Latinos Could Be the Deciding Vote in 2012

November 6th, 2012 is a very important day for the democracy, not just for the presidential election or  for the House of Representative elections or because the elections for governors in 13 states and territories or because of the many others state and local elections. Not just for all that. This day it’s very important also because we’re going to see how important is the Latino vote. We will see it as well as the rest of the world.

About this subject recently Javier Ortiz, a Republican strategist, published the following article on the NY Daily News and I want to share it with all.

 

In 2012, the Latino vote will be key: Candidates can’t afford to ignore a growing demographic

By Javier Ortiz

Wednesday, July 6th 2011, 4:00 AM

As an American of Puerto Rican descent, I, like many of my fellow citizens who hail from the island, consider New York to be a home away from home. All the sounds, smells and tastes are familiar to us as we stroll through the city that has so generously referred to us as Nuyoricans.

But that is not necessarily the case for many Republicans and, surprisingly, some Democrats, who have demonstrated a reluctance to walk the walk when it comes to Hispanic voters.

Considering Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the electorate and new data show nearly 7 million voted nationwide in the 2010 elections, why would both parties have any reservations on engaging them in a dialogue?

It is a question whose answer escapes many of us. Often, the opportunity to connect with Hispanics on the stump is never realized as overly cautious staff members seek out predictable events they deem safe.

And while I won’t criticize strategies that play not to lose, I do question the reasoning behind not building meaningful relationships with a voting bloc that will largely define political success for generations to come.

For instance, President Obama recently decided not to attend for the third straight year the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, raising questions about his commitment to this segment of the electorate. The doubts among Hispanics about the President’s dedication to them follow months of criticism concerning his failure to engage on the immigration issue.

In the 2008 elections, Latinos voted overwhelmingly in support of Obama, with some 11 million, or 67%, casting their vote in his favor. While these numbers may give the President reason to be confident, he needs to understand that voters can be swayed.

But on the Republican side, options for Hispanics may not be much better.

It remains an open question whether the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls will invest the effort critical to securing the Latino vote. A recent article in USA Today said that most of the Republican hopefuls have had “no outreach focusing specifically on Hispanics.” The same article also said that none of their websites have a Spanish-language version and that only one appears to have staff dedicated to Hispanic outreach.

The question now becomes whether Republicans will rise to the challenge and give the attention to Hispanic voters that they deserve. If they do, they might be surprised to see how GOP-friendly this voting bloc can be.

And having staff dedicated to reaching out to Hispanics is no different from having coalitions focused on recruiting business leaders and educators.

Yet if Republicans and Democrats choose to ignore Latinos, they will do so at their own peril.

Latinos were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006. And the numbers will continue to grow, as will the pressure for politicos to engage Hispanics who expect to be taken seriously.

It’s clear that both parties need to step up and do more to engage not only Latino voters, but all Americans. In each election, both parties vie to claim the mantra that they are the party of ideas. But reality states that your ideas are only as good as the quality of the microphone needed to communicate them.

Only by making a genuine and meaningful attempt will candidates be able to honestly say they have imparted their viewpoint, while listening to the voter. In a dialogue, that’s what’s required. Let’s hope that in 2012, both parties realize the importance of the Latino vote and that they will take steps to make sure that our voices are heard.

Ortiz is a Republican strategist.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2011/07/06/2011-07-06_in_2012_the_latino_vote_will_be_key_candidates_cant_afford_to_ignore_a_growing_d.html#ixzz1RXQIYFee

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