While some Hispanic/Latino activists and their organizations have breathlessly proclaimed how much the Hispanic vote matters and use the 71 percent Obama vote of 2012 Hispanics as the prime example, reality is that Hispanics have little to say in the forthcoming elections of November 4th.
With the exceptions of Colorado and Florida, Hispanics are few and far between in the critical states necessary to maintain or win control of the U.S. Senate.
In Colorado, 14 percent of the electorate is Hispanic and might make a difference in tight elections for governor and U.S. Senator. One clue as to what is happening in Colorado is Congressman Mike Coffman’s reelection race in a newly drawn 6th District. A rising Democrat state legislative star was nominated to run against Coffman in the 20-percent-Hispanic district which has less Republican voters than it did four years ago when voters in the district overwhelmingly voted for Coffman.
Result, looming disaster. The national Democrats have abandoned the district and quit spending money there. Veteran Marine combat officer Republican Coffman looks safe. So what happened to the one in five Hispanic voters?
Consider this: When 71 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama that percentage ran 20 points higher than the national support average; today, Hispanic approval of Obama has plunged 20 points making that plunge the largest fall of any group of Obama’s popularity in the country.
Voters, including Hispanic voters, are not stupid. The national dislike of President Obama is based on what voters perceive as a lack of competence, of mendacity and of politics instead of competence and smart governance.
Mendacity, Mendacity, Mendacity is a word made famous by Tennessee Williams in his play and movie “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” It is wildly appropriate in these twilight months of the Obama Presidency as all demographic groups except Blacks are abandoning America’s first Black President.
“I will fix immigration in the first hundred days of my administration,” promised candidate Obama. Six years later he hasn’t fixed immigration.
“We have created millions of jobs in the most consecutive job growth months in history (words to that effect). Wrong Mr. President, you and your administration have barely replaced the jobs lost in the Great Recession, there are five million jobs unfilled and millions of people have dropped out of the labor force. Isn’t that an oxymoron, Mr. President?
Moreover, many of the jobs you have “created” are low paying and part-time jobs. Mr. President, those categories are filled with Hispanics – Mr. President, you have failed Hispanics in job creation, on immigration and they remain the most uninsured people in the country no thanks to Obamacare.
It appears, then, that Colorado’s 6th Congressional district with its 20 percent Hispanics has decided, Hispanics included, to look elsewhere to cast their votes or not cast their votes.
In Florida, Hispanics are in three groups: Cuban Americans who have a heavy dose of Republican votes in Southwest Florida, Central Florida Puerto Rican transplants who emulate their New York cousins in being loyal Democrat voters and Mexican, Caribbean and Central and South American people whose numbers are growing.
Cuban Americans have greater interest in elections than most other Hispanics as they have proven in the 50 years they have filled voter rolls in Southwest Florida; they are more political and have always either given Republicans a major share of their votes and still produce Republican votes north of 40 percent. This projection will damage Democrat Charlie Crist’s chances of returning to the Governor’s mansion which he occupied four years ago as a Republican.
Republican Governor Rick Scott carried the Hispanic vote in Florida four years ago and though he might lose some of it this time, Charlie Crist has never been popular with the Miami-Dade Cuban. Charlie can expect to get the Puerto Rican vote in Central Florida but that may not be enough to offset the rest of non-Hispanic Florida.
In the critical congressional district that runs from Miami to the Florida Keys, Republican Carlos Curbelo is favored to win the seat currently held by scandal-plagued Democrat Juan Garcia whose campaign manager was convicted of vote fraud on behalf of Garcia.
Outside Colorado and Florida, Hispanics will have little effect on November 4.
It remains to be seen what will happen in 2016 when the presidency is on the ballot. One thing is certain: based on the plunging popularity of the president they went out of their way to vote for, one cannot see any potential 2016 candidate that can rely on the 71 percent of Hispanics who voted for Obama – a gamble that backfired on Latinos.
Unemployed, underemployed and (health) uninsured Hispanics, and undocumented immigrants know what the word mendacity means even if they have never heard it; it dominates their lives despite the 71 percent of Hispanics that voted for the man they thought was a savior.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate. Contreras's books are available at Amazon.com