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Latino Voter Discontent Could Cost Obama 2012 Reelection

By December 20, 2010

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Defeat of the DREAM Act by 41 senators... 36 Republicans, 5 Democrats... poses political problems for Republicans in 2012. But it may not help Democrats, either, as discouraged Latino voters could opt to not vote in the next round of elections.

Discontent presently fills the air in Latino political circles, much of it aimed at President Obama.

Latino community feelings run deep on the subject of immigration reform. Little is more painful to the Latino voter coalition than the vision of beloved, upstanding children, educated in American schools, being deported to countries they barely know because years ago, their parents brought them to the U.S. for a better, poverty-free life.

California pastor Ryan J. Bell reflected prevailing political bitterness over the DREAM Act defeat, at Huffington Post in Still No Room in the Inn:

"It is more than a little ironic that Jesus, within days of his birth, found himself immigrating to Egypt with his family to escape the tyranny of King Herod the Great who ordered the execution of all male children in Judea. Had he grown up in similar circumstances in our country, Jesus would have been the perfect candidate for the DREAM Act...

"Many of the children who come to this country without proper documentation, come... for the same reasons Jesus fled to Egypt -- to escape poverty or physical danger (or both) and to seek better opportunities for themselves and their children...

"... as at least some of the 41 Senators who voted against the DREAM Act sing songs celebrating the birth of Jesus and shower one another with gifts they might bear in mind that Jesus lived and died for precisely the people who would most benefit from legislation like the DREAM Act. In fact, Jesus was one of those immigrant kids himself."

Latino voter dissatisfaction is increasingly turning toward both parties, and President Obama, where Democrats are not actively supportive of immigration reform:

  • In hometown Chicago, President Obama was openly, angrily criticized by discouraged Latino aldermen for lack of progress on immigration issues.
  • In Denver, former Mayor Federico Peņa noted that "political frustration is high among many Latinos in the U.S."
  • In Nevada 2010 elections, Latinos were urged to not vote as means to "punish Democrats for failing to enact immigration reform within the first years of Barack Obama's presidency."
  • In New York, Gabriela Villareal, policy coordinator for the city's Immigration Coalition's 200 member organizations, in The American Prospect, "There is major frustration with the failure of the president and both parties in Congress to move anything forward that would provide humane relief."

Latinos are the "fastest-growing group of swing voters in the country -- are a key constituency both for Democrats and the Obama administration." Per the Pew Hispanic Center poll, "Latinos make up roughly 15 percent of the U.S. population and 9 percent of eligible voters."

Bucking the national trend in 2010, California elected an entirely Democratic slate to fill all eight statewide elected offices. Democrats won thanks to Latinos voters who supported Democrat Jerry Brown over Republican Meg Whitman, drawing "somewhere between 64% and 80%, depending on which poll you believe." Latinos voters comprised 22% of the Golden State electorate.

Likewise, Latino voters sealed Obama's 2008 presidential victory by turning Republican-red states Democratic-blue in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

In 2012, Latino voters will be crucial to reelecting President Obama. Plain and simple, Obama will not have a second term in office without enthusiastic Latino voter turnout at the 2012 polls.

After the DREAM Act was killed, President Obama lamented the defeat as "an incredibly disappointing vote... It is disappointing that common sense did not prevail today... Moving forward, my administration will continue to do everything we can to fix our nation's broken immigration system so that we can provide lasting and dedicated resources for our border security ..."

To an increasing share of Latino voters, President Obama's tepid words likely sounded like so much "blah blah blah." All pretty words, no heartfelt action, no genuine commitment.

Take my word for it as a California Democrat who has watched and admired the smart, growing political power of the Latino community: President Obama must do more than talk the cheap, easy talk to continue to draw Latino voter support.

Obama must be seen as walking the hard walk of humanitarian immigration reform, not solely border security, to be relected in 2012.

Comments

December 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm
(1) Veronica says:

This anger is understandable, but we Latinos have to remember that it was the REPUBLICANS who killed DREAM, not the Democrats. Sitting out the 2012 presidential election will only serve to keep these people in, ensuring that more and more anti-Latino measures will be passed, thereby fostering even more hatred against us than is already present. My fellow Hispanics: not voting is NOT the answer. Let’s send a message to both parties so that we can make ourselves heard! Otherwise, we will continue to be ignored–and elected leaders, especially Republicans, won’t even care to listen.

December 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm
(2) Carmen says:

Deborah, I agree with you 100%, and you are the only writer who actually gets it. I have read many gleeful comments on liberal blogs stating (with certainty!) that the failure of the Dream Act will ensure a big turnout for Obama in 2012. I’m not so sure about that.

Obama broke a campaign promise to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform his first year in office, and even the moderate Dream Act was ignored until the last days of a lame duck session where it was defeated by five votes, with five Democrats voting against it. Now he’s pledged to bring it up next year where it’s certain to fail in the GOP controlled House.

Obama has decided to use immigration as a wedge issue to get Hispanics to turn out for him in 2012, and we’re supposed to vote for him not based on legislative achievement, but because the GOP is racist. He’s using fear.

My feeling about Obama during the primaries was that he took Latino voters for granted. When asked during the Nevada primary debate about his outreach to Latino voters, he stated that we all voted for him in Illinois. That was his attitude then, and it’s his attitude today.

It’s Obama’s responsibility to control the border and to enforce immigration laws without endangering the civil and human rights of US citizens who have brown skin and Spanish surnames. That’s his duty.

If I don’t see some significant progress on this issue, I will stay home in 2012. I am from CA, and I am tired of immigration, and Hispanic people in general, being used as a wedge issue to distract everybody from the banksters who have robbed trillions from the taxpayers. The banksters have received amnesty for their crimes, that’s for sure.

December 26, 2010 at 3:33 pm
(3) Gay American Citizen says:

SERIOUSLY? The only reason people claim immigration needs reform is because so many ILLEGAL ALIENS have shown ZERO respect for America’s laws. The BIGGEST disappointment of 2010 was watching Hispanics complain when Americans didn’t want to reward the offspring of lawbreaking criminal illegal aliens. I couldn’t help but notice and absence of Chinese, Irish, and Haitians, apparently Obama’s idea of “American Immigration only includes hispanics? WTF? What about the rest of the identities in the melting pot? Especially love seeing just how concerned about America hispanics were this year as they pushed the SCHEME act three different times this year, and with each failure the hispanics threatened to “get even” in the next election. Too bad they weren’t equally concerned with the problems other Americans consider a priority, you know, like JOBS and the ECONOMY! I saw what happened in November, yawl aren’t a threat! (LMAO). 11% of the population that accounts for 33% of our prison population isn’t a threat to anybody’s election. Wasn’t last year, wasn’t the three times I heard this crap this year each time the scheme act died, and it won’t be next year. What WILL be happening, Americans will continue seeing hispanics hitching their carts to the “Amnesty for Criminals” bandwagon REPEATEDLY, and trust me when I say that’s more damaging to their stereotype than anything! If the teaparty people are battling the blanket claims of “racist”, the Hispanics will be battling claims of “Criminal”, “Racist”, and “UNAMERICAN”, AND THEY’RE DOING IT TO THEMSELVES! (LMAOROTF)

The LGBT’s know about threatening people with their non-existent unreliable voting block, we stopped that crap 10 years ago, but apparently some people are slower. ;0)

January 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm
(4) Pancho Villa says:

Republicans and Democrats are the same (expletive deleted): the only thing they want from Latinos is their vote. And then they use illegal immigration to cover up a fail state; Three wars iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The trillions of dollars given to the banks and the millions of people that are losing their houses, The Gulf Oil spill was it a one gallon, one million, one billion, one trillion. If racist Republicans and weak Democrats don’t care about their own people, why should they care about Latinos, blacks etc….They want us to fight their stupid wars and they love our food, music, countries for vacation time but they don’t like us.

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