Immigration Not The Deciding Factor in 2012 U.S. Hispanic Vote

By , November 27th, 2012 | Election, Government, Hispanic, Immigration, New York | 3 Comments

Latino voters overwhelming cast their ballot for President Barack Obama over Governor Mitt Romney in the November 2012 Presidential Election. The New York Times reports Obama was handed 71 percent of their votes and only 27 percent given to Romney. The Daily Mail reports that the Democrats gained four percent more from the Obama’s last round with the Republicans in 2008, up from is up from 67 percent. Yet, the reasoning why is not as decisive.

As early at 1989, people with their eyes on the political game knew that Hispanic voters had the potential to influence the outcome of an election. USA Today reported on August 9, 1989 that the growing Hispanic population as well as residing in densely together foreshadowed a rise in their political power.

In 2005, an article in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences examined connections between “Latino identity and political party identification.” They determined that Hispanics were much more likely considered themselves Republicans than Democrats due to their Hispanic family values, Hispanic pride and trust in politicians.

A June 2012 Gallup Poll of U.S. Hispanics ranked immigration as fifth in importance of issues for registered voters. The Republican cornerstones of unemployment, economic growth and their version of health care ranked higher. This allowed the GOP to avoid immigration by speaking to Hispanic voters about what the polls said where important while not disenfranchising their base over immigration policies like the CNN Latino Poll that found 77 percent said the U.S. should let illegal immigrants become citizens.

– Most Important Issues to U.S.Hispanics, by Tom Arana-Wolfe   –   Source: http://www.gallup.com/poll/155327/hispanic-voters-put-issues-immigration.aspx

Unfortunately, Republicans misjudged the Hispanic vote.

“Immigration is just one issue. I think in the final vote truly what had a much bigger weight was the economy and the place of the role government role in people’s lives,” explains Claudio Iván Remeseira, founder and director of the Hispanic New York Project. “It was clear that if Romney won, he would cap down and eliminate lots of programs in education, health and social security and that was a very important part of the equation.”

The anti-immigration rhetoric that was drummed up during the Republican Primary season also influenced the Hispanic vote. The term “illegal alien” is commonly used when discussing immigration. However, Charles Garcia pointed out on CNN that people are using the phrase as a slur.

“The Hispanic community is negatively impacted by such phrase because is a derogatory term,” says Ana H. Giraldo, Bilingual Community Advocate of the Family Service League, servicing Long Island, New York. “Many community members even when they are legal residents and citizens still experience such name-calling. The impact it has on the Hispanic community is that many refuse to access the services or ask for help because they think they might be at risk.”

“It was important to disengage them from the Republicans,” states Remeseira. “It was much more relevant for Latino voters the anti-Latino rhetoric of the Republicans. That had much more weight in their decision than whatever broken promises President Obama might have incurred.”
Feature photo credit: jvoves via photopin cc

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