GUEST BLOGGER SERIES: Maria Cardona
“Elections a Triumph for Latinos”
By Maria Cardona
Nov. 2 was a victory for Latinos.
In several key contests, including those in California, Nevada and Colorado, the Latino vote was decisive for Democrats.
And Republicans have themselves to blame for this. Many Republican candidates ran terrible ads against Latino immigrants.
Those ads were effective, all right.
Coupled with the new anti-immigrant law in Arizona and Republicans efforts to duplicate it in several states, the ads drove Latinos to the polls — but to vote for Democrats.
Immigration is not the top issue for Latinos. The economy and jobs still top our concerns, especially with an unemployment rate at 12.6 percent for Latinos, as compared with 9.6 percent for the population overall.
But, according to exit polls, immigration was the second most important issue for the majority of Latino voters, especially those who felt compelled to come out to vote in overwhelming numbers to repudiate the misguided tactics of many Republicans.
This was especially gratifying since there was even an attempt by a conservative Republican group to air ads telling Latino voters to stay home and not vote. The great news is that it backfired.
Latinos made their voices heard, and several high-profile Democrats owe their victories in no small measure to Latino voters (Estas escuchando Harry Reid?).
The question is, will Republicans learn their lesson and comprehend that discrediting the great contributions of Latinos in this country does not work? Republicans with presidential aspirations should recognize that they must talk in a much more productive and respectful way to the Latino community. No Republican is likely to win the presidency without at least 45 percent of the Latino vote, and right now, Republicans are barely breaking the mid-twenties.
Democrats, meanwhile, will have to continue putting points on the board on the issues that Latinos care about.
They did so with health care reform, giving 9 million Latinos health care coverage that they didn’t have before.
They did so by expanding Pell grants, giving hundreds of thousands of Latino students a chance to apply for a grant to go to college.
They did so by passing sixteen tax cuts that will help small businesses, since so many Latinos are entrepreneurs.
And, yes, they must do so on immigration.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already promised he will bring up the DREAM Act during the lame duck session. This bill would give children of undocumented immigrants a chance at higher education and a path to citizenship.
If Democrats keep delivering, Latinos will reward them.
If Republicans keep obstructing and scapegoating, Latinos will punish them.
That’s one of the lessons of the elections.