Carroll+and+Fox+Ch+5+9.20.10

Carroll+and+Fox+Ch+5+9.20.10 - CHRISTINE MARIE SIERRA r, _....

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Unformatted text preview: CHRISTINE MARIE SIERRA r, _. my“ ,nmmn 5 Latinas and Electoral Politics Movin’ on Up The national campaigns waged by Senators Hillary Clinton and B Ck- ara , drew ncan Sarah Obama in 2008 for the Democratic Party’s nomination for preside unprecedented attention to the dynamics of gender and race in All: . . . , . , e pohtics. The Republican Party s nomination of Alaska’s governor D I Palm, for vice president intensified and extended the national disc ‘ ' Curse on the meaning and impact of gender in national politics. Indeed ' and pundits engaged in Vigorous debates as to whether racism I SChOlars I was most apparent in media coverage of these candidates and tliisrEXISIn I paigns, and how a gender bias against women or a racial bias againcsfii; __ a . -, African American man might influence v0ter choice for president 1 In a cartoon on the 2008 presidential race, one woman tells anoth casually over coffee, “Now all we need is a woman of color in this r er, that would really mess with people’s minds.”2 Insightfully the ca:C6 — underscores the complexity of how gender and race — independentl :OId 1n interaction with each other — complicate American politics For w: n of color, gender and race do not involve an either-0r proposition whmel1L comes to their identity formation and their lived experiences 3 But foernall the attention the 2008 election showered on gender and racial d amic In American life, gender and race were largely Viewed as indeperlildlent of or opposition to each other. Hence, the intersection of Gender and race as hved by women of color, remained little understood 2} examined A; women of color, Latinas offer a case in point.4 I Although Latina women figured prominently in the 2008 election their particular roles and contributions to electoral politics went lar ell unnoticed. While they were not among the leadinO candidates ongch national stage, they were involved in the election :5 voters cam aim workers, party elites, national advisers, and top staff. Further pth: counted among those seeking public office at the federal, state, and locall 144 right figople O 'tion’s hig 'ev01ving story of role in the American electorate and among the nation’s ranks of polit- ical leaders taut, but mostly untold, story. It provides an overview of major aspects of Latina role numbers of Latina women become engaged in the political process, from ' grassroots activis finue to grow — and they will increasingly find a public spotlight on their ‘ multifaceted endeavors and accomplishments. nag and Electoral Politics MS vels‘ To be sure, significant media coverage and political punditry com- a)th on the significant role of women or the “Hispanic vote” in the e'cfion; however, the particular role of Latina women received little 'enfion. Latina women were subsumed in reports about the women’s te or the Hispanic electorate and did not claim attention in their own The 2008 presidential contest and election revealed how women and f color are increasingly, if incrementally, ascending to the na- hest levels of political leadership. Latina women share in this America’s changing politics. They are expanding their and policy makers. This chapter sheds light on their irnpor- women’s involvement in U.S. politics and draws attention to their 5 as voters and players in the 2008 presidential election. As increasing In to running for public office, their influence will con— DEMOGRAPHICS AND THE LATINO ELECTORATE Constituting slightly less than half of the Latino population (48.3 per~ cent), Latina women are part of a rapidly growing ethno-racial popula~ tion whose increasing numbers imply expanding political power. Having surpassed African Americans as the nation’s largest ethno-racial minority population, Latinos now number more than 45.4 million, or 15 percent of the total U.S. population.5 Demographic grOWth has brought attention to Latinos’ political status, in particular to their potential influence in U.S. elections. However, additional demographic characteristics add complex- ity or limitations to Latinos’ influence in national politics. The Latino population is quite diverse, encompassing numerous national origin groups with varying histories and political experiences in the United States. According to an adjusted count of the 2000 U.S. Census, the largest country—specific origin groups among Latinos include Mexican Americans (63.4 percent of the total), Puerto Ricans (10 per~ cent), Cuban Americans (3.7 percent), and people from the Dominican Republic (2.8 percent). People from other countries of Central and South America account for the remainder of this population.6 Commonalities as Well as differences underlie their political attitudes and behavior. 146 Christine Marie Sierra I This chapter addresses the politics of U.S. Latinas as a group, but We ' must recognize that national origins, among other factors, mark impor, _ '- tant distinctions among them. As an example, survey data has shown that , Latina women are more highly partisan than Latino men, yet they diffel. 7 across national origin. Mexican American and Puerto Rican women idem- tify more heavily with the Democratic Party than do men of their own national—origin group. Cuban American women, in contrast, identify at greater levels with the Republican Party than do their male counterparts.7 Socioeconomic characteristics such as lower levels of education and income compared to other ethno-racial populations depress Latino levels of political participation. Moreover, age and citizenship requirements for voting lessen Latinos’ potential electoral influence. Taylor and Fry note the youthfulness of the Latino population as well as the large number who are noncitizens and, thus, ineligible to vote. In their analysis of 2007 Current Population Survey data, they found that more than one—third of the estimated Latino population was younger than eighteen years of age. Moreover, while about 55 percent of Latino adults, or 16.6 million, Were foreign born, only 4.7 million of them, or 28 percent, were naturalized U.S. citizens and, thus, eligible to vote.8 Latino voter turnout has historically lagged behind the turnout of other ethno~racial groups. Lopez and Minushkin state, "Since 1974, in presidential and midterm elections, the Latino eligible voter turnout rate has trailed white eligible voters by 13 to 20 percentage points.” In the 2004 election, 47 percent of Latino eligible voters reported having voted, in contrast to 67 percent of white eligible voters and 60 percent of black eligible voters. Although the gaps shrink when turnout rates for Latinos are estimated for the adult citizen population, lower rates of voter par~ ticipation relative to other groups persist. In 2004, US. citizen Latinos reported a 58 percent rate of voter registration, compared to rates of 75 percent for whites and 69 percent for blacks.9 Notwithstanding lower rates of voter participation relative to other groups, Latinos have expanded their role in elections over time. Table 5.1 shows the increasing pool of eligible Hispanic voters from 1996 to 2007. Politicians and political parties are keenly aware of the expanding voter eligibility pool, for in the end, the raw numbers of votes cast decide elec— tions. To be sure, the total number of votes cast by Latinos has increased over time. In 1996, fewer than 5 million Latinos voted in the general election; however, eight years later, in 2004, 7.6 million reported vot— ing. Accordingly, Latinos increased their share of the total electorate from 4.7 percent in 1996 to 6 percent in 2004.10 With estimates that the Latinas and Electoral Politics 147 'TABLES-l’lllé P101307096~(if:tliéilofrfihits;amt;i 'éligible‘ Vétérs .haS-Fn‘firealsédbvet théfPfiSt decade,- , , Hispanic eligible Hispanic share Year voters of total 1996 11,209,000 6.2% 2000 13,940,000 7.4 2004 16,088,000 8.2 2007 18,165,000 8.9 Note: Numbers refer to U.S. citizens age eighteen and older. Source: Paul Taylor and Richard Fry. December 2007. His- panics and the 2008 Election: A Swing Vote? Washington, D.C.: Pew Hispanic Center. eligible Hispanic electorate in 2008 would amount to 18.2 million, the Latino and Latina vote promised to be in great demand.11 LATINA POLITICAL BEHAVIOR In general, Latinas share many political characteristics with their male counterparts. But there are some exceptions. Research on political atti— tudes has found a gender gap in political knowledge, with Latina women less politically informed than Latino men.12 But the implications of this finding are unclear, as a gender gap in voter participation between Latino men and Latina women has diminished over time. In fact, recent elec- tions show Latina women outvoting their male counterparts in national elections, a pattern that holds for women overall in American politics. When examining specific subpopulations, however, gender differ— ences do emerge. In their summary of research on Latina politics, Mon— toya, Hardy—Fanta, and Garcia report one study that found that Latina heads of household were less likely to vote than their male counterparts. An additional study suggested that predictors of Latina and Latino voting are different. As Montoya and colleagues summarize, “For Latinas alone, the most consistent predictors of turnout across all national origin groups are interest in politics, church attendance, and organizational and school involvement — suggesting that political socialization and institutions have a stronger mobilizing effect on women than on men.”13 National exit poll data for the 1980, 1984, and 1988 presidential elections showed Latina women to be more liberal and pro-Democratic 148 Christine Marie Sierra r, than Latino men, but the differences were fairly small and somewhat; inconsistent.14 More recent research has confirmed a gender gap party identification; however, as previously mentioned, differences across national origin appear more salient than differences within Specific, “ national-origin groups. Hardy-Fanta and Cardozo found a statistically sig. nificant gender difference in Latino voting for president. Although bOth Latino men and women supported Democrat Bill Clinton’s reelection in 1996, Latina support for Clinton was higher.15 Research investigating a gender gap between Latino men and Latina women on social and political attitudes shows mixed results. Bedolla Monforti, and Pantoja found that a gender gap exists "along similar line; to that found among Anglos” on specific issues of public policy. For exam- ple, Latina women are less supportive of the death penalty and increases in military spending than Latino men. They believe to a greater degree than Latino men that mothers are responsible for the religious upbring_ ing of children. On a so-called compassion issue, Latina women expressed higher levels of agreement than Latino men on the item "The government in Washington should do everything possible to improve the standard of living for all Americans.”16 But the authors also draw attention to important attitudinal differ- ences between Latinas and Latinos based on national origin. They note variation and similarities within Latino national-origin groups on the pol- icy issues studied. These authors posit that agreement within national- origin groups suggests common experiences of marginalization among Latina women and Latino men. They state: Why is it, for example, that Anglo men and women seem to have significantly different attitudes towards social welfare programs and yet Mexican origin men and women do not? It is possible . . .that the gender differences among whites and those of Mexican origin are the result of experiences of marginalization. White women have had those experiences, as do Mexican origin women and Mexican origin men.17 They suggest that the lack of gender difference among Latinas and Latinos with regard to certain policy questions means that national origin may operate "as a proxy for marginalization in general” and explain attitudes more than gender.18 Further research is required to fully understand the extent to which Latina women’s political behavior differs from that of their male counter— parts. At this point, the bottom line appears to be that gender differences Latinas and Electoral Politics 149 among Latinos are not necessarily obvious or consistent. Indeed, Latina Women are like Latino men on a number of electoral and attitudinal dimensions. Gender differences that do appear may be heavily condi- tioned by national-origin differences across Latino subgroups. LATINA WOMEN IN ELECTED OFFICE Latinos in general are severely underrepresented in U.S. politics. As Gar— da and Sanchez state, “Hispanics have lower proportions in virtually every representative body in the United States than is their proportion in their communities.”19 Furthermore, there is a significant gender gap in the number of Latino men and women who hold elected office. But Latino men and women have improved, albeit incrementally, their lev- els of representation at all levels of government over time. Furthermore, Latina women have enjoyed in recent years relatively higher election rates than Latino men. According to the National Association of Elected and Appointed Offi- cials (NALEO), between 1996 and 2009, the total number of Hispanic elected Officials (IBEOs) in the United States grew from 3,743 to 5,670. During this time span, the number of Latina elected officials grew more quickly than the number of Latino male officials. Latinas accounted for 907 of the total number of HBOS in 1996, or 24.2 percent. By 2009, they accounted for 1,814 HEOs, or 32 percent of the total. The total number of Latina officials thus doubled, a 100 percent increase, compared to an increase of 36 percent for Latino men.20 Scholars note that, in addition to this rate of increase vis—a-vis Latino men, Latina women also hold office at rates higher than women in gen- eral. A case in point is state legislative officeholding. In 2009, Latina women account for 29.4 percent of the state legislative seats held by all Hispanics, a proportion greater than the 24.3 percent of state legislative seats held by women overall.21 Most underrepresented are HEOs in national office. In the 111th U.S. Congress, only two Latino men (one Democrat and one Republican) and no Latina women serve in the U.S. Senate. A total of twenty-three HEOs are in the House of Representatives: twenty Democrats and three Repub- licans, seventeen men and six women. In statewide office, HBOs are even fewer and farther between. In 2009, Bill Richardson (D—NM) is the nation’s sole Hispanic governor; six HEOs (three men and three women) hold other statewide offices (see Table 5.2).22 1 50 Christine Marie Sierra TABLE 5.2: _ Only nine Latinasiserved in statewide and 3 .‘ federal offiCes in 20091 L ' I " L L ‘ l ‘ 5 Statewide Elected Officials Susan Castillo (NP—OR), superintendent, public instruction Mary Herrera (D—NM), secretary of state Catherine Cortez Masto (DaNV), attorney general Congresswomen, 11 1th Congress Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) Rep. Ileana Ros—Lehtinen (R-FL) Rep. Lucille Roybal—Allard (D-CA) Rep. Linda Sanchez (D—CA) Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) Note: NP = nonpartisan election. Source: Center for American Women and Politics. Women of Color in Elective Office 2009. Fact Sheet. <http://www.cawp. rutgersedu/fast_facts/IeveIs_of_office/documents/color.pdf>. Local offices are an important entry point for Latina women and Latino men in politics. Although a majority of both sexes serve in local government, there is a gender difference in the type of local office held. Over forty-one percent (41.6 percent) of Latina officeholders serve on school boards, compared to 33.3 percent of Latino male officials. At the same time, more Latino men (32 percent) are found in municipal office than Latina women (26.5 percent)” Efforts to increase Latina represen— tation in public office have targeted women in community politics for special trainings on how (and why) to run for public office. Given Latina women’s long-established involvement in grassroots community organiz- ing and activism, such recruitment strategies are likely to pay off in the long run. The profile of Latina officeholders nationwide reveals a relatively fast- grovving number of women in the trenches of state and local govern- ment. Far fewer Latinas occupy federal or statewide office. Early in the 2008 election cycle, candidates from both major political parties, but espe- cially the Democratic Party, sought endorsements and campaign support from this Latina political infrastructure. However, it was the Latina mem- bers of Congress and statewide officials who provided some star power through their roles as political advisers or campaign supporters. In the end, Latina women counted in the 2008 election, as voters, activists, and leaders amid a growing Latino electorate. They would make their z Latinas and Electoral Politics 151 presence known throughout the primary and general election, and they would cast deciding votes in key battleground states. THE LATINO AND LATINA VOTE IN THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION Several features of the Latino electorate virtually guaranteed that the Latino vote would be heavily sought by candidates from both major political parties in the 2008 presidential election. As mentioned prev1a ously, the sheer size of the Latino electorate has continued to grow over the years, as has the proportion of Latinos among the voting electorate. Geopolitics further enhances the attractiveness of the Latino vote. Latinos are concentrated geographically in states with large numbers of electoral votes, a consideration that weighs heavily in presidential campaign strate— aies. Although Latinos do not vote as one unified bloc, their votes across :iationalvorigln groups do cohere around two poles, evident in Mexican American and Puerto Rican support for Democrats and Cuban American support for Republicans. Furthermore, given the closeness of recent presidential elections, the Significant number of Latino voters in battleground states, where the presidential race is highly contested, has elevated the importance of the Latino vote even more. Candidates devote more attention and resources to those states in which the outcome of the race remains fluid; identifiable voting blocs benefit from such attention. Since 1960, a major- ity of Latinos have supported the Democratic Party’s candidate for presi— dent. However, the level of Latino support for the party has fluctuated.24 When he ran for president in 2000 and 2004, Republican George W. Bush understood that he would be unlikely to capture a majority of the Latino vote. However, the extent to which he could lessen the Demo- cratic vote advantage among Latino voters could serve him well. Indeed, in his 2004 reelection bid, Bush drew an estimated 40 percent of the Latino vote nationwide and attracted sufficient Latino support in selected states, such as New Mexico, to place them in the red column on elec- tion night. As a result, the Republican Party aimed to swing the Latino vote to its favor again in 2008 even as the Democratic Party pledged to regain, if not extend, its traditional advantage with Latino voters. For- malizing their overtures to Latino voters, both the Republican and the Democratic parties added the state of Nevada ~ with a fast— growing Latino electorate - to their early January lineup of presidential primaries and caucuses. 152 Christine Marie Sierra THE PRlMARlES N0 candidate would take lessons from previous presidential campaio to heart more than New York’s Senator Hillary Clinton. In seeking is Democratic Party’s nomination, Clinton assembled her campaign org: mzation early and included Latinos and Latinas in the mix. She lined up top Hispanic elected officials and other Hispanic leaders for endorse- ments, hired staff, and put together a strategy by early 2007. She chose Patti Solis Doyle, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, as her campaign manager. Solis Doyle was the first Latina to become a national Campajon manager and one of only three Hispanics ever to hold that position. Ch; ton had known Solis Doyle since 1991, when she began working for the future first lady as her scheduler. According to news reports, the two had developed a close relationship.25 Other prominent Latinas joined Clinton’s team as personal advisers or major endorsers. Maria Echaveste, who had served in the Clinton administration and White House and worked as a campaign adviser for Al Gore in 2000, campaigned tirelessly for Clinton’s nomination.26 Counted among one of Clinton’s most "symbolic endorsements” was Dolores Huerta, cofounder along with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Work— ers of America (UFW) and longtime civil rights activist. But as Roberto Suro, former director of the Pew Hispanic Center, observed, Clinton “also scored endorsements from Latino politicians who have the electoral machinery to deliver votes.”27 The Los Angeles county commissioner Glo- ria Molina and Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D—CA) fit that profile quite well. Overall, Hillary Clinton locked up an "impressive number and range of Hispanic endorsements" early in the campaign season. It appeared that she had the Latino political establishment on her side.28 A large propor- tion of HEOs had come of political age or had been elected to office dur— ing President Bill Clinton’s two terms in office. Others had first met the Clintons years earlier and had remained friends and political allies. Sev- eral Mexican American public officials spoke of first meeting Hillary when, as a young woman, she traveled to South Texas during the early 19705 to work on behalf of George McGovern’s presidential campaign and to register Hispanics to vote. Despite his being the first viable Latino candidate for president, New Mexico’s governor Bill Richardson never gained traction in his presi— dential bid. His popularity with Hispanic voters, in particular, was never really tested, as he dropped out of the race before a significant number of Latinas and Electoral Politics 153 Latinos (such as in the state of Nevada) had the chance to vote for him. Early in the primary season, Richardson ran a dual strategy of introduc- ing himself to predominantly white electorates in Iowa and New Hamp— shire and courting Latino voters through his campaign Familia con Richardson" in Nevada. According to one political scientist, Richardson had more Hispanics in his campaign and targeted Hispanic fund—raisers more than any other candidate. He was the only candidate with a Web site fully “en espafiol” rather than having just portions in Spanish. He also spoke directly to Hispanic issues, such as the need for comprehensive immigration reform.29 But Richardson’s poor finishes in the Iowa caucus (2 percent of the vote) and the New Hampshire primary (less than 5 per‘ cent of the vote) drained momentum and money out of his campaign. He withdrew his candidacy for president on January IO, 2008.3O Clinton’s aggressive outreach to Latinos, which one expert" attributed to the role of her campaign manager, Solis Doyle,31 would prove critically important to sustaining her run through the presidential primary con- tests. According to Suro, an early goal was “to preempt New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson from locking up the Latino vote.” But after Richardson dropped out of the race and Barack Obama’s candidacy gained momen— tum, “the Clinton campaign started looking to Hispanics as a ’firewall,’ the constituency that could hold off Obama’s surge.”32 Latinos primarily participated in the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries and caucuses. Polls showed Latinos — men but especially Latina women — to be strong supporters of Clinton over Obama and the other candidates who remained in the race. Numerous media reports sur- faced questioning whether Latino and Latina support for Clinton was, in essence, a vote against Obama on the basis of his race. That is, to what extent did racial tensions between Latinos and African Americans — or racist attitudes on the part of Hispanics toward blacks — account for Clinton’s popularity with Hispanics? Clinton pollster Sergio Bendixen triggered the national debate over this question when he stated after the New Hampshire primary, "’The Hispanic voter —— and I want to say this very carefully — has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.”’33 In New Mexico, the Republican county chair Fernando C de Baca offered his own version of why Obama should not expect the support of Hispanics in New Mexico. In an interview with the BBC, C de Baca asserted even more directly, “The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors. African Americans came here as slaves. . . .Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won’t vote for a black president!”34 154 Christine Marie Siam . While acknowledging racial attitudes as a potential issue of COnCem 3 experts knowledgeable of the Latino electorate offered more COnvindn- O D explanations for Clinton’s popularity, including her name recognition their fondness for President Bill Clinton, endorsements from Hispanié elites, and Clinton’s successful outreach to and mobilization in Latino communities. At the same time, political analysts pointed to Latinos’ lack of familiarity with Barack Obama as a major disadvantage in his courtship of the Latino vote.35 As the primary season evolved, the Obama campaign increased its Latino outreach activities and brought to the forefront its own list of prominent Hispanic endorsements. Foremost among them was Maria Elena Durazo, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, an organization of more than eight hundred thousand union members and the biggest regional labor group in California. Among its membership ranks are janitors, teachers, construction and hotel workers, and Super- market and government employees. Although Durazo indicated that her endorsement of Obama was a personal one and that she was taking a leave of absence from her job to work for the campaign, Durazo’s ties to the labor movement and its large Latino and Latina constituency provided a considerable boost in visibility and organizing resources to Obama’s out- reach to Hispanics. Although not as widely identifiable as the personal- ities with whom she shared the stage, Durazo was part of a celebrity« studded lineup to introduce Michelle Obama at a rally at the University of California, Los Angeles, shortly before the California primary on Febru- ary S. Durazo appeared with Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, and California’s first lady, Maria Shriver, who announced her support for Barack Obama as president.36 Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama went the distance in the primary contests for their party’s presidential nomination. Their vigorous compe- tition energized the Latino electorate, which “voted in record numbers in some states.” NALEO reported that, from 2004 to 2008, Latino vot- ing in Democratic primaries increased in the following states: Arizona (1 percent), California (13 percent), Florida (3 percent), and Texas (10 percent).37 According to exit poll data analyzed by the Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos voted for Clinton over Obama in the Super Tuesday pri- maries by 63 percent to 35 percent; in the Texas primary, 66 percent to 32 percent; and in the Puerto Rico primary, 68 percent to 32 percent. Clinton’s biggest margin of victory was in her home state of New York, where she claimed 73 percent of the Hispanic vote. Closer contests saw 7 Clint , Latinas and Electoral Politics 155 on winning New Mexico with 56 percent of the Latino vote and Capturing Arizona with 55 percent of the Latino vote. Obama won the , Latino vote in his home state of Illinois but by a slim margin, 50 percent to Clinton’s 49 percent.38 A zgender gap in Latino voting was evident in both turnout and vote chOice. Latina women accounted for approximately 56 percent of the Latino primary electorate; Latino men constituted about 44 per- cent. Although both Latinos and Latinas favored Clinton, Latina women shOWed irnpressive levels of support, voting 67 percent to 32 percent for Clinton over Obama. Among Latino male voters, the gap was not as wide, 58 percent to 40 percent for Clinton over Obama. Age groups also showed a gender gap. Clinton drew two—thirds of support from Latina VOters in all age groups; Hispanic women sixty years of age and older heavily favored Clinton, voting for her 75 percent to 24 percent for Obama. In contrast, Latino men between the ages of thirty and forty—four preferred candidate obama, giving him a majority (53 percent) of their votes. Latino men in the youngest age group (between seventeen and twenty-nine) split their votes between Clinton and Obama (49 percent each). On the question of whether race or gender was an important influ- ence in voter choice, exit polls on Super Tuesday (February 5) showed that Hispanics were more likely than whites to say that race was an impor— tant factor in deciding their vote — 28 percent of Hispanics said this ’ compared with 13 percent of whites. However, Hispanics who said that race was important voted for Clinton by about the same percent- age (64 percent) as did Hispanics who said race was not important (63 percent). By contrast, whites who said race was important were more likely to vote for Clinton than were other whites.39 Hispanics were also more likely than whites to say that a candidate’s gen- der was important in their voting decision. Hispanics for whom gender was important were more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton than were those who said gender was not important."’0 Latina and Latino voters mobilized in support of Hillary Clinton. In the end, their votes extended Clinton’s ability to compete in the Demo- cratic primaries; however, the Latino vote was not sufficient to give her the nomination. Heading into the general election, the media seized on new questions regarding Latino loyalty to Clinton — would Latinos, and especially Latinas, transfer their support for her to Barack Obama? Would 156 Christine Marie Sier étmas and Electoral Politics 157 they jump ship and vote Republican? Would they sit out the NOVC b m 6: . process, the convention was not without excitement, anticipa— election? ' (1 some tension over the Clmton-Obama rivalry. Latina women . ‘ I], an th PerhaPS as 31; exampl‘? 0f Chmon support tr"I'lrls’ferlirlg to 013mml ' were clearly present and active at the convention. Indeed, Latinas ac— e experience 0 Patti Solis Doyle would prove instructive. In Fe marl; Counted for more than half (52.3 percent) of all the Hispanic delegates at 2008, as the Obama campaign gained momentum, Clinton reoroam her campaign staff and replaced Solis Doyle, her campaign manag; “fie: Maggie Williams, a longtime aide. Even as the move to replace her wt » I under way, Solis Doyle emphasized ’“how personally proud and please: I am at how greatly the Latino vote delivered for Hillary Clinton on Feb S 5th. It means a lot to me as the first Latina campaign manager for a pres ’ idential campaign.”41 In the months approaching the general election. , Solis Doyle went to work for the Obama campaign. I Although far fewer Latino voters participated in the Republican Party’s presidential primaries and caucuses, Latino voting proved more critical to the outcome. Exit polling in Florida revealed that former Massachusetts goVernor Mitt Romney edged out Arizona Senator John McCain in winning White Republican voter support, by 34 percent to 33 percent. At the same time, McCain took the Latino vote decisively. The Latino share of the vote for McCain was 54 percent; for former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, 24 percent; and for Mitt Romney, 14 percent. Exit poll data of gender categories was not available. However, 3 the Convention. Similarly, African American women constituted a major— I ’t (55.6 percent) of black delegates, while white women accounted for 'a mummy (46.6 percent) of all white delegates.43 Given how strongly atina women supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries, specula- tion and even suspense ran through various state delegations as to how they would vote when the roll call of states commenced to decide the party’s nominee. As an observer at the convention, I witnessed the extreme disappoint- ment that some Hispanic women expressed with Clinton’s loss to Obama. Priscilla Chavez, in the New Mexico delegation, shed tears during Hillary clinton’s convention Speech because she was so moved. Disappointment with the end Of Clinton’s campaign ran deep, as Chavez wiped tears away even as we spoke the morning after. Nevertheless, Chavez pledged to work for Obama’s election in heavily Hispanic areas of southern New Mexico. She predicted that young voters would be easier to mobilize than older ones. But she maintained that older voters would show up to vote for Obama "because so much is at stake." given previous patterns of Latina Republican support for the party, it is I Another committed Clinton supporter, New Mexico’s state senator reasonable to assume that Latina Republicans assisted McCain’s efforts to Mary Jane Garcia, had rather harsh words for Obama’s candidacy. dur- Wm m Honda g ing the heat of the presidential primary. Her avid support for Hillary A5. a resnh Of the Florida racer Gi‘mani drOPP€d 0m and endorsed Clinton stretched back to 1992, when the Clintons were in Las Cruces. McCain, and McCain moved on to Super Tuesday contests in the lead If She connected with them many times thereafter. Garcia also cried during and neVeT 10“ his from'runner Status- He r0d€ the momentum, in part Clinton’s speech. She marveled at how her candidate was both “gracious” provided by Florida’s Latino electorate, all the way to his party’s nom- ination. According to some analysts, McCain won support from Latinos largely on the basis of his more moderate stand on immigration.42 and “strong” after a bruising primary. Garcia contended that, after all the Republican attacks, media criticism, and tension with the Obama cam— paign, “to say what she said, and the way she said it” was impressive. But she chose the word Closure to describe her personal feelings at the end of the day. She found closure in Clinton's endorsement of Obama and was prepared, as she put it, “to move on” and work for the Democratic presidential ticket.44 [OB/IMANOS! LATINAS AT THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION g5 ddegalesfi elect? Offidalsf and the PartY faithilfl gathered at the Latina women appeared on various stages during the convention. themocratlckl anon convennon m DenVer In late August a Common ‘ Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D—CA) enthusiastically addressed the . - . . . I 61116 qu Y emerged a hJStOHC fiISt WOUId be set When a major pollt- convention’s Hispanic Caucus. Linda Chavez—Thompson, former execu- gfil partzltiomliagg an African ‘mlencan man as its Presidential can- tive vice president of the AFL-CIO, appeared on stage at the Women’s 0 ’ ' ‘ . ate. Oua ama s nomination had been secured through the Caucus, as did the television actresses Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewzves 158 Christine Marie Sierr and America Ferrera of Ugly Betty. Numerous Latina elected officials df culated throughout the convention halls in support of their party’s ticket In leaving Obama’s acceptance speech at Denver’s Invesco Field, my e e caught a Latina woman wearing a T—shirt with the slogan “lObdmanmp creative way of signaling — in Spanglish — Hispanic support for Obama 45 Latina women appeared to be on board with the Obama—Biden campaicfi O . THE GENERAL ELECTION Although no Latinas were among Barack Obama’s top campaign staff, they were present among his top advisers. The former New Mexico attor_ ney general Patricia Madrid (who had endorsed John Edwards in 2004 and early in the 2008 primaries), joined Obama’s National Latino Advi- sory Council. Joining Madrid were ten Latino men and an additional four Latinas: Congresswomen Linda Sanchez (D«CA), Hilda Solis (D‘CA), and Nydia Velasquez (D—NY), and Geoconda Arguello-Kline, president of the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, in Nevada.46 Maria Echaveste and Dolores Huerta, who had both worked for Clinton in the primary, shifted their support to Obama, as did the Latino and Latina political establishment. As Bush had done in his 2004 reelection bid, McCain had hoped to appeal to conservative Latinos, and especially Latina women, by empha- sizing family values (i.e., his opposition to abortion and same—sex marriage). Given the Roman Catholic Church’s official pro«life stance, McCain’s campaign felt that Latino men and women, a majority of whom were Catholic, would be a natural constituency. The Republican Party in New Mexico went so far as to distribute prayer cards before Mass in Catholic churches that featured John McCain in front of an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a vastly popular female religious icon through— out Latin America. On the back of the card was a prayer in English and Spanish for McCain, that he might "continue to defend the right to life of the unborn and promote peace, justice and freedom for our Nation.”47 Ana Navarro, McCain’s adviser on Hispanic affairs, spoke of McCain’s stand on immigration as a position that should resonate with Hispanics. She noted, however, that the party had lost support among new His- panic citizens because of some Republican lawmakers’ remarks during the recent congressional debate over proposed immigration reforms. She observed that the campaign’s Spanish-language ads were designed to con- vince Hispanics "that he was on their side of that fight and that he has had a lifelong interest in Latin America."48 at vaneve atinas and Electoral Politics 159 As the fall election season commenced, preelection polls suggested ' swers in the affirmative to both the Hillary thesis (Would Latinas move an m cljnton to Obama?) and the Barack thesis (Would Hispanics vote if: a black man?) A national poll of Hispanic likely voters administered 0 . in mid—October found that a majority of Latino men (68 percent) and n greater majority of Latina women (71 percent) indicated sup- port for Obama.49 A poll conducted by NALEO in four battleground states where Latinos were concentrated showed Obama perforrmng quite Well. Nearly two—thirds of the Latino respondents in New Mexrco and Colorado indicated “strong” support for Obama; a majority (55 percent) of the Nevada Latino respondents did the same. Even among Latino respon- dents in Florida, McCain was only slightly ahead of Obama. The same poll underscored that the state of the economy and job opportunities were of central concern to the Latino electorate.50 Election results pointed to an energized and expanding Latino elec— torate. Latino votes increased from 7.5 million in 2004 to 10 million in 2008. Latinos increased their proportion of the voting electorate to 9 percent, one percentage point higher than in 2004. National exit polls showed that all Latino demographic subgroups voted for Obama by heavy margins. Once again, Latina women showed greater levels of support for the Democratic candidate than their male counterparts: 68 percent of Hispanic women and 64 percent of Hispanic men supported Obama. l‘he Pew Hispanic Center pointed out the remarkable turnaround in Latino voting: “No other major demographic voting group in the country swung so heavily to Obama as Latinos did between the primaries and the general election. "5 1 State—level results underscored how Latina women delivered for Barack Obama. According to MSNBC, 78 percent of Hispanic women in Colorado supported Obama, compared to 73 percent of Hispanic men. The gender gap was even greater in New Mexico, with 72 percent of Hispanic women voting for Obama, compared to 65 percent of Hispamc men. And in Texas, where the statewide vote predictably went to McCain, 71 percent of Hispanic women as compared to 55 percent of Hispanic men supported Obama, a gender gap of sixteen points.52 In Nevada, exit polls showed no gender gap: 76 percent of Latina women and men voted for Obama. However, Latina women accounted for 9 percent of voters while Latino men accounted for 7 percent.53 Obama took a majority of the Latino vote (57 percent) in Florida, but he won more support from Latino men (60 percent) than from Latina women (55 percent).54 160 161 Christine Marie Si mas and Electoral Politics CONCLUSION "oTES , See, for example, Sally Kohn and Gloria Steinem. January 11, 2008. Gloria Women Steinem Debates Racism and Sexism in the ’08 Election. AlterNet. <http:// elemo‘ ‘ Wwwalternet.org/story/ 73 545/ > Accessed March 4, 2008. to bemme Ann Telnaes. Obmama and Hillary. February 5, 2008. Commentoon, . . - I . : . - ° . ‘ . Latinas m the 111th Congress to six. NALEO reported no chatrlrlclyzl?er Of xosgl/CCIOISIIZZIe/chhjg? éémrwa: 330:16WS OID/amde dm/dYn/ald/ number of Latina statewide officials. Latinas increased their m:me 3 Questions of race and gender also pertain to whites and to men. But the 2008 state senates from twenty-one to twenty—three, but their numbers i er m I election focused on Hillary Clinton’s gender as a woman and Barack Obama’s houses decreaSEd’ from fifty to forty-nines Thejoumey to Elem 11 State _ s a black person, not on Clinton’s race as a white person or Obama's for Latinas continues to be slow and incremental. ve Office: But overall, Latino political participation in U.S. politics continue ' expand. Over the past several presidential elections, Latinos have Vest? “ in greater numbers and constituted a greater proportion of the genereal '8 L electorate. Although they have yet to vote the strength of their numb 1n the population, their rates of voter registration and turnout are on 5:5 rise. They can wield considerable influence in U.S. elections especiaue in closely contested races. In 2008, the Latino vote proved significanti: electing Barack Obama as the forty-fourth president of the United States Latina women were an intrinsic part of the victorious electoral coalition in this historic election. While their roles as voters, party activists and elected leaders became evident as the election progressed, for the most part, their contributions did not command the public recoUnition th they deserved. a at The particular conditions present in the 2008 presidential election brought to the forefront gender and race as major dimensions to be exam- ined and understood in American politics. Yet public discourse in the elec- tion framed important issues regarding gender and race too simplistically as gender or race. Latinas’ contributions would receive more attention if gender and race were recognized as interactive features of American pol— itics. To be sure, greater availability of data that examine gender within the Latino electorate would enhance our understanding of Latina political behavior. Latina women fall through the cracks when only the women’s vote or the Hispanic vote commands public attention and analysis. In 2008, Latinas helped to swing the Latino vote back toward the Democratic Party. The extent to which the Latino vote will remain com- fortably in the Democrats’ winning coalition is unclear. Just as specula— tion that Latino support for George W. Bush in 2004 heralded a possible electoral realignment, results from the 2008 election have sparked discus- sion of shifting coalitions in the opposite direction. What is known is that Latinas will help provide the answers in the future. The November election did not increase the number of Latin in the U.S. Congress. But all seven female incumbents won I: However, the departure of Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA) secretary of labor in the Obama administration reduced the race a gender as a man. In this article, the terms Latino and HiSpanic are used interchangeably. In gen- eral, these terms refer to those persons living in the United States who come from or who trace their ancestry to the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The term Latina refers to women of Latino or Hispanic origin. 5 U.S. Census Bureau. 2007. American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. $0201. Selected Population Profile of the United States: Hispanic or Latino. American FactFinder. <http://www.factfinder.census.gov> April 10, 2009. 6 F. Chris Garcia and Gabriel R. Sanchez. 2008. Hispanics and the U.S. Political System: Moving into the Mainstream. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice- Hall, 8. 7 Lisa J. Montoya, Carol Hardy-Fanta, and Sonia Garcia. 2000. Latina Politics: Gender, Participation, and Leadership. PS: Political Science 61Politic9 33 (3): 555— 61. I 8 Paul Taylor and Richard Fry. December 2007. Hispanics and the 2008 Elec- tion: A Swing Vote? Washington, D.C.: Pew Hispanic Center, 14. 9 Mark Hugo Lopez and Susan Minushkin. October 23, 2008. Hispanic Voter Attitudes and the 2008 U.S. Elections. Migration Information Source, 3—4. <http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/print.cfm?ID=699> October 27, 2008. 10 National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). 2008. 2008 Latino Election Handbook. Los Angeles: NALEO Educational Fund, 12. 11 Taylor and Fry 2007, 15. 12 Lisa Garcia Bedolla, Jessica L. Lavariega Monforti, and Adrian D. Pantoja. 2006. “A Second Look: Is There a Latina/o Gender Gap?" In Intersectianal- ity and Politics: Recent Research on Gender, Race, and Political Representation in the United States, ed. Carol Hardy-Fanta. New York: Haworth Press, 147—71. 13 Montoya, Hardy-Fanta, and Garcia 2000, 556. 14 Christine Marie Sierra and Adaljiza Sosa-Riddell. 1994. Chicanas as Politi— cal Actors: Rare Literature, Complex Practice. National Political Science Review 42297—317. 15 Carol Hardy-Fanta and Carol Cardozo. 1997. Beyond the Gender Gap: Women of Color in the 1996 Election, paper delivered at the Annual Meeting 162 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 afinas and Electoral Politics 163 Christine Marie sierra. of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., August 28‘ 31. Bedolla, Monforti, and Pantoja 2006, 152. Ibid. at 166, original emphasis. lbid. Garcia and Sanchez 2008, 202. National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. 2005 NALEO , Fact Sheet; and The NALEO 2009 National Directory of Latino Elected Offi_? r cials. Los Angeles: NALEO Educational Fund. ,- NALEO 2009. The NALEO 2009 National Directory of Latino Elected Offi_ cials; and Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). 2009. 13am on Women in State Legislatures. <http2//www.cavvp.rutgers.edu/fastiaqs/ levels-of_office/StateLeg-CurrentFacts.php> March 4, 2009. NALEO 2009. The NALEO 2009 National Directory of Latino Elected Officials. Ibid. Garcia and Sanchez 2008, 130 (see their Table 6.3). CandidatoUSA. February 11, 2008, 2 (6). <http://vvvvvv.CandidatOUSA.com> March 4, 2008. Echaveste and her husband, Christopher Edley, the dean of Boalt Law School at the University of California, Berkeley, formed one of the "mixed marriages” to emerge during the election. Edley, an African American man, was an early supporter of Barack Obama for president. Roberto Suro. February 11, 2008. Does Education Explain the Latino Gap between Clinton and Obama? CandidatoUSA. 2 (6), 8 <http://www .CandidatoUSA.com> March 4, 2008. Valerie Martinez«Ebers. February 13, 2009. Latinos in Presidential Politic3. Public lecture. National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Martinez—Ebers 2009. Leslie Wayne. January 10, 2008. Richardson Is Expected to Drop Out of Pn- maries. New York Times, A22. Martinez-Ebers 2009. Suro 2008, 8. Gregory Rodriguez. January 26, 2008. The Black—Brown Divide. Time.com, quoting Bendixen. <http://www.tirne.com/timeImagazine/article/O,9l71, 1707221,00.htm1> February 5, 2008. Trip Jennings. September 19, 2008. BBC: N.M. GOP Leader Says Hispan- ics ’Won’t Vote for a Black President’. New Mexico Independent, quoting C de Baca. <http://newn1exicoindependent.com/S/bbc-mn-gop-leader—says- hispanics—wont-vote-for—a—black-president> March 18, 2009. CandidatoUSA. February 11, 2008, 2 (6). <http://www.CandidatoUSA.com> March 4, 2008; Martinez-Ebers 2009; and Suro 2008. In numerous inter— views with the national media on the 2008 election, 1 and my department colleague, Gabriel Sanchez, had to respond to questions that focused on racial tension between Hispanics and Blacks. Perhaps an implicit gender bias was also embedded in this line of questioning (i.e., that a white woman in her Own right could not attract the support of people of color). Robin Abcarian. January 16, 2008. Obama Gets Major Labor Endorse- ment. Los Angeles Times. <httpz/ /theenvelope.latimes.com/la-na-labor1 6janI 6, 0,1465411.st0ry> March 4, 2008; and Maria Shriver Endorses Obama at UCLA Rally. February 3, 2008. LAist. <http://1aist.com/2008/02/03/maria- shriver.e.php> March 4, 2008. National ASSOciation of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. 2008. 2008 Latino Election Handbook, 3. CandidatoUSA. February 11, 2008; and Susan Minushkin and Mark Hugo Lopez. June 2008. The Hispanic Vote in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Pri- maries. Washington, D.C.: Pew Hispanic Center. Minushkin and Lopez 2008, 3. Ibid. CandidatoUSA. February 11, 2008, 1, quoting Solis Doyle. National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. 2008. 2008 Latino Election Handbook. Carol Hardy-Fanta. October 28, 2008. Latina Women in the 2008 Eleco tion. Panel presentation for the Center for American Progress, Washington, DC. Christine Marie Sierra. August 28, 2008. From Hillary to Barack. Blog for KNME TV-S, Albuquerque, New Mexico. See Christine Marie Sierra. August 31, 2008. IObdmanos! Blog for KNME TV-S, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Patricia Madrid Named to Obama’s National Latino Advisory Council. August 22, 2008. Democracy for New Mexico. <http://www.democracy- fornewmexico . com/ democracyior_new_mexico/ 2008 / 08/ patricia—madr- 2.htrnl> March 18, 2009. Prayer card. Distributed by the Republican Party of New Mexico, 2008. On file with author. Associated Press. October 6, 2008. Campaigns Woo New Hispanic Citizens as Key Bloc. <http://kob.c0m/article/stories/S607863.shtml> October 6, 2008. Zogby Poll: Hispanic Likely Voters Support Obama over McCain, 70%— 21%. October 20, 2008. Posted on Latino—Caucus LISTSERV (LATINO- C@LISTSERVE.ilstu.edu). National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. 2008. 2008 Latino Vote Survey in Key Battleground States. Los Angeles: NALEO Educa- tional Fund. Mark Hugo Lopez. November 2008. The Hispanic Vote in the 2008 Election. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center. <http://www.pewhispanic.org> March 4, 2009. JoNel Aleccia. November 5, 2008. Hispanic Women Swell Ranks of Obama Support. Politics: Decision ’08 Archive. MSNBC. <http://WWW.msnbc.com/ id/27557684/> November 6, 2008. 37 38 39 4O 41 42 43 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 ...
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