Obama pin worn at NALEO in Florida (Photo : Reuters)
Election campaigns breakdown voters into demographics and from there determine how to attract them, and for the growing Latino population, they fall under one of the key demographics.
Is it right to categorize a specific community?
Campaigners will think differently. According to an Associated Press report, an immigrant in Arizona has shown support for Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney for sharing similar conservative beliefs on social issues, while a native from Colombia said she'll likely vote for President Barack Obama now that he stopped the deportation of many illegal immigrants that came to the US as children.
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"Both [Obama and Romney] should know that the Latino community is not homogenous. Latinos represent different cultures and backgrounds within," said John R. Gagain Jr., senior advisor for Adriano Espaillat, a New York state senator who recently ran for US Congress against Representative Charles Rangel. "Romney should not think talking about his father being born in Mexico will resonate with Dominicans or Puerto Ricans or Cuban-Americans. Both candidates should not only do more to extend themselves to Latinos but also to their cultures and backgrounds and history of each different population within the Latino community," Gagain Jr. told the Latinos Post.
Is attracting the Latino vote as complicated as appealing to an undecided voter?
"Latinos understand that their support for either candidate is critical to each candidate's electoral victory; but most Latinos believe both candidates need to do more to make Latinos a greater priority of their Presidential campaigns," said Gagain Jr.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) state Latinos will turnout in record numbers in November, with over 12 million casting their vote. The association projects the Latino vote will increase from 2008's 26 percent, and will account for 8.7 percent of the country's voters.
According to Gagain Jr., Latinos have further "consolidated" themselves as a voting bloc this election year than 2008.
With campaign season underway, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are on the offensive to appeal to Latino voters. In recent months, Obama and Romney have attacked each other on their platforms toward the Latino population, using the issue of immigration as a selling point.
For some members in the media, the number issue in the Latino community is immigration. For the presidential candidates, both candidates have discussed the topic.
For Romney, his campaign website has a page devoted to the topic, outlining on how Obama has failed on immigration and detailing what Romney will do.
According to Romney's campaign page, "Immigration represents one more broken promise by President Obama."
The campaign added that Obama has failed to improve the immigration system in terms to better the economy. They add that Obama has "utterly failed" to secure the border. No precise border is stated, Canadian or Mexican, but with the recent trends, the assumption falls on the Mexican-US border.
Romney's plan to tackle immigration includes the completion of a "high-tech" fence, enough officers on the border, and the development and "effective" system of exit verification so people do not overstay their visas.
It is important to know that Romney opposes amnesty to immigrants as it might act as a magnet encouraging more illegal immigration and opposes any policy that allow illegal immigrants to "cut in line" of people applying to legal status in the US.
The amnesty question is a hot topic for Obama recently, as in June 15 he issued bypassed Congress over the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), a proposed legislation that grants conditional residency to a number of young people brought to the US illegally. Congress defeated the bill, mainly due to Republicans not supporting it. But back on June 15, Obama announced that about 800,000 young people will be safe from deportation proceedings and eligible for work permits.
The decision was viewed as politically charged to attract more Latino voters. The Romney campaign expressed frustration
"The Obama Administration like every Presidency must use its political capital to advance its agenda. President Obama using the power of Executive Orders has ushered in a long overdue human rights initiative re-establishing the hope of millions of Latinos to live the American Dream," Dr. Gregory Julian, a Pace University Faculty Fellow and political science coordinator in New York, told the Latinos Post.
"So, this is someone who believed that we are a nation of laws, but also a nation of immigrants, and that people who want to staff our labs and start businesses and serve their country ought to be able to do that," said Obama advisor David Plouffe on Fox News Sunday. "Gov. Romney has said he would veto the DREAM Act. Gov. Romney essentially said the 11 million here ought to just go home. They ought to self deport. So, this is someone you're not going to be able to trust."
In Dec. 31, 2011, Romney was asked if he would veto the DREAM Act is passed.
"The answer is yes," said Romney. For those that come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be the contrary to the idea of a nation of law. If I'm the president of the United States I want to end illegal immigration so that we can protect legal immigration. I like legal immigration."
The Obama campaign has a website devoted to Latinos, but doesn't have posted his stance on immigration like Romney.
"The fact that there are discernible differences between Democrats and Republicans on immigration reform based on their party's platforms should be carefully analyzed," Dr. Julian said. "It is the responsibility of the Latino media to generate knowledge of the policies differences between the parties to better inform voters in making their electoral choices."
The Marco Rubio Factor
History, and polls, has shown Latinos to favor Democrats than Republicans. A poll by USA Today showed 66 percent of 1,000 Latino registered voters support Obama than Romney's 25-percent.
"The ideological base of each party greatly influences the image that the party must project for participation of party loyalists to generate the vote in each election," said Dr. Julian. "Simply put, the Democrats are more urban, ethnically and racially diverse and more inclusive as a party."
USA Today added that Romney is in the weakest position among any presidential contender since 1996. GOP strategist Leslie Sanchez noted Romney needs 35 percent of the Latino vote to be as competitive as Obama.
Republicans need a factor that would attract Latino voters, and that factor might come in the form of Marco Rubio.
Rubio is a senator from battleground state Florida, and has received positive support from fellow Republicans and Latinos in the state. He is seen as someone who can boost the Republican image of just another "white-conservative" party. Rubio is also Cuban, which has a large population in the Sunshine State.
Public Policy Polling revealed the addition of Rubio as Romney's vice-president would diminish Obama's lead with Latino voters from 27 percent to 14.
Former Democratic New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson recently told Univision that the addition of Rubio to Romney's campaign could be a threat to Obama's reelection.
"I like him, and yes, I'm afraid of him because I think he is an attractive politician, well prepared. And he is Cuban-American and to me that is positive," said Richardson. "I think he is someone, for example, in states like Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and certainly Florida, could give Romney votes that he doesn't have now."
With a potential Romney-Rubio ticket, Democrats have to come up with further techniques to attract the Latino voters. Obama’s announcement back on June 15 won’t stay in people’s minds forever. Democrats have picked up steam with the announcement of their first Latino keynote speaker for the upcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC).
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has been chosen to deliver the keynote speech. Castro shares similar traits to Obama, graduating from Harvard Law School and were raised by single mothers.
“Being the keynote speaker at the convention this year is an honor I don’t take lightly,” said Castro, in a video message confirmation his selection. “I know I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” noting Obama was the keynote speaker at the 2004 DNC.
According to Dr. Julian, he sees the selection of Castro as an achievement for Latinos.
“I look at it as an achievement for Latinos to project the successes they have gained by diligent work serving the community by public service. Acknowledging the Democrats’ commitment to interpret the US Constitutional rights and responsibilities as an organic set of principles constantly evolving is a necessity for realizing the American Dream of immigrants from Latin America and the world.”
What to Think?
Latinos are diverse in their thinking than campaigners assume. Although the Latino community has shown favorable support to Democrats, there is always a number of the population voting differently.
“Of course the Latino vote is vital in an election. Actualizing the rights of citizenship is vital for our democracy,” noted Dr. Julian. “It is especially vital when Latino's are still struggling for their equality and human rights. Actions like the a nation-wide expansion of the Arizona Law (SB-1070) to carry one's passport and its arbitrary implementation based on profiling should be a powerful incentive for Latinos everywhere in the U.S. to activate themselves for this historic civil rights struggle for dignity.”
“Latinos are emerging as public leaders also; and not just leaders of Latinos,” said Gagain Jr. “Latinos are reaching heights of leading communities that are predominantly white, African-American, Jewish, and other non-Hispanic majority communities as well. Latinos will be a force to be reckoned with in the future political scene of this nation.”
Gagain Jr. noted that candidates “need not speak to Latinos as Latinos; but to Latinos as Americans.”