Hispanic Vote

McCain's Mixed Messages on Immigration?

NDN has followed U.S. Sen. John McCain's track record on Immigration. The latest is John McCain's second ad on immigration in Spanish. Andres commented on the ad during an interview with NPR:

"It's disturbing to me, as a Hispanic, to have someone who feels he can blatantly deceive and think people won't pay attention," says Andres Ramirez, vice president for Hispanic programs at NDN..."

Marisa wrote about the ad, and NDN has long advocated on: 1) the importance of the Hispanic vote (this demographic could very well swing several southern and western states in this election), and 2) the issue of immigration as a motivating factor in the way many Hispanics vote regardless of whether they are native or foreign born - this is thanks to the GOP strategy of turning the debate on immigration into a debate on whether Hispanics should be in this country.

Actually, McCain's message on immigration is not mixed at all - since 2006 he's been consistently against immigration reform. The first and second ads focus on misrepresenting Obama's position on immigration, but at no time do they state McCain's position - much less go as far as saying that McCain supports immigration reform. Instead, since the GOP now recognizes that Hispanics respond negatively to these anti-Hispanic attacks, they created the same kind of degrading ad except this time they (inaccurately)attribute the comments about Mexico and immigrants to Barack Obama.

So will McCain's attempt at making Obama seem anti-Hispanic work? Andres is right - it's not working. NDN and analysts across the board believe the large numbers of Hispanic voters in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida could be decisive in those swing states. Our latest polling in these states showed that Barack Obama is ahead of John McCain by at least 30 points among Hispanics in the Southwest, and specifically on the issue of immigration, Hispanics believe Barack Obama would do a better job than John McCain. Even in Florida, where the candidates were even among Hispanics (42%-42%), when asked about immigration, 42% of voters trusted Barack Obama to better handle the issue over 37% preferring John McCain. The largest difference was in Nevada, where 60% of Hispanics trusted Barack Obama more on the issue of immigration, while only 18% preferred John McCain.

And the latest ad makes no sense when put in context - on the one hand, the McCain campaign launches this ad to attempt to portray Obama as anti-immigrant, while on the other hand, they create another ad in English and Spanish that attacks Obama for allegedly voting against allowing people to own guns in order to defend themselves from these "criminal aliens" who are "crossing illegally into our country." So which is it?

In a year when the Hispanic electorate has nearly doubled from what it was in 2000 (from 7.5 million to approximately 14 million this year), given that Hispanics make up a large part of the electorate in key Southern and Western states, and given that Hispanics are mobilizing to get out the vote, to vote early and vote absentee in those states, it does not bode well for John McCain.

 

 

“La Raza Cósmica”

San Diego, CA - "La raza cósmica" así se refirió Barack Obama al público Hispano a quién enfáticamente le dijo, "No se equivoquen: La comunidad Latina tiene estas elecciones en sus manos," durante la conferencia anual de NCLR. Sí, el voto Hispano tiene variaciones, es un voto crucial y los comentarios que yo escucho del público demuestran que - por primera vez - saben lo que valen. La gente aquí esta emocionada y cada vez les es más facil tener demandas y expectativas de los candidatos con respecto a los temas de importancia porque saben que su voto juega un papel más central en la política Estadounidense que en cualquier elección anterior. Como Andrés resaltó durante su entrevista con Maria Peña de EFE: el que se gane el apoyo de los Hispanos gana la Casa Blanca.

El uso de "la raza cósmica" implica que el Senador Obama entiende que la comunidad Hispana tiene una rica variedad de colores y creencias. El tema de inmigración sigue siendo la preocupación primordial de los que asisten a la conferencia, más que nada debido al impacto que tienen las redadas en la comunidad Hispana. Ayer también escuché a muchos elogiar al Sen. Obama por haber discutido temas además de inmigración en más detalle. El reto ya está - dado el poco apoyo que tiene la postura del Sen. McCain con respecto al tema de inmigración, se esperaba que su discurso se enfocaría en temas económicos y demás, en vez de inmigración. Sin embargo, el Sen. Obama le ganó -  ayer tomó la oportunidad para presentar una nueva propuesta para apoyar a pequeñas y medianas empresas a fin de que puedan pagar el gasto de seguro médico para empleados.  Además, se enfocó en temas de economía, educación, salud, veteranos de guerra, y recibió un enorme aplauso cuando atacó las redadas de inmigración, y además, criticó a John McCain por haber "abandonado su postura valiente" en cuanto al tema de la reforma migratoria.

Sin duda, le será dificil al Senador McCain superar este discurso. El Sen. McCain también ha reconocido las diferencias dentro del voto Hispano, y esta luchando para ganarse a Hispanos que son de políticas más conservadoras. Ambos candidatos siguen refinando su metodología - tal como comentado por Associated Press ayer, "como pretendientes incómodos," aveces ambos candidatos han manejado torpemente su acercamiento a Hispanos al acercarse de manera demasiado directa y racional, con una metodología de "llevame a tu líder." Pero a los Hispanos les gusta desarrollar relaciones más estrechas y personales. El Sen. Obama empezó su discurso ayer agradeciendo y reconociendo personalmente a activistas y defensores de inmigrantes, como a Enrique Morones de Border Angels, y a lo largo de su discurso apeló al corazón y "carácter de esta comunidad," haciendo que el público sintiera que aprecia sus valores, y que esos valores son valores Americanos. El Senador McCain es reconocido y respetado por la comunidad Hispana, pero para ganarse a estos votantes tendrá que: 1) tomar esta oportunidad única para demostrar coraje con respecto al tema de la reforma migratoria y distanciarse de su partido, y 2) demostrar que no ve a la comunidad Hispana meramente como votantes, o peor, como un bloque de votantes a ser ganados, sino que tiene que demostrar que nuestras luchas son sus luchas, que él también conoce el "gran corazón" de la comunidad y que sinceramente le importa luchar al lado de y como parte de la comunidad Hispana. El concepto de familia es un fundamento de la "raza cósmica," y el Sen. McCain tiene que hacer que esta comunidad sienta su deseo de ser parte de la familia primero.

"La Raza Cósmica"

San Diego, CA - "The cosmic race," that is how Barack Obama referred to the Hispanic audience to whom he emphatically said, "Make no mistake about it: the Latino community holds this election in your hands," at NCLR's annual conference.  Yes, the Hispanic vote is a varied one, and a crucial one, and the comments I hear from the audience denote that - for the first time - they know it.  Folks here are excited and increasingly comfortable with having demands and expectations of candidates on the issues they care about because they know that their vote is more central to American politics than ever before.  As Andres noted in his interview with Maria Peña of EFE yesterday, whoever wins over Hispanics is assured to win the White House.

The use of the cosmic race denotes that Sen. Obama understands that the Hispanic community is one with a rich tapestry of cultures, colors, and beliefs.  Immigration is still by far the issue at the forefront on the minds of the attendees at this conference, mostly because of the impact of the ongoing immigration raids in the Hispanic community.  Yesterday I also heard many praise Sen. Obama for addressing a wider array of issues in more detail, in addition to immigration.  The challenge is on - it has been expected that given his current unpopular stance among Hispanics on immigration, Sen. McCain would focus rather on discussing economic and other issues of importance to this community during his address to NCLR.  Well, Sen. Obama seized the opportunity yesterday to beat him to the punch and introduce a proposed tax credit for small businesses providing health insurance to their employees, to discuss his plans for the economy, education, health care, veterans, and received thunderous applause as he attacked the impact of immigration raids on families, and he once again called out John McCain for having "abandoned his courageous stance" on immigration. 

It will be a hard act for Sen. McCain to follow, no doubt.  Sen. McCain has also recognized the differences within the Hispanic vote, and is working to appeal to more conservative Hispanics.  Both candidates are still refining their approach - as reported by the Associated Press yesterday, "like awkward suitors," both candidates have at times fumbled their approach to Hispanics by addressing members of the community too directly and rationally, with a "take me to your leaders" kind of tactic.  But Hispanics like to develop closer, more personal relationships.  Sen. Obama opened his speech by individually naming and recognizing several grassroots and immigrant rights activist in the audience, like Enrique Morones of Border Angels, and throughout his speech appealed to the heart and "character of this community," making the audience feel that he appreciates their values, and that those values are American values.  Sen. McCain is recognized and respected by the community, but to win these voters over he will have to:  1) take advantage of this golden opportunity to show courage on immigration and move away from his party on this, 2) show that he does not look at Hispanics as votes, or even worse, as a voting block to be convinced, he must show that our struggles are his struggles, that he also knows the community's "big heart" and that he genuinely cares about fighting alongside and as part of the Hispanic community.  "Familia" is a big foundation of the "raza cosmica", and he has to make this community feel his desire to be part of the family first.  

Coalition of Latino Groups and Corporations Launch Voter Registration Drive

National Hispanic advocacy organizations are teaming up with major corporations that recognize the importance of the Hispanic vote during this election cycle.  I thought it worthwhile to post news of this initiative, as reported today by the Washington Post:

Coalition of Latino Groups Launches Voter Drive

By Ed O'Keefe

A multi-million dollar ad campaign designed to encourage voter registration and increased political participation among Latinos who are legal residents launches today nationwide on Spanish-language television and radio stations. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials, in cooperation with National Council of La Raza, Univision, State Farm and other groups will spend $3 to 4 million on the campaign. The coalition will air 30- and 60-second radio ads, as well as public service announcements on Univision, Time Warner Cable, Comcast Cable, and other outlets.  "Every Hispanic family in the United States finds themselves at different points, and we want to help," says one of the State Farm-sponsored radio ads. "It doesn't matter at what point you find yourself here in the United States."  The TV ad calls out to legal residents eager to participate in the American political process, with words on-screen in Spanish stating: "I come from another place. I want a better future. I am full of dreams." 

...A recent Pew Hispanic Center survey reports that registration and turnout among Latinos increased considerably in several large states during this year's primary contests, suggesting turnout will be high again in November.  On the issue of immigration, "It is going to be a mobilizing factor for the Latino vote" because Latinos have been painted unfairly "by a broad brush," said NCLR president Murguia. Her group also donated $1 million to the "Ya es Hora" campaign through a contribution from the Knight Foundation.  While Barack Obama and John McCain "don't touch" immigration as often as they discuss other issues, Murguia says she expects it will be a topic of discussion when both candidates address the annual NCLR conference next weekend.  She also expects immigration could be a determining factor in several down-ballot races in the South and Southwest.  Murguia said she does not expect Latinos to hold large immigration rallies this year on the scale of previous ones.  "The next march needs to be a march to the polls on Nov. 4th," she said.

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