Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Politics > Democrats can’t use the tactics of 2008 to reach out to Latino voters in 2010

Democrats can’t use the tactics of 2008 to reach out to Latino voters in 2010

LatinaLista — The news that the White House had brought back David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager, and the one person largely credited for getting Obama the presidency, had me wondering just what was he going to do to help Obama regain political traction.


“He (David Plouffe) brings value added to our operation as we look forward, in terms of strategy and tactics,” senior adviser David Axelrod said on ABC’s This Week.

Part of that value was how Plouffe was able to organize Internet-driven grass-roots campaigns and how he reached out to young adults like no one had ever done before.

David Plouffe,Obama’s former presidential campaign manager

It seems he’s reverting to that tried-and-true, and now tired, strategy.

In my Inbox this morning, I received an e-mail sent out by The Democratic Party on behalf of Plouffe. It was like deja-vu from the presidential campaign. It was an appeal to get a watch party together with friends, families and neighbors for the President’s State of the Union address.

The e-mail began:

On Wednesday evening, President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address. It comes at a critical moment.

We must regroup, refocus, and re-engage on the vital work ahead. So let’s watch it together at a State of the Union Watch Party in your neighborhood.

Yet, this e-mail to mobilize a Neighborhood Watch Party just didn’t instill in me the same kind of excitement that similar requests made during the presidential campaign did.

I don’t think I’m alone.

If the Massachusetts win by Republican candidate Brown is any indication, chances are there are a lot less “inspired” voters than what turned out for the 2008 presidential election.

In fact, these “uninspired” voters are projected to be the 2010 election drop-off voters and according to an excellent analysis by Women’s Voices, Women Vote, the Democrats may have a steeper uphill battle to climb than just bringing back David Plouffe.

According to Women’s Voices, Women Vote, (WVWV) what was seen in the mid-term elections in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts, with lower voter turnouts, is an indication of a larger trend happening among voters described as the Rising American Electorate or RAE.

The RAE are defined as being: “Unmarried Women, Youths (ages 18-29), African Americans, Latinos, and all other non-white races.”

RAE voters account for more than half of the voting-eligible population in America (52%). It’s this population that has become “uninspired” to vote since Obama’s win.

It’s not that RAE voters disagree with Obama’s policies or how he’s conducted himself in office, it’s just that RAE voters don’t feel compelled to vote like they did in the presidential race.

WVWV project drop-off voting rates among the RAE to double versus the rate for Non-RAE voters. There are now 22 million fewer RAE voters than in 2008 reveals the WVWV analysis.

The WVWV did a state-by-state analysis of just how much RAE voters are not turning out at their local polls and found that their non-participation is changing the face of state electorates.


One of the biggest concerns voiced during the 2008 presidential election was if the momentum for civic participation could be kept alive among new and young Latino voters after the election.

The results of the elections in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts have delivered the answer and proving true our worst nightmares of sustaining Latino political progress.

The ironic thing is that while Independents and Republicans are saying that Democrat losses in these elections were because the American people are against Obama’s policies and the direction of the country, the WVWV analysis proves otherwise.

The simple truth is that RAE voters, Latinos among them, don’t feel their votes are needed to the same extent as when they were to help Obama win.

The WVWV’s NJ-VA post election analysis revealed:


Motivating RAE voters to participate requires convincing them they have a stake in elections. Members of the RAE who voted were much more likely to say that their vote matters as a reason for voting than non-RAE voters. At the same time, RAE voters need to be targeted. When they drop off voting, they are often more likely to say that they did not have enough information about the candidates and the issues.

Unfortunately, sending out e-mail alerts to form watch parties has been done and to get the attention, of at least Latino voters – new and young, Democrats are going to have to get very creative in reaching out to them again.

For starters, it would help to reach out to orgs that really pushed Latino voter registration drives. Collaborate or somehow learn from them in what it takes to not just get people’s attention but maintaining it.

The notion that civic participation only happens around elections must change. There have to be strategies created and implemented, in a bipartisan way, to make civic participation seen as an ongoing exercise with voting as the reward for maintaining that participation.

The bottom line is that if Democrats want to regain their political footing, they have to turn the clock back to 2008, not with the same tools as used back then, but new tools and be cutting-edge all over again. But most of all, Democrats need to talk TO Latino voters, not AT them and most importantly — don’t stop talking.


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  • maryelizabeth
    January 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    I voiced my opinion after I filled out the questionaire that was a follow up after placing calls from my home to help elect Martha Coakley. Unfortunately to try to win a campaign only a week before the election is not enough to win against the opposition who campaigned deligently for this senate seat in Mass. On the questionaire I voiced my opinion that the Democratic party just didn’t energize the Latina vote to get out in Mass. I find that this is an issue nationwide in each and every small town. Much of the time I see a huge communication barrier between party officials and the Latina community’s. We need our voter’s to know that it is even more important to get out and vote every Novemeber. Most Democrats only get out and vote every 4 years for the president. After Obama became president there was a much stronger camp that he had built across America but unfortuately what he had energized quickly fell through. I was told by Democrats that stick with the party through every election that you will see this huge coalition fade away shortly after the campaign and they were correct about this. At our Democratic County Christmas party after Obama won the election we had around 400 people there to celebrate the Holiday with and a year later our party celebration only consisted of around 150 people if we were lucky. As I was told, I so that our base lost its energy. There are people that fly in and out during a major election but there are very few that stick to the plan. This is the problem Democrats face. We can build a strong coalition during the Presidency, but how do we carry through and pull out numbers for the senate and house. We need to get our base out for these elections. These seats are the most important to win real change in the US.

  • Texan123
    January 26, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Part of the problem is that Presidential campaigns always promise everything to everyone. They try to appeal to all interest groups, just to get votes.
    After the election, voters start to realize the lies. They feel betrayed and lose interest in supporting a lying candidate that just keeps stringing them along for votes.
    It is not just Latino’s or Democrats that feel betrayed. Beware of false promises.

  • Karen
    January 26, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Re: “It’s not that RAE voters disagree with Obama’s policies or how he’s conducted himself in office, it’s just that RAE voters don’t feel compelled to vote like they did in the presidential race.”
    It’s not that REA voters disagree with his policies? Yes, it is! Many Latinos are unhappy with his refusal to take up immigration reform, and many women are angry at Obama’s willingness to throw women’s reproductive rights under the bus. And I think almost everybody is upset that he has refused to seriously address unemployment and economic recovery.
    You make it seem like women and Latinos are not issue based voters, but sheep who need the right kind of prodding to get to the polls. Wrong. People stay home when they see that their votes don’t matter. People voted for Obama and they got Bush 3.

  • Marisa Treviño
    January 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Karen, According to the analysis done by WVWV, those polled didn’t register huge disagreements with his policies. At that moment in time, when the poll was conducted, those were the findings. Obviously, things change but as so many people like to tell me, meaning other Latinos, not all Latinos are for immigration reform. I have no way of knowing if these were “those” Latinos.

  • Alonzo
    January 27, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    “….not all Latinos are for immigration reform.”
    Marisa, I think this is the first time that you’ve admitted this. This mitigates against your arguments that Obama or the Republicans should shake in their shoes if La Raza, MALDEF and company threaten either party over CIR. Massachusetts is a bellwether for things to come.

  • Karen
    January 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Re: “not all Latinos are for immigration reform.”
    We all should be for fixing the system that is set up to exploit Mexican people, a system that calls them “alien” and subhuman.
    Too many Mexican-Americans are brainwashed to hate poor people from Mexico. They have a border wall in their brains. What other group hates its own?
    You don’t see white Americans hating people from Europe. Oh no, they want to emulate them!
    Cuban-Americans don’t hate Cubans from Cuba. They help them immigrate here and get settled.
    Asian-Americans don’t hate Asians from Asia.
    Blacks are starting to reconnect to blacks from Africa and Haiti. They are raising money for them.
    But Mexican-Americans look down on poor Mexicans from Mexico. They call them mojado and wetback. What good does that do? Why not HELP them instead. Do you know how scary it must be to come to a foreign country, not knowing the language, and being a target of discrimination?
    Why not use our considerable political clout to get NAFTA renegotiated or repealed?
    Do Salma Hayek, Eva Longoria or George Lopez ever raise money for issues that help Mexican-Americans and/or Mexicans? We can’t expect help from others, if we don’t help ourselves.

  • cookie
    January 29, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Karen, I don’t know where you live our where you are getting your information from but my experience is totally different. Most Latino citizens are vying for amnesty for illegal foreigners of their ethnic kind.
    I don’t understand this ethnic solidarity rather than a nationlistic, patriotic view of this country by Latino citizens.
    As for hate that is a ridiculous word to attach to how Americans feel about illegal immigration. You are comparing apples to oranges throughout your post. All those non-Latinos mentioned are not here illegally in our country and that is the difference!
    I don’t know of anyone who thinks that Mexicans are subhuman either or calls them that. As for the word alien it means foreigner. How is that a deragatory word?

  • Alessandra
    January 29, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Karen, there is nothing wrong with empathizing with those to whom you can relate.
    There is a danger, though, of straying away from the value of “out of many, one” when you choose to identify with foreign nationals with whom you happen to share a race or ethnicity OVER your nationality, REGARDLESS of race or ethnicity. This is modern-day tribalism and there is not one example of a nation, now or in history, where two or more competing cultures exist which isn’t fraught with conflict, tension, and in extreme cases, outright genocide.
    This modern-day tribalism is the driving force behind the conflicts in Rwanda, Iraq, Nigeria, Russia with its Chechans, in Spain with its ethnic Basques, Turkey with its ethnic Kurds. White Nationalists also encourage racial solidarity with each other on the basis of their European roots, rather than on their national identities.
    Most whites that I know do not place their loyalty to European nationals over that of their fellow Americans, regardless of race. That is what White Nationalists do. And most white Americans are not WNs. So what you are alluding to seems to have dangerous undertones in my mind and can be a slippery slope. Now looking at how other countries solve certain problems, and learning from their experiences when they have had successes is a different issue altogether. Just because I might admire how a certain European nation has managed to accomplish something, and think maybe we could try it here, doesn’t mean that I place my loyalty or allegiance towards those Euroepan nationals ABOVE that of my own fellow Americans of ANY racial or ethnic origins. Actually, our European ancestors left Europe and most of us really don’t want to become “European” again; although, like I said, maybe sometimes there are positives you can take from other nations/peoples.
    Again, what kind of condition would this country be in if Irish Americans only had allegiance the Irish, Italian Americans to Italians, German Americans to Germans, Polish to the Poles, Greeks to other Greeks, Russians to other Russians…and I haven’t even gotten into India, Asia, the Middle East. No, this country cannot survive this kind of tribalist thinking.
    It’s wrong, of course, to call people names and not recognize their humanity which is another point I believe you were trying to make. In that I agree. And, of course, it is natural to feel an affinity towards people to whom you can relate more easily due to a shared background. But too much of this leads to the slippery slope of ethnic/racial nationalism which IMO is anti-American as I explained above. It is actually an argument that WNs are now using, with some success; that is, that other “groups” are “connecting with their roots” and advocating only for one another, and that whites should do it also.
    I really and truly from the bottom of my heart think if we all start to do this, it will mean the end of our nation and so I will resist it as long as I can.

  • Karen
    January 31, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Aleassandra, I am not talking about nationalism, or tribalism. Those are your own projections of what I said, based on your own history. European countries have a long history of fighting with one another.
    I am saying that Mexican-Americans need to stop internalizing anti-Mexican hate. I want the two groups to come together in mutual aid and support, which is the opposite of tribalism. You are the one advocating division, not me.

  • cookie
    February 1, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Mexican-Americans are internalizing anti-Mexican hate? What does that mean? I can only guess that what you mean is that the citizens of our country of Mexican heritage should turn their backs on the USA and its laws in favor of illegal foreigners that are Mexican nationals. If that isn’t tribalism then I don’t know what is.

  • Alessandra
    February 1, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Karen, thank you for your response.
    True that European countries HAD a long history of fighting with one another. But, so did other non-European countries–Asia, African, the Middle East have all been fraught with tribal/ethnic conflicts as well as European nations.
    Today, it is mainly non-European nations who are still tribalistic and fighting amongst ethnic divisions. I don’t want to take up a whole lot of room (or time) here to point them all out. But, Iraq with its Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis would be an example. China with the Han Chinese and Tibetans would be another. I think I did mention the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, and the tribal conflicts in Nigeria, also in the Sudan at present. I could go on and on.
    I stand by what I said. When you advocate loyalty and alligiance to others based upon your shared ethniticy with them, rather than nationality, which in the U.S. includes all racial and ethnic origins, that is a form of modern-day tribalism or ethnocentrism. You want the Mexican Americans to see Mexican nationals as part of the same “tribe” and come together in mutual aid and support. So, yes, you are correct in that you are advocating for unity–but, unity for Mexican Americans with Mexican nationals–your “people.” Totally ethnocentric, just as if I started advocating for all Americans of Italian descent to start only identifying with and providing aid and support for foreign nationals in this nation from Italy.
    No, “your people” should be law abiding Americans of any and all races and ethnicities, not just those who share your ethnicity. That is what ethnocentrism is all about.
    So, no I am not the one advocating a division; although, from an ethnocentric standpoint it would appear that way.

  • Karen
    February 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Re: “Totally ethnocentric, just as if I started advocating for all Americans of Italian descent to start only identifying with and providing aid and support for foreign nationals in this nation from Italy.”
    I never said that Mexican-Americans should only identify with Mexicans. You said that. I said that Mexican-Americans should stop internalizing anti-Mexican hate. A lot of Mexican-Americans think that the road to acceptance means hating poor people from Mexico. That mentality doesn’t make anybody more accepted or more ‘American.’ It just holds everybody back.
    I said that instead of calling poor immigrants mojados and being ashamed of them, we should see what we can do to help. We need to take responsibility.
    I don’t know how you can twist that into tribalism.
    Helping one group of people doesn’t mean that you hate another group of people. Wyclef Jean is a Haitian-American, yet even before the earthquake he founded an organization to raise money for Haiti. Does that make him a racist? Of course not. I can only imagine the hell that would break loose if Salma Hayek started an organization to help poor people in Mexico.
    I am not proposing anything radical. All other groups have done these things for themselves throughout the history of our country. Look up Jane Adams and Hull House.
    As I said before, you are taking what I said and filtering it through your own history. You said that the fighting between European countries was in the past. Really? The ethnic cleansing in Bosnia wasn’t that long ago. Bill Clinton had to intervene to bring peace to the region.
    And now that I think about it, do you know why the US had to turn to immigration from non-white countries? Because during WWII, 50 million Europeans killed each other. Now Europe no longer has a surplus population of peasants to send to America. They don’t even have enough people to replace their own labor force anymore. They have to import labor from the Middle East and North Africa.

  • irma
    February 2, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Being “American” is a joke. Ask any black person who tries to get a cab in New York City. Ask any Mexican American who gets
    stopped by the police and asked to verify their citizenship by the cops! Americans
    of European descent who have white skin dont have to put up these kinds of indignities. I am 2nd generation American
    and I still get a hard time when I return to the US after foreign travel – the INS simply cant believe that I have a valid US passport!
    I am a law abiding US citizen, but because the way Mexicans are treated in the US, yes I AM ethnocentric.

  • cookie
    February 3, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Karen, your post was so full of BS I wonder how you were able to write it with a straight face.
    I don’t know of any Mexican-Americans who hate the poor of Mexico. They may object to illegal immigration but that isn’t hate based for God’s sake! It just means that they don’t have that tribal mentality that far to many Hispanic citizens do and they get called “coconuts” and “vendidos” by your side for that.
    They and you should help the poor in Mexico to stay in Mexico rather than advocating for their illegal presence here. What a novel idea, right?
    You’ve really gone off kilter comparing the objection to illegal immigration to donating funds to people in their own country such as the Haitians. Who the heck objects to that? See my paragraph above. Helping people in their own country is not objectionable but advocating for their illegal presence here is. Surely you can understand that!
    I don’t approve of a lot of things our country has done abroad but that doesn’t give you the right to expect American citizens to take in the whole world’s poor outside of our immigration laws. Most of the things our government does we have little control over no matter who we vote into office.
    I am aware that there is little immigration from white dominant countries these days so why are you complaining then? Asians get the highest quotas for legal immigration and Latino countries come a close second. Regardless, we can only take in as many immigrants that our country needs. Sounds like a sane policy to me.

  • cookie
    February 3, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Irma, if you think that being an American is a joke then I suggest you take up citizenhip elsewhere. If you think you will find a country that doesn’t have racists in it, good luck with that. I have read that many Mexicans in their own country are just as racist towards their darker skinned indigenous. I certainly wouldn’t label the entire country as racist though as you doing to the USA.
    Latinos are not being stopped just to be asked for their citizenship papers there are other variables involved that fall within the legal right for our LE to stop them and ask questions.
    So because you feel you are a victim you are using that to justify illegal immigration into our country by your own ethnic kind? Just a question but I don’t get it at all.

  • Alessandra
    February 3, 2010 at 10:23 am

    The conflict in Bosnia was primarily between the Christian Orthodox Serbs and the Albanian Muslims. It only backs up my point about what happens when you have two or more competing cultures trying to inhabit the same land.
    Yes we all know what happened in WW2, but for me that was a long time ago 40 years before I was even born–in another lifetime. I don’t view that as “current” times. What are the ethnic conflicts occuring TODAY, or in the past 10 to 15 years? That’s what I mean by “recent.” After two decimating World Wars, Europe was war weary and really had no more stomach for wars. They were destroyed by WW2.
    The Japanese savaged and ethnically cleansed the Chinese during WW2 and also brutalized the Filipinos during that war. You can point out the few ethnic conflicts in Europe today (Basques in Spain, Chechens in Russia–who are also Muslims); the fact remains that most ethnic conflict today is not taking place in European countries.
    But that wasn’t the point I was making. NO MATTER WHERE THESE CONFLICTS OCCUR, it always occurs in a nation where you have two or more ethnic groups who vie for political and economic power or autonomy. It doesn’t matter whether it is in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East–wherever.
    The point I was making is that we cannot have a nation where we have such diversity where we only or mostly identify with our ethnic/racial group. It is a recipe for disaster.
    You say this is not what you were advocating and I take you at your word.
    I think I can see the point you are making. I just wasn’t aware that Mexican Americans “hate” poor people from Mexico. That doesn’t seem logical to me. It seems from my observations that most Mexican Americans feel an affinity for their Mexican national counterparts.
    For sure, there isn’t anything wrong with American Latinos trying to help out the people of Mexico in their country; in fact, I think it would be a noble endeavor. I know people who are not Latinos, but they did humanitarian work in Latin America. Why would anyone object to that? One of my best friends spent two years in Ethiopia helping to put in water wells for the people there so they could have clean water. I can’t imagine why anyone would have a problem with Mexican Americans doing things to help Mexico.
    I just get really nervous because I see a danger in this country breaking down along ethnic and racial lines. I have always viewed others as fellow Americans, with basically the same goals and needs in life, regardless of their race or ethnicity. And I’d really like to continue to do that and hope things don’t deteriorate in this country in the future where I will be forced to embrace a different mindset.

  • irma
    February 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I know of no Mexican Americans who think the road to success in the USA involves hating Mexicans. In our family, speaking English without a
    Mexican accent was, however, considered important. English was in fact my first language. I didnt learn how to speak Spanish until I was 13 years old. Indeed, I cant tell you how many interviews I have had in Texas where the interviewer “complimented” me on my spoken English. There are class differences to be sure, but the fact of the matter is , more than half of all Mexican Americans have ancestors who came to the USA by coming across the Rio Grande without an invitation. Until about 1965, it was relatively easy to do and sorting out the matter legally usually involved paying a good immigration lawyer. We are all as they used to say descendents of “mojados.” This is why most Mexican Americans have varying degrees of identification between themselves and Mexican nationals.

  • cookie
    February 8, 2010 at 8:12 am

    So Irma, since my ancestors were from Poland even though I was born HERE and THIS is my country, not Poland, I should advocate for all Poles here illegally to be rewarded with citizenship for breaking our immigration laws? What does that say about my loyalty to my own country and its laws? Taking it even further those who are advocating for their own ethnic kind to remain here in violation of our laws are calling other Americans whose loyalty is to THIS country and OUR citizens get called racists, haters and xenophobes. That is taking one’s loyalty to one’s own ethnic kind way beyond rationality or any loyalty to one’s own country.
    It matters not that it is difficult to come here. That doesn’t justify coming here illegally!!!! The reason that it is not that easy is because if it were we’d have the whole world’s poor here. Is that what you want?

  • irma
    February 9, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I have no problem at all with what you propose. Poland is very far from the US ,
    if someone wanted to be in the USA,and made that big of an effort to stay – I say STAY. Whether you advocate that they should say is your choice, just as my advocating that Mexicans be allowed to stay is my choice.
    Be honest, many American citizens ARE
    racists. This is why all the illegal Irishmen in New York and Boston are allowed to join unions and are never hassled by immigration.
    Lets not talk about illegal entry. Most Mexicans consider the entire Southwest
    unlawfully OCCUPIED by the USA.
    I stand somewhere in between on that issue.
    “Give me your tired,your hungry, your
    POOR…..”, isnt that supposed to be the
    DEFINITION of the USA ? You know all of Eastern Europe(including Poland) has a long history of being antiimmigrant. But then I guess you know all about that.

  • Alonzo
    February 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    “Give me your tired,your hungry, your
    POOR…..”, isnt that supposed to be the
    DEFINITION of the USA ?”
    Sure, Irma, we’ll open our borders to a billion of so people who fit this description and find out if you still like this philosophy. Emma Lazarus wrote this sometime around the turn of the century as a private citizen. It was a nice sentiment at the time but I doubt that she intended it to apply in an overpopulated world that would overrun us with its illiterate and poor if given the opportunity. No, Irma, your childlike world view will not be adopted as national policy, not if we wish to maintain a high quality of living for our children and for generations to come. Lastly, no, our country is far more complex to be summed up by the words of a poem written more than a hundred years ago. You progressives seem to think that if only the rest of the world could migrate to the US everything will be alright. You progressives are so childlike. Thank God most of the people in this country aren’t progressives.

  • cookie
    February 9, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Irma, I would consider myself a racist if I proposed that all illegal Poles should get stay here or any white people for that matter just because I share an ancestry or blood with them.
    Sure racism still exists in this country today but it isn’t just white people who are guilty of it today. That is something I don’t think you are acknowledging
    I don’t care that some Mexicans think they still own parts of the southwest. The point is that they don’t and must abide by our immigration laws.
    The inscription on the Statue of Liberty was put on there at a time when we were a wide open frontier and sparsely populated. Today we are a nation of over 300 million people with jobs and resources scarce. Are you proposing that the poem was meant for thoe who don’t enter illegally or that we should take in immigrants in endless numbers for eternity. Surely, you are smarter than that.
    I really don’t care what Poland or the entire continent of Europe did about immigrants in the past or present. I am not European nor am I a Polish citizen. I was born here. I have no loyalty to Poland. The U.S. has the right to their own immigration laws based on our needs and ability to sustain a certain population growth. Anything else would be idiotic.

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