Latinos in the 2012 Election–How Crucial This Time?

Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church, by Timothy Matovina explores the ever-increasing contribution Latinos make to American religious and social life, offering a look at the important ways the U.S. Catholic Church, its evolving Latino majority, and American culture are mutually transforming one another. Today he writes for Election 101 on the growing electoral significance of Latinos, and offers his take on the potential impact for the 2012 election.

 


 

Latinos in the 2012 Election--How Crucial This Time?

Timothy Matovina

 

Bold proclamations about Latino voters determining presidential elections have become a regular feature of political commentary. When George W. Bush won a higher percentage of Hispanic votes than any previous Republican presidential candidate in his 2004 reelection, political consultant Dick Morris asserted that “the biggest reason for Bush’s victory was that he finally cracked the Democratic stranglehold on the Hispanic vote.” Four years later, Martin Kettle, associate editor of the British newspaper The Guardian, dubbed Latinos “the big racial game-changer” in Barack Obama’s election after Obama received two thirds of Latino votes cast, 25 percentage points more than John Kerry received four years earlier. Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress Action Fund titled a recent blog post “Why Obama’s Re-Election Hinges on the Hispanic Vote.”

 

In fact the electoral significance of Latinos is growing steadily, but not as exponentially as such commentaries suggest. Though the growth of Latinos into the nation’s largest minority group has been widely reported, for the 2008 general elections eligible African American voters still outnumbered Latinos by five million. Many Latinos are not eligible to vote because they are not citizens or are younger than the legal voting age. Approximately half a million Latinos reach the legal voting age annually, but these increases add up to only two million new eligible voters since the last presidential election. Moreover, the majority of Latino voters reside in California, New York, and Texas, states in which the results of presidential elections are relatively predictable. The victorious candidate’s margin of victory in these states ranged from 9 to 27 percentage points in the two most recent presidential elections, with Republican candidates winning Texas and their Democratic counterparts winning California and New York. These comfortable margins mitigate claims of a critical Latino swing vote in presidential elections, and potentially reduce Latinos’ incentive to vote in states that pollsters declare are predetermined in advance. Comparatively low Latino voter turnout – in the 2008 general elections less than half of eligible Latino voters cast ballots, while nearly two-thirds of black and white eligible voters did – no doubt results in part from this disincentive to electoral participation.

 

The four swing states where Latino votes have the greatest influence are Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado, all of which Bush won in 2004 and Obama won in 2008. Of course, in close races the importance of every grouping of voters is magnified. There is not sufficient evidence in such instances to deem Latinos the decisive factor. Indeed, asking if Latino voters were decisive in a given election result is not the sole or even the most important question to pose. Rather, greater attention should be given to Latinos’ relation to wider voting patterns and their participation in strategic coalitions that affect electoral outcomes. From this perspective, the facts that Obama was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win a clear majority of Latino votes in Florida and that from 2004 to 2008 New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada were the three states with the largest increases in the Latino percentage of the voters who cast ballots reveal the growing significance of Latino voters as one key constituency in presidential elections.

 

Exit polls for the 2004 and 2008 elections revealed that a clear majority of Latino voters said jobs and the economy were the issues that mattered most in their choice for the presidential election. While the numerous working-class Latinos do not tend to have the same lens on the economy as more affluent voters – to use the language of the 2008 presidential campaigns, Latinos’ focus is more on jobs and Main Street than on investments and Wall Street – the strong focus on economic issues reflected a widespread concern within the broader electorate. Concern about jobs, as well as education and health care, remain important for many Latinos. But recent polls suggest that an increasing number of Latinos avow immigration will be one of the top three – or even the most – crucial issue swaying their presidential votes in 2012. The record number of deportations during Obama’s presidency has upset many Latinos, but many perceive the anti-immigrant rhetoric of leading Republican candidates as even more disconcerting. To the extent the immigration issue becomes more causative of Latino voting in the forthcoming election, the Latino impact will hinge not on whether most Latinos vote again for Obama, but whether they vote at all.

 

Timothy Matovina is professor of theology and the William and Anna Jean Cushwa Director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame.

 

Edwidge Danticat writes about Port-au-Prince for The Daily Beast/Newsweek

Edwidge Danticat, author of Create Dangerously, returns to Haiti and finds resilience and regeneration: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/08/07/edwidge-danticat-reflects-on-port-au-prince.html

Built for 200,000 people yet home to more than 2 million, Port-au-Prince is a city that constantly reminds you of the obvious, as though you were a 6-year-old. No, not everything is broken. And no, not all the people are dead. It is a city that everything—political upheaval, fires, hurricanes, the earthquake—has conspired to destroy, yet still it carries on. The still-leaning houses and the rubble that has begun to grow weeds, the tent camps that have become micro-cities of their own, all bear their own testimony to a city that should have ground to a halt long ago, yet continues to persevere.

Create Dangerously will soon be published in paperback, but the cloth edition with its exclusive cover design and half jacket is still available everywhere. One of my favorite features of this book is that the half jacket can be shifted up and down along the spine, revealing different portions of the artwork beneath. It subtly changes the cover each time I pick it up. Check it out for yourself!

This Week’s Book Giveaway

Can’t get enough baseball? This week’s book giveaway,  Baseball on the Border:  A Tale of Two Laredos by Alan Klein, will help fill the gap.

From 1985 to 1994 there existed a significant but unheralded experiment in professional baseball.Baseball on the Border For ten seasons, the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos (The Owls of the Two Laredos) were the only team in professional sports to represent two nations. Playing in the storied Mexican League (an AAA affiliate of major league baseball), the “Tecos” had home parks on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, in Laredo, Texas and in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. In true border fashion, Mexican and American national anthems were played before each game, and the Tecos were operated by interests in both cities. Baseball on the Border is the story of the rise and unexpected demise of this surprising team. Anyone with an interest in baseball will be enlightened & entertained by this informative book.

“Read this book, enjoy the characterizations of the players, managers, and administrators … listen to the crowd cheer for their home town heroes, and pause to think, as Klein paints the picture with a masters stroke, of what this [book] can tell us about transnational relations and the impact of sport.”–Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler, authors of Backboards and Blackboards

“The book is very well written. . . . It contributes greatly to the literature on the cultural basis of sport, to our understanding of the manner in which cultural inventions reflect national identity and processes, and substantiates an important insight to the idea that sport may provide a window to ongoing social change.”–Carlos Velez-Ibañez, American Anthropologist

Everyone who LIKES us on our Facebook Page is automatically entered in our weekly book giveaways.

Baseball on the Border: A Tale of Two Laredos by Alan Klein

Edwidge Danticat at the Cambridge Forum

I don’t know how I missed this video before today, as this was taped in November. It’s still worth a watch now:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Edwidge Danticat interviewed by Zocalo

Also available on the Zocalo site.

Edwidge Danticat on Democracy Now

This was taped earlier this morning. Edwidge will also be on Leonard Lopate this afternoon.

Edwidge Danticat on Tavis Smiley, October 29

Edwidge Danticat will be interviewed on Tavis Smiley this Friday evening. I hope you have a chance to tune in to hear her discuss her new book Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work.

Edwidge Danticat on Newshour last night

Edwidge had two sell-out events in Washington DC at Busboys & Poets and Politics & Prose. Next up, she is in Los Angeles for an event with the ALOUD series at the Los Angeles Public Library on October 26th. See you there!

Today is the official publication day for Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat

You can listen in to her conversation with Virginia Prescott at Word of Mouth on New Hampshire Public Radio here. This was recorded earlier today.

Following PUP Authors on their Blogs – First up, Marisa A. Abrajano & R. Michael Alvarez

Welcome to a new feature on our blog that has the catchy name, “PUP Blogging Authors”.  To learn more about an author, there is no better way than to check out their blog.  Author blogs provide upfront, personal, informative, and entertaining information about their books, their research, and their day-to-day lives.  Our “PUP Blogging Authors” feature consists of three parts: Blogger, Blogs, and Books.

Our featured bloggers are the authors of New Faces, New Voices: The Hispanic Electorate in America.

Marisa A. Abrajano is assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Campaigning to the New American Electorate. R. Michael Alvarez is professor of political science at the California Institute of Technology. He is the coauthor of Electronic Elections and Hard Choices, Easy Answers (both Princeton).

Blogs: We invite you to learn more about their book and election research on their blog, New Faces, New Voices: http://www.newfacesnewvoices.org/

You can also find more blogging from R. Michael Alvarez on the blog, Election Updates.  The blog covers new research, analysis and commentary on election reform, voting technology, and election administration.
http://electionupdates.caltech.edu/

Books:  For descriptions, sample chapters, and table of contents, visit:

New Faces, New Voices:
The Hispanic Electorate in America
By Marisa A. Abrajano & R. Michael Alvarez

Also by R. Michael Alvarez:

Electronic Elections:
The Perils and Promises of Digital Democracy
By R. Michael Alvarez & Thad E. Hall

Hard Choices, Easy Answers:
Values, Information, and American Public Opinion
R. Michael Alvarez & John Brehm

New Faces, New Voices: The Hispanic Electorate in America – Introduction is online to read

Making up 14.2 percent of the American population, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the United States. Clearly, securing the Hispanic vote is more important to political parties than ever before. Yet, despite the current size of the Hispanic population, is there a clear Hispanic politics? Who are Hispanic voters? What are their political preferences and attitudes, and why? The first comprehensive study of Hispanic voters in the United States, New Faces, New Voices paints a complex portrait of this diverse and growing population.

New Faces, New Voices
The Hispanic Electorate in America
By Marisa A. Abrajano & R. Michael Alvarez

Read the Introduction: http://bit.ly/bW2JuB

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9158.html