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Op-ed: The Democrats' Latino Problem


The Democratic National Committee will be holding their 2015 Winter Meeting starting Thursday. Their schedule of events, open to the public, is a laundry list of meetings with key diversity caucuses that make up a critical component of the coalition that put President Obama in the White House in 2012. Despite this built-in diversity, Democrats need to address an important deficit in their coalition: a lack of Latino representation on their list of consultants.        

A June 2014 analysis by PowerPAC+, reported by NBC News and others, found that only 1.7 percent of the $500 million spent by the DNC on political consulting went to businesses that are minority-owned or are run by a minority principal. It could be said that despite these numbers over 70 percent of Latinos voted for President Obama in 2012.

However, this is not the right way to be looking at 2016. Yes, Democrats have benefited from a mix of vociferously anti-immigrant opportunists in the GOP as well as conservative lawmakers unwilling to give their constituents any impression of compromise.

But looking at the current list of Republican hopefuls, Jeb Bush is the GOP juggernaut ramping up for an election run and scooping up millions of dollars in donations. It’s not Steve King, Ted Cruz, or any other anti-immigrant figurehead.

So far no other Republican candidate can match Jeb Bush, and his generally more moderate stance on immigration is widely cited as a beacon of hope for the GOP in a national election among leaders who feel that Bush’s biggest hurdle will be the heavily conservative primary season. Other favorites, such as Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Rand Paul are far from the anti-immigrant race-baiters that hardcore GOP conservatives are used to.

While this may not be of much significance in a heavily blue state like California, competitive states with large numbersof Latinos such as New Mexico or Colorado will increasingly depend on accurate polling and targeted outreach efforts by those who best understand the nuances of Latinos on the ground.

Though Latinos have been strong supporters of Democrats on Election Day, this cannot be described as a love affair for all. The Latino National Survey is considered one of the most reputable academic studies of Latinos and includes over 8,600 completed interviews on a wide range of political topics. When it comes to party identification, the LNS reports that among Latino registered voters, 61 percent say they are Democrats while 22 percent identify as Republican and 17 percent as Independent.

Among Democrats, the identification is misleading because Hispanics…..

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