Lauren McSherry, San Bernardino Sun, August 10, 2008
In what has been a strongly Republican county for years, a dramatic increase in Democratic registrations should be credited for the rise of Latino voters in the county, according to political experts.
Increasing numbers of Latino Democratic voters combined with the launch of an aggressive “Viva Obama” campaign in the county have contributed to the changing tide, they said.
There were 301,765 registered Republicans and 300,435 registered Democrats in the county, a difference of only 1,330 voters, as of July 28. The numbers reflect a rapid increase in Democratic voters just over the past few months, according to the San Bernardino County Democratic Party.
Drawn by less expensive housing, Latinos have been moving to the county from Orange and Los Angeles counties, said Armando Navarro, a political science professor at UC Riverside.
The populations in San Bernardino and Riverside counties are growing quickly, and the majority of those moving to the counties are Latinos, Calderone said. He has also witnessed an upsurge in political organizations that are working on voter registration.
The faltering economy, rising unemployment and troubled school systems are driving people’s interest in November’s election, he said.
Gil Navarro, chairman of the bilingual advisory committee for the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters, said he has devoted his career to strengthening Latino political power in the county.
More Latino political candidates, more bilingual pollworkers and more registered Latino voters are making a difference, said Navarro, who is also a board member of San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools.