The Demographic Time-Bomb
Nov 8, 2012Posted by Chuck Rocha
The Latino vote was the single most important factor in the 2012 election. Latinos almost single-handedly delivered President Obama a second term, ensuring victories in both the popular vote and the Electoral College. Latinos were an important factor in races all across America, from Colorado to Nevada, and from Florida to Virginia. Latinos delivered a record turnout, dramatically increasing their participation from 2008. National polls revealed that an overwhelming 71% of Latinos voted for the President.
A closer look into battleground states reveals numbers that are even more striking. In Colorado, the Latino vote favored Obama by 90%. In Florida, while most political pundits had already given the state to Romney, the non-Cuban Latino vote is a major reason Obama may pull out the victory (He is currently 50,000 votes ahead).
The Latino vote and voice was seen and heard from every corner of the country. As a result, the Latino community will have more representation in Congress. Overall, 30 Latinos won their races for the U.S. House of Representatives. Given the additional 3 Latinos who will be in the Senate, the total number of Latinos that will be in the 113th Congress is 33 - an encouraging (and growing) number.
In addition to its growth, it is also clear that the Latino vote is becoming much more progressive. Two glaring examples in Tuesday's election include congressional races in Texas' 23rd and Florida's 26th Congressional Districts.
I am from Texas, and a proud ''Mexican Redneck.'' There are many other Latinos in Texas who relate to politics through the eyes of their community and the values they learned growing up in the Lone Star State. In Texas’ 23rd Congressional District - one of the largest Congressional District in the United States, spanning from San Antonio to El Paso - there were two Mexican-American Latinos running against each other who could not be more different. The Republican incumbent, Quico Canseco, was a representative who had spent his time in office towing the Republican party line - supporting Arizona-style immigration reform, supporting anti-union policies, and attempting to privatize social security. His Democratic challenger on the other hand, Pete Gallego, supported a path to citizenship for immigrants, had a 100% positive labor voting record, and is pro-environment. Latinos - who represent 70% of the district - took notice of the contrasts, and Pete won this race by over 9,500 votes.
In the ''Rumba'' part of the country - Miami - a similar story played out. There were two Cuban-Americans running against each other in a heavily Latino district. The Republican incumbent, David Rivera, was also a party loyalist on immigration, social security and labor. Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger, Joe Garcia, is an outspoken labor leader, progressive on immigration issues, and committed to protecting social security. Joe won this election based on these values – again demonstrating the growing progressiveness of the Latino vote.
Whether ''Redneck'' or ''Rumba,'' Latinos are different across the country. Nevertheless, we share many values, beliefs and customs. Many of our political positions are based on how we were raised and the community we represent. We are proud of our culture, and we demand respect from our elected Representatives. As the demographics of the country continue to shift, the Latino vote will continue to grow, becoming a larger and more important part of the electorate.
It is time for elected officials to recognize this reality - and work to pass public policies that are not only good for Latinos, but for all minorities as well. At the end of the day, it does not matter who you are, for we are all Americans - and we deserve a government that resembles and represents the values of the people who elect it.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for National Policy.
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