At Thursdays debate Latinos were out in force for Hillary Clinton. Latinos waved “Hillary Is 44” buttons proudly as they marched outside the debate hall.
Latinos were instrumental in Hillary Clinton’s victory in Nevada and Latinos will play a pivotal role in the 22 primaries to be held on February 5 – Super Tuesday.
How is Hillary Clinton thought of by the Latino community?
The percentage of Hispanics registered to vote in New York City is growing sharply, a new survey finds — and they’re overwhelmingly backing Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary.
The Hispanic federation survey found the five boroughs have the second highest concentration of Hispanic voters in the country — right behind Los Angeles. Three quarters of city Latinos identify themselves as democrats, and among those, Hillary Clinton is leading 66% to just sixteen percent for Barack Obama.
More than 20% of the city electorate is Latino, the survey found, with the number of registered Hispanic voters increasing 40% since 1990. The survey didn’t poll Hispanics outside of New York City — and there are big populations in Westchester, Long Island, and Syracuse that will all be voting in Tuesday’s primary.
How are Obama and Ted Kennedy doing?
Obama also hosted a “Latino Town Hall” in Los Angeles, said he should learn Spanish, and dispatched his top surrogate, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, to Hispanic centers in New Mexico.
The Illinois senator’s scramble for Latino votes is an acknowledgment that his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton, enjoys a major head start in wooing a minority group that could prove crucial in Tuesday’s 22-state showdown. [snip]
Obama is trying to close the gap, matching Clinton’s Spanish-language ads and sending Kennedy to places where many older Latinos revere that family’s name and legacy. As for younger Latinos, Obama hopes his proven ability to energize college-age blacks and whites will apply equally to Hispanics in California and other states voting next week.
But Obama concedes that the Super Tuesday calendar gives him far less time to engage and charm voters than he had in Iowa and South Carolina, where he scored two big victories. [snip]
… [Hillary] won the popular vote in the Jan. 19 Nevada caucus after taking 64 percent of the Hispanic vote to Obama’s 26 percent. If she rolls up similar margins among Hispanics next week, Obama is in for a long night.
Latinos may indeed hold the key to the 2008 election – if they vote.
Traditionally, politicians have talked more about courting Latinos than doing it. But in light of demographic and political trends, “it is not an overstatement to say that Hispanics may hold the key to the presidency in 2008,” Simon Rosenberg, head of a left-of-center think tank called NDN, wrote in a recent study of the general and primary elections.
Latinos make up sizable portions of the Democratic electorate in California, New Mexico and Arizona, and they comprise at least 10 percent of eligible voters in Colorado, New York and New Jersey. All six states vote on Tuesday. Clinton and Obama are campaigning hard there, targeting Latinos for voter turnout, running ads in Spanish and deploying Hispanic officials as surrogates.
Hispanics surpassed blacks as the nation’s largest minority years ago. But their political clout has not kept pace. They make up about 15 percent of the U.S. population but only about 9 percent of eligible voters, largely because many are non-citizens or under 18.
And if their comparatively low turnout rates continue, Hispanics will account for less than 7 percent of the nationwide vote in November, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
But non-Florida Latinos lean strongly Democratic, and their concentration in several Super Tuesday states gives them a significantly larger role in next week’s Democratic primaries and caucuses. That helps Clinton, analysts say.
The New York senator “has worked very hard on the Latino vote for a long time,” said Roberto Suro, a former head of the Pew Hispanic Center who now teaches communications at the University of Southern California. “Even Obama’s supporters have admitted he’s been very late in looking at the Latino vote and doing any specific outreach.”
Kennedy the Obama Latino outreach strategy?
Earlier this week, Kennedy campaigned for him at an Albuquerque Hispanic cultural center, a Santa Fe community college and a popular Spanish-language radio station where the host, El Piolin, heaped praise on the visitor. Obama fans hope Kennedy’s charisma can trump Clinton’s popularity.
But some are doubtful. “I think people are making too much of this Kennedy thing,” Falcon said.
Columbia University political scientist Rodolfo de la Garza, who tracks Hispanic issues, agreed.
“It’s awfully late” for Obama and his surrogates to try to overcome Clinton’s hard-earned loyalty among Hispanics, he said. “The key is, he hasn’t been around Latinos a lot.”
Noting Kennedy’s visit to Santa Fe, de la Garza said, “the Latinos there are a longtime, established, centrist group.” Those words, he noted, fit Hillary Clinton better than Barack Obama.
King Taco on Cesar Chavez Avenue, across from the tattoo parlor and pawn shop, is Hillary Clinton country.
As first lady, she met with locals at a church a couple blocks down the street. As presidential candidate, she stopped in for a taco last month. And while Spanish is the language of this street, nearly all know what Clinton means.
“When I talk to my friends, we all say we’re going to vote for her,” said Sal Arciga, a 25-year-old phone operator having a carne asada burrito a table away from where the senator from New York sat.
What does he think about Barack Obama, running against Clinton for the Democratic nomination?
“O-who?” he asked, putting his burrito down, thinking about it. “I think he needs to come and eat here.”
“O-who? In Nevada he was “Omega”. Latinos don’t know who Obama is – Obama was never around when they needed him.
And that’s essentially what Obama will have to do if he expects to break the Clinton stronghold on the huge and influential Latino vote here in California. He’s got five days to do it, and he made an dramatic attempt Thursday with a rally at a Los Angeles trade college just hours before the final Democratic debate before Tuesday’s primary. The event was billed as an outreach to Latino voters.
The only glitch? Most of the crowd was black.
“Sí se puede!” Obama shouted out to the crowd filling the campus plaza. “Yes we can!”
When the crowd responded to the Latino rallying cry, they did so in English.
Obama, a senator from Illinois, has a lot of work to do
Dolores Huerta is the real “Si Se Puede!” spokeswoman:
Dolores Huerta, 77-year-old co-founder with the late and legendary Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers union, is not worried. She is confident the Latino voters will stay with Clinton.
Obama, she said, “doesn’t really have a relationship with the Latino community.” His use of the term “sí se puede” in speeches and on campaign signs handed out at Thursday’s rally is just a “little shortcut” for Obama to make inroads.
Inroads she believes are dead ends.
She pointed out that while Obama earned the endorsement of the heavily Latino Culinary Workers Union in Nevada, many of the dishwashers and cooks defected to Clinton and created for themselves a term of endearment: “Los Hillarios.” It’s quite a tribute to Clinton, who had trouble pronouncing “sí se puede” at a Salinas rally last week with the United Farm Workers. And Clinton scored perhaps the biggest prize. She was in Salinas – to accept the endorsement of the United Farm Workers – where the slogan began.
At the Obama headquarters in Los Angeles, where handpainted signs that say “Sí se puede” are taped to the walls, one of Obama’s chief Latino endorsers acknowledges the challenge.
But the event, at a mostly Hispanic college in a Hispanic and Asian part of town, also served as a demonstration of the ground Obama has to make up here: The crowd seemed largely made up of Obama supporters from elsewhere in Los Angeles.
“I’ve never seen a lot of white people here before,” said Edwin Morales, 25, who grew up in the neighborhood and now studies at Cal State Los Angeles but came back to see Obama.
Support for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is strong among New York City’s Latino voters. Nearly all of the most prominent state and city Latino politicians have lined up between Mrs. Clinton, who has also received intense coverage in the Spanish-language press. [snip]
“Latinos really connect with Hillary because they feel she has a real sense of compassion for what we are going through,” she said.
One thing the Clinton supporters wanted to dispel was the idea that Latinos wouldn’t vote for Mr. Obama because of historic tension between blacks and Latinos. “This is not about being against Obama,” Mr. Ferrer said. “This is about being for Hillary. I am absolutely living proof that blacks and Latinos can come together in an election coalition. It’s what happened for me in 2001 and 2005.” The strong support he received from both groups was not enough, though, in his two unsuccessful campaigns for mayor (in the abbreviated and subdued campaign after the Sept. 11 attacks, he lost the postponed 2001 Democratic primary to Mark Green, who was then defeated by Mr. Bloomberg.)
“Hillary’s relationship with the Latino community has always been strong,” Mr. Ferrer added. “It’s a long relationship based on real achievements, not something that happened two weeks ago. She’s stood with us on health care, on access to capital. She’s been with us absolutely every step of the way since the White House.”
Why support Hillary? As Congresswoman Maxine Waters has said People in my district have a lot of hope. They go to bed hungry, they have trouble heating their homes but they have a lot of hope that things will get better. They don’t need more hope, they need help.
Hillary Clinton is doing extraordinarily well among Latino voters, compared with rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards. According to a Times/CNN/Politico poll Tuesday, she’s running 2 to 1 ahead of Obama among California Latinos. In the Nevada caucuses, exit polls indicated that she received roughly two out of three Latino votes. Nationally, polls show only a slightly lower level of support. These findings are particularly significant because Latino voters in the general election are projected to total over 9 million, most concentrated in states rich in electoral college votes, such as California and New York, or in key “swing” states, such as New Mexico and New Jersey, in which past voting patterns show that it only takes a small percentage of the Latino vote to push a candidate’s totals up or down.
Pundits are explaining the failure of Obama to ignite the allegiance of the majority of the Latino electorate to date in terms of anti-black prejudices. But there are better explanations.
First, and most obvious, is the name recognition that the Clintons enjoy in the Latino community. Bill Clinton was the first president to have two Latino Cabinet members serve simultaneously. Moreover, during the Clinton years, rising economic tides lifted Latino boats along with many others. Even at the height of the impeachment controversy, polls by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute indicated that Clinton had a 70% approval rating among Latino voters. In contrast, Obama is a relatively new face and voice for all but Illinois Latinos.
Perhaps more significant, Hillary Clinton has done her homework by gaining early endorsements from Latino leaders who have demonstrated influence among their constituencies. Five of the seven Latino congressional representatives in California are on her side. In addition, nationally recognized politicians , such as L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Henry Cisneros, a former San Antonio mayor and U.S. housing secretary, have endorsed Clinton. California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Raul Yzaguirre, who for 30 years headed the National Council of La Raza, are national co-chairmen of her campaign. Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s campaign manager, is the first Latina to run a presidential campaign.
History is one reason why Clinton has such a strong stable of Latino supporters. Many of her endorsers, such as Cisneros, established or consolidated their political networks during President Clinton’s two terms. When younger Latino politicians look at the Clinton campaign organization and ask “What Latinos are in your campaign?” they see well-known, influential faces at the top and at the state and local levels. In contrast, Obama’s campaign has few such stars.
Second, and contrary to machismo stereotypes, Latinos have no problem voting for a woman for high public office. Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-East Los Angeles), Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.) are just a few examples of many breakthrough “female firsts” for Latinos in politics.
In short, Clinton has a decade and a half of experience and ties to prominent Latinos in the regions where most Latinos live. Obama has just two years in national public office and a political base in the Midwest. In his home state of Illinois, Latino voters are about 5% of the electorate. Compare this to the Southwest or Northeast, where Latino voters make up about 18% and 8% respectively.
While Big Media misinforms Americans, Latinos will vote for Hillary.