LatinoVote ’10: Stir It Up or Just Enough?

Obviously, Democratic junkies have been reading this article two and three times attempting to dissect the “formula” to win in November.  The big question:  Can we get enough Latinos to vote to ensure a Democratic win?

Despite the numbers, the Hispanic vote may never be the cohesive and reliable bloc the party needs to dye the reddest of red states blue. Instead of a slumbering giant, a more pertinent metaphor may be that of a brilliant Fourth of July firework arcing into the night sky. When the firework reaches its apex, to the Democrats’ dismay, it branches into multiple voting patterns. The Hispanic vote may eventually be as difficult to categorize as the Italian vote or the Irish vote.

Since 2006, Latinos have definitely been on the Democratic side of things; however, there hasn’t been a real test in Texas. Allow me to continue insisting that Tony Sanchez did get the vast majority of the Latino vote in 2002; however, no one seems to point out that a majority of Anglo Dems voted for Perry–or else, how else would a landslide have occurred?

And in case you don’t believe me, well, here’s Kuff.

Say what you want about Tony Sanchez and his Titanic campaign, but he helped bring a huge number of Democratic voters out to the polls.

Especially in very Democratic, Very Mexican American South Texas.

As insistent as some may be that immigration is not the top issue for Latinos, it is an issue that has stirred the worse in the Republican Party, so, key to convincing Latinos that Rick Perry is not, as the old Republatino Sosa tells us, “moderate” on the issue, is throwing Perry into the same category as the tea bagger-wing of the Republican Party.  And delivering that message to Latinos.

But the bottom line is that the Texas Democratic Party (and local parties) have not done a good job of branding themselves the Party for Latinos. While the Republicans have done a terrific job of branding themselves as the all-American no-Latinos-allowed Party, I have yet to see the Democratic Party pounce on this opportunity.  And whether the leadership wants to admit it or not, it goes back to immigration.

DosCentavos exposed the national Democratic leadership on the issue of immigration  and Chairman Kaine was quite uncommitted to doing much to push the issue forward, since, obviously, his job is to protect the blue dogs–the same ones who voted against health care reform.  Worse, even after a diverse crowd of 300,000 marched on Washington, DC, the Administration failed to seize the opportunity, instead, punting to Congress and Congress punting back to the President.

Latinos are definitely watching, and we’re not happy with the goings on when it comes to this issue.  Granted, we know the vitriol will fly once the issue is truly tackled and that is exactly what we need to happen in order to galvanize Latinos against the Republican party.  Let me tell you, I agree with our good Sheriff.

“It’s a galvanizing debate,” says Garcia, a former Houston police officer who served as a Houston city councilman from 2002 to 2008. “Young people today will remember the impact of these conversations for a very long time.”

But the bottom line is that Bill White, Linda Chavez-Thompson and the rest of the crew need “long time” to become November.  And the experts are talking numbers.

If White is to run a competitive race against the GOP incumbent, he needs the Hispanic vote to increase from 11-14 percent to about 15 percent statewide, and he needs about 70 percent of those who vote, says University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray. He also says that White needs about 90 percent of the African-American vote and about 40 percent of the Anglo vote.

“Obviously, if White can drive up the minority turnout and his vote share, that drops his needed share of Anglos down toward 35 percent, much more easily reached than 40 percent,” Murray said in an e-mail message.

But if we reduce Latinos to the “just enough” category, we are doing nothing but taking a growing group of voters for granted…again.  During a time in which both sides of the spectrum are losing touch as evidenced by low voter participation, there is an obvious need for some relationship-building.

While the Republicans can be more disciplined in their message because their base is quite homogeneous, the Democrats feel the need to keep everyone happy, particularly on “social” issues and worse, on immigration. From now until November, the Democratic Party has one job:  Be Seen. Especially in the Latino community.

While some feel that it takes having a Latino elected official in your corner to win over some of those Latino Texas House districts, I’m willing to say that it take a lot more than that, or else, Annise Parker would not be our Mayor right now. It takes being seen in the community and it takes engaging the community, forging relationships that develop into a sort of movement, and not just your usual quest to attract “just enough” for the win.

The Democratic Party has seven months to get something started–in Harris County and Texas.  I hope that it begins sooner than later, because, frankly, I don’t want to hear that same ol’ thing I keep hearing from non-Latino Dems:  “Why didn’t Hispanics vote?”

Believe me, I’ll have a list of answers.

One response to “LatinoVote ’10: Stir It Up or Just Enough?

  1. Pingback: The enduring question of Latino voting – Off the Kuff