot measure prohibiting affirmative action in state institutions passed.

4) In Florida, an initiative intended to end a legacy of bias against Asian-Americans was defeated Tuesday, apparently because voters incorrectly assumed it would prevent illegal immigrants from owning property. Had it passed, the initiative, known as Amendment No. 1, would have removed from the state's Constitution language adopted in 1926 allowing the Legislature to prohibit foreigners who were barred from citizenship - Asian-Americans at the time - from owning land. No such legislation was ever enacted here, and every other state that had such laws has scrapped them on grounds of equal protection. But Florida's effort to delete the provision failed with 52% No and 48% voting Yes.

5) "Demography is Destiny" - Pat Buchanan finally recognizes the importance of the Hispanic community, but just when you think we've made progress, just when I thought Buchanan was finally the wiser and about to give his party sage advice, he followed up with a statement that shows his complete ignorance of the Hispanic community. He thinks Hispanics voted for Obama because, "They look to government," and "the idea of small government doesn't appeal to them." Are you kidding,me? Native-born Hispanics most certainly don't fall into this category as they largely sided with the Republican party, until the GOP decided to go on the attack against them for fear they might not be "legal." And foreign born Hispanics have come to this country largely because of their distrust of government! Latin American governments have been known for corruption and scandal, which has caused a very deeply rooted mistrust of government and politicians among foreign-born Hispanics, in general. So I say no Pat, Hispanics do not want handouts, they want a government who is a partner, not a parent. If you ask them, large government scares most Latinos, while the idea of small government does appeal to them (the opposite of what Pat says in this video). And I'm shocked by Joe Scarborough, saying that Latinos will come around once they "understand working hard"....really? I take it Joe hasn't been out on the tomato and orange fields in Florida,and he must not go to restaurants or hotels, and he must not have walked around South Florida and noticed that the engine of that economy is made up of Latino-owned businesses. No, Hispanics didn't vote for Barack Obama because they're "socialist" or "liberals," they voted for him precisely because of the ignorance shown by these two Republicans, and reflected by the GOP brand. They voted for the Democratic Party because that party has not insulted all Hispanics, ubiquitously questioning their very right to be in this country. Latinos resent that racial profile, that is why they didn't vote for Sen. McCain. But you are right Pat, demography is destiny, so the GOP has a lot of soul-searching to do.

6) Immigration to Go Paperless - The Washington Post Reports:

The Bush administration has launched a major overhaul of the nation's immigration services agency, selecting an industry consortium led by IBM to reinvent how the government handles about 7 million applications each year for visas, citizenship and approval to work in the United States, officials announced yesterday. If successful, the five-year, $500 million effort would convert U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services'case-management system from paper-based to electronic, which could reduce backlogs and processing delays by at least 20%, and possibly more than 50%. The new system would allow government agencies, from the Border Patrol to the FBI to the Labor Department, to access immigration records faster and more accurately. In combination with initiatives to link digital fingerprint scans to unique identification numbers, it would create a lifelong digital record for applicants. It also would eliminate the need for time- and labor-intensive filing and refiling of paper forms, which are currently stored at 200 locations in 70 million manila file folders.

7) Bye-bye Ms. American Pie - Julie Myers, Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) has resigned and will be leaving her post on November 15. She has been a controversial figure since the day that President Bush nominated her, possessing almost no immigration or customs experience. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and career immigration lawyer spoke of Ms. Myers's lack of qualifications as a major issue during our forum on immigration: "This is the worst administration I've ever seen, starting at the top of ICE...I served with Jim Sensenbrenner, one thing Jim was insistent on was that there be competent people in the job....you had to know something about immigration law, that you had to have managed a large organization...instead, we had Julie Myers, appointed at age 36, she held a variety of jobs, never managed more than one or two people," so Rep. Lofgren believes that, no doubt, an important qualification of hers might have been that she worked for Ken Starr, and that her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs - oh, and her husband, John F. Wood, also served as Chief of Staff to Secretary Chertoff. This lack of expertise has caused ICE to "be run in a way that has elicited condemnation, the lack of qualification has become apparent." During her tenure, ICE was heavily criticized for carrying out politically-motivated immigration raids, for having unacceptable conditions in detainee centers that caused the death of who knows how many detainees who were denied care, and most recently the Department as been resistant to Rep. Lofgren and Sen. Menendez's legislation to quantify basic medical health standards, and there has been a clear degradation of due process under her watch. What bothers Rep. Lofgren the most is that "they also just don't same to care."

Ad Wars: En Español

With only two weeks to go until Election Day, Sen. Barack Obama is clearly not taking the Hispanic vote for granted as he continues flooding the airwaves in Spanish with no less than three new radio and television ads.  The first radio ad, "Ataques" ("Attacks") addresses Sen. McCain's attack tactics, and is airing in NM, CO, NV, PA, IN, WI, OH, VA, NC, Central FL, and South Florida (Miami, West Palm Beach).  It's interesting that there's an entire second version of the ad for Southern Florida, using voices that have more of a Caribbean tint to them, which reflects the origin of most Latinos in that area.  I see this as an indicator of why Obama has been doing so well among Hispanics - he recognizes our differences.

The second ad, also on radio and recorded by Senator Ken Salazar, "CO, Salazar Early Vote" airing in Colorado, is aimed at motivating voters to vote early.  

The third ad, a television spot called "Oportunidad" ("Opportunity") is about access to higher education, airing in NM, NV, CO and FL.  See the tv ad below, along with the English translations of the ads.

Oportunidad (TV Ad Version)

 BO:  I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.

Voiceover:
The cost of a college education is a real worry for many families.
But under the Obama Plan a student can earn the first $4,000 of tuition through community service.
Putting a college education within everyone's reach.
And the Obama Plan offers scholarships to recruit more teachers to make sure our children are ready (smart/prepared).
With Obama and the Democrats ... a new opportunity.

Ataques (Radio Version)

ANNOUNCER 1:
Wow, have you heard the terrible lies that John McCain and the Republicans are saying about Barack Obama?  How horrible.

[ANNOUNCER 2:]
Well, it doesn't surprise me.  The republicans will say anything to distract the public from the economy.

[ANNOUNCER 1:]
My neighbor - who has 2 kids - lost her job and her health insurance last week.  And her husband, who works in construction, is about to lose his.  I don't want to hear any more attacks.  I want to know what the candidates will do for us.

[ANNOUNCER 2:]
Well, that's why Barack Obama is my candidate.  Instead of continuing George Bush's same failed policies - like John McCain wants to do - Barack Obama understands what our community needs from a President. He has specific ideas to help us.

[ANNOUNCER 1:]
Under Obama, the middle class will receive three times more relief than with McCain.  Obama will cut our taxes!

 [ANNOUNCER 2:]
And what matters to me is that Obama has a plan to give health insurance to all.  My neighbor will be saved!

[ANNOUNCER 1:]
Barack Obama and the democrats are the change we need.

[BO:]  I´m Barack Obama, candidate for President, and I approve this message.

CO Salazar Early Vote (Radio ad)

[KEN SALAZAR:]
In Colorado - the gateway to the West - we know anything is possible if you're willing to do the work. 

This is US Senator Ken Salazar. My parents raised 8 kids on a ranch.  We were poor, with no electricity and no telephone, but all of us became first generation college graduates.
Like my parents, we all will do anything for our families.

And you can do something for your family right now: vote. You don't have to wait until Election Day.  You can vote early, today thru October 31st

With Barack Obama and the Democrats real change is within our grasp ... affordable health care ... investing in jobs here at home, and a college education that's affordable for every family ... whether they be rich or poor.

To find an early voting location near you, go online at VoteForChange.com... VoteForChange.com.

What are you waiting for?  After eight years of George Bush, we can't afford more of the same.

This is Ken Salazar asking you to vote early today for Barack Obama and the Democrats. 

[BO:]  I´m Barack Obama, candidate for President, and I approve this message.

Joe Garcia v. Mario Diaz Balart on "Al Punto"

Yesterday on "Al Punto", Univision's Sunday morning political show, challenger Joe Garcia (D) and incumbent Mario Diaz-Balart (R), had an animated debate on issues ranging from the economic rescue package and Iraq, to Cuba policy and the Colombia FTA. Both are running for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Florida's 25th district, which encompasses the western portion of Miami-Dade County, including the Everglades National Park. This heated race is a perfect example of what's happening throughout the U.S. - as the country becomes less hard-line Republican or Democrat, more and more "stronghold" districts and states shift into "tossup" territory. Southern Florida, previously considered a solid Cuban-American and Republican area, is changing due to changes in demographics and largely in response to the way the economic crisis has affected this state in particular. Joe Garcia painted Diaz-Balart's vote against the first economic rescue bill as "too little too late" after having had a history of voting with President Bush on all the bills that led to this current economic downturn, siding with "special interests". And Mario Diaz-Balart attempted to paint Joe was a well-versed man with no specific solutions...sound familiar? Yes, much like the Presidential race. On the issues:

On the economy: Mario voted against the rescue bill because he didn't want to give the banks a "blank check", to which Joe responded that he already had - voting to give banks the blank checks through deregulation and by allowing bills to pass that increased credit card interest rates up to 29%. Joe pointed out that while the rescue bill needed safeguards to keep people in their homes, the danger lay in doing nothing, and that he would have voted for the bill to take action to save people in this crisis.

On healthcare: Mario is against nationalized healthcare and proposed to leave insurance decisions in the hands of individuals. His proposal would be to allow for inter-state competition of health care plans. Joe on the other hand, supports Sen. Obama's plan to create a national system of health care. Unlike Mr. Diaz-Balart, Mr. Garcia pointed out the lack of health care in the Hispanic community in particular, and the importance of lowering costs and increasing competition.

On Cuba: Both candidates are firmly against participating in any diplomatic meeting with the Castro brothers, however, Mr. Garcia is for lifting the travel ban on families, and decreasing the restrictions on remittances to Cuba. Mr. Diaz-Balart is firmly against holding talks or contact with Cuba and against fully lifting the travel ban.

On Colombia: Both candidates are for the passage of the FTA. Mr. Diaz Balart noted that President Uribe has been incredibly successful at decreasing the murders of labor leaders and improving security in the country.

Hispanics Hand it to Obama

Obama's most important lead after last night's debate may have come among Hispanic voters, who favored him by a 50-36 percent margin according to the national Politico/InsiderAdvantage survey of undecided debate-watchers. The candidates were evenly matched among white voters, with McCain holding a 49-46 percent advantage - equal to the three point margin of error. African Americans picked Obama as the winner by 88-10 percent. You can trace Hispanics' support of the presidential candidates through Gallup's weekly poll - the poll shows Obama with a consistent comfortable margin of at least 20-25 points ahead of McCain. The latest Gallup poll shows Obama ahead by a 60-31 percent advantage.

Candidates Woo Largest Spanish-speaking Audience in the Country, Part II

More on John McCain's interview with Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos. Univision has the largest Spanish-language audience in the U.S.

ON LATIN AMERICA- When asked about the prospect of Russia providing Venezuela with training and nuclear arms, and whether he would rule out U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, Sen. McCain responded that he definitely would (keep in mind all those Florida voters who are originally from Venezuela or still have family and ties to the country). Sen. McCain stated his priorities regarding Latin America as: 1) U.S. independence from Venezuelan oil, as there is evidence that Venezuela is helping aid the FARC in Colombia, and 2) passage of a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.

Last weekend, Barack Obama and Joe Biden appeared with Jorge Ramos on Al Punto. By contrast, when asked about Latin America, Sen. Obama appeared to understand that the United States' relationship with the region has so much more at stake than merely trade agreements and foreign aid, "Trade agreements cannot serve as a substitute to sensible policy...It's not about just sending money [to the region] and forgetting about it...If this hollow policy continues, our children will be in danger...we should be in contact at this critical time." Sen. Biden noted, "..this Administration has no policy towards Russia, or towards Latin America for that matter."

ON OTHER ISSUES - On immigration, Barack Obama said during his interview with Ramos that in order to truly secure the border, we also need to go after unscrupulous employers and to provide legalization to all the undocumented in order to bring them out of the shadows. On the election:

JR: Will Hispanics decide this election? What do you think of Latino voters?
BO: "...The states with the largest Hispanic populations will certainly have a decisive role during this election....Hispanics could be the largest group of voters in New Mexico....I do think Hispanics are going to turn out and vote because they will decide whether they want to continue 8 years of failed policies or not...so I have no doubt that this election will turn out record numbers of Latinos and voters in general."
JR: So will Hispanics decide this election?
JB: In some states, like Florida, yes....in my state for example, small state of Delaware, has among the largest rates of growth of states on the east coast, the population has increased 25% over the last 17 years, and a full quarter of that growth is comprised of Hispanics in my state.

Jorge Ramos also posed a few tough questions to Sen. McCain:

JR: Governor Palin, she said Sen. Obama worked from an ex-terrorist's living room. But she works for the campaign right? So I take it she had your approval to say those things, are you suggesting that [Sen. Obama] tolerates terrorism?
JM: No. We just believe the American people should know more about this relationship.

**Sarah Palin was scheduled to appear with John McCain, but she reportedly had a scheduling conflict. Sen. McCain did say that she will be on Al Punto soon.

NDN’s Analysis of Hispanic Voters in Florida Increasingly Relevant

In 2000, Cuban-Americans represented 70 percent of Florida's Hispanic electorate. Today they make up less than half of the Latino electorate in that state, largely attributable to a large influx of new voters originally from Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela and other Central and South American countries. The result: Florida's Hispanic demographic is increasingly reflective of the transformation the Hispanic community has undergone across the country - increasingly diverse and not as party-loyal. As a result, both political parties are working to win over what Newsweek called the "Latino mix" in a piece today by Arian Campo-Flores. NDN has analyzed the trend of Florida's Hispanic population becoming more diverse and less affiliated with the Republican party for years, and conducted a major poll in Florida in 2006.

It is Hispanics who make Florida increasingly relevant this year. By all accounts, U.S. Sen. John McCain would not have won the Florida primary - and thus would probably not have been his party's presidential nominee - had he not won the 54% of the Hispanic vote that he won in the Republican primary election, while he only won 33% of the white vote and took that election with 36% of the vote overall. Thus, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is fighting in Florida, just today President Bill Clinton - loved by Hispanic Democrats and many overall - was campaigning for him in the state. As explained in Newsweek by our friend and collaborator, Sergio Bendixen:

"Now they need to have a domestic message"-terrain that favors Democrats these days. If he manages to capitalize on the opportunity, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama could outdo John Kerry's performance in 2004, when the Massachusetts senator captured 44 percent of Florida's Latino vote. "If [Obama] gets 55 percent, then he would pretty much ensure winning the state," says Sergio Bendixen, a pollster for the New Democratic Network (NDN) and expert in Hispanic public opinion."

And that is the relevance of the Latino Mix. As NDN explains at length in Hispanics Rising II, party ID among Hispanics can change very quickly, and this election in particular does not favor the party in the White House. Republican anti-immigrant campaigns have been perceived as anti-Hispanic, Latinos have the highest rate of unemployment as a result of this economic crisis, and the latest - now minorities are being blamed by right-wing conservatives for the housing crisis. 2008 primary exit polls showed a 66% increase in Hispanic turnout in Democratic primaries and Hispanic party ID became 72% Democrat, while in 2004 it was closer to 60%. Our latest polling data shows that the Presidential race among Hispanics in Florida is in a dead heat - 42% favoring McCain and 42% favoring Obama.

The question remains - as Florida's Hispanic electorate grows and becomes more complex, who benefits? I would say Hispanics do. The reality of a more complex demographic is that to win Florida, John McCain and Barack Obama will have to do so based on the strength of non-Cuban Hispanic support.

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