Monday, June 1, 2015

FJM style post: A Drive for Swing State Votes Has Colorado's Latinos Listening

Because I have extreme writer's block, I am doing a FJM style post on an article I read recently.  If you are not familiar with FJM, please acquaint yourself.  Maybe I'll do more of these as we get closer to election 2016.

Under the red roof of Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant, Elizabeth Oxley and her 23-year-old daughter, Leticia, work seven days a week, from breakfast to last call, to keep pace with the price of their family’s American dream. There is a $250,000 renovation on their restaurant to pay off. Mortgage bills. College loans.

We're off to a start.

“I cannot put my head up,” said Ms. Oxley, 58, who was born in a mountain village in Peru and came here decades ago and overstayed a tourist visa. She spent years working in restaurants and food stands, and now, as a citizen, she is part of a Latino boom reshaping life and politics in once-reliably conservative corners of this state.

Ms. Oxley embraced an America embodied by the local Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Party. 

Ahh yes. The America embodied by the Republicans who call children born to women such as Ms. Oxley as having an "anchor baby."  Or the party who authored a bill that would deny American citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants.  So I'm glad she's ready to tell her 23 year old daughter that she does not deserve American citizenship.

Her daughter, the first in the family born in the United States and more socially liberal, is bound for design school in Manhattan and mostly votes for Democrats. 

So no, she did not tell her daughter that?

But some of their ideas do not fit neatly into party dogma. The elder Ms. Oxley says undocumented immigrants deserve legal status, 

She breaks ways with the Republicans on immigration? What a shocker!

and the younger sometimes chafes at paying into a social safety net when she cannot afford to get drinks with friends.

Then don't get drinks. Do we not realize that we are living in a society?  Aren't Republicans and other conservatives lecturing us on hardwork and not wasting money?

The Oxleys’ restaurant sits on an immigrant-rich avenue — sprinkled with taquerias, money-wiring services and Mexican markets — in a swing state that is likely to become a laboratory for the aspirations and anxieties of Republicans and Democrats in next year’s presidential election. Both parties are planning an aggressive courtship of Latino voters, with Democrats seeking to cement their hold on this critical bloc and Republicans trying to chip away at that advantage, perhaps by nominating a candidate like Senator Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, or Jeb Bush, the Spanish-speaking former governor of Florida.

It's odd that we don't hear pundits talk about how a white male candidate is going to reach the white male demographic.  As soon as there is a woman or a minority, they automatically will appeal to that minority group.

This month, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced an immigration policy in Nevada (27 percent Hispanic) that calls for a path to citizenship, and said she would support and expand on President Obama’s immigration actions. Mr. Bush has made a number of high-profile appearances before Latinos, including one at a town-hall meeting in Puerto Rico.

I was told by reliable media sources that Hillary has not announced any policy ideas.  ANYWAY.  Great comparison author of this piece.  Hillary announced a path to citizenship and an expansion of policies.  But Jeb had a town hall meeting in Puerto Rico.  So you know, it's the same thing.

Latinos in Colorado and across the country vote Democratic by more than 60 percent, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and were a pillar of Mr. Obama’s coalition in the last two presidential elections. But Cory Gardner, a Republican, unseated Mark Udall, the Democrat, in the Senate race in Colorado last year after breaking with Republicans on some immigration votes. And in Aurora, Representative Mike Coffman, a Republican who once supported denying automatic citizenship to the American-born children of unauthorized immigrants, held on to his seat in a district that was redrawn to become 20 percent Hispanic.

Yes, they vote more Democratic.  It's for other reasons beside immigration policy but whatevs.  We can't be bothered to do any research for this piece.  Gardner also went away from the Republican Party calling for birth control to be available over the counter as well as backing away from the unpopular personhood amendment.  Also, Udall ran a bad campaign and it was a non-Presidential election.  I'm sure he broke with Republicans on some immigration votes (I know he broke away and did not vote for defunding DACA).  Mike Coffman, on the other hand, won his district in 2012 after it was redrawn (48-45) and then won again in 2014 (52-43).  In Adams County (23% Hispanic) Coffman won 46-45.  In more white Douglas County (93% White), he won 60-35.  But I'm sure he's appealing to Latino voters.

Republicans say they revived their fortunes in part by turning away from the talk about “amnesty” and “illegals” embodied by immigration hard-liners like Tom Tancredo, who held Mr. Coffman’s seat for a decade until 2009. The party lost Latino voters by more than 40 points in 2012, surveys showed. To change that, moderate Republicans said, candidates have to stop talking about border fences and self-deportation and plant roots in immigrant neighborhoods....

Still, Republicans in Colorado say candidates who support even modest immigration changes can bridge a gap between Republicans and Hispanic voters, and shore up support that has eroded in election after election since George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. In 2012, Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of Latino votes, according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center.

They point to Mr. Coffman. Facing a suddenly diverse voting bloc and a fierce challenge from Democrats, he softened his stance on immigration and learned Spanish, one of 120 languages spoken in Aurora’s public schools.

He and his opponent — Andrew Romanoff, a former speaker of the Colorado House — debated in Spanish. Mr. Coffman personally called hundreds of Spanish-speaking voters, said his campaign manager, Tyler Sandberg. Democrats called Mr. Coffman’s shift an insincere conversion, but in November, he handily won re-election.

Congrats Coffman, you were able to learn one of the 120 different languages spoken in your district's schools.  I'm sure that signaled your newfound stance on immigration.  I wonder if there were any other factors in Coffman's re-election?  Such as a heavily contested Senate election and mid-term elections are more Conservative in general.  Let's just have one data point and a few anecdotes and we can expand to a whole article.

Good job New York Times.

These days, Mr. Coffman regularly meets with Latino church leaders and immigrant groups when he comes home, and is still taking Spanish lessons. This year, the state’s Republican Party set up a table at the Cinco de Mayo festival in Denver.

“They saw that out of respect for the community that I had made the effort to reach out,” The Associated Press quoted Mr. Coffman as saying this month at Paxia, a Mexican restaurant in Denver, where he and the chairman of the Republican National Committee had stopped to promote their party’s successes.

Yes, I'm sure they saw the respect for the community by setting up a table at the Cinco de Mayo festival. Christ. 

Still, Democrats in Colorado have deep ties to the Latino community. Of the state’s 11 Latino state legislators, just two are Republicans. And in recent years, Democrats have passed laws giving driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to unauthorized immigrants. This year, Republicans controlling one chamber of the General Assembly tried to gut funding for the driver’s license program. The debate showcased the divide between conservative and moderate Republicans on how their party talks to, and about, immigrants.

Yes, they do.  This doesn't make your entire article pointless....

But low Latino turnout in the 2014 midterm elections also highlighted a peril for Democrats. The United States is now about 17 percent Hispanic, but at the ballot box, only 10 percent of voters were Hispanic in the last presidential election. The numbers are even lower in off-year elections. In Colorado, which is 21 percent Latino, only about 14 percent vote in presidential-year elections, and the numbers are lower in off years.

Across the country, Latino turnout in 2014 was five to 20 points lower than average turnout, according to Latino Decisions, which studies Latino political participation.

Of all the Coloradans who went to the polls last November to vote in hotly contested races for Senate and governor, just 8.5 percent were Latinos, the group said. Had they voted with average rates of voter participation, some 52,000 more Latino votes would have been cast.

But doesn't this?  The data points that were brought as successful were Gardner and Coffman and only 8.5% of the votes were Latinos in a state where 21% is Latino.  Doesn't this prove a point that voter mobilization is more important than appealing to a minority group or pretending that Republican policies are accepted by the Latino community?  If 52,000 more votes were cast, could we be looking at a different election?  Udall lost by a total of 39,000 votes.  With over 24,000 voters choosing Raul Acosta as their choice instead of Udall or Gardner.  But whatever. 

But Ignacio Leon, one of the owners of the restaurant where Mr. Coffman appeared this month, said he was unmoved by the politicians. He said that he cast his first ballot ever, for Mr. Obama, in 2008, but that he had been disgusted by the wobbly economy and inaction on immigration. Next year, he said, neither party would get his vote.

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Republican or Democrat. I don’t want to vote. It doesn’t interest me now.”

And then we end with political nihilism.