POLITICS

Latino groups tell Democrats: Don't blame us if you lose election

Latino advocacy have a message for Democrats: Don’t blame us if you lose the election.

Members of the National Council of La Raza expressed concerns over the disparity between the growth of the Latino population and the meek attempts the parties are making to appeal to the Hispanic electorate. At a panel hosted by the organization in Washington D.C. on Monday, advocates said both parties have committed “political malpractice” because they are failing to actively reach out to Latino voters or tackling the issues they care about – and said the community shouldn’t be blamed for not showing on up Election Day.

The decision not to vote is still a political decision, and it is not necessarily irrational

- Gary Segura, Stanford University professor and co-founder of Latino Decisions

“There is a tendency, particularly among Democrats and other folks, that if they lose an election, they blame Latinos,” said Clarissa Martínez de Castro, NCLR’s deputy vice president of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation.

She added that, other than Colorado incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D), Democratic candidates have done little to appeal to Latino voters.

“The reality we see often times in a lot of these places is that neither side (Democrats nor Republicans) actually was approaching our voters,” she said. 

Many Hispanics, already upset over a lack of action on immigration reform, became enraged when President Obama announced recently that he would once again postpone executive action on it until after the November elections.

Despite the boomerang effect this may have in terms of turnout, some insist that Latino voters and their impact on the midterm should not be underestimated.

“The decision not to vote is still a political decision, and it is not necessarily irrational,” said Gary Segura, a Stanford University professor who is co-founder of the polling firm, Latino Decisions.

Indeed, some advocates continue to appeal to the Latino voter with an abundance of optimism.

Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO, said the $5 million register-by-mail campaign announced in January by Mi Familia Vota and NCLR expected to register about 250,000 in approximately seven states. 

But that ambitious campaign seems to be falling way short of its goal – only 80,000 people have registered to vote because of the campaign and preliminary estimates show only 10,000 will register from now until Election Day.

“You can argue that Latinos can also have an influence by letting people lose,” said Latino Decisions' Matt Barreto. “Just as they can have influence by helping people win.”

Ninoska Marcano is a freelance reporter living in Washington D.C.

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