Should we credit/blame Latino voters for Jerry Brown returning to the governor's office, Barbara Boxer remaining in the U.S. Senate and Democrats not only holding the nation's upper house but picking up a seat in the California Assembly?
Latino advocacy groups think so.
Latino voters overwhelmingly supported Democrats Brown and Boxer over their respective Republican rivals Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, according to polls conducted by Latino Decisions and sponsored by the National Council of La Raza, Service Employees International Union and America's Voice.
Brown won election with nearly 54% of the overall vote, while Boxer took a 52% edge in her race. But their support among Latino voters was in the 80 percents.
Besides traditionally supporting Brown over the years (and decades), Latinos cooled to Whitman after the late-campaign disclosures about her treatement of her longtime housekeeper, a Latina.
The influence of Latino voters was felt nationwide, according to advocacy groups pointing to polls showing their having decided races in eight states. One close election where Latinos made a difference was the U.S. Senate race in Nevada between liberal Democrat Harry Reid and teabag Republican Sharron Angle, claim the advocates.
Angle's anti-immigrant rhetoric and the Senate majority leader's decision to bring a September vote on the DREAM Act--which would offer a path to citizenship for certain young people who were brought to the United States illegally as minors--proved to be a combination that "helped to motivate Latino voters in a way that saved Harry Reid's race," Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, tells the Los Angeles Times.
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As a result, Reid enjoyed the support of 90 percent of the Latino voters in Nevada, compared to 8 percent for Angle.
The same advocates give family values-minded Latinos credit for helping lock up Republican victories for U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio in Florida, House candidates Jaime Herrera in Washington and Bill Flores in Texas, and gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez in New Mexico.
It's not ideology that lights a fire under Latino voters, these advocates say, it's the candidates who speak directly to them.
I'd add it's also the candidates who do not treat them like political pinadas.