LatinaLista — The U.S. Census released their analysis — Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2008 and found out several distinct things about Latino voters. Among the findings are:
1. An extra 2 million Latino voters turned out for the 2008 election making it a 4 percent increase from previous elections. In fact, more Latinos, along with blacks, voted in the 2008 election than in any other election since the U.S. Census Bureau began consistently measuring citizenship status in 1996.
2. The increase in Latino voters can be directly attributed to voters between the ages of 18 and 24.
The findings illustrate what people were reporting on during the presidential election — that young people, who were targeted with specific “get out the vote” campaigns responded to the Obama message in droves and were responsible for a large part in getting their extended family members to vote too.
While the surge in young voters is a positive for the Latino community, it’s also problematic.
It’s problematic because what occurred in 2008 with this age group may never be repeated successfully to the extent of what was accomplished in 2008.
And that’s the problem.
Because the past campaign was so focused on getting Obama elected — a candidate who resonated with young people of color, any future election that fails to excite this constituency in any way remotely similar as 2008 runs the risk of Latino turnout reverting to pre-2008 voting rates.
So what can be done? Maybe nothing needs to be done if the GOP doesn’t cooperate with the Democrats in crafting an immigration reform bill.
If immigration reform has not been resolved, that will be one issue that could possibly mimic the enthusiasm of 2008. It has all the earmarks:
1. “The Underdog” — any politician who supports immigration reform will be portrayed as an underdog candidate to the majority.
2. “It’s Personal” — immigration status doesn’t affect young Latino voters but it can hit close to home for some of them. Chances are they know someone — family member, friend, neighbor, classmate — who is undocumented and needs immigration reform to happen.
3. “Making a Difference” — Casting votes for politicians who go on record for promising to vote for immigration reform is making a difference by electing politicians willing to do the right thing in return for the votes received by a constituency who will hold that politician accountable.
4. “Creating Change” — Change is created not only with whom is sent to Congress but with the voters themselves. In order to vote for the right candidates of their choice, young voters will have to do homework and research.
Hopefully, the process will create the kind of change within themselves that will cause them to realize that the only way to effect change in Washington, or local and state politics, is to change the attitude that their vote can’t make a difference — it already has once and can again, and again, and again …