It’s been a common question bandied among several Texas-based Latino bloggers and myself. All of us live outside, what I dub, the “Clinton Corridor” — that southern strip of the state that straddles the Mexican border on one side and runs just shy of major cities outside San Antonio and El Paso, and where the Clinton campaign seems to have hunkered down while campaigning in anticipation of the March 4 Texas Primary.
(Source: New York Daily News)
Since arriving in the state, she has basically stayed in the southern region, and who can blame her?
It’s only there that she seems to hold the same kind of court that Obama has been able to do in Dallas, Houston and Austin. The few times she has made it north were not happy times for the campaign, and her poor showing outside of the “Clinton Corridor” doesn’t spell success for her or her team.
Though Obama’s campaign can hardly be described as aggressive, Clinton is clearly showing that she prefers to stay in those sectors of the state where she feels most at home.
When she has ventured para el norte (northward), it was not happy times for her since it was on her watch that a Dallas motorcycle police officer was killed while escorting her to a Dallas rally in a bank parking lot. Because of that unfortunate accident, her Fort Worth rally, scheduled for the same day, was understandably cancelled.
Yet so far, that one time has been the only time Clinton has bothered to personally campaign in North Texas. To be fair, Obama has only been to North Texas once as well but his rallies give his supporters much more face time with him and more comfortable venues (Obama has been holding his rallies in indoor event facilities) than Clinton’s campaign has done outside the corridor.
But the state has been blanketed with Bill, Chelsea and other high-profile supporters of Senator Clinton to urge people to vote for her — all the while, she stays in South Texas to further seal her support.
She may wish that she would have traveled more throughout the state.
It’s common knowledge that Clinton doesn’t stray far from the southern Texas base because of the loyalty she is counting on from Latinos who live there. But party/candidate loyalty is the hallmark of a past generation of Latinos.
While it’s true that the majority living in South Texas are Latinos: Brownsville is 91.3% Latino; Edinburg – 88.7%; El Paso – 76.6%; Laredo – 94.1%, the fact that is escaping the Clinton campaign is that Hispanic eligible voters are younger than white or black eligible voters. That means that 31% of Hispanic eligible voters are between the ages of 18-29.
A lot of these young voters are first-time voters and given their age and how Obama’s campaign is being credited for motivating this age group to get involved in politics, it stands to reason that a vast majority of young Texas Latino voters will be casting their votes for Clinton’s opponent.
Now, the rationale in the Clinton campaign may be, well, we’ve got their parents and grandparents’ votes. Something that is not talked about enough is that for many older Latino voters, this election will be their first to vote as well.
Some may remember Bill Clinton and his time in office, others may identify with Dolores Huerta, a prominent Latina icon of migrant farmworkers’ rights, but for many for whom this is their first election to vote in, there won’t necessarily be any kind of loyalty felt towards a party or a person.
Not to mention, that with these young voters getting involved and being enthusiastic about their candidate, they are bringing their message home to their families – their padres, abuelos, tios. Chances are they are making a case for Obama.
For an older person who only knows they don’t like Bush or his policies, and is proud of their son/daughter or grandchild for taking an interest in politics, it’s not such a long shot to think that the older members of the family, with no real party affiliation or strong feelings for a particular candidate, will follow the enthusiastic advice of the younger members of the family and vote for the same candidate.
Another aspect of campaigning in South Texas that may not have occurred to the Clinton campaign is that yes, while the majority of Latinos live in that region, they also tend to be more traditional than Latinos who are urbanized.
To be honest, I hadn’t thought about this before because this is the 21st Century but an anecdote I heard today highlighting this sentiment made me realize it’s a strong possibility.
It’s called machismo and those LatinOs who may have admired Bill Clinton wouldn’t vote for his wife because she’s a woman.
How many people feel this way? Hard to tell, especially since many probably wouldn’t admit to it but unfortunately, it does exist — especially in a region that is predominantly rural and adheres to traditional customs more stringently than can be found elsewhere in the state.
In fact, Clinton actually doesn’t have South Texas as much to herself as she thinks she does if a recent incident over a song is any indication.
Dulce Maria Gonzalez, a 21-year-old, local singer/songwriter in Brownsville, Texas is for Clinton and wanted to sing her support for the candidate at a recent rally in South Texas.
Brownsville singer Dulce Maria Gonzalez
“I think that Obama’s speeches are inspiring to a lot of people and he has good points, too,” she said. “I wanted to write a song that would emphasize a difference that Clinton never talks about — that she’s a woman. Women look a lot at the details that men often don’t notice, and I think the details make a big difference.”
In what is supposed to be Clinton country, the treatment of Dulce since she sang her song “We Need a Woman,” has been anything but supportive. Dulce’s MySpace page was filled with negative comments and where ever she goes people want to debate her on her choice of supporting Clinton.
Her endorsement of Clinton has even affected her job prospects — all for exercising her right to support the candidate of her choice — in the heart of the Clinton Corridor.