Latina Magazine: Election 2012: The Latino Vote

What a week!  Herman Cain dropped out of the race to become the Republican Presidential nominee.  That means I may soon be out of a job (wink wink to the chicas at NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin where in the segment the "Beauty Shop" I have dished, with other women thought leaders, extensively on the Hermanator--the candidate, the TV star, the allegations).

Unless he lands a reality show à la Kim Kardashian.

Or a Lifetime movie.

Now there's Newt Gingrich, the GOP primary race darling weeks away from the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.  More than TV soundbites, he's the King of the Zingers, has had a few líos de faldas, literally "problem chasing skirts," made a boatload of money "consulting" with Freddie Mac right before the mortgage mess that tanked the global economy, and has a shock of snow white hair.

Hmmm...Maybe he'll give me something--OK--A LOT to talk about...

Then there's President Obama who these days is focusing on the economy and the shrinking middle class.  Finally!  The unemployment rate may have dipped to 8.6% and 120,000 jobs may have been added last month.  But in this economic downturn, Americans have been to Hades and back--and have the third degree burns and the bitemarks from the dogs that guard the gates of Hell to prove it.  Millions are still looking for work, have given up, or are "underemployed"--keeping a roof over the heads, tummies full, and paying for medication through a labyrinthine patchwork of jobs.  This is unacceptable.  This is America.

So what do Latino voters--a growing electoral bloc--think and where do they stand?  I'm gauging the temperature at Latina Magazine, beginning with this snapshot.

As it appears on

Election 2012: The Latino Vote

By: Viviana Hurtado

We’re less than a year out from the 2012 Presidential Election, and Latinos are poised to determine who occupies the White House! Our growing segment of the electorate may register and vote in droves (we hope)—or, unhappy with President Barack Obama’s record on job creation and immigration reform, many may choose to sit the election out.

The President’s challenger has not been chosen so the situation is in flux for Hispanic voters. Still, he is ahead of Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney by a ratio of two-to-one, or 67% to 24%, among registered Latino voters in the 21 states with the highest Hispanic concentration. This is significantly less than the 31% of Latino support the 2008 GOP presidential nominee Senator John McCain received.

But here’s the rub.  Latino voters are upset by the lack of immigration reform, which Obama promised as a candidate.  That combined with the skyrocketing numbers of deportations have left many disillusioned.  More than a million illegal immigrants have been removed during his three years in office, due in part to the controversial Secure Communities (SCOMM) program that requires local law enforcement to share the fingerprints of detained undocumented workers with the feds.

Then there’s the economy.  Hispanic voters have been disproportionately hit on the President’s watch: unemployment in the Latino community stands at 11.4% in comparison to the 9% national rate; in 2010 6.1 million Latino children lived in poverty—more than any other racial or ethnic group; and Hispanic household wealth fell 66%, from $18,359 in 2005 to $6,235 in 2009.


Like the President’s other 2008 supporters, this economic pain has sapped Latinos’ enthusiasm.

The Republican Party still has significant liabilities to overcome to win over the Latino vote. Obama did inherit the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression from his GOP predecessor George W. Bush, and an anti-immigrant tenor of the Republican debates has been interpreted by many as anti-Hispanic.

Will the Republican hopefuls let up on immigration before the primaries begin in January?  Not likely, given that these voters are more conservative than their general election counterparts.

Will Latinos cast ballots en masse for the future Republican ticket?  Probably not.  But low Hispanic voter turnout could hurt President Obama in a tight race, especially in key Southwest battle ground states such as Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada.

To read more of Viviana’s politics pieces in Latinaclick here.

For Election 2012, which way are you leaning and why?