New challenges and new hopes- immigrant voters hold their own in the elections

From the Restore Fairness blog-

As election fever passes and the nation takes stock, one thing becomes clear – even as Republicans have taken control of the House and Democrats remain strong in the Senate, no one can afford to ignore the immigrant voter.

This election wasn’t about immigration – much of it was dominated by the issue of jobs and the economy. But the issue of immigration, even if it wasn’t front and center, did play a crucial role in winning Senate seats. In California, Meg Whitman’s strong anti-immigrant stance yielded no results, while in Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet received support from Latino voters, and in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s positive stance on immigration brought in Latino voters who formed 16% of the entire electorate. In an analysis on the Washington Independent-

“Harry Reid beat out Sharron Angle (R), who ran a campaign that relied heavily on anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, and immigration hawk Tom Tancredo lost the race for Colorado governor… Angle claimed Reid supported a number of policies to help illegal immigrants and seemed to be attempting to capitalize on ethnic fears in ads that showed angry-looking Latino men set to dramatic, if untrue, statements. Tancredo also campaigned largely on immigration policy… Republican Meg Whitman lost to Democrat Jerry Brown. Whitman tried to reach out to Latino voters after her primary, but was hindered by allegations of mistreatment and illegal employment by an undocumented maid who worked for her for almost a decade.”

In a poll conducted by Latino Decisions with the support of National Council of La Raza, SEIU, and America’s Voice, among Latino voters in 8 states, they found that when asked whether the issue of immigration was an important factor in their decision to vote and in their choice of candidate, 60% of Latinos said it was either “the most important” issue or “one of the most important” issues, staying ahead of other important issues like education, taxes, and housing. In Nevada and Arizona, two of the states with the most polarizing immigration debates going on at the moment, sentiments were even stronger. 69% of Latino voters in both Arizona and Nevada said the immigration issue was one of the most important factors in their decision to vote, and who to vote for.  In Arizona, 40% said immigration was the single most important issue in their voting decisions, and 38% in Nevada said the same. Moreover, a high percentage of Latino voters said that their decisions to vote and who to vote for were also motivated by divisive immigration debates, and especially by anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment expressed in the electoral campaigns of candidates like Sharron Angle and Tom Tancredo.

The election results, particularly the Republican take over of the House, will have deep consequences for the future of immigration policy. With Lamar Smith, R-Texas slated to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee overseeing all immigration issues, and Steve King, R-Iowa heading the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, pressure for “increased border security and enforcement actions targeted at undocumented immigrants in the workplace” will increase. Mr. Smith’s track history around the issue of immigration over the past few years does not yield a pretty picture, with him supporting Arizona-Style Immigration Enforcement, measures to ending birthright citizenship and a push for mandatory E-Verify regulations. And judging by last weeks request by seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee asking Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to “detail exactly how much funding” would be needed to “ensure that enforcement of the law occurs consistently for every illegal alien encountered and apprehended”, a strong pushback from Republicans in both the House and Senate would not be surprising.

But instead of running away from ugly bills, we need to confront them. Because looking at 2012, it is clear that no one, Republicans or Democrats, will be able to win an election without the strength of the immigrant voter, and particularly the Latino voter supporting them. Be it in California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, this election has shown that in races with the Latino and immigrant vote, one can create victory and show strength.

It’s time to listen and stay fixed on the goal with a clear, progressive call for change that respects due process and fairness for all.

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Analyzing Swing States: Colorado, Part 3

This is the third part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Colorado. It will focus on the swing areas in Colorado – the parts that will vote for both Democrats and Republicans. The fourth part can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Swing Colorado

The swing areas of Colorado lie on the edges of the Democratic base in Colorado, which forms a rough “C” shape (more on this in the next post). They can be mapped as below:

Link to Image of Swing Colorado, 1992-2008
This map incorporates five presidential elections, from 1992 to 2008. Republicans won the state three times; Democrats twice. Of the swing counties pictured here, President Bill Clinton did better in the rural swing areas, mostly in southern Colorado. President Barack Obama, on the other hand, had his strength in several highly populated, suburban swing counties.

Swing Colorado is, like the Republican base, divided into two quite different domains. The first domain is composed by the rural, “Clinton” counties. This region has much in common with the Republican parts of rural Colorado; it is generally poorer and extremely thinly populated.

The difference lies with two things: Hispanics and ski resorts. Areas of rural Colorado with high numbers of Hispanics and ski resorts vote solidly Democratic; areas with low numbers vote solidly Republican. Swing counties generally have enough Hispanics or ski resorts to be competitive for Democrats, but not enough to automatically vote Democratic.

Interestingly, the rural swing counties with ski resorts have become more Democratic over the years, while the rural swing counties with Hispanics have become less so. Mr. Obama generally did worse in rural Hispanic Colorado than Mr. Clinton. Whether because the Hispanic population is locally in decline in this thinly populated area, or because Hispanics are voting more Republican, is uncertain.

The second part of swing Colorado consists of a set of three suburban counties  surrounding the Denver metropolis. These counties used to vote solidly Republican, which was why Colorado was Republican for so long. Here is how they voted in the 2000 presidential election:

Link to Image of Swing Colorado, 2000 Presidential Election

The counties – Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Larimar County – are pictured by the three large red circles around Denver and Boulder. As is apparent, their importance is of a magnitude above that of the rural swing counties. Indeed, in 2008 the three counties composed 30.8% of the votes cast in Colorado. Jefferson County had more votes cast than any other county in the entire state.

Winning these suburbs, therefore, is naturally important. Until recently they generally leaned Republican. As swing areas, Republicans usually didn’t win them by landslides; they generally had a ceiling of around 65% of the vote. But they won them, and therefore they won Colorado.

It is the shift in places like these that is responsible for recent Democratic gains in Colorado. Here is how swing Colorado voted in 2008:

Link to Image of Swing Colorado, 2008 Presidential Election 

Mr. Obama won Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Larimer County by 12.91%, 8.91%, and 9.73% respectively. Combined, he came out with a 77,067 vote margin out of swing Colorado. This was enough to erase the Senator John McCain’s margins in his two strongest counties – El Paso (Colorado Springs) and Douglas Counties. Mr. Obama also did this out of historically Republican territory.

Demographically, the three counties above share certain similarities. For suburbs, they are actually not that rich; median household income is only slightly above the national average (Jefferson County is richest). The counties are also fairly homogeneous; approximately four out of five residents in Jefferson and Larimer County are white and non-Hispanic. Arapahoe County, on the other hand, is more diverse; non-Hispanic whites compose about 65% of the population (a mirror of the country, in fact). Unsurprisingly, Mr. Obama did best in Arapahoe County.

To be fair, Mr. Obama’s performance in Colorado’s formerly Republican-leaning suburbs probably constitutes something of a ceiling for Democrats. Mr. Obama did extremely well in exurbs like these throughout the nation, in both the primaries and the general election. The housing crisis did not hurt things, either. A different Democrat might rely less on these suburbs.

Nevertheless, the very fact that a Democrat can now win places like Larimer County is something of an achievement for the party. Indeed, almost all of swing Colorado constitutes formerly Republican-leaning territory that Democrats have made competitive over the past two decades. Democrats have also carved out a new and many-sided base in Colorado during this time period. The next post will examine the complex elements that make up Colorado’s Democratic base.



Analyzing Swing States: Colorado, Part 2

his is the second part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Colorado. It will focus on the Republican base in Colorado. The third part can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)


Once upon a time, Colorado was a loyally Democratic state. Influenced by prairie populism and anger against powerful Republican businessmen in the East Coast, the state usually voted further left than the country at large. The trend continued for seven straight presidential elections.

This ended at around 1924. Colorado voted twice against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and throughout the remainder of the twentieth century remained a mainstay of Rocky Mountain conservatism. As late as 2005, a Republican politician might have good reason to see this as a permanent condition.

Said politician would have been shocked to see Colorado three years later, after a massive Democratic wave. In 2008, the state voted more Democratic than the national average for the first time in ten presidential elections. And as of September 2010, Attorney General John Suthers is the only statewide Republican officeholder.

Republican Colorado

For a long time, the Republican base in Colorado really was the entire state, minus Denver and a few thinly populated Hispanic counties in the south. Almost all of Colorado voted Republican; there was little that hinted it would ever be more than a solidly Republican state.

That this has changed is fairly obvious; it is why Colorado is now a swing state. The modern Republican base in Colorado consists of two entities. To get a look at the first, let’s take a look at the counties which gave Senator John McCain his strongest support.

Link to Image of Mr. McCain's Strongest Counties

The counties highlighted in red are quite representative of the first part of the Republican base: rural Colorado. This description must be qualified a bit further, since some parts of rural Colorado vote fairly Democratic. The first part of Republican Colorado actually constitutes white rural Colorado, minus those parts whose main industry consists of skiing resorts (Hispanic rural Colorado is fairly Democratic, as are the parts of rural Colorado home to massive skiing resorts).

This region has quite a lot in common with other Republican-voting rural counties in the Great Plains and Mountain West. The people are generally white and poorer than the national median. They have been also voting Republican ever since the days of President Woodrow Wilson. Democrats often bemoan the loss of poor whites in places like West Virginia who once voted faithfully Democratic. But in much of rural Colorado, the white working class was never Democratic in the first place.

There is one last distinguishing characteristic of this region: it is extremely thinly populated. Indeed, in 2008 a total of 28,159 votes were cast in the highlighted counties above – about 1.2% of Colorado’s total electorate.

Thus, Republican strength in rural Colorado is a secondary force in the Republican coalition:

Link to Image of Colorado, 2000 Presidential Election

The second wing of Colorado’s Republican base is different. As the above map indicates, it can be seen in the Republican margins in the counties radiating around Denver, and especially in Colorado Springs.

These suburbs and exurbs constitute the second part of the Republican base in Colorado. Like most suburbs, they are generally wealthy, well-off places. Another distinguishing factor of Republican-leaning suburbs is their ethnicity: the reddest Republican suburbs tend to be the whitest.

Colorado Springs provides of typical example what makes a Republican suburb in Colorado. The largest red circle in the map, the city is famous as being the headquarters of a number of evangelical groups (such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family). It also contains a substantial military population, which generally votes Republican.

The map above provides an example of Republican Colorado at a strong point. In 2000 neither party competed for Colorado, and the state went predictably and strongly Republican – as it had for decades beforehand. Republican strength in rural and suburban Colorado more than overwhelmed the Democratic-voting areas.

The next post will examine how much of Republican-voting suburban Colorado turned into swing territory.

Analyzing Swing States: Colorado, Part 1

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

This is the first part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Colorado. The second part can be found here.

Link to Image of Colorado's Politics, 2010

Starting six years ago, a massive Democratic wave swept through the state of Colorado. Starting with the election of former Senator Ken Salazar, the Democratic Party took control of almost every state office there was to take. The results of this transformation are pictured in the table above.

At the time, Democrats crowed that Colorado was undergoing a fundamental political transformation. A flood of liberal migrants from California, along with steady growth in Colorado’s Latino population, was supposedly moving the state left from its decades-old conservative roots.

These conservative roots can be seen by taking a look at Colorado’s electoral history:

Link to Table of Colorado's Electoral History

Six years later, however, Democrats are not so confident. Polls show that Colorado has swung as quickly Republican as it went Democratic after 2004. Democrats are facing tough elections in Colorado’s senatorial and house races; until the Republican candidate became engulfed in scandal, they were also polling weakly in the gubernatorial race.

Whatever the future of Colorado, for the past decade the state has done a perfect job of reflecting the national mood. This is perhaps the ultimate attribute of a swing state.




US Mid-Term Election Campaign Reader


Colorado GOP Looking to Replace Dan Maes in Governor's Race
Colorado Pols, a Colorado political news site, reports that Republican "emissaries" met on Friday with Republican Gubernatorial nominee Dan Maes in an effort to persuade him to drop out of the race for Governor.

According to an anonymous Republican source, GOP Chair Dick Wadhams is not among those involved in the meeting in an effort to keep some official distance from the process. The message from Republicans is that there will be no outside money and no fundraising assistance for Maes if he stays in the race, but if he drops out there could be support for him for future opportunities.

Republican leaders have been conspicuous in their public silence about Maes, and that silence was apparently part of the plan leading up to today's meeting. Top Republicans wanted to let Maes have a few days to himself after the election, hoping that their lack of attention would show him that he doesn't have the support he would need to win in November.

From what we have heard over the last 24 hours, however, Maes is unlikely to agree to any terms that would see him remove himself from the race for Governor because he truly believes that he has earned the nomination. As part of a last-ditch effort, top Republicans may try to get Maes to agree to their choice for a running mate, in hopes that a stronger Lieutenant Governor could be in a position to take over the ballot at some point.

It's important to keep in mind that these discussions are not really about finding a candidate who can win the governor's race in November. As we first reported in mid-July, Republicans recognize that their chances at beating Democrat John Hickenlooper are close to zero. What they want now is to find someone who can excite the GOP base and not be a drag on the ticket -- both for Ken Buck's U.S. Senate bid and for the downballot races. Maes can't win, and neither can a potential replacement; but at least a potential replacement isn't regularly being mocked both locally and nationally as a joke of a candidate. Maes' much-discussed "U.N. Bicycle Plot" is bad enough when he's just one of several candidates running in a Primary, but now it's the Republican candidate for Governor saying these things. That's a lot different.

Portman Holds Narrow Lead in Ohio Senate Race
Republican Rob Portman holds a narrow lead over Democrat Lee Fisher, the current Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, in the race to succeed Senator George Voinovich according to a poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos. Portman, director of the Office of Budget and Management and the U.S. Trade Representative under former President George W. Bush, leads Fisher 43 percent to 36 percent among likely voters.

In the Ohio Governor's race, former nine term Republican Congressman John Kasich leads incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland by 48 percent to 39 percent among likely voters. Meanwhile, the Ohio Democratic Party has just released a 60 second spot hitting Kasich for running from his Lehman Brothers background. In 2008 Kasich was proud to state, "I work on Wall Street." In 2010, Congressman Kasich has been seeking to downplay his eight years as managing director at Lehman Brothers, claiming he operated out of a two-man office in Columbus.

There's more...


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