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New Report on Latino Voters: “Too Many to Ignore”

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Increasing Latino registration and votingToday the Center for American Progress Action Fund released a report entitled, “Too Many to Ignore: The Latino Vote in 2010 and Beyond,” accompanied by a panel discussion on the recent history and increasing role of Latino voters.

The report’s key message:

Latino voters are poised to play a critical role in the November 2010 contests and in years to come as their population and voting numbers increase…The National Council of La Raza has calculated that an additional 700,000 Latino voters will participate in 2010 over the last midterm election in 2006, if previous trends in electoral growth hold.

The panel discussion revolved around politicians’ and political parties’ responses and responsibilities. Panelists were: Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor; César Martínez, Media Consultant, President, MAS Consulting; Janet Murguía, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of La Raza; and Ana Navarro, National Co-Chair, John McCain Hispanic Advisory Council, with the discussion moderated by Angela Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy, Center for American Progress Action Fund.

César Martínez showcased how candidates have appealed to Spanish-speaking communities over the last decade in television ads, speaking of families, jobs, and el sueño americano: the American dream. Appeals included those from George W. Bush, who successfully courted Hispanic voters, and John McCain, who, despite having pushed comprehensive immigration reform and running heartfelt ads, did not win enough Latino votes to win the Presidency — the report states that a Republican candidate must capture at least 40% of the Latino vote to make it to the White House.

The question was posed: what are Republicans doing to make inroads among Latino communities that supported George W. Bush, but moved away from the GOP when the party began to take an anti-immigration stance?

Ana Navarro highlighted several Republican Latino candidates with a strong chance at winning a major statewide race, and challenged Democratic supporters to name strong major candidates of Hispanic descent. Navarro said many Republican candidates are running Spanish-language campaign ads this year. She defended John McCain as “not having a single racist bone in his body” and still being a friend to Latino communities, despite his right-drifting stance on immigration issues.

Paul Begala was quick to point out that many in the Republican party have been running race-baiting ads with some even telling Latino voters to stay home altogether. CAP reports:

The Republican brand has been seriously damaged in Latino households by a questionable strategy to make immigrants this year’s political scapegoats, even though a strong majority of all voters favor enactment of comprehensive immigration reform that is tough and fair. Some conservatives have disregarded the tinge of discrimination Latinos feel when inflammatory rhetoric is directed at immigrants who are their friends, relatives, or similar in skin color… In this election season, we are seeing some of the strongest anti-immigrant rhetoric and campaign ads in recent years.