America's Voice, August 9, 2016
Two new stories examine the work being done to mobilize Latino and immigrant voters this election cycle. As Frank Sharry noted last week, “For Democrats, it’s not enough to cheer Donald Trump’s implosion and hope it does the work for them. They have to invest heavily in the key constituencies that make up the New American Majority so that these voters turn out. Such a sustained commitment will help elect progressives up and down the ballot, and this is the best way to ensure the 2016 election leads to meaningful policy changes.”
As the new stories from Univision and Salon make clear, hard work is already being done on the ground by key groups, but sustained and deep investments are needed to convert these voters’ full political power into reality. As Latino political consultant Chuck Rocha tells Salon, “Latinos hating what Donald Trump says is not enough to mobilize them into an electoral force . . . Demographics is not destiny. It’s an opportunity.”
See below for excerpts and links from these two stories.
A Univision story by Jenny Manrique, “The Fight for Nevada’s Latino Vote,” highlights the work being done by Mi Familia Vota to register and mobilize Latino eligible voters in Nevada. As the article notes, those personally affected by the immigration debate, who are literally living the stakes of this election, are getting involved in the political process in new and exciting ways:
“For the last six months, 35-year-old Mishael Tarin has turned his car into a campaign bus. Every Saturday he brings young volunteers to Hispanic neighborhoods east and north of Las Vegas to register as many eligible voters as possible before November.
. . . About 28% of Nevada’s population is Latino and there are some 328,000 Latinos eligible to vote, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Although a large majority are registered as Democrats (58%), almost a quarter are independents. Tarin is a legal resident, but won’t get his citizenship in time for the November elections. Half of his volunteers are Dreamers who have deferred action, known as DACA, and even some undocumented immigrants who can’t vote, either. Their motivation is ‘to open the eyes of those who have the right to exercise that right,’ said volunteer Ana Karen Nava, 27, a Mexican-born Dreamer and the mother of a 3-year-old. The outcome of the election will determine if the MFV volunteers will be able to become citizens, she added.
. . . ’Latinos who are frustrated by the issue of immigration reform know that it is a struggle that will not be solved immediately, but they need someone who will at least talk about it,’ says Andres Ramirez, a political consultant and director of the Ramirez group, a public relations and advocacy firm that works with the Hispanic community. ‘Those who fear more of their family members will be deported are very clear about what Trump has said about immigrants. They know they can’t afford not to vote.’
According to Ramirez, Latinos do vote en masse. The problem, he says, is low rates of voter registration. According to Census figures, 86% of Latinos in Nevada who were registered to vote went to the polls in the 2012 election.
. . . ‘If citizens or young people who were born here do not participate, we are not giving voice to people like our parents who are perhaps still waiting for DAPA to resolve their situation,’ [House candidate Ruben] Kihuen told Univision.”
Meanwhile, a piece in Salon by Emily Schwartz Greco, titled “Swinging The Senate Blue May Hinge On Latino Voters: Why More Action To Mobilize These Voters Is Necessary,” highlights the fact that a more sustained effort will be needed to maximize the opportunity at hand with Latino voters:
“[E]xpert after expert says Democrats can’t count on Trump to win the Latino vote for them, and some are concerned that the party isn’t investing the right way to turn out a constituency for whom the rhetoric of this election has been an understandable turnoff.
‘There’s lots of fertile ground for Democrats,’ said Sylvia Manzano, a principal at Latino Decisions. ‘The question is, do they go and do the registration work? Do they make sure that the people who are Republicans but can’t bring themselves to vote for Trump vote for Democrats?’
. . . Chuck Rocha, president and founder of Solidarity Strategies–the nation’s largest Latino-owned and operated political consulting firm–says Hispanic registration and get-out-the-vote efforts are being under-funded. ‘I absolutely think that there is not enough being done,’ said Rocha, who spent 13 months cultivating young Latino supporters for the Bernie Sanders campaign. ‘We work with a majority of the Latino nonprofits in the country and everyone’s budgets and fundraising for registration efforts are significantly less than four years ago. We just got money to register 20,000 Latinos in North Carolina. We got the contract yesterday. We needed it three months ago. . . . There’s not a doubt in my mind that Clinton’s going to run a robust Latino outreach program. She’s hired a lot of good people,’ and is going to spend heavily on Spanish-language ads, Rocha said. ‘But down-ballot, you need something else in addition to Hillary. You need that community voice, a brown person to knock on the door and tell that Latino voter she stands for $15 an hour and health care and education . . . What really matters is state by state. It’s how badly Democrats lose Cuban-American votes and how well they do with Puerto Ricans in Florida and what happens in Nevada,” Rocha said. ‘The Latino vote could determine the outcome in Ohio or Wisconsin but to my knowledge, no Latino firm has been hired’ to register those new voters.
. . . Though recent polls put the race at a dead heat in Nevada, in early August the statistical whizzes at the FiveThirtyEight website heavily favored Clinton to beat Trump this fall. Yet Republican Rep. Joe Heck was polling ahead of Cortez Masto. What’s more, early Latino Decisions polling didn’t indicate the same overwhelming support for her among Hispanics that Reid commanded in 2010. ‘Republicans have thrown more at Cortez Masto than Democrats have thrown back,’ David Weigel observed in The Washington Post, before an arm of the Koch brothers’ political operations announced a new ad buy supporting Heck’s bid for the seat Harry Reid has occupied since 1987. That’s exactly what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is rooting for ticket-splitting, wants to see in the state’s pivotal race.
‘Latinos hating what Donald Trump says is not enough to mobilize them into an electoral force,’ Rocha said. ‘Demographics is not destiny. It’s an opportunity.’”