Rarely Told: Voters of Color Save Democratic Party from 2010 Disaster

Why did the Democratic Party do so well in California and some other places (like Nevada) when they had political problems elsewhere? A savvy political post at dailykos makes it quite clear why:

… the voting patterns of non-whites, who overwhelmingly supported the Democratic ticket. While Democrats weren’t the most effective at the national level … it was a different story in California, where Latinos comprised a whopping 22 percent of the state’s electorate, according to the Los Angeles Times. And they voted overwhelmingly Democratic, supporting Brown over Whitman by a margin of 55 points. Whitman said she wanted to be “tough as nails” on undocumented immigrants; her campaign chair was Pete Wilson, who is still persona non grata because of the odious Proposition 187, which denied all public services to undocumented immigrants; she gave a callous and condescending debate response to an undocumented student who inquired as to her position on the DREAM act; and if that weren’t enough, the scandal regarding the treatment of her undocumented housekeeper whom she unceremoniously fired after many years of service perpetuated the existing narrative about Whitman’s hostility to Latinos, and towards lower-income people in general. … The increased turnout among these voters, who lean towards Democrats, likely caused a ripple effect in many of the downballot races.

So, trashing Latino voters and their goals and concerns – and those of other voters of color who also voted in substantial majorities against Republican Party folks — cost Republicans the election in numerous places. But this gets little national news. Why do you think?

Also, one would think the Democratic Party officials would get that message nationally, but as yet they still seem to prefer to play more to their corporate backers than to their base.

The Republican Party officials, some of them at least, seem to partially understand this issue, even as they still say they will not act on this insight:

State Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring said the election results confirmed that party leaders and candidates needed to build stronger relationships with non-whites…. “The reality is that Democrats have strong relationships with urban and immigration communities that Republicans have not had, and that must change,” he said. “It is not only a matter of politics; it is a matter of mathematics.” But Nehring stressed that he was not advocating a change in Republican policy. “Republicans have stressed for decades that we support legal immigration and oppose illegal immigration,” he said. “Despite saying that, that message has not resonated. It is not only a matter of how we talk about this issue, but how other people hear us.”

Oh, really, not about the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, frequently racist message itself? And then there is the future of this country’s racial demography, which is ever more Latino folks and other Americans of color. One day soon, at this rate, the Republicans will be lucky to have any significant number of Republican officials in many US areas.


  1. Maria


    This is a great analysis of the role the overlooked Latino vote played in key races such as in Nevada with Angle predicted to win by a small margin ahead and Harry Reid, who instead won with a comfortable margin! Not only were the polls off pre-election, the media is off post-election because they refuse to own up to how the continual bashing of Latinos and immigrants will increasingly cost them elections. The parties can only ignore this for so long. The Republican party, in particular, seems to be bent on self-destruction. Rather than see Latinos as an opportunity to grow the party–since many come from Catholic backgrounds and a more family-based rather than an individual-oriented ethic one would think the Republican party leaders would try to see a way to invite them into their party. However, this would require the party leaders to reflect on their racism, so instead they stick to the anti-Latino message at the cost of current elections and future relevancy.

  2. island girl in a land without sea

    thank you for this post. i really enjoy reading this blog, and i’m grateful for a safer space in which to discuss issues of race and racism.

    might i add that this is another reflection of outdated ideas about which groups constitute “real” american voters? this inaccurate conceptualization plays out in the exclusion from public opinion polls groups of people (e.g. latin@s, asian americans) that prefer to answer a questionnaire in a language other than english. perhaps if the big survey houses and their clients thought to develop bilingual (and culturally relevant) questionnaires and to employ sufficient numbers of bilingual interviewers, they might capture a more accurate snapshot of the US voting public through their polls.

    this is more than just a sampling and measurement error issue. that the pollsters were blindsided by senator reid’s win suggests that serious defects — rooted in racism and white supremacy — exist in the process of knowledge production based on so-called objective measurements and data collection methods.


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