Saturday, May 25, 2024

Can Democrats Win Big with Latino Voters?

Many believe that the Democratic party will win the Latino vote in November, the question that remains is by how much and what can Republicans do it about….

With traditionally Republican Colorado now in contention, the ever-increasing Latino population may prove decisive in the 2008 election cycle, with both parties striving to add Hispanic votes to their column.

Recent waves of immigration have made Hispanic-Americans the state’s fastest-growing demographic as well as its largest — and most politically powerful — minority group. According to U.S. Census Bureau surveys conducted in 2006, the Hispanic population has more than doubled since 1990, with roughly one out of every five Coloradoans and one out of every 10 Colorado voters self-identifying as Latino.

In 2004, Ken Salazar (D-Denver) became Colorado’s first Hispanic U.S. Senator, while his brother John Salazar (D-Manassa) became the 3rd Congressional District’s representative in the U.S. House.

Proposed federal immigration reform also added controversy to state politics, perhaps most noticeably with U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Littleton), who gained national attention for his strong anti-illegal immigration stance. The highly publicized debate has led to an increased politicization and sense of marginalization among many members of the community. When the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials held one of its series of Ya Es Hora! Voter Forums in Denver, they found that nearly all of the randomly selected participants reported having come in contact with some form of discrimination.

Tancredo spokesman Tyler Quill Houlton disputed Baca’s accusations about the Republican Party’s electoral future.

“I think it’s a misguided assertion that because Congressman Tancredo is tough on border security that the Republicans will lose votes,” Houlton said, noting instances in which “pro-amnesty” politicians were ousted from office.

Although Baca said that many Latinos have come to associate Tancredo with the Republican Party in general, and are largely unaware that he’s retiring, she also believes that Democrats have yet to completely “wrap up” Colorado’s Hispanic vote.

“Ninety percent of Hispanics voted for President Kennedy, something more like 55 percent supported John Kerry,” Baca noted. “I think that you’ve had a traditional majority of Hispanic voters be Democrats, and I think you’ll see that continue. The question is ‘what percentage?'”

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