For the past 40 years, Latino activists and enterprising Latino marketers have been predicting that any day now, the “sleeping giant” known as the Latino electorate would finally waken and assert itself politically. Well, Gulliver surnamed here instead as “Gomez” sleeps on, especially in Arizona.
A latest case in point perpetuating the resilient if unreliable story-line comes courtesy of a market research and polling outfit known as “Latino Decisions.” It has been making the post-midterm election media rounds proclaiming, among various theories, that Latinos saved the Democrats in California and that in particular, they saved the incumbent hide of Nevada’s Senator Harry Reid. See Debating The Impact Of Latino Voters.
I think that conclusion is open to debate, especially in California. In the Golden State, for example, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 13 points.
And as for Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Senator Reid’s hoof-in-mouth opponent Sharron Angle had more to do with keeping him in office than anything attributable to a particular demographic voting bloc. Still, I recognize that if your stock-in-trade is promoting the reawakening Latino giant fable, it’s as good a way as any to garner media attention.
As for heavily Republican Arizona, Latino-affiliation with the historically out-of-power Democrat party was never going to be the prescription to wake up from a deep political slumber. If anything, it’s a better means to a continued comatose existence.
But it’s easy to see why some pundits predicted that this was the time for the sleeping ‘Gomezes’ to arise, at least in Arizona. The plot-line was that the anti-illegal immigration Arizona law, SB 1070, was going to energize Latinos as never before to register and to vote.
But in the report, “SB 1070 backlash spurs Hispanics to join Democrats“ in The Arizona Republic, “Latinos account for about 30 percent of Arizona’s population but a much smaller share of the state’s more than 3 million registered voters.” And there’s the problem succintly stated. It’s all about the numbers.
“• About 212,000 Hispanic voters, nearly 51 percent, are registered Democrats.
“• About 70,000 Hispanic voters, nearly 17 percent, are registered Republicans.
“Sources: Arizona Democratic Party, Arizona Secretary of State”
But such statistical proofs don’t stop starry-eyed pundits. For example, the well-intentioned Carlos Galindo, a local Spanish language newspaper commentator for “Prensa Hispana,” offered the latest “The electorate has awakened” wish-fulfillment piece on October 27, 2010.
No stranger to the fecund exclamation point, Galindo wrote the following, which I translated from Spanish to English as, “NO MORE! The electorate has awakened!
“Congratulations! These elections will be a surprise for those who have always won by betting that Latinos don’t vote.”
If only wishing for something would make it so. I’d have won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes 25 years ago and unicorns would graze in my backyard.