August 17, 2008


Latino voting bloc rises at a bad time for black pols (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, 8/17/08, Philadelphia Inquirer)

In the next couple of months, presumptive presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain will dump millions into Spanish-language ads, pitches, and pleas for votes on Spanish-language stations. When, not if, Democrats and Republicans cut an immigration-reform deal, one of its features almost certainly will include some legalization plan that within a few years will turn thousands more Latino immigrants into vote-casting U.S. citizens. Democrats and Republicans will pour even more time, money and personnel into courting Latino voters. The potential political gain from a massive outreach effort to Latinos is far greater than putting the same resources into courting black voters.

It's sound political reasoning. That effort worked for Republicans in 2004, when Bush got nearly 40 percent of the Latino vote. The Democrats, meanwhile, maintain a solid lock on the black vote. In every election since 1964, blacks have given more than 80 percent to 90 percent of their votes to the Democrats. They will give even more of their vote to Obama this election.

With the tantalizing prospect of a small, nonetheless important, segment of newly enfranchised Latino voters going Republican, there's no political incentive for Republicans to do more to get the black vote. That even includes their relentless pursuit of black evangelicals. Hispanic evangelical churches have an estimated 20 million members, and those numbers are growing yearly. According to a survey by the Hispanic Churches in American Public Life project, the majority of Latino evangelicals are conservative, pro-family, antiabortion and antigay marriage. Latino evangelicals are GOP-friendly, and they have political clout. They got several mainstream evangelical groups to back the Senate compromise immigration-reform bill. And while the National Association of Evangelicals stopped short of backing the Senate bill, it still urged "humane" immigration law.

The leap in Latino voting strength comes at a bad time for black politicians. Although the number of black elected officials has held steady in state offices and in Congress, the spectacular growth of prior years has flattened out. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reported only a marginal increase after the 2004 elections in the number of black elected officials, mostly in a handful of Deep South states and Illinois.

Politicians already are de-emphasizing traditional black issues. Obama and McCain have been virtually mute on miserably failing inner-city schools, soaring black unemployment, prison incarceration, and the HIV/AIDS crisis that has torn black communities.

The new reality is that immigration, both legal and illegal, has drastically changed the ethnic and political landscape. As whites fade into a minority, the great fear is that blacks could fade just as fast in numbers and political power.

...of the Democratic Party work out for you?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 17, 2008 7:14 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus