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An interesting perspective from the president of the New Democratic Network.

In Washington State Hispanics voted for president Bush at the rate of 49%, higher than the non-Hispanic population and the national average for Hispanics.

And in Washington Governors race, decided this week (pending recounts) in favor of Republican Dino Rossi by a margin of .01%, Hispanics supported Rossi at an unprecedented rate of 44% clearly impacting the outcome (5% of the voting population in Washington is Hispanic).

In contrast, neighboring Oregon, a state with similar demographics, geography and temperament to Washington, Hispanics supported the president at a rate of only 17%, suggesting that these gains are neither permanent nor ingrained and the Hispanic vote is still completely up for grabs.

Pedro Celis, Ph.D.
Republican National Hispanic Assembly
Washington State Chairman


Online at:

Thursday, November 18, 2004 · Last updated 4:38 a.m. PT

Democrat slams Kerry on Hispanic outreach


WASHINGTON -- A Democrat whose organization spent about $6 million to get out the Hispanic vote criticized John Kerry's campaign effort Wednesday and said Democrats risk becoming a permanent minority if they don't do a better job.

"John Kerry did not compete adequately for Hispanic votes, period," said Simon Rosenberg, founder and president of the centrist New Democrat Network, a political organization independent of the national Democratic Party. "If we don't reverse the gains that President Bush made, we can forget our hope of being a majority party again."

Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks indicated Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, up from 35 percent in 2000. Kerry won 53 percent, down from 62 percent four years ago for Democrat Al Gore.

Rosenberg, 41, is considering a bid for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but said the DNC and the Kerry campaign mistakenly assumed Hispanics would be part of their base vote, while the fast-growing Hispanic community is increasingly a swing voter group.

Among Rosenberg's complaints were the Kerry campaign and the DNC lacked a national strategy for Hispanics and did not spend enough money on advertising or enough time campaigning in Hispanic communities and did not employ enough people on the get-out-the-vote effort.

Tony Welch, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said the DNC had its most extensive outreach to Hispanics in its history in 2004. He added, "As we saw in the election results, Democrats are going to have to work even harder for Hispanic voters because they are a key part of any winning Democratic formula."



Hispanic voters paint a new picture
President Bush's nomination of Alberto Gonzales for attorney general is more than a reward to a Texas loyalist. It's a recognition of the political prominence of Hispanics, and an appreciation for the near-majority of their votes that they apparently gave Bush on Nov. 2.

Democrats regard Hispanics as a core element in the party's base. But according to surveys of voters leaving the polling places, Bush raised his share of the Hispanic vote from 35% in 2000 to 44% in 2004. The surveys, known as exit polls, indicated that Hispanics were 8% of the electorate, an increase from 6% in 2000. More than 9 million Hispanics voted, compared with 6 million four years ago.

"Between the campaign results and this (Gonzales') appointment, there's no question that the political visibility of the Latino population has multiplied significantly," says Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C.

In elevating a Hispanic to lead the Justice Department, "Republicans are looking around the corner," says Jack Pitney, a professor of government at California's Claremont McKenna College. "In the future, Latinos will make up an increasing share of the vote."

Some political analysts say the exit polls may overstate the Hispanic turnout and the Bush percentage. If 9 million Hispanics voted, "that would be incredible, but it's also hard to believe," says Adam Segal, director of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University. But down the ballot from the presidency, there's no disputing how well Hispanic candidates did.

The Senate, which hasn't had a Hispanic since the mid-1970s, now will have two: Ken Salazar, a moderate Democrat from Colorado, and Mel Martinez, a conservative Cuban-American from Florida. Officials of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus say there will be 29 Hispanics in the House of Representatives and Senate, up from 25.

"Clearly it was a landmark election," says Harry Pachon, president of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California. "There is the new perception that there is a swing-vote factor in the Latino community, and that it is not a hip-pocket vote for any one party."

A Hispanic in the Cabinet is nothing new. Martinez stepped down as Bush's housing secretary to run for the Senate. Hispanics have run the Energy, Education and Transportation departments in the past. If confirmed by the Senate, Gonzales, a Mexican-American, would be the first Hispanic in the Justice post.

Sergio Bendixen, a Democratic pollster based in Miami, says Hispanics were the deciding factor last week only in New Mexico. A shift in the Hispanic vote swung the state's five electoral votes from Democrat Al Gore in 2000 to Bush this year, Bendixen says. New Mexico's population is 42% Hispanic, and 30% of voters were Hispanic.

The New Democrat Network, an independent group, saw Bush targeting the Hispanic vote more than two years ago. Simon Rosenberg, the group's president, says the "good news for Democrats" is that Republicans made most of their gains among Hispanics in states where there was no contest for these votes.

In exit polling in Florida, where some Cuban-Americans defected from Republican loyalty, Democrats drew 44% of the Hispanic vote, compared with 35% in 2000. In Colorado, 70% of Hispanics voted Democratic this year, up from 67% in 2000. But the Hispanic vote in Nevada dropped from 64% for Gore in 2000 to 60% for John Kerry. Bush won all three states. He also made "substantial gains" among Hispanics in Texas, California and New York, where more than half of Hispanics live, Bendixen says.

GOP ads in Spanish, aimed at blue-collar Hispanic families that might have liked Democrats on economic issues, attacked Kerry's record on social issues. Bush got help from the pulpit.

"The 'X factor' in bringing out the Latino vote was the almost stealth campaign that was conducted by evangelicals and Catholic churches, emphasizing moral values," Pachon says.

Religious faith wasn't the only element helping Bush. "There's no question that there is a growing segment of the Hispanic electorate that's evangelical," Suro says. "But Bush had substantial appeal with native-born, English-speaking, middle-class Latinos."

For the future, "it's impossible to know whether there is a permanent realignment or not," he says. "But it certainly isn't a secure Democratic constituency anymore."



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