Analysis: Biden running strong, the Hispanic vote, Senate leans Dem, more

Analysis – Biden running strong, a look at Hispanic voters, Senate leans Dem, more

Every Thursday or Friday NDN publishes its Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. NDN is also now holding in depth discussions about the 2020 Election every Wednesday at 2pm ET – join us and feel free to invite others too. 

Top line– the basic contours of the race haven’t changed since last week’s Poll Roundup. Biden has a large, sturdy lead, is strong in the battlegrounds, and Dems have an advantage in the Senate.

We’ve entered a new phase in the general election.  The Biden campaign has started rolling out more state and demographic specific media, and in-person voting has begun.  Democrats continue to put up impressive fundraising numbers, and will likely outspend the GOP in the closing days.  The debates are coming – Sept 29, Oct 7, 15, 22 – and Trump’s extraordinary efforts to cheat/manipulate show no sign of abating.  With FEC reports coming out in a few days we will also learn a lot more about the financial health of the Trump campaign – something that could matter a great deal this fall.  

Biden’s emerging strength in the battleground states perhaps is the most important electoral development this week.  He is at or almost at 50% in states equaling 273 electoral votes, including MI, MN, NH, PA and WI.  He also leads in AZ, FL, ME-2, NC and NV, and is within 1-2 points in GA, IA, OH and TX. Statistically at this point we are closer to Biden winning all of these states then we are Trump making the race competitive.  The campaigns are both on the air in AZ, MI, MN, NC, NV, PA, WI – read this CNN analysis to get an in-depth look at what’s happening with campaign ads and state/demo targeting.  Continued strong polling from Arizona this week for the Democrats remains a very significant development in the campaign. if Arizona slips away, Trump has to flip at least 2 of MI, MN, NH, PA, WI – all states Biden is far ahead in, and at or over 50.  

Hispanics– In a new thread Simon takes an in-depth look at recent polling with Hispanics, and doesn’t find some of the weakness we’ve been hearing about. He characterizes it more as “not yet realized opportunity.” In new high quality polls this week in AZ and FL Biden is matching Clinton’s 2016 numbers, which is a problem for Trump – bigger Hispanic electorates in these and other states means for Trump to prevent Dems from gaining votes he actually has to INCREASE his share not just hold.  There just isn’t any evidence this is happening anywhere.  There is some data suggestion Biden underperformance wit Hispanics and more broadly in Nevada, which is why I think the campaign has gone up on the air in recent weeks.  

Finally, given Trump’s record, I think almost two months of heavy engagement by the Biden campaign with Hispanic voters could do a lot of damage to Trump and get Biden up over Clinton’s strong 2016 showing with Hispanics everywhere.  Why we view the current state of Biden and Hispanics as one of unrealized opportunities, and not in any way a weakness or problem.  

Monday update - A new NBC/Telemundo poll has Biden beating Trump with Hispanics 62-26, 36 points.  In 2016 Clinton won them 66-28, 38 points.  It's another sign that Biden is holding his own here, and yet another poll showing Trump BELOW his 2016 totals.  In the past week Monmouth in FL, Equis in AZ and now this national poll have Trump below his 2016 numbers with Hispanics. 

Either way this poll is a reminder that there is a lot of vote out here still to be gotten, and that of course is far more problematic for the incumbent than the challenger. 

The Senate– AZ and CO continue to look very strong for the Democrats, and polling continues to show Dems with meaningful leads in ME and NC.  While polling for Theresa Greenfield in Iowa has been very steady for months a new poll showed Earnt with a lead – so let’s wait and see there.  Harrison and Ossoff  have made their races competitive in SC and GA, and while Bullock has had a few not so good polls in Montana, he remains a very strong candidate.  AK and KS are underperforming for the Rs so we need to keep an eye on both of them.  Bottom line – the Senate leans Dem but it is going to go down to the wire.  

All the President’s Cheating– It’s becoming increasing clear that out and out cheating has become central to Trump’s understanding of how to stay in power this year.  We think far more attention had to be paid to the President’s illicit appropriation of government resources for his campaign (what got him Impeached); the erasure of the line between campaign and government; clear election law violations; undermining of the integrity election and rancid voter suppression; the holding of rallies which violate COVID protocols and common sense; the relentless lying, disinformation and use of manipulated media…..cheating has become a central strategic pillar of Trump’s campaign, up there with paid advertising, candidate visits, GOTV, debate prep.  It is wrong, illiberal and needs to be far more aggressively challenged in the days ahead. 

Notes On The GOP's Erosion In The Southwest

This analysis was originally published on election night in 2018 and has been updated for release today.

As President Trump and Beto O'Rourke hold dueling political events in El Paso today, it is worth noting just how much the Southwest - an area which for the purposes of this analysis includes AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV and TX - has eroded for the GOP since Trump was nominated in 2016.  This erosion remains one of the most significant recent developments in American politics, as it involves a large region of the country which includes our two largest states. 

As background the three states which saw the biggest movement towards the Democrats in 2016 were, in order, CA (7pts), TX (6.8pts) and AZ (5.5pts). Polling throughout the 2018 cycle showed significant weakness for Trump in the region, and the bottom fell out here on election night 2018.  In Texas, Beto O'Rourke got within 2 1/2 points of Ted Cruz, helped Dems win 2 Congressional seats and many down ballot races, and held 6 GOP reps to 51% or less (TX-10, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 31).  Kyrsten Sinema became the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Arizona since 1988, and Dems now hold a 5-4 advantage in the AZ Congressional delegation. Democrats had very good/blowout nights in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, so much so that there are questions about whether these states will remain in the Presidential battleground in 2020.  Democrats picked up 12 House seats previously held by Republicans in the Southwest, including 7 in California alone, a state where the GOP didn’t even have a Senate candidate on the ballot and where voters with no party preference now outnumber Republicans in registration (and the home of the two most significant GOP Presidents in the past 50 years).  We saw intensity too.  AZ, NV and TX saw more people vote early this year than voted in all of 2014, the only 3 states to see that level of increase.  All in all it was just a huge and game changing wipeout in this region for Trump.

Trump has remained extremely unpopular in the region since November 6th. According to Morning Consult's state polling project, Trump's approval was -18, -18, and -13 in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada in January 2019. Perhaps ever more worrisome for Rs, he was -7 in purple Arizona, and -1 in red Texas. These current ratings represent significant falls in Trump's approval even since his loss in the midterms. Compared to November 2018, his net approval today has fallen by 8 points in each of Colorado, Nevada, and Texas, and by 3 and 5 points in New Mexico and Arizona.

Over the last two years there was always this sense that while the President’s thunderous championing of white nationalist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies was hurting him in the heavily Mexican-American parts of the US, it was the key to unlock the Rustbelt and Midwest.  Given the really bad election the GOP had in the northern part of the US in 2018 that no longer appears to be true. Trump may have used the caravan to win in very red and rural places like Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee, but Democrats made significant gains in critical 2020 battlegrounds IA, MI, PA and WI. 

Trump's big play on the border appears to be a very costly failure for him and the GOP - it hasn't locked up the industrial north as they hoped, it has caused what I believe to be a structural shift against Republicans in a big region of the country and his overall poll numbers are far below where he was on his dismal election night in 2018.  Recall that as recently as 2004 Bush won AZ, CO, NM and NV and Senator Kerry didn't even contest CO that year.  Trump has accelerated the movement of the heavily Mexican-American part of the US from lean R to deep blue and purple now.  If CO, NM and NV are now gone for Republicans, and Arizona and Texas have become true 2020 battlegrounds, the political costs to the GOP of Trump's Presidency will have been significant. 

Related Writings:

Backlash To Trumpism Brewing In The Border Region - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/7/18 - There is a growing body of evidence Trumpism is hurting the GOP brand in the border region. Big implications for 2018, 2020 too. 

Trump Is Right To Be Worried About Arizona (And Texas Too) - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 8/21/17 - It is instructive that some of the most powerful opposition to Trump's agenda is coming from Arizona. He is right to be worried about it.

The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas - Simon Rosenberg, U.S. News & World Report, 10/27/16 - Texas has a higher percentage of both millennials and Hispanics today than California, suggesting that with a significant investment in the coming years Texas could indeed follow California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and now Arizona from red to blue.

The Trump Administration is Disrupting the 2020 Census

The decennial Census is a genuinely powerful institution in American life. I didn’t understand its impact until I oversaw the Census Bureau as it prepared and carried out the 2000 decennial Census, when I was Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs. Believe me, the upcoming 2020 decennial Census will matter more than you think. Yet, Congress and now the Trump administration have set the 2020 decennial on a course that threatens its basic accuracy. In so doing, they put at risk the integrity and effectiveness of some of the national government’s basic missions.

Normally, the Census Bureau spends the first six years of each decade planning the next decennial Census. The Bureau’s funding ramps up in years seven, eight and nine of the decade, when it tests and purchases its technologies, conducts a nationwide inventory of residential addresses, orders forms, letters and advertising, and begins to lease local offices and train temporary workers. It is expensive to accurately locate and count 325 million people in 126 million households (2016). That’s why, for example, Census funding jumped 96 percent from 1997 to 1998, and more than 60 percent from 2007 to 2008.

The problems began in 2014, when the Congress decreed that the 2020 Decennial Census should cost no more than the 2010 count without adjusting for inflation, or some $12.5 billion. The Obama administration objected, but to no effect – although it’s worth recalling that Bill Clinton took a different tack in 1998, when he vetoed an omnibus budget bill and risked a government shutdown to get rid of a provision that would have barred the Census Bureau from using statistical sampling to verify the 2000 count.

The Census Bureau did what it had to do to live within its new budget constraints: it drew up new plans to cut costs by replacing thousands of temporary Census workers and hundreds of temporary offices with new technologies and online capacities. It also had to do what it shouldn’t have done: To save money, the Bureau aborted a planned Spanish-language test census and didn’t test or implement new ways to more accurately count people in remote and rural area. Census also ended its plans to test a range of local outreach and messaging strategies to get people to fill out their census forms, which are crucial to minimizing undercounts in many minority and marginalized communities.

Even so, the Census Bureau prepared to ramp up funding in 2017 and 2018, as it normally did, under the $12.5 billion cap. Enter the Trump administration, which cut the Obama administration’s 2017 budget request for the Census Bureau by 10 percent and then, this past April, flat-lined the funding for 2018. It is no coincidence that the Director of the Census Bureau, John Thompson, resigned in May, effective in June. It’s a serious loss, since Dr. Thompson directed the 2000 decennial count and is probably the most able person available to contain the coming damage to the 2020 count. For its part, the administration hasn’t even identified, much less nominated, his successor. It is no surprise that the Government Accountability Office recently designated the 2020 Census as one of a handful of federal programs at “High Risk” of failure.

The costs of starving the decennial Census could be great. It not only paints the country’s changing demographic and geographic portrait every 10 years. Its state-by-state counts determine how the 435 members of the House of Representatives are allocated among the states; and its counts by “Census block” (roughly a neighborhood) shape how members of state legislatures and many city councils are allocated in those jurisdictions. That’s just the beginning.

Consider as well that every year, the federal government distributes about $600 billion in funds to state and local governments for education, Medicaid and other health programs, highways, housing, law enforcement and much more. To do so, the government uses formulas with terms for each area’s level of education, income or poverty rate, racial and family composition, and more. The decennial Census provides the baseline for those distributions by counting the people with each of those characteristics in each state and Census block. Similarly, the Census Bureau conducts scores of additional surveys every year on behalf of most domestic departments of government, to help them assess the effectiveness of their programs. Here again, the decennial Census provides the baseline for measuring each program’s progress or lack of it.

Without an accurate Census, many states and cities will be denied the full funding they deserve and need, and the federal government will have to fly blind for a decade across a range of important areas. Moreover, many businesses also rely on decennial data, from retailers and commercial real estate developers to the banks that finance them. Data on the demographics and locations of potential customers not only inform their planning and investments. In some cases, the data actually make their projects possible, for example, when an investment qualifies for special tax treatment if it occurs in places with certain concentrations of low or moderate-income households.

The Trump administration cavalier approach to the 2020 decennial Census is evident in ways other than its funding deficit. A draft executive order, leaked but not issued so far, would direct the Census Bureau, for the first time in over 200 years, to “include questions to determine U.S. citizenship and immigration status.” The Census Bureau is legally required to protect the privacy of all Census data from requests by anyone, including government officials. Unsurprisingly, many people remain skeptical and avoid answering the Census out of fear that other government agencies will access their information. Requiring that Census 2020 probe each respondent’s citizenship and immigration status would turbo-charge those fears among Hispanics and other immigrant groups. The result would be systemic undercounting and underfunding of states, cities and towns with substantial populations of Hispanics and other immigrants.

There is still time for a course correction that could rescue the 2020 decennial Census, in next month’s negotiations over the 2018 budget. With some GOP members of Congress exhibiting a measure of newly-found independence from the Trump administration, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell could need Democratic support to pass a budget. A wide range of minority advocacy and business groups, along with most big city mayors, have vital interests in an accurate decennial Census. It’s up to them to pressure Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to make adequate funding for the Census one of their top priorities. Otherwise, one of the basic mechanisms for fair and competent governance could be disabled for a decade.

This post was originally published on Dr. Shapiro's blog.

On Trump, Immigration and Deporting Criminals First

“Monday Musings” is a new column looking at the 2016 elections published most Mondays. You can find previous editions here.

In recent days, some Trump supporters have indicated that the reported evolution in Trump’s thinking on immigration will focus on ways to ensure that unauthorized immigrations with criminal records become a more significant priority for deportation. Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, Trump confirmed that he is indeed attempting to land in some new place on immigration, though where exactly still remains to be seen.

For those reporting/commenting on this evolving issue in the days ahead it is important to keep a few things in mind:

Deporting Criminals First Has Been USG Policy Since 2011 – In the aftermath of the GOP’s blocking of immigration reform in 2010, the Administration took significant steps to prioritize its immigration enforcement efforts in two areas – border deterrence and those with criminal records in the US. The vast majority of those deported from the US in the years since have fallen into those two categories. If this indeed is the direction Trump is going in, he will be endorsing existing long standing Obama Administration immigration and border enforcement strategies. You can find out more about these changes in US policy in this long brief I did last summer.

This new and smarter policy direction has been successful – flow of undocumented immigrants into the country have plummeted; the number of undocumented immigrants in the country today is less than when President Obama took office; it allows limited federal, state and local law enforcement to focus on more serious criminals both undocumented and those legally here in the US; and those undocumented immigrants without criminal records have far less to fear from the US government and can keep working and contributing to the economy.

It is important to note that since the implementation of this new strategy in 2011, Hispanics in the US have made very dramatic economic gains.

Given the success of this new policy in recent years, it would be wise for candidate Trump to embrace it. But as Greg Sargent reports this morning, his apparent embrace of this approach is in direct conflict with the television ad he is currently running, and more than a year of statements he has made about “open borders” and our ineffective border and immigration enforcement system.

In his new piece, Sargent also reminds us that last night Trump only seemed to endorse Obama’s immigration enforcement priorities. No mention of what to do with the millions of unauthorized immigrants who remain.

House GOP on Record Opposing Deporting Criminals First – In 2013 and again in 2014, the House GOP, led by restrictionist Rep. Steve King, voted to prevent the Administration from using its power of “prosecutorial discretion” to prioritize the removal serious criminals and recent border crossers over those without criminal records. This means that if Trump heads in the direction already embraced by the Obama Administration, he will be breaking from the restrictionist wing of his own Party, and his allies in the Paul Ryan led House. Politically, this is no small matter.

So, yes, lot's still to be learned about Trump’s ugly damned if I do, damned if I don’t dance on immigration.

One of those felons to be deported first might be Mrs. Trump – Last night it was reported that Trumpworld has threatened to sue Politico for their reporting on Mrs. Trump problematic immigration story. Weeks after this story first broke, this threatened law suit appears to be the first official response by the Trump campaign to the growing body of evidence that Melania Trump violated immigration laws. It is not exactly the response many of us were led to believe would be coming from Trumpworld on this important matter.

To be clear – the reporting by Politico, the Washington Post, Univision, Bloomberg and others suggest that Mrs. Trump committed a series of grave immigration crimes that could easily rise to the level of a felony, and even trigger a process that could strip her of her citizenship. Just yesterday Vanity Fair reported that Mrs. Trump committed perjury in a 2013 court case where she repeated some of these same fabrications about her past.

I review the seriousness of what has been reported about Mrs. Trump in this recent post, and once again call upon Trumpworld to immediately release all of Mrs. Trump’s work visas she acquired prior to 2011 and her green card and green card application. The only way for us to know whether Melania Trump followed immigration law is by the release of these and other immigration documents.

Trump and Clinton Look Unstoppable Now; Some Thoughts About the 2016 Map

2016 Overview - Yes, there are scenarios where Clinton and Trump could come up short this summer. But they are increasingly unlikely, even remote. A Trump Clinton match up looks assured now, and what a titanic battle it will be.

Over the next week Democrats will vote in six states, Republicans four. The frontrunners are likely to lose some states in this patch. The nature of the states gives Sanders a bit more of a “comeback” opportunity, so there could be some drama this week. But it is also an opportunity for Trump and Clinton to re-assert their control over their nominating processes.

I spent some time recently looking ahead to a fall Clinton Trump matchup. A lot is unknown at this point but we do know a few important things: Clinton is consistently over 50 percent in the early match ups; Obama’s approval rating is now up in the high 40s, low 50s, a critical development in the race; the Electoral College Map still favors the Democrats; and on the big issue – can Trump flip enough white men to put the Rustbelt in play? - there just isn’t a lot of evidence yet that he can (and more here). For more on the fall, I recommend these good, early pieces from Dan Balz, Ron Brownstein and Greg Sargent.

The 2016 Electoral Map – New House rankings from the Cook Report now suggest that there is at least a mathematical possibility the Democrats could retake the House (they would need to win 30 of 31 targeted races). A bit surprised by this, I spent some time with the 2016 map and Cook’s rankings of all the Federal races. Using the Cook rankings (with one change - I moved AZ Senate into Tossup/Lean GOP), I came up with the following cheat sheet and thoughts about a possible expansion of what has been a very small Presidential map for Democrats:

Presidential 10-15

Dem Hold (10) - CO, FL, IA, NH, MI, NV, OH, PA, VA, WI

Dem PickUp (3) – AZ, GA, NC

Dem Watch (2) – MN, NM

Senate 8-11 (Dems need to pick up 7 seats net for a majority)

Hold (2) – CO, NV

PickUp 1st Tier (8) – AZ, FL, IL, NC, NH, OH, PA, WI

PickUp 2nd Tier (2) – GA, IA

House 37 - (31 Dem PickUps and 6 Holds, 30 net needed for majority)

AZ (2), CO (1), CA (4), FL (5), IL (1), IA (2), ME (1), MI (2), MN (2), NE (1), NH (1), NJ (1), NV (2), NY (6), PA (1), TX (1), UT (1), VA (2), WI (1)

Key Takeaways - In 2016 there is remarkable overlap between the Presidential and Senate target states. 9 of the 10 top tier Presidential states also have priority Senate races (and Dems are trying to make the 10th, Iowa, competitive at the Senate level), whereas only 3 of the Presidential states in 2012 and 2008 also had competitive Senate races. This overlap offers the national Democratic Party coordination opportunities that could produce enough economies of scale to free up resources to expand the national map. Why is this important? It has my belief that in the Obama era the national Party has not taken enough responsibility for winning elections beyond the very small number (10) of states in each of the last two Presidential cycles. Expanding the map as we discuss below will not only help the Democrats win the Senate, but now that the House is mathematically in play, maximize gains in the House (and of course help at the state and local level too).

The counter of course is that it is too risky to spread limited resources too thin. Hunker down, the argument goes, weather the Trumpian storm, win the Presidency, remake the Supreme Court, etc. But this is an unusual electoral map offering unique opportunities this year; Trump as GOP nominee ensures substantial resources allowing Democrats to consider going on offense; and if successful, could allow Democrats to not just win but have a chance of getting some of their agenda through Congress next year. Let’s look at two highly leveraged expansion paths:

Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina– Each of these longer shot Presidential targets also have targeted Senate races, and given where the polling is today in the Senate, it would be wise for the Democrats to put more races in play. There are questions whether any Southern state is open to the Democrats with Trump on the top of the ticket, but more will be known about this soon. Arizona looks particularly attractive this time as early polling has both the Presidential and Senate races as toss ups; there are also two Congressional seats in play; and Hispanics could be motivated by a ballot that may have both Arpaio and Trump. It should be noted that in 2008 team Obama ran a serious well funded campaign targeting Hispanics in nearby states with similar Hispanic populations - CO, NM and NV - turnout increased between 30 and 63%. Given where the polling is now, the first ever well funded and sophisticated Hispanic effort lead by the nominee could turn Arizona into a purple, lean blue state, as we’ve seen in other states with large Hispanic populations where the national party has invested.

Adding these three states would leave only the Illinois Senate race outside the national Democratic Party map and solely up to the DSCC to manage - though Illinois natives Obama and Clinton might have something to say about that.

California and New York - The map also suggests that the national Democratic Party and nominee should consider mounting some kind of coordinated effort in both New York and California. 19 of the 37 targeted House seats fall within the expanded 13 state map. 10 more fall in New York and California. Mounting targeted campaign in NY and CA to drive up turnout – something no national Democratic party has done in decades – could help put 10 more House seats in play. This means 29 of the 37 target House seats would fall under the national coordinated campaign’s reach, leaving only 8 of the 37 House races and solely up to the DCCC. This kind of coordination and leverage would be unprecedented in recent national politics, and could make the difference not only in the Democrats winning the White House, but in flipping the Senate and getting the House very very close.

So the national party strategy could look like:

National Party Coordinated Strategy

Pres/Senate (10) – CO, FL, IA, NH, MI, NV, OH, PA, VA, WI.

Expansion 1/Pres P/U and Senate P/U (3) – AZ, GA, NC. 

Expansion 2/Maximize House Impact – 17 targets in core 10 Presidential states, 19 in expanded map. 10 more in CA, NY.

Expansion 3/Presidential Watch (2) – MN, NM (states closer than expected in 2012).

Will the nominee and national Party expand the national map, taking advantage of unprecedented economies of scale and highly leveraged opportunities specific to this cycle? I hope so.

Oldie But Goodie - “In this election cycle the Republican’s angry war against modernity has escalated and appears to have become institutionalized. It is almost as if the more the world moves away from the simplicity of the Reagan moment the more angry and defiant – and of course wrong – the Republican offering is becoming” - Simon Rosenberg, “Forward, Or Backward?” September, 2012

More on the 2016 Election - Our tally of the Presidential primary debates audiences which finds the GOP far outperforming the Dems; the Democratic bench is stronger than it appears; Clinton should become a champion of political and electoral reform; thoughts on the "children of Reagan;" my in-depth interview with conservative author Matt Lewis on what the GOP can learn from a generation of reform and success on the center-left; my long form magazine piece on the descent of the GOP into a reactionary mess, anticipating the rise of Trump; Rob Shapiro on Trump's economic plan and the crackup of the GOP.  

"Monday Musings" is a new column which looks at the national political landscape and is published most Mondays here on the NDN site. You can find previous columns here. It also appears each week on the London-based progressive site, Left Foot Forward

Full disclosure: I am supporting Hillary Clinton for President, and have given the maximum contribution to her campaign. I am not, however, a consultant to, or paid by, any campaign or party committee.

New DNC Spanish Ad Takes a Swing at Republicans

Today the Democratic National Committee is releasing a new Spanish-language ad in the Denver and Las Vegas markets. Take a look:


Here's a translation of the script:

"Republicans say no to Medicare...

No to financial aid...

No to help for the middle class...

They always say no, but they never say why not...

Obama is fighting on our side...

[clip from Obama: "If we get Congress to pass this bill, the typical working family will get $1,500 in tax cuts next year."]...

More money for the house?...

Fifteen hundred dollars more for a family like mine?...

Why not?"

Beyond Democrats' early spending on Spanish-language ads in key states, there are two notable elements of this ad. First of all, it is generally unusual for Spanish-language ads to go negative. In 2008, the Obama campaign launched "Dos Caras," a Spanish-language ad that called Republicans out for their immigration record, but most of the other Spanish-language ads in that cycle focused on the positive. In 2010, Patriot Majority did a light-hearted Spanish-language hit against Sharron Angle, "Oye Sharron," that proved effective. With the early ad buys this year, and the general tenor of the cycle-- which has already included American Crossroads' attack on the President-- it might become more common to go nasty.

Second, it should come as no surprise that a young Latina features prominently: 50,000 Latinos turn 18 every month, and young Latinos are both the fastest growing segment of the Latino electorate and the fastest growing segment of the youth electorate.

New Study Finds Spanish Language Media Thriving

Suddenly it seems like every publisher and their mamá has decided to court the emerging Latino market.  Recently, The Huffington Post announced a new section, "Latino Voices," and Fox News Launched Fox News Latino.  I guess they too read the census.  It is notable that the bulk of the new non-Latino-owned mega-sites are emerging in English - an obvious evolution given that bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics are more digitally plugged in than Spanish-dominant Hispanics.   But while various new enterprises clamor for this readership online, there's also something interesting happening off-line: Spanish-language outlets are tending to do better overall than their mainstream English-language peers. 

According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, many Spanish-language outlets are growing.  Univision, the largest Spanish-language network is now performing competitively with the three major English-language broadcast networks.  According to the study: "In the 2010-2011 television season, Univision was the only major U.S. TV network to grow average primetime audience among 18-49 year olds-up 8% versus the season before. For the same demographic group, among the English-language networks, Fox lost 4%, CBS lost 8%, ABC lost 9% and NBC lost 14% over the same period."  In addition, the number of Spanish-language radio stations increased, magazines demonstrated year-over-year growth in ad spending, and while Hispanic newspapers saw a dip in their circulation, they still fared better than their English-language peers. 

The growth of Spanish-language media may surprise some.  Read one way, all signs point away from Spanish-language media: Latinos are increasingly young and American born, and a majority is bilingual.  Adios Español, hello Ingles. Right?   Not so fast.  That assumption belies the experience of most young Latinos who, regardless of their default tongue, move seamlessly between English and Spanish-dominant worlds.  Even I who grew up in an English-only home watched Sabado Gigante and rode a school bus where we only listened to La Mega 97.9 and Amor 93.1.  It should be no surprise that Latinos continue to consume Spanish-language media.

Beyond language, there are additional unique strengths of the Spanish-language press.  While local newspapers continue to shut their doors, the structure of the Spanish-language print press in local and regional clusters makes them some of the only outlets that still offer local news.   That offers Latinos a way to access their local news, and it allows businesses a way to access local Latinos.  Consider this:

Local ad revenue makes up a much larger slice of the advertising pie for Hispanic newspapers than does national ad revenue. In 2010, local ads accounted for 78% of all Hispanic newspaper ad revenue, or $554 million, according to Latino Print Network. National ad revenue accounted for 21% ($151 million); online web advertising represented only 1% of ad revenue ($7.2 million).

As more Latinos gain digital access, these numbers will shift yet again - but in which direction?  Will Spanish-language media begin to turn that offline interest into online readership?  Will they begin to expand their coverage to include English?  Will more English-language online sites decide they too need a tilde in the title?  Could it be that while the traditional "cross-over" has meant Spanish to English that some of these sites will ultimately expand to Spanish?  And most importantly, even with all the translators in the world, will any of these Jose's come lately be able to deliver for a Latino audience when their outlets are neither Latino owner nor operated?

Interview with Pollster Matt Barreto: Obama's Approval Numbers Slipping, Immigration as a Generational Priority & More

Yesterday, Latino Decision released a new poll which found Obama's approval numbers dipping among Latinos.  Here, Latino Decisions pollster Matt Barreto weighs in on the importance of immigration to young Latinos, how the new changes in prosecutorial discretion could affect Obama's approval ratings, and who Latino voters will hold accountable for the debt deal. 

AM: The economy has shot back to being the #1 issue.

MB: The economy and immigration have both been mentioned at top issues of concern by Latino voters since SB1070 took center stage in the Spring of 2010. For most of 2010 the economy was listed as the top issue, and immigration as the number two issue, especially as the election neared and the candidates and the media talked non-stop about the economy. Into 2011 as more and more media attention in the Latino community focused on immigration and deportations, immigration popped up as the top issue. This was also around the time that President Obama hosted multiple meetings on immigration, and gave the speech in El Paso. Now, with the extensive focus on the debt ceiling in August, we see the economy returning as the top issue, however immigration remains a very important issue as well to Latino voters.

AM: Immigration reform/DREAM was most important to Millennials and young Gen X'ers - 45% named it as their main issue, compare to 37% of respondents over all.  Was that surprising at all given that they are the most likely to be American-born?

MB: Immigration reform, and especially support for the DREAM Act has become a very significant issue with younger Latinos. This is because they are more likely to be in contact, through their extensive social networks, with DREAM Act-eligible Latinos.  When a young undocumented college student gets detained or deported, news spreads very quickly across facebook and twitter, and our survey data suggests younger Latinos are very, very committed to this issue.  Even as the younger population tends to be heavily U.S. born, we know that their parents or grandparents are immigrants.  So when the immigration issue comes up you are speaking about their friends, and their parents, so it becomes very personal. While they also worry about their future in terms of the economy, jobs, the issue of immigration has become very personal, and symbolically important.  In our previous poll in June 2011, we found that 59% of Latinos age 18-35 said they personally knew an undocumented immigrant, the highest of any age group.  This month in August 2011, we found that 82% of Latinos age 18-35 support the state level DREAM Act to provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who are accepted to college.

AM: Do you think these numbers will be impacted by the latest change in prosecutorial discretion?

MB: The August 2011 impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll was in the field July 29-Aug 9, a good week before word came of the change by DHS in detention and deportation policy. While Obama's approval numbers have dropped 10 points among Latinos since April, a good question is whether or not the recent changes to DHS policy will turn those numbers around. If the White House actively promotes the new policy shift, through public outreach to Latinos, there is good reason to believe Latinos will respond with increased support for the President. While immigration is just one of a number of important issues to the Latino community, it has become a very important symbolic issue over the past two years. With prominent figures such as Jorge Ramos and Luis Gutierrez continuing to call attention to the Obama administration's record on deportations, and the lack of immigration reform in the Congress, Latino voters know very well the failed promises on immigration. Now, with this new announcement by DHS, this could provide a first positive step for the President in talking to Latino voters about a humane solution to immigration enforcement. However, the President and the White House must tout this accomplishment, not sweep it under the rug like a small footnote, in their outreach to Latinos. The next impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll will be released in early October 2011 and we will gauge reaction to this policy shift.

AM: The numbers on the deficit are pretty dramatic and a far cry from the actual deal.  Did you get a sense that respondents realized that?  And if they don't know, once they do, who will they hold accountable? 

MB: With respect to the debt deal, the data are very clear - Latino voters strongly supported a solution that included both tax increases on the wealthy, alongside cuts to existing programs.  The deal that was struck on August 2nd did not produce any tax or revenue increases, and this is very far out of touch with what a majority of Latino voters supported.  But not just Latinos, almost every poll showed that a majority of all Americans supported the inclusion of tax increases on the wealthy as a way to address the debt ceiling issue.  In this survey we did not ask respondents who they blame, but the deal could only be achieved by both Republicans and President Obama cooperating, so my sense is that both sides are to blame.  Back in February we asked respondents if they thought policymakers in Washington D.C. take into account the viewpoints of the Latino community when enacting economic reforms, and 43% said no, 38% somewhat, and just 11% said yes.  The August debt deal is further evidence that what Latino voters told us in February is true.

AM: In Texas, numbers are highest for Republicans, even higher than Florida - was this in the field before or after Rick Perry got in the race?

MB: The poll was in the field before Rick Perry announced.  I believe he announced on August 13th and our poll was out of the field on August 9th.  The sample sizes by state are small, so we don't read too much into them unless there are huge differences.  The overall sample for the poll is n=500 with a margin of error of +/- 4.3.


Latinos & Redistricting

Call it the under-reported story of 2011: the once-every-ten year redistricting battle, an incredible opportunity for shifting political power.  The 2010 Census, the basis of redistricting, confirms the growth and evolution of the US Latino population.  But how will redistricting reflect that change?

That is the question posed in a recent New York Times piece by Monica Davey, which features a familiar face, Andres Ramirez.  The article opens by focusing on Nevada, where a booming Latino population has earned the state an extra seat in Congress: 

“There is consensus about one thing: that one of these districts is going to give the best opportunity yet for Latinos to elect a candidate of their choice, and that puts us in a very pivotal position,” said Andres Ramirez, a political consultant and leader of the Nevada Latino Redistricting Coalition. The group has drawn its own map — a very different one from that proposed by the state’s Republicans, but also different from the ones offered by the Democrats.

Latinos have become the political football this year,” Mr. Ramirez said.

There are, of course, complicated question around what successful redistricting looks like for this community.  Is it about carving out districts where Latino candidates can win big?  Or is it about carving out several districts where they can win at all?  And in a state like Nevada that has very recently witnessed the rise and fall of anti-Latino candidates, is it about spreading the electorate around enough to hold each potential representative accountable to the larger community? 

Recap: Today’s White House Hispanic Policy Conference

Today Kristian and I were lucky enough to be among the participants in the White House's Hispanic Policy Conference.  Issues covered included education, health care, science and technology, immigration, and housing.  The break out sessions I was in were largely participant driven and focused on local leaders and practitioners, not the beltway insiders. 


What I began to notice by the end of the day is that across issue areas there is a common disconnect between what the federal government offers and what the American public, particularly members of the Latino community, know they have access to.  Connecting local communities with the programs that are meant to help them remains the macro structural challenge.


Here's another way of looking at it:  today, #AtTheWH, the Twitter hashtag used for the  policy conference was a trending topic in Washington, DC.  The real measure of success will be making it, along with the information shared, a trending topic across the country. 

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