LatinaLista — The force of the Latino consumer is widely recognized by retailers. With an estimated buying power of $1 trillion, it’s no wonder department stores carry Latino-influenced product lines that sport either bright colors and shapely silhouettes or Spanish surnamed celebrities. Grocery stores now devote shelves or aisles to products that appeal to a wide Latino audience.
In fact, retail recognition of the power of the Latino consumer has even extended to stores, such as Wal-Mart, acknowledging that future growth for their business lies with the Latino audience.
So one has to wonder — If corporate America sees the inevitable future of Latino influence, why don’t politicians see it?
Or the better question may be, why don’t they believe it?
The National Council of La Raza found that this bill not only has united Arizona’s Latinos in condemning it but it is actually serving as an impetus for a heightened interest among Latinos for the upcoming November election.
And if it’s happening in Arizona, it’s happening wherever there are Latinos.
It’s clear that politicians aren’t fully appreciating the growing influence of Latinos — and that’s a mystery.
After the presidential election where it’s known that Latinos helped Obama win, and even before then when the Latino electorate helped George W. Bush win in 2004, the idea that Latinos can make a difference at the voting booth has already been proven.
So, why can’t politicians see the potential in Latino voters like retailers see with Latino consumers?
The obvious answer may be because, unlike voting, every Latino is a consumer. Yet, not every Latino is a voter.
But a report issued in February illustrated that there are enough Latino voters in districts where Latino turnout can cause serious upsets.
The report by America’s Voice “outlined 40 mid-term races where Latino voters could have a significant impact on the outcome.”
The nation’s fastest growing population is also one of the fastest growing parts of the American electorate, according to Census figures. Between 2000 and 2008, Latino voter registration grew 54 percent and turnout grew 64 percent. In the 2004 presidential race, 7.5 million Hispanics voted. In the 2006 midterm election, 8 million voted. And in the 2008 presidential race, 10 million cast ballots.
From the 2008 presidential election, it was observed that two things must happen with the Latino electorate that would ensure a turnout that matches the hype of the Latino vote — a strong emotion generated by the presence of an issue/candidate and identifying an issue/candidate as being anti-Latino.
Of course, there is strong emotion being felt throughout the community by the passage of the SB 1070. Any politician that supports such an issue that is already negatively emotional for Latinos is seen as being anti-Latino.
Semantics like “I’m against illegal Latino immigrants not legal Latino citizens” doesn’t matter at this point. We are one community. What impacts one, because of this bill, now impacts all.
The candidate that supports such a bill is seen as anti-Latino. This theory is supported in the 2008 presidential election where McCain, who personally had been viewed as an ally to Latino voters, was seen as representing the party that oppressed Latino immigrants, which offended Latino voters.
We know what happened to McCain among Latino voters. From the way things are going now, it won’t be a big surprise to see Latinos turn out in record numbers and vote out those considered bigoted, insulting, discriminating — anti-Latino.