How Latinos and Big Labor Saved the Dems

November 4th, 2010 at 2:10 pm | 29 Comments |

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There are lots of places in the country where Republicans had a great election day and have a bright future, but not the nation’s largest state, California. In several Western states, the combination of Latino voters and a still potent and highly competent labor movement that draws on the energy and numbers of those voters provided Democrats with a—lazy political cliché coming right now—firewall against even worse losses on Tuesday.

Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, and Michael Bennet benefited.  Arguably, labor and Latinos were the difference between victory and defeat for all of them. As David Frum noted on election night, Latinos are very much interested in bread and butter issues, and merely focusing on resolving the immigration issue does not guarantee their support.  But, for many Latinos of Mexican and Central American origin, it does appear to be a threshold issue of fairness and equity.  And even white people in California oppose a punitive approach.  Despite the fact that 62% of voters in California were white and 22% Latino, by 67-24, voters said illegal immigrants should be offered legal status, rather than deported

Unlike much of the rest of the country, the California electorate was demographically similar to that of 2008.  Although the 18-29 vote was way down, slightly less white voters (62%) went to the polls this year than did so two years ago (63%).  But California’s union density remains substantial (over 17%, post-recession, 40% higher than the national figure, and, in absolute terms, the highest  in the country at 2.5 million), And the union’s superb ground game—especially in the vote heavy Los Angeles and San Francisco regions—contributed to an increase in the Latino vote over 2008 from 18% to 22%.  Meg Whitman beat Brown among white people by 4%, and Carly Fiorina beat Boxer in the same cohort by 9%.  But Brown and Boxer each won the 22% of voters who are Latino by about 35%.  (Unfortunately, California exit polls did not break out the union or union household vote).

Nevada was an even starker example of the Latino/Labor difference.  Sharon Angle carried white Nevadans by 12%.  But Reid won Latinos—15% of the vote—by 38% according to the exit polls, or, according to other analysts who questioned the methodology of the exit polls, by an astounding 90-10.  And union households voted at an 18% clip and Reid won that cohort—heavily overlapping with Latinos — also by 38%, while merely breaking even with Angle among non-union household voters, 48-48.  The Culinary Workers Union, based in Las Vegas (mostly housekeepers working in the large casinos on Las Vegas’s “Strip”), is probably the single most organized and potent political force in the state, and was critical in bring Reid back from the dead.

In Colorado, we have the least data, but it is still suggestive.  It should be noted that 54% of Colorado voters thought that Ken Buck was “too extreme,” a catastrophic number even in a state where a 41% plurality supported the Tea Party.Yet, despite the extremist label, Buck still carried the 81% of the electorate that identified as white by 3%. 13% of Colorado voters were Latino, but the exit polls did not break down this vote.  However, the obvious inference is that Bennet carried this vote by a wide enough margin to overcome Buck’s edge among the much larger white cohort.  (Union density in Colorado is just 7%, well below the national figure.  Unions did not play as significant a role here as they did in California or Nevada).

Finally, it’s important to remember that, despite the significance of the Latino vote in each of these states, it still numbered far below its percentage of the populations in each state—Latinos voted at about 60% of their state numbers, while whites continued to vote above their numbers in each state.  While Republicans and conservatives can and will do their best to oppose the legal right of American workers to organize unions, they can have little effect on the birth rates of Latinos already in this country:  about 25% of one year old babies are Latino.  And these are overwhelmingly from Mexico and Central America, and do not share the views, culture or lexicon of Cuban-Americans like the gifted Marco Rubio of Florida.

So Rubio will not be the deus ex machine who brings a significant number of Latino voters into the Republican fold. Republicans had a great day on Tuesday.  But an incoherent, self-refuting political philosophy is only one of their problems going forward.

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    “So Rubio will not be the deus ex machine who brings a significant number of Latino voters into the Republican fold. ”

    I used to find it interesting that Republicans often think that merely by selecting an ethnic minority member as their candidate they can attract large numbers of voters from that ethnic group. However, I now see it as simply another manifestation of the Republican lack of concern for policy and governance.

    Republicans seem to think minorities will ignore all the racist rhetoric and campaign ads from the GOP and simply become intoxicated by the ethnicity of a lone GOP minority candidate.

  • Churl

    Racism is, I guess, anything that a member of La Raza does not like.

  • abj

    Clearly, Angle’s harsh anti-illegal immigration ads were an epic fail. Hopefully this lesson won’t be lost on future candidates.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Churl: “Racism is, I guess, anything that a member of La Raza does not like.”

    I’m not too familiar with the particular likes and dislikes of La Raza, but I am familiar with Sharon Angle’s racist campaign ad as well as the history of Lee Atwater and his legacy on GOP campaigning.

    I’m also very familiar with the irresistable urge of many of those on the Right to try to escape responsibility for racist comments and ads by claiming those of us who call the GOP on its racist tactics call all GOP tactics racist and, therefore, there’s no merit to the claim. Of course, this mindless approach fails to take into account all the other GOP ads and tactics that none of us ever call racist.

    People who wish not to be accused of committing racist acts should simply stop committing racist acts. It really isn’t that difficult.

  • Churl

    Ah, Spartacus, you might find it interesting to learn a bit more about the likes, dislikes, and aspirations. I would find it interesting to hear what you think about what you have learned.

    What I further find interesting is how lefties are able to transmute criticism of illegal immigration (Do you get the “illegal” part yet? “Illegal”, you know, as in “against the law”.) into racism.

  • TerryF98

    Churl is a troll to be ignored.

  • pnumi2

    If you think that the uptighty-righties’ problem with Latinos is edgy, wait a few years until the Chinese, with all their trillions of dollars come over here, to buy up all the real estate and businesses they can before those dollars become pennies.

  • TerryF98

    “If you think that the uptighty-righties’ problem with Latinos is edgy, wait a few years until the Chinese, with all their trillions of dollars come over here, to buy up all the real estate and businesses they can before those dollars become pennies.”

    At current prices they could buy the other half of the country they don’t already own!

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Churl: “What I further find interesting is how lefties are able to transmute criticism of illegal immigration (Do you get the “illegal” part yet? “Illegal”, you know, as in “against the law”.) into racism.”

    Admittedly, I’m no Madison Ave. marketing wiz, but I fail to see the purpose of placing a 20-year old Latino who appears to be a gang member in an ad that criticizes Harry Reid for giving social security benefits to illegal immigrants. Is that 20-year Latino gang member an illegal immigrant? Is he a social security recipient?

    Funny how many people on the Right seem to require a signed attestation by someone wearing a hooded white robe confessing his racist conduct before acknowledging that there are people who still commit racist acts, unless, of course, we’re talking about racism directed at white men.

  • Xunzi Washington

    “Funny how many people on the Right seem to require a signed attestation by someone wearing a hooded white robe confessing his racist conduct before acknowledging that there are people who still commit racist acts, unless, of course, we’re talking about racism directed at white men.”

    Amen, you’ve got a witness here, brother.

  • Diomedes

    The Reid win was another great example of how out of touch the GOP is with the demographic change going on in the nation. Which is exactly what Frum has been saying about the future of the party.

  • andydp

    Face it: If you had a bunch of guys dressed like a caricature hood from the old “Untouchables” series the Italian American voters (like me) would be up in arms. I distinctly remember Francis Coppola doing a two minute intro before the Godfather movie played on TV the first time. He explained this was a tiny minority of Italians and that 99.999% of Italians did not do this. Is your impression of New Jersey one of decent, hard working people like my in laws or one like the Sopranos ?

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of immigration. This has everything to do with how people are depicted. The Angle ad was nothing but a thinly veiled scare ad stereotyping Latinos for a crowd that probably has never seen a Latino, except doing their beds in a motel.

    Like the Godfather movie example, if you have extremely limited exposure to a particular group you will accept a movie or an ad as the truth.

  • armstp

    Eugene,

    This post is fairly meaningless. It not necessarily true that Latinos saved the Dems. What you are simply pointing out is that in several states like CA and NV Latinos make up a large percentage of the voting base and Dems win a larger percentage of that vote. So what. We can say angry middle age men in the south saved the Republicans. These are fairly meaningless statements.

    I would also add to the commentary above that Angle ran the most racist ads in the election and there were many others right across the country. It is funny NV is not even a border state. Talk about completely driving away the Latino vote. She made the calculation that she would get more racist white votes versus the ones that she would lose from the Latinos. I think that math does not work anymore and will work even less, given that Latinos will form the majority of these populations in these states in the future. Just shows you how backwards the GOP is.

    Ok, I will give the GOP credit for winning this election, but it remains to be seen if lies, violence, racism, etc. will work in the future. Your white male vote is shrinking Mr. GOP.

  • JohnnyA

    It seems to me the author got the cause and effect backward. The Republican party has come to be associated with the ‘racially coded appeals’ Frum wrote about a few weeks ago and they’ve done very little to dispel the perception of racism. Personally, I suspect some of the offenders aren’t really racists, but are taking advantage of the whipped up public opinion to take cheap shots at a minority group for political points. Not that that’s much better.

    I’m sure it was not just hispanic folks that found some candidates behavior disturbing enough to vote for the other candidate or not vote out of protest.

  • armstp

    ‘I screwed you all, but thanks for blaming it on the black guy’ George Bush (Nov. 4, 2010)

  • Churl

    SpartacusIsNotDead // Nov 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    “Admittedly, I’m no Madison Ave. marketing wiz, but I fail to see the purpose of placing a 20-year old Latino who appears to be a gang member in an ad that criticizes Harry Reid for giving social security benefits to illegal immigrants. Is that 20-year Latino gang member an illegal immigrant? Is he a social security recipient?”

    I’m no marketing whiz either, but I can understand that citizens might get upset if Harry Reid in fact approves of giving illegal immigrants Social Security benefits.

  • Rabiner

    churl:

    “I’m no marketing whiz either, but I can understand that citizens might get upset if Harry Reid in fact approves of giving illegal immigrants Social Security benefits.”

    Except it wasn’t true.

  • Churl

    Rabiner, if the allegation about Harry wanting to give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens wasn’t true, then the ad was a lie.

    So, I’m curious, did Reid or the Democrats say anything one way or the other about benefits for illegal immigrants?

  • Churl

    Rabiner, here is a link to someone who thinks that Reid was at least toying with the idea of benefits for illegals.

    http://www.examiner.com/civil-rights-in-phoenix/proposed-immigrant-amnesty-bill-may-include-social-security-benefits

    What do you think?

  • sinz54

    Let me explain how this game is played:

    Wins in state Houses give GOP the advantage in redistricting process
    By Shane D’Aprile – 11/04/10 02:31 PM ET

    Republicans are poised to control next year’s redistricting process, which could solidify the party’s House majority over the next decade.

    Major state legislative gains have the Republican Party poised to control next year’s redistricting process, which could solidify its majority in the House for the next decade.

    The GOP flipped control of at least 19 state legislative chambers Tuesday, a result that gives the party a commanding redistricting edge.

    Republicans head into next year’s round of reapportionment with total control of the process in four critical states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Texas, where redistricting expert Michael McDonald said he expects a “no-holds-barred” approach from the GOP.

    “The state governments can basically do whatever they want in these places,” said McDonald, a professor at George Mason University and Brookings Institution fellow. “It’s really an embarrassment of riches for Republicans in these battleground states where they won virtually every competitive race they could win.”

    Take Ohio, where Republicans knocked off five House Democratic incumbents Tuesday — Reps. Mary Jo Kilroy, John Boccieri, Steve Driehaus, Charlie Wilson and Zack Space. On top of that, the GOP reclaimed the Ohio state House and took the races for both governor and secretary of state.

    That gives Republicans a lock on the process in a state that is predicted to lose two seats after the 2010 census is complete. Pennsylvania and Michigan are also projected to lose seats, while Texas may gain three or four.

    Republicans have control of the process in several other states that are likely to see the most upheaval next year. According to the latest census projections, 18 states are poised to either gain or lose seats.

    “Of the 18 states that will gain or lose seats, Republicans hold majorities in 10 states,” the chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), Ed Gillespie, wrote in a memo on Tuesday’s results.
    http://tinyurl.com/2bk9ppp

    Thanks to this election and the 2010 Census, the Republicans can now nearly run the table on redistricting in the Midwest. That means that they can reapportion districts to break up the power of Dem voting blocs like minorities and organized labor, and to concentrate the power of Republican voters, giving Republicans more safe districts at the expense of the Dems.

    Whoever controls reapportionment can influence the outcome of elections for the next ten years (until the next Census).

  • TerryF98

    Sinz, It’s called gerrymandering and why am I not surprised that you approve, your morals are no better that a piece of roadkill.

  • Rabiner

    Sinz:

    “That means that they can reapportion districts to break up the power of Dem voting blocs like minorities and organized labor, and to concentrate the power of Republican voters, giving Republicans more safe districts at the expense of the Dems.”

    Expect a lot of lawsuits if they try to diminish minority political power through gerrymandering as the courts most likely won’t allow for it.

  • CD-Host

    That means that they can reapportion districts to break up the power of Dem voting blocs like minorities and organized labor, and to concentrate the power of Republican voters, giving Republicans more safe districts at the expense of the Dems.

    Be a bit careful here. If it is a swing district they can peel off some dems into a concentrated district or they can break up districts to create swing districts if they are surrounded by safe Republican districts but they can’t do both at the same time.

    So pick an example state like Ohio (the reps are 110th this hasn’t been updated yet):

    Ohio 1st D+1 Democratic
    Ohio 2nd R+13 Republican
    Ohio 3rd R+5 Republican
    Ohio 4th R+15 Republican
    Ohio 5th R+9 Republican
    Ohio 6th R+2 Democratic
    Ohio 7th R+7 Republican
    Ohio 8th R+14 Republican
    Ohio 9th D+10 Democratic
    Ohio 10th D+8 Democratic
    Ohio 11th D+32 Democratic
    Ohio 12th D+1 Republican
    Ohio 13th D+5 Democratic
    Ohio 14th R+3 Republican
    Ohio 15th D+1 Democratic
    Ohio 16th R+4 Democratic
    Ohio 17th D+12 Democratic
    Ohio 18th R+7 Democratic

    You want to add Republicans to the 1st district to make it less swingy. You can pull some Reps off the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th you want to add to the 6th. You would want to add dems (i.e. concentrate) to the 9th, 10th, 11th etc…

  • CD-Host

    Expect a lot of lawsuits if they try to diminish minority political power through gerrymandering as the courts most likely won’t allow for it.

    Hell no. Republicans and minorities are 100% on the same side on this one. Minorities like heavily gerrymandered districts since then minorities are safe. Republicans like it because it ends up wasting voters. Its Democrats who want to break up minority districts. If Republicans have their way you have nothing but highly concentrated Democratic districts and all other Democrats spread out in Republican districts.

  • Rabiner

    Cd-Host:

    Sinz was referring to doing the opposite. Breaking up minority blocks so they couldn’t win Congressional districts through gerrymandering. Not creating even more concentrated districts.

  • CD-Host

    Sinz was referring to doing the opposite. Breaking up minority blocks so they couldn’t win Congressional districts through gerrymandering. Not creating even more concentrated districts.

    Then he doesn’t understand how to gerrymander properly. That’s what Democrats would do behind closed doors, the exact opposite of what Republicans want to do. Republicans would love for the congressional Black caucus to have an extra 10 seats in exchange for 40 more Republican seats.

  • Rabiner

    CD-Host:

    I know but that didn’t seem to be what he was implying in his earlier comment.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Churl: “I’m no marketing whiz either, but I can understand that citizens might get upset if Harry Reid in fact approves of giving illegal immigrants Social Security benefits.”

    Absolutely. Whether to give Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants is a totally legitimate public policy issue and reasonable, well-intentioned people can come down on either side of the issue.

    So why muddy the waters with a racist ad? If the GOP has good intentions and wants to discuss this issue without being called racists, then it should do so without engaging in racist conduct.

  • JohnnyA

    Well said, Spartacus