Low Latino voter turnout in NJ and VA elections reveal a return to the old ways

LatinaLista — Something happened in yesterday’s governor elections in New Jersey and Virginia that everyone was afraid would happen.

No, it’s not the fact that a Republican won in each race. It’s the fact that voters of color and young people could have cared less about who would win.

There’s no denying that the 2008 presidential election was unlike any other and it awakened the proverbial sleeping giant of young and multicultural voters. Yet, there were many who worried that once the presidential election was over if the same momentum could be sustained 555555; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10px; line-height: 13px;">333333; font-family: arial, helvetica, hirakakupro-w3, osaka, 'ms pgothic', sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal;">with each “lesser” election.

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It’s obvious now that it can’t with some voters, but with Latino voters it’s a different story.

Republican Gov-elect Bob McDonnell smiles at a news conference with transition members, Phil Cox, left, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, right, in Richmond Nov. 4. (AP Photo)

For the Latino constituency, participation in local elections, for now, hinges on what role that elected official has in passing immigration reform or the DREAM Act. It’s a safe bet that any candidate running for Congress will get close scrutiny from Latino voters in their districts and states and will see a resurge of Latino voters at the polls.

 

 

While not all Latinos identify with the immigration issue, and some actually feel detached from it, there is still a “community sense of responsibility” when it comes to the issue because of reports still coming in that some Latinos are being persecuted because of a lack of a definitive bill coupled with the lack of action from congressmen and women speaking out against the assaults on Hispanic immigrants.

As long as immigration reform is on the table, it’s the carrot that energizes this voting bloc to come out.

But the real problem lies in elections for local and state candidates, as was seen in yesterday’s election turnouts.

Latino voters are no different in wondering what difference their vote makes for a candidate who isn’t seen as a “people’s candidate” in their community and other communities of color.

The fact that both candidates for governor who won were Anglo already illustrates that what was gained from the presidential campaigns has slipped away — the inclusiveness of candidates of color which, in turn, generated enthusiasm, not just among voters of color, but young people who rightly see candidates of color as bringing change to a staid political system.

In the days after Obama won, there was a lot of buzz within the national Latino community of setting up organizations to help identify, groom and support tomorrow’s Latino political candidates.

The hope is that more people of color join in aspiring to serve this nation in public office and that both political parties welcome this participation. Until these candidates materialize, who have the ability to excite a new generation of voters, along with, a segment for whom politics has had little meaning, turnout will be less than what it’s known it can be.

 

(Update Nov. 5, 2009 — If there’s any doubt that a candidate of color can re-energize civic participation among youth and voters of color, just check out what happened in the mayoral elections of Lawrence, Mass. this week.

The city elected the first Latino mayor of the state but what’s even more remarkable is that Lawrence became the first city in the state where registered Latino voters outnumbered white voters.)

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9 Comments

  1. Beverly said:

    “The fact that both candidates for governor who won were Anglo already illustrates that what was gained from the presidential campaigns has slipped away — the inclusiveness of candidates of color which, in turn, generated enthusiasm, not just among voters of color, but young people who rightly see candidates of color as bringing change to a staid political system.”
    Could it be that it was because ALL the candidates for governor of Virginia and New Jersey were Anglo that it turned out that an Anglo won? The fact that none were minorities is not an excuse for not caring about the actual issues. It’s very petty to boycott an election because the candidate doesn’t have the same type of face you see in the mirror every day. I find your racial coloration of these elections very unfortunate. There’s no reason why white governors can’t do an excellent job at representing minorities anymore than a person of color can’t do a good job at representing Anglos. Apparently, in the world you’d make, in order to have fair representation, we’d have to have three or four faces representing each racial and ethnic group,

  2. Cary said:

    Why should NJ or VA be expected to have a person of color as governor? According to the census, Virginia is comprised of 67 percent white/not Hispanic, 6.8 percent Latino and 19.9 percent African American, and New Jersey has 61 percent white/not Hispanic, 16.3 percent Latino and 14.5 percent African American. Such population distributions would naturally be inclined to favor Anglos. In each case, by using your concept of social justice, the governor would tend to be white. If the population distributions were skewed toward minorities, I’d say you might have a case, but I can find nothing to indicate that there is anything that is wrong with the current situation.

  3. karen said:

    Do you think the Obama Administration is is going to cultivate Mexican-American candidates? Dream on.
    We have lost two seats since Obama’s election: The Congressional seat held by Hilda Solis and the US senate seat held by Ken Salazar. Those seats were hard for us to win, and the White House didn’t try to make sure that we kept them. They appointed a white man to Salazar’s seat, even though Ken’s brother was going to run for it, and they backed the non-Latino candidate in the race to replace Solis.
    I would be curious to know how many Mexican-American appointees there are in the White House. They keep statistics on “Latinos” but that can be anybody. So far he hasn’t appointed any Mexican-American judges.
    What has Obama done for the economy of the Southwest? Nothing as far as I can see. Frankly, he’s even weaker than I thought he would be, and I wish another Democrat would challenge him in 2012.

  4. cookie said:

    What difference does it make what color of skin or ethnicity that a politician is? Are you saying that most Latinos will only vote for a minority candidate who support amnesty for illegals? Isn’t that kind of racist with a self-serving motive? I thought we Americans were supposed to be united regardless of party affiliation or skin color for the good of the country as a whole?

  5. cookie said:

    Karen, so it is “us” vs “them” in your book? “Hispanics” vs “Anglos”? Rather than to hell with race/ethnicity because we are all Americans we should only be happy if “one of our own” is elected or appointed to public office? Sounds like that is your viewpoint from your post.

  6. Karen said:

    Cookie:Do you know the history of Mexican-American elected officials in America? Did you know that in the 20th century they used to gerrymander districts so that Mexican-American candidates could not be elected? The courts had to overturn those laws.
    It has taken litigation for Mexican-Americans to get the political representation you take for granted. We didn’t start getting people elected in decent numbers until the early 90s. And we are still underrepresented.
    So when there is only ONE Mexican-American US Senator, and Obama replaces him with an appointed white man, foreclosing an opportunity for another Mexican-American to run for that seat, it makes me realize that Obama couldn’t care less about our history or what we have had to do to get political representation.

  7. Cari said:

    “So when there is only ONE Mexican-American US Senator, and Obama replaces him with an appointed white man, foreclosing an opportunity for another Mexican-American to run for that seat, it makes me realize that Obama couldn’t care less about our history or what we have had to do to get political representation.”
    Your argument about gerrymandering is interesting but not a convincing. Why should a white, black or Hispanic, or anyone have a lock on a Senate seat? Since showing favoritism by race is wrong according to you, then people of all races should be in the running withour regard for race. What you are suggesting is racist in its very substance. And each U.S. Senator, unlike Congressmen, represent everyone in their state, not districts comprising small groups of citizens. Gerrymandering does no good in that instance. Using your criteria, since Illinois is majority white, then in theory there should be all white Senators. In fact Mr. Burris, a black man was appointed to replace Obama. And Obama, although consulted, had no authority to appoint his replacement. That was done by the infamous Blago, governor of Illinois. I’ve got news for you Karen, if white people today were as close-minded and racist as you aver, then there wouldn’t be any minority Senators in Congress (except Hawaii), nor would there be a black man in the White House today. Hate the idea if you will, the majority of people in this country are white. As to political representation, Hispanic members of congress not only represent Hispanics, but other races as well. If the other races thought otherwise, there would be many fewer Hispanics in Congress today. It’s too bad that you are so blinded by your race colored glasses that you can’t recognize that Congress is not a committee on racial diversity, with each representing his race or ethnic group, but one that is suppose to represent an undivided nation.

  8. karen said:

    No one race should have a
    lock on any Senate seat or political office. I just don’t think that Salazar’s replacement was the most qualified person for the job, and certainly not more qualified that John Salazar. Of course, John Salazar is free to run for the office in 2010.
    And please don’t lecture me about racism. Why do you think that we still need the Voting Rights Act? That legislation doesn’t just protect the right to vote, it protects minorities against gerrymandering.
    As for Obama, the majority of white people did not even vote for him. Democrats never win a majority of white voters, so that is not a surprise. But Obama lost the white votes in states throughout country, not just in the South.
    The Latino vote pushed him over the top in many states that Democrats don’t normally win, such as North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, Florida, New Mexico, etc.
    So please don’t use Obama’s victory to lecture me about what a racist Hispanic I am and how fair and open minded white people are. If Latinos hadn’t voted for him in such big numbers, he wouldn’t be in office. If only 43% of Latinos had voted for him, like 43% of white people did, Latinos would be branded ‘racist’ by the media.
    http://www.slate.com/id/2204464/sidebar/2204528/

  9. cookie said:

    No one race DOES have a lock on any seat but what has race to do with it anyway? Being more or less qualified is in the eyes of the beholder I guess.
    The rest of your remarks in regards to Obama’s election is just your opinion and not based on fact, Karen.

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