Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Guest Blogger: Marcus Atkinson “How Obama Won”

Tuesday, Latinos showed their political strength. The country knew the numbers, but on that day the power of numbers shown through as millions of Latinos went to the polls and expressed their right through the power of votes, and led Obama to victory, largely through the swing states.

According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, Latinos made up 17 percent of Colorado’s electorate and Obama received 75 percent of their vote. Obama received 70 percent of the Latino vote in Nevada, with an 18 percent electorate in that state. In my home state of Ohio, Obama won 53 percent of the Latino vote and Latinos were 3 percent of that state’s electorate. In total Obama won 71 percent of the country’s Latino cote, up from 66 percent in 2008.  This 5 point difference played huge considering he lost two percentage points in 2008 from the white male vote (41 percent in 2008, 39 percent in 2012).  What did help Obama is the white male electorate declined from about 78 percent to 75 percent. The Latino electorate increased from 8 percent to 10 percent.

Key issues for Latinos this election were jobs, healthcare, education and immigration.  With the national Latino unemployment rate consistently two percent higher than the general average, the Democratic Party knew the importance to the relating economy.  That is why manufacturing was pushed in the Midwest, that is why new energy was pushed in the Appalachian area of Virginia, and that is why a promise of a better education was pushed in the southwest (6 in 10 Latinos graduate from high school nationally).  A promise of jobs and a better education related more to the average Latino than the GOP message of correcting the tax code for businesses and confronting China in issues such as currency manipulation.

During the spring/summer the Democratic National Committee knew they had a problem.  The Latino voter was not as motivated in 2008 as they were this year.  Republicans were gearing up to attack Obama on the campaign promise he made in 2008 – comprehensive immigration reform.  Then in June, Homeland Security granted deferred action to so called DREAMers.  This undoubtedly rejuvenated the Latino vote, not necessarily in the Eastern states such as Ohio and West Virginia where most Latinos are second and third generation citizens who speak fluent English, but in the Southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico where immigration is a daily issue.  As Mitt Romney openly favored Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, the Obama administration went to court challenging its legality.

As the elections came closer, the GOP became increasingly accused of creating policies and laws designed to “suppress the vote” through voter identification laws and early voting changes. In Ohio, billboards were posted in urban communities reminding people that voter fraud is a prison sentence. Ohio state senator Nina Turner dubbed the state Secretary of State, John Husted, the “Secretary of Suppression” because of his refusal to cooperate with early voting laws.  My point is, all the voter suppression tactics worked in reverse.  It showed the importance of the elections; it showed the power of the vote, and because of it, more Latinos came out to vote in Florida standing in long lines for hours, and in Ohio getting in line at 7:28pm after working a 12 hour construction shift knowing the polls close at 7:30pm.  The Democratic Party did a better job of getting out the vote.

The secret is out; Latinos showed up Tuesday through the vote, now it’s up to those who were elected to represent them.  Obama has passed the Affordable Care Act. It appears our country has weathered the great recession. Now he has to make due on his 2008 campaign promise – comprehensive immigration reform.

Marcus Atkinson currently works for the Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Ohio as editor of www.hispanicohio.com. Past publications include the Columbus Dispatch, La Prensa based out of Toledo, Ohio, and the Morning Journal out of Lorain, Ohio. Marcus has also worked for the Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency during college based out of Columbus, Ohio. While there, he did data entry and edited booklets given to trainees.